In honor of Graphic Novels month, we wanted to share some amazing, incredible, and slightly slighted books that may not have gotten on your radar yet. Graphic novels sometimes get a bad reputation for being less than traditionally written stories, but over the past five to ten years, many publishing houses and readers are realizing the value of sequential art in telling a complex and engrossing story. Many enthusiasts knows about Persepolis and Maus, some of the forerunners of the genre, and those are amazing works in their own right, but this list is about the books that are a little more underground, either because they are pubbed by a small publishing house, they belong to a niche market, or their distribution and study are less commonplace.
Before we get to it, let’s hear it for independent publishers who go out of their way to invest in sequential and comic art! There has been a renaissance in the genre for comic anthologies. Independent artists will collaborate to collect sequential art, usually around a theme or political movement, and then use Kickstarter to generate funds for publication. Although I am an avid collector of comic anthologies, I’ve left my library of such titles off this list, but still want to include a few shout-outs to some of my favorite books in this category, giving voice to under-represented perspectives in comic arts:
- EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG: Comics on Punk & Mental Illness
- Dates! An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction
- Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy
Besides the books listed below, there are obviously many, many more underrated comic books out there, but I chose these because of my attachment to them, the complex nature of both the subject matter and its artistic interpretation, and because these books are complete and total stories, not held within a series. I love a good comic, and these books are a great place to get started or to rekindle a new love for the genre. Now, on to the best graphic novels that you need to know about: