Fancy A Graphic Novel?
We ask comic book stores around the world to recommend a graphic novel you should be buying this weekend
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Watchmen creator Alan Moore’s meticulously researched League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a unique success when originally published in 1999. With art by Kevin O’Neill, Moore combined the mythologies of a range of fictional Victorian literary creations to create an intricate and action packed mystery. Characters such as Captain Nemo, Dr Henry Jekyll, Mr Edward Hyde, Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain and Hawley Griffin aka The Invisible Man were banded together in the London of 1898 to combat a dire threat to the Empire. The first two volumes also include prose sections written in the style of the era.
Stephen Ford, King’s Comics, Sydney
The Crusades – Book 1: Knight HC
An 11th century Crusader knight appears in modern-day San Francisco meting out his own idea of justice. The mystery of who or what the knight is remains unknown to the reader (at least in this first volume) as well as to the main character, Venus Kostopikas, a fact-checker for a dying newspaper with aspirations of her own.
Mahdi Abrahams, Reader’s Den Comic Shop, Cape Town
Astro City shows a world where superheroes are common and you can see their daily lives. One very poignant short story tells the result of a world-altering catastrophe that wipes out a large part of the population. The event leaves survivors with only memories and dreams of those they loved and lost. Now they have to decide to do with those memories.
David Wheeler, Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy, Austin, Texas
It’s set in a near future during a second American civil war, which erupts when anti-establishment militias threaten to take over the country. New York City is now a brutal demilitarised no-man’s-land. A photo journalism intern from Long Island becomes trapped in the city when the rest of the news crew and the soldiers escorting them are killed in a fire-fight with insurgents. He becomes the only journalist on the ground in the DMZ and he begins to report on the daily struggle of life for the everyday citizens of Manhattan.
Sir Vandal, Vandal Com-X, Amsterdam
Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness
The first and only illustrated biography of “The Man in Black”, Johnny Cash, the most famous country singer of all time. Graphic novelist Reinhard Kleist depicts Johnny Cash’s eventful life from his early sessions with Elvis Presley (1956), through the concert in Folsom Prison (1968), his spectacular comeback in the 1990s, and the final years before his death in 2003. Already a bestseller and award-winner in Europe, Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness vividly portrays the unpredictable life of a loner, patriot, outlaw, and music rebel. That he was an icon of the American 20th century makes this unique biography a compelling read.
Wayne Winsett, Time Warp Comics, Colorado, USA
Superman: Red Son
Superman: Red Son is an Elseworlds publication, so it’s self-contained and you don’t have to know Superman’s full history to enjoy the story. In Red Son, Superman’s spaceship crash lands in Soviet Russia at the beginning of the cold war rather than in Smallville, U.S.A. So this is a re-imagining of the Man of Steel as a Soviet champion rather than an American hero. Many of the other DC heroes also appear throughout the story with altered roles and origins. Mark Millar’s story is well told and the artwork and designs of Dave Johnson and Killian Plunkett perfectly fit with the story. Without spoiling anything, the ending to Red Son makes it my favourite Superman story of all time.
Sandy, Comic Odyssey, Manila, Philippines
More praise for Superman: Red Son
“I waited years to read this story, and Millar did not disappoint. Once again, Mark proves he has one of the most original voices in comics, not to mention a particularly distinct grasp of the comic book super-hero. And good God, it is gorgeous to look at too.”
Kevin Smith, film director.
There’s never been a graphic novel quite like Daniel Clowes’s pre- (and occasionally post-) apocalyptic melodrama, David Boring. The beginning may sound like an alternative comic book cliché, focussing on a slacker would-be filmmaker in pursuit of his feminine ideal. But before long his obsession with one girl, or possibly two, drags him into a nightmare of jealousy and murder in a world teetering on the brink of Armageddon. “Just because you’re cold and distant,” one woman tells him, “doesn’t mean you’re smart.” And what can David Boring say? “Our story, as you can see, has taken a turn towards violence and suspense, and I must, as protagonist, summon the courage to act,” he narrates, just before passing out on a pile of comics.
Hal Johnson, Midtown Comics, Inc., New York
Before The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller moulded his style with this ground-breaking work in the vast, expansive Ronin. A bleak future fused with a traditional Japanese narrative takes you on the trail of a dishonoured 13th-century Samurai discovering himself reborn in 21st century New York. A passionate journey follows, of betrayal, murder and an ultimate showdown as he seeks to avenge his master’s killing. This dark, dynamic story bears the hallmarks of Miller’s future achievements, juxtaposing demons, magic and artificial intelligence. A tremendous work of fantasy and reality.
Dan Bullock, Forbidden Planet, London
Comics luminary David Mazzucchelli stunned fans and cartoonists alike when he released his debut original graphic novel Asterios Polyp in 2009. The book charts the life of a design-obsessed architect forced to reconsider his life when his apartment is burnt down in a freak lightning storm. The real genius of the book, though, lies in Mazzucchelli’s peerless cartooning, page design and use of colour. Painstakingly constructed, formally complex and displaying a modernist sensibility that is becoming increasingly prevalent among cartoonists, Asterios Polyp really is a comic that every fan of the medium should read. It’s a modern classic.
Camila at Orbital Comics, London
Dardevil: Born Again
When they were young and full of energy, Miller and Mazzucchelli created this unique run of comic books. Daredevil, issues 227-233, is a collection, just as Watchmen is a twelve-issue mini-series. And what a story: Karen Page, Daredevil’s first great love, has descended into a maelstrom of heroin, broken dreams and degradation. She has hit rock bottom and sells the only thing she has left for a single fix — the fact that Matt Murdock is Daredevil… and that’s just page one. Miller is on script, and Mazzucchelli on art in this perfect synthesis of talent. With this book they reach a level of excellence that still is the gold standard of the superhero genre.
Morten Søndergaard, Fantask, Copenhagen, Denmark
From writer/artist David Lloyd, this is a great and memorable book: a noir story completely different from the thrillers we are familiar with. It begins with a dream about a dark warehouse with a catwalk. The vision reflects the life of corrupt policeman Joe Canelli, who is on a narrow pathway that apparently offers no other choices — so he feels forced to follow. Corruption is just one aspect of this story about integrity, conscience, dreams, memories, wisdom and redemption, all drawn in the same style that Lloyd gave us in V For Vendetta. A crime comic suitable for a thinking person, as layered and complex as any prose novel.
Roberto Macedo Alves, Seventh Dimension Bookstore, Madeira, Portugal