Monday, April 11, 2011

Top 5 graphic novels for grown ups

List by Kelly

"Comic books and graphic novels are a great medium. It's incredibly underused."
- Darren Aronofsky

Another of the joys of belonging to the fabulous 55 libraries across Auckland is the extensive collection of Graphic Novels for adults. Haven’t read a comic since you were a kid? These titles below are my all time favourites and a great way to launch you back into the world of comics. Please note that these are titles for grown ups, all feature adult themes and language.

Honourable mention:
Powers by Brian Michael Bendis - The only reason that this series is an honourable mention rather than at number 2 on my list, is because sadly we don’t have the complete run of this fabulous crime noir superhero series. I have the (to date) complete run on my shelf at home, and the combination of crime noir with capes is unbelievably good reading.

Freakangels / Warren Ellis
"23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next."-- Publisher description.

Kelly's comment: This is my newest favourite series, just finished volume 3, and I’m now anxiously awaiting volumes 4 and 5 :) This brilliant new series was published as a free weekly online comic first. Warren Ellis wrote this series to explore what could have happened if the children from The Midwich Cuckoos (the book that movie The village of the damned was based on) had survived.

Echo / Terry Moore
"Julie Martin is taking photographs in the California desert when an explosion in the clouds showers her with liquid metal pellets that stick to her skin and begin to reform a powerful atomic armor. Now somebody wants Julie dead and the only one who can save her is a woman they've already killed." --P. [4] of cover.

Kelly's comment: My husband said it smacked of favouritism to have 2 titles by the same creator in my list (see number 1), but it’s my list, so I get to play favourites :) Mr Moore shows what a talent he is by following up his hugely successful relationship based Strangers in paradise series with this fast paced military sci-fi series. It has already been optioned for a movie, so check it out here first!

Ex machina / Brian K. Vaughan
In classic superhero origin, Mitchell Hundred is just another civil engineer until an encounter with a glowing light under the Brooklyn Bridge gives him the power to talk to machines. Fast forward three years: after a famed stint as a superhero, Hundred has just been elected mayor of New York and must deal with not only the colorful cast of characters that make up his staff but also a host of crises: a PR disaster set off by an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum; a crippling blizzard; and, most worryingly, a serial killer who's bumping off the city's snow plow drivers.

Kelly's comment: New York gains an exceptionally unusual Mayor in this fantastic sci-fi series with a political twist.

Fables / Bill Willingham
Once upon a time--recently--Jack, not that much older looking than when he climbed the beanstalk, rushes breathlessly into the office of Woodland Luxury Apartments security chief Bigby Wolf to report that his girlfriend Red Rose's Village pad is awash with blood and she is missing. That gives Wolf a case to investigate--a rare occurrence during the centuries that he and other refugees from Fableland have lived in their Manhattan colony since being harried from their world. Of course, Wolf has to put up with his boss, Snow White, long divorced from Prince Charming, dogging his heels because, after all, Rose is her sister.

Kelly's comment: Fairy tales for grown ups. See all of your favourite classic fairy tale characters in a whole new light in this funny but gripping series. This series is a must for me simply for Bigby the big bad wolf – the Sheriff of Fabletown with a nose for solving crimes.

Strangers in paradise / Terry Moore
Katchoo is a beautiful young woman living a quiet life with everything going for her. She's smart, independent and very much in love with her best friend, Francine. Then Katchoo meets David, a gentle but persistent young man who is determined to win Katchoo's heart. The resulting love triangle is a touching comedy of romantic errors until Katchoo's former employer comes looking for her and $850,000 in missing mob money. As her idyllic life begins to fall apart, Katchoo discovers no one can be trusted and that the past she thought she left behind now threatens to destroy her and everything she loves, including Francine.

Kelly's comment: The very best of the best. I have been collecting this title since the early 90s, and I was heartbroken when it came to an end. Mr Moore writes (and draws) amazingly beautiful and realistic characters, and I have laughed and cried often while reading (and rereading) this series. This was the one comic that my husband and I would always rush home and read first after a visit to the comic shop (after a tussle over who would actually get to read it first, lol)


Anonymous said...

Sandman?! Sandman!!!

But I loved Fables, so the fact that's at number 2 on your list makes me confident the rest of the stuff will be worth checking out. Think I'll start with Strangers in Paradise :)

Kelly M said...

I love Sandman too, and anything AT ALL written by Neil Gaiman, but I left it off to make room for all my other less known favourites....would love to see your top 5 graphic novel suggestions though, always looking for something new to read :)

Danielle said...

Warren Ellis, why did nobody mention you to me before??? Huge thank yous, Kelly! I spent the weekend reading Freakangels vol 1 in between getting washing in out of the rain and cooking chicken pot pie (propped up on the bench while stirring white sauce). Awesome stuff. Just very very good, great character dynamics and an interesting set-up. Have now requested vols 2 and 3 and will definitely check out the rest of your list - all new to me!

In return, I'd just like to mention Urasawa Naoki's '20th Century Boys' and 'Monster', which are fantabulous.

Kelly M said...

Thanks for the suggestions Danielle, I have requested both of them, yay! Glad to have something new, just picked up volume 5 of freakangels just in time for the easter break *happy sigh*....don't know if I can be patient and wait for more volumes to be published...may just have to check out the online version which is still being updated weekly :)

Danielle said...

In one of those uncommon freak accidents of request deliveries, I had vol 3 for the break... but not vol 2! *gnashes teeth* So despite surreptitiously flicking through a couple of pages I have chosen not to read them out of sequence! I'm definitely on the 'NOT spoilers' side of the 'to spoil or not to spoil' divide.

I did borrow Fell vol 1 (also Warren Ellis) over Easter and I think I even loved it a smidge more than Freakangels! Just a smidge. So far, it's a wee bit darker but the characters really got to me, and I liked the sharp humour of the dialogue too. Paul B has recommended Planetary as his Warren Ellis pick o' the bunch, so that will be next!

Danielle said...

Oh! Forgot to recommend Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Also an awesome find - creepy, quirky ideas, great art, and like Freakangels, anchored by characters you really care about (and get worried for).