Related Videos

Top 10 Graphic Novels Of All Time

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Derick McDuff. Part novel, part art, these are the works the defined a genre. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the 10 best graphic novels of all time. After much debate as to what classifies as a graphic novel, we’ve decided to include series with definite endings. This also means that ongoing series including various manga and The Walking Dead won’t appear on this list. Special thanks to our user Dezzy Alexander for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
Share
WatchMojo

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Transcript

Top 10 Graphic Novels of All Time


Part novel, part art, these are the works the defined a genre. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the 10 best graphic novels of all time.

After much debate as to what classifies as a graphic novel, we’ve decided to include series with definite endings. This also means that ongoing series including various manga and The Walking Dead won’t appear on this list.

#10: Alice in Sunderland (2007)
Bryan Talbot


It should come as no surprise that the intricate magnum opus of one of Great Britain’s greatest comic book artists ranks this highly on this list. Both historical and autobiographical, the novel tells a story over the course of three million years, touching on many of the important events that took place in the Sunderland region in a strange and unique journey through time. Invoking complex ideals too numerous to list, Alice calls back to many of Northeast Britain’s most famous occupants including, of course, Alice in Wonderland’s author, Lewis Carrol himself.

#9: From Hell (1989-96)
Alan Moore


Taking its name from a letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper, From Hell follows the notorious killer and examines his sinister motivations. Rather than focusing on the mystery of the Ripper’s identity, which is known near the beginning of the novel, From Hell tells the tale of the broken and twisted psyche of a murderer. The story embraces the theory that the murders were part of an elaborate cover up orchestrated by the royal family, and it serves as a commentary on Victorian morals, and how they helped shape prevailing ideologies and events in the twentieth century.

#8: Y the Last Man (2002-08)
Brian K. Vaughan


As its title would suggest, this graphic novel begins with the apparent death of every male mammal on Earth, with the exception of the protagonist Yorick and his pet monkey. The plot follows Yorick crisscrossing the globe, combining sci-fi, adventure, drama and comedy, as he encounters a number of female characters, each handling the devastating plague differently. Though the story various possible explanations for the plague are given, including everything from biological warfare to mysticism, a definite answer is never given, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions.

#7: Persepolis (2004-05)
Marjane Satrapi


Despite autobiographies not typically being associated with graphic novels, Satrapi’s tale of survival and bravery during the Islamic revolution is perfect for the medium. Split into two volumes, the first concerns her childhood as she grows into a fiercely independent rebel, and is eventually sent to Austria by her family. The second volume completes the coming of age story, telling the story of her return and continued rebellious attitudes in a story praised for bringing the bildungsroman genre to graphic novels and its message of fighting for one’s beliefs.

#6: Sin City (1991-2000)
Frank Miller


Drawing inspiration from both film noir and pulp comics, Sin City uses its unique visual style, including being drawn primarily in black and white, to great effect to highlight the moral ambiguity of many of its characters. What color is used is done so sparingly and to great effect, highlighting various characters and elements of the story. Although it featured much more color, much of this style was seen in Millers later work 300, with both graphic novels being adapted for film faithfully recreating Miller’s visuals on the big screen.

#5: V for Vendetta (1988-89)
Alan Moore


Equal parts 1984 and Judge Dredd, V for Vendetta is set in a future ravaged by nuclear war, with a totalitarian government having risen from the ashes. Opposing them is the anarchist V, the only survivor of horrific experimentation by the government, who dons a Guy Fawkes mask. The novel poses important questions about individual freedom and personal identity, as well as a number of other complex topics and has been hailed as being part of a movement in the 80’s that brought a new sense of maturity to comics.

#4: The Sandman (1989-96)
Neil Gaiman


Sandman is filled with the dark fantasy elements and complex symbolism that prolific novelist Neil Gaiman is famous for, while featuring a story which follows the literal personification of dreams, known by many names including Sandman and Morpheus. As one of seven immortal beings known as Endless, the graphic novel explored both past and present, and incorporated mycological themes and historical events. The story chronicled the nearly seventy years the sandman was held prisoner, and his subsequent development from a dark character to tragic hero.

#3: Maus (1980-91)
Art Spiegelman


Drawn simplistically in black and white featuring anthropomorphic versions of various ethnicities, in Maus Spiegelman recounted firsthand accounts the holocaust, as told to him by his father. With his unique visual style Spiegelman made a commentary about the distorted reality of recounting such terrible events as well as dividing people based on race. The powerful story not only examined the horrors of the holocaust, but the far reaching effects of it, and the troubled relationship between father and son. Maus went on to earn a Pulitzer Prize, making it the first graphic novel to win the award.

#2: The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
Frank Miller


This dark masterpiece not only redefined and reinvigorated Batman, but superheroes as a whole. Featuring a 55 year old Batman coming out of retirement to once again fight Gotham’s many supervillains, it moved Batman away from the campy version many were familiar with at the time, instead featuring a much grittier caped crusader. Perhaps more important than Batman’s battles with his usual foes was his ongoing conflict with Superman, highlighting their differing ideologies. It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of Miller’s take on Batman, with almost every subsequent version of the character drawing from it.

Before we unveil our top pick here are a few honorable mentions:

Love and Rockets: Music and Mechanics (1982-1996)
The Hernandez brothers

Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Alan Moore

Scott Pilgrim (2004-2010)
Bryan Lee O’Mally

Bone (1991-2004)
Jeff Smith

Ghost World (1993-97)
Daniel Clowes

Fun Home (2006)
Alison Bechdel

#1: Watchmen (1986-87)
Alan Moore


Watchmen is often hailed as not only the greatest graphic novel of all time, but as one of the best pieces of literature from the 20th century. Following the murder of a costumed hero during the height of nuclear tension between America and the U.S.S.R. the story acted as a commentary of superheroes and their genre as well as human nature as a whole. Often touching on dark themes, Watchmen received critical praise for both its storytelling and intricate structure, and even appeared on TIME’s List of 100 best novels, the only graphic novel to do so.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite graphic novel? For more awe-inspiring top 10s published daily be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
Comments

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs