Carly Lane
December 07, 2014 10:00 am

I’ve got to get something off my chest: I wasn’t always into graphic novels. To me, nothing compared to the written word —but it also felt particularly daunting to dip my toes into this new media form. Turns out, I didn’t know what I was missing until I cracked open a graphic novel. They combine the best of both worlds: amazing storytelling with gorgeous artwork. Some are a little more adult than others, but they all have the power to keep you intrigued.

Now I certainly don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to graphic novels.  If anything, I’m a newbie, a novice —but I can say that there are some series that I’ve read that make me really excited. I’m talking the kind of excited that makes me want to buy fifty copies and press them into the hands of strangers, wanting to know if they’ve read this brilliance yet. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but if you’re feeling as overwhelmed as I originally was, it’s a good place to start.

Saga (by Brian K Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples)

A pair of lovers (whose planets are fighting an ongoing war) flee with their newborn daughter and struggle to stay alive against an onslaught of opposition.  This series has a well-deserved name, and combines all kinds of genres in one package: science-fiction, romance, dark comedy. It’s got one of the most realistic depictions of a married couple I’ve ever seen in any work of fiction, let alone art. Alana and Marko are complete opposites in every sense of the word, but their love for each other is unmatched.

There’s also a motley crew of other characters who pop up: assassins, a talking blue cat who can tell when somebody’s lying, and the ghost of a teenage girl who becomes their unofficial babysitter. The book is for slightly more mature readers —it’s rated for ages 17 and up— but once you’re drawn into the strange world these people live in, you won’t want to turn back.

The Walking Dead (by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Tony Moore)

Now that the TV show is on a break, you could pick up the graphic novel and find out how it all began. The producers of the TV show have already made it clear that they’re loosely following the original source material, but you can still appreciate the similarities as well as differences between the two.

There’s the familiar faces you’ve grown to know and love —like Rick, Carl, Shane and Maggie— but you might be surprised to learn who actually bites the dust (or gets bitten) in this version. The black-and-white panels give it a gritty feel, and the good news is that it’s still ongoing. Don’t bother looking for Daryl, he’s not going to show up here.

Fables (by Bill Willingham, illustrated by various)

Fans of shows like Once Upon A Time will love this series about fairy-tale characters forced to live in the real world by an enemy known as The Adversary.  Since they find themselves unable to fit in, they end up forming their own sanctuary, called Fabletown.

There are characters from almost every fairy tale out there —Cinderella, Pinocchio, even Santa Claus and Aladdin— but if you think it’s all happily-ever-after, think again. Snow White’s more than happy to break up with Prince Charming after she finds out he’s cheating on her, and the Big Bad Wolf might not be so bad after all.

Silver (by Stephan Franck)

Aptly published by Dark Planet Comics, this independent series picks up where Bram Stoker’s Dracula left off, propelling forward into the 1930s. It follows a con man who assembles a team of some shifty characters to pull off a heist —robbing some nasty vampires of their precious silver. In February, this project was completely funded by fans via Kickstarter, which allowed Franck to print a volume compiling the first three issues.

I had the opportunity to meet Stephan Franck in person at New York Comic-Con this year and got a signed copy of the first volume as well as a complimentary print! He’s still working to make Silver available in stores, but for now you can purchase the comic online through the Dark Planet Comics website.

[Saga image ; Walking Dead image , ; Fables image via; Silver image via.]

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