Five Favorite Graphic Novels
Let me emphasize that word "favorite": I wouldn't necessarily claim that the following are the best graphic novels ever created, just ones that particularly please me. As you'll see with the last item, I'm not above cheating. But graphic storytelling is such a raffish art form that I don't feel guilty at all.
1. Ghost World (1998), by Daniel Clowes.
Something about the graphic-novel genre lends itself to stories about troubled kids, as witness both this entry and the next one. Clowes's tale of two oh-so-superior and oh-so-witty (but actually quite needy) high school girls is funny, touching and eye-popping all at once. Its luster has only increased since it became an indie movie hit, with screenplay by the author himself, in 2001.
2. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), by Alison Bechdel.
Written and drawn close to the bone, this is the story of a girl coming to terms with her father's homosexuality at the same time that she is beginning to sense her own nascent lesbianism. She shows us the beefcake photos that her father hid away from the rest of the family and shares the odd thoughts that knowing about his orientation leads to: for example, she reflects, had her dad discovered his true self sooner, he might have been a happier man, but "Where would that leave me?"
3. Black Hole (2005), by Charles Burns.
I grew up slavering over the horror comics of the early 1950s (see #5, below), and Burns is the artist who best evokes that gore-alicious era. I like this number in particular because its central plot-device mocks 1950s Puritanism: a plague that strikes sexually active teenagers only!
4. Missouri Boy (2006), by Leland Myrick.
Because I am a Missouri boy myself, I have a special fondness for this slim volume, which takes the protagonist from birth in 1961 to a momentous trip to California in 1985. "The Candy Striper," an episode from 1982, beautifully captures the hesitancy of a gawky guy attracted to a girl but unable to find a way to let her know.
5. The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics (2008), edited by Peter Normanton.
This is the cheat: Obviously, it's not a graphic novel but an anthology of tales mostly from early 1950s horror comics. The genre was squelched by psychiatrists and Congressional busybodies before it ever got the chance to spawn any full-length progeny, but it's not hard to imagine some of these stories being teased out to book length if only the creators had been allowed to continue and refine (if that's the right word) their art.
What are some of your favorites?
-- Dennis Drabelle
By Christian Pelusi |
July 17, 2008; 10:01 AM ET
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