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Suggested Reads for Graphic Novel Newbies

Drawing-on his vast knowledge of comic books, local illustrator Greg Smallwood has assembled this suggested reading list for anyone wanting to begin their journey into the incredible world of graphic novels.

You can find Mr. Smallwood here at the library on July 19, putting pen-to-projector to co-present the program A Visual History of Comics with writer Jai Nitz.


UNION STATION by Ande Parks and Eduardo Baretto Union Station cover

After petty criminal Floyd Nash is involved in a clash-turned-massacre at Kansas City’s Union Station in 1933, J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t particularly care who started it: he just wants Floyd Nash’s butt in an electric chair. And when an unwitting FBI agent, reporter, and criminal find themselves in the way, they can’t duck for cover fast enough.

WHITEOUT by Greg Rucka and Steve LieberWhiteout Book Cover

Carrie Stetko is a U.S. Marshal, and she’s made Antarctica, aka The Ice, her home. All is peaceful… until someone commits a murder in her jurisdiction and that peace is shattered. Is she prepared for the secrets and betrayals at the core of this mystery?

INVINCIBLE Vol 1 by Robert Kirkman and Cory WalkerInvincible book cover

Mark Grayson’s problems–beyond those of a normal high school student–grow when he begins to inherit his father’s superpowers.


THE ROCKETEER: CLIFF’S NEW YORK ADVENTURE by Dave StevensThe Rocketeer Book Cover

Cliff, our hero, has traveled to New York to win back the woman he loves. Along the way he gets mixed up with spies, a monsterous killer, a bit of his past and an awfully familiar looking mysterious investigator.

ASTERIOS POLYP by David MazzucchelliAsterios Polyp Book Cover

The arrogant, prickly protagonist of this graphic novel is an award-winning architect who’s never built an actual building, and a pedant in the midst of a spiritual crisis. After the structure of his own life falls apart, he runs away to try to rebuild it into something new.

PARKER: THE HUNTER by Darwyn CookeParker book cover

Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind – to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!

COWARD: CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker and Sean PhillipsCoward: a Criminal book cover

Leo is a professional pickpocket and legendary heist-planner. When he’s lured into an unusually risky heist, all his rules go out the window and he must come face-to-face with the violence he’s kept bottled up inside for 20 years.

THE WALKING DEAD vol 1 by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moorewalking dead book cover

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: There is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. Rick Grimes finds himself one of the few survivors in this terrifying future.

PROOF vol 1 by Alexander Grecian and Riley RossmoProof volume one:  Goatsucker book cover

If you believe in monsters… Proof doesn’t leave urban legends where it finds them. Bigfoot wears a suit to the office. Fairies devour anyone in sight. A lonely monster wears human skins for company. The hit series starts here!

HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION by Mike Mignola and John ByrneHellboy: Seed of Destruction book cover

When strangeness threatens to engulf the world, a strange man will come to save it. Sent to investigate a mystery with supernatural overtones, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins and his link to the Nazi occultists who promised Hitler a final solution in the form of a demonic avatar.

THE SPIRIT by Will EisnerThe Spirit book cover

This series by comic’s grand master stars the Spirit, a down-to-Earth crime fighter revered among fans as a comics’ Golden Age classic. These post WWII tales are sometimes uplifting but often tragic tales of crime and urban life–with an occasional fantastic element.  Essential for anyone interested in comics history.

BONE by Jeff SmithBone book cover

After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.  Anyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone!

Y THE LAST MAN Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Pia GuerraY The Last Man book cover

Suddenly – and without warning – a mysterious plague kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosone…in other words, no more men! Except one. Amateur escape artist Yorick Brown has somehow survived. It’s now a very different world, and if they can’t exploit Yorick, the new world powers may just decide his usefulness is at an end!

EX MACHINA Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Tony HarrisEx Machina book cover

Civil engineer and real-life superhero Mitchell Hundred retires from a life of masked crimefighting to become mayor of New York City. But Mayor Hundred has to worry about more than just budget problems and an antagonistic governor, especially when a mysterious hooded figure begins assassinating plow drivers during the worst snowstorm in the city’s history!

SEAGUY by Grant Morrison and Cameron StewartSeaguy Book Cover

Seaguy follows the strange adventure of would-be hero Seaguy and his faithful companion Chubby Da Choona as they try to decipher the mystery of Xoo, a ubiquitous new food that seems to have evolved into a brand-new conscious life form! Quirky and heart-wrenching at the same time, Seaguy is something utterly and completely new.

KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid and Alex RossKingdom Come book cover

Kingdom Come first burst onto the comics scene in 1996 and almost immediately galvanized fan appreciation with its tale of an emerging struggle between vaunted superheroes and a new breed of amoral, power-hungry vigilantes.

SCALPED Vol 1 by Jason Aaron and R.M. GueraScalped book cover

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in hopes of finding something better. Now he’s returned with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude, and one dark secret.  Is he here to set things right, or just get a piece of the action?

THE UNWRITTEN Vol 1 by Mike Carey and Peter GrossThe Unwritten book cover

Tom Taylor’s life is screwed. His dad is the author of the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. And when an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life.

THE ULTIMATES Vol 1 by Mark Millar and Brian HitchThe Ultimates book cover

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. The X-Men and Magneto. Strange beings with incredible powers have risen up to challenge the old order, and ordinary citizens are scared witless. The government’s solution: a small but lethal army known as the Ultimates, created to protect humanity from the newly risen threats to mankind!

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