Often we get the impression that some people consider graphic novels (or more commonly referred to as "comics") to not be "real books" or to be in some way watered down. We beg to differ! It's really a unique format that combines literary devices and art to tell stories, engaging your brain in decoding information in two ways simultaneously. When we say it like that, I bet they sound pretty intense—and anyone who has read Art Spiegelman's tremendous Maus series or Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis can tell you how awe-inspiring a graphic novel can really be. We've selected some parts of series and some stand-alones to illustrate the clever complexities of this visually stunning format.
From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, and Lee Burmejo // This prequel cracks into two of the most intense characters of Alan Moore's groundbreaking Watchmen graphic novel. One of four Watchmen prequels released this year!
2. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey and Peter Gross // If you know someone who loved Harry Potter and they're NOT reading The Unwritten, you need to change that ASAP.
3. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm // A nonfiction graphic novel about momentous decisions that led to the dropping of the first A bomb.
4. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg // A collection of an imagined civilization's early history. Or maybe the stories are myths. Whatever they are, they're lovely to behold.
5. The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn // Anyone who has been keeping up with The Walking Dead series will surely have this on their Christmas list.
6. Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederick Peeters // An idyllic day at the beach becomes a nightmare when the body of a young woman is found floating in the waters. Then everyone starts aging rapidly and no one can leave. Haunting and totally original.
7. March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell // Congressman John Lewis uses the graphic novel format to tell the true story of his struggle for civil rights. Powerful.
8. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fedrego // Fans of the ongoing Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series will love this prequel.
9. The Property by Rutu Modan // Reminiscent of so many Holocaust homecoming tales, Modan explores the deep rifts between Poles and Jews that still exist to this day.
10. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger // A dark, fairy-tale-esque story reminiscent of selkie myths created by master storyteller Niffenegger.
11. Genius by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen // A quantum physicist turns to his father-in-law, who claims Einstein entrusted him with his final secret, to save his job.
12. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker, and Philip Simon // The true story of Brian Epstein, the manager who discovered and lead the Beatles to their greatest successes only to die tragically before his time.