Watchmen creator Alan Moore said “Comics are not literature and they are not film and they are not gallery art. They are something different. They have their own kind of language.” And while you may be bored of superheroes, or were never interested in the first place, comics and graphic novels are a medium full of wit, invention and brilliant, gripping storytelling. Little wonder that so many of them are being turned into films and TV series.
You probably know all about Persepolis and Maus (two classics of the genre) so here are five more you should check out that don’t have anything to do with spandex or superheroes.
The TV series has been a huge hit for years so you probably already know about this, but the books that spawned it are well worth reading even if you’re up to date with the small-screen adaptation. Because the originals are significantly different from the TV series, having experienced one doesn’t really create spoilers for the other. In fact, it’s like a parallel-world companion piece that is just as dark and even more willing to off a main character when you least expect it.
In the American near future, with US forces stretched overseas, a domestic militia rise up against the government and start the second American Civil War. Five years into the war the island of Manhattan has become a demilitarised zone and photojournalist Matty Roth becomes stranded when his helicopter is shot down. He begins to see that life in the DMZ is not like it’s portrayed by his news station. Described by its creator as “equal parts Escape from New York, Fallujah, and New Orleans right after Katrina” this ran 72 issues that have also been collected in 12 trade paperback volumes, and it’s currently in production to become a TV series.
The enigmatic Agent Graves approaches someone who has been a victim of wrongdoing and informs them who was behind their misfortune and where they can now be found. He then gives them an untraceable gun, 100 bullets and an assurance there will be no repercussions for taking revenge. What starts as a series of self-contained morality tales — with varying outcomes for protagonists — expands into a sprawling epic of betrayal and conspiracy in a modern noir style. It originally ran for 100 editions over a decade, but you can pick it up in 13 collected volumes.
Every male on Earth, (human or otherwise) drops dead on the same day, except for one young man and his pet monkey. He now represents the last hope for survival of the species and heads off across the country with a bodyguard to find out why he survived and what caused everyone to die. The big “what if…” premise set up a story of gender politics, post-disaster survival and theology, but does so with wit, invention and unpredictability. The live action adaptation has recently fallen through but we’d be surprised if someone else didn’t option the rights.
Ten years ago, giant tree-like structures landed all over the world, crushing cities and causing panic… and then they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. After the chaos, people begin to accept their eerie presence. We pick up from a point following seemingly disparate characters — a mayoral candidate in New York, a young boy in China and researchers in the Arctic — beginning to discover something about the Trees. Cinematic and eerie, we’re only eight monthly-comics in but this is already something fresh and original.