Graphic Novels

At the local bookstore on Sunday, I sat down and started to peruse a graphic novel I found. Remember seeing alot of these types of things when I was in Japan. Enjoyed what I read but since it was expensive ($19.50) and I didn’t know much about the genre, thought I’d ask you guys. The one I picked up was part of the Sandman series. What’s this all about? Can anyone suggest a series they’ve been enjoying. I like science-fiction, adventure, romance, but do not like horror or things that are real heavy in the occult/spooky/demon type thing. Any suggestions? Any good web sites?

Somehow I thought the subject line meant pornography…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “graphic novel” a colloquielism for $20 comic book?

I’ve spent about $250 on the “Love and Rockets” collection. It has science-fiction, adventure, and romance by the bucketfull! There’s two main plots that run through them. One, by Jaime Hernandez revolves around a group of bi-sexual latina punkers who dabble in rocket and robot repair on the side. The other by Jaime’s brother Gilbert is more of a Central American village version of Peyton place. Throw in some superheros and Mexican professional wrestling and the stories become so involved that you can’t help but buy the next collection…and the next…

One of my favorite graphic novels ever is The Watchmen. Its rather old, and still dealing with a cold war mentality, but its very well written. Its written as if superheros really existed in the 80s and how the government would have dealt with them. You can still catch it on the graphic novel shelf, from time to time. I reccomend it highly.


BunnyGirl, most graphic novels are ‘trades’, or a one series of comic books put together. If you notice in some GNs that sometimes it will say “Next issue…” or “End”, that’s why.

My favorite graphic novel is Batman: Arkham Assylum. It’s not your thing because it’s real dark, but I love it. It is well written and thought-provoking. You might like the Star Wars ones, there are quite a few. The artwork in Spawn is very cool, but again, probably not up your alley. But if you find a good selection, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

I think most of the time graphic novels are a storyline of a comic book series collected into one handy edition so you don’t have to track down each individual issue to get the whole story. Leastways, that’s the way it looks to me. Some of the graphic novels I’ve purchased are compilations from Sin City, Madman, 3x3 Eyes, Tank Girl, and the aforementioned The Sandman comic books.

Now, if you’re asking what The Sandman is about, specifically: The Sandman is terrific. Ok, maybe that’s not what it’s about, but that’s my opinion of it. In the Sandman, you have to imagine that every religion, every mythology, every folk tale is real. All the dieties, creatures, and characters really exist. Presiding over them all, or maybe I should say running through them all, are The Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of the human condition. Or something like that :wink: They are: Destiny, Death, Delirium (formerly Delight), Despair, Desire, Destruction, and Dream. Dream is The Sandman, known to the Greeks as Morpheus, god of dreams, and his domain is The Dreaming. And it’s terrific :slight_smile:

My favorite graphic novel is The Season of Mists, in which Lucifer decides he’s tired of running hell and being blamed for the world’s problems. So he kicks everyone out of hell, turns the key over to Dream, and takes a holiday. And of course Dream doesn’t want hell so the rest of the pantheon of dieties and mythological characters begin to vie for it, since it’s the hottest piece of real estate on the astral plain. It’s amazing, amusing, and sure changed how I view hell. Most of the people there seemed to be there because they expected to be; like they thought they didn’t deserve better. Lucifer sure didn’t act like he wanted them, he was just stuck with them. I’m keeping that in mind for future reference :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Sandman is terrific, and much as Gr8cat described.

If you are interested in something a little more down-to-Earth but still fantastic, you might want to consider the Starman series. Like Sandman, several of its story arcs have been collected as trade paperbacks, the first of which is called “Sins of the Father.” In a nutshell, it’s about the son of an aged superhero who wants to live an ordinary life but instead finds himself thrust into the super-hero role. The family relationships are amongst the most realistic and touching as I’ve ever seen in a comic book.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

Hey, thanks for the explanation. I’m into the whole mythology thing (being quite addicted to Greek mythology as a kid) so maybe next payday, I’ll pick one up!

I recommend the “Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” series by Jacques Tardi, especially if you can read 'em in the original French. They lose something in trnanslation.

Great atmospheric stories about a feisty, smart, 20-something adventuress in Paris, 1910-1914…secret societies, mad scientists, police inspectors, ambulatory Egyptian mummies, syringes of plague virus, intrigue!


Woohoo! Let’s hear it for Sandman. I got hooked early on and finished the series out. I have “Seasons of Mist” in a leatherbound edition. How geeky can you get?

If you can find it, I’d say that you should pick up “Preacher”. I’d try to explain it, but I can’t. Let’s just say that it’s a Texas preacher man on a quest to call God to task for abandoning mankind. And an international conspiracy to take over the world in the name of Christ.

Good stuff.

“I’m surprised that you’ve never been told before, that you’re lovely, that you’re perfect, and that somebody wants you.” - Semisonic, f.n.p

If you want to start at the beginning of the Sandman books, look for Preludes & Nocturnes. The rest of them in order (I think) are:

The Doll’s House
Dream Country
Seasons of Mist
A Game of You
Brief Lives
Fables & Reflections
World’s End
The Kindly Ones
The Wake

Incidentally, all the Sandman books are “trades”; reprints of the original comic book series. (Except for Book of Dreams, which is a short story collection by various authors using characters from the Sandman books.)

Personally, my favorite graphic novel (also a “trade”) is V for Vendetta. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic England, and involves a hero called “V” who is trying to overthrow the fascist government that has risen. Great art and great storytelling.

Carpe hoc!

I’ll agree with what others have said; Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is one of the classics of graphic novels. However, if you’re looking for a shorter work to see if you like Gaiman, try one of his Death books: The High Cost of Living or its sequel The Time of Your Life. Or The Books of Magic series; Gaiman wrote the first one and John Ney Rieber was continued it.

If you’re looking for a superhero series, try Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Frank Miller’s Return of the Dark Knight, Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, or Kurt Busiek’s Astro City series.

The Hernandez brothers’s Love and Rockets series is another great one. Or Dave Sims’s Cerebus books. Both of these however have very intricate plots and a casual reader will probably be lost.

If you want to skip the whole super hero/fantasy/science fiction genre, you could try Reed Waller’s Omaha the Cat series, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise series, or one of Kyle Baker’s books; The Cowboy Wally Show, Why I Hate Saturn, or You Are Here. All of these are set in a conventional world (admittedly Waller uses anthromorphic animals as his characters and Baker’s humor occasionally gets surreal).

Neil Gaiman also wrote “Neverwhere”. I read it, it’s decent, but not worthy of the praise you are all lavishing on the Sandman series (which I have not read).

But, if you do like Neil Gaiman, he’s got a book of short stories called “Angels and Visitations” you might find worth checking out. My favorite story is “Murder Mystery,” about a murder in Heaven (more precisely, the Silver City–I don’t know if this is supported in literature anywhere else, but in this story and in Season of Mists, Gaiman puts for that Heaven is for dead people’s souls, but God and the angels reside in The Silver City (I think that what it was called, shoot, some fan I am :frowning: )) during the creation, and gives a picture of what might have been going on through Lucifer’s mind when he rebelled. Like Memnoch the Devil, this also gives a rather sympathetic view of the Satan, saying he rebelled because he cared too much, which makes me think of the Theists and Satan thread in the GD forum. But I digress :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Neil Gaiman’s work on Sandman was some of the best short story writing in English in the 20th Century. Not only are the long arcs incredibly good, but some of the single stores (they are all collected) are breathtaking (notably “Dream of a Thousand Cats” and "Midsummer Night’s Dream). Gaiman has the uncanny ability to look at even the most mundane matters in new and surprising ways. Each issue had some element that would blow you away.

That said about the Sandman saga, the top graphic novel (not mentioned so far) is Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, primarily because it is the most important.

If you’re a fan of the more traditional comic genre, Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, and THE KILLING JOKE (the best Batman story ever) are well worth seeking out. (If you can find the comics – they’ve never been collected – you may get a kick out of Moore’s 1963, especially if you remember the Marvel comics of the 60s).

Frank Miller’s BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (the second best Batman story ever), is probably the most influential comic/graphic novel of all time. Just about every comic book nowadays is based upon the themes introduced there.

I’m with all the other Gaiman fans on this one. I read the Sandman when it first came out when a college roommate was collecting it. A few years later, I wandered into a comic shop wondering about it and there were the graphic novels; I bought them all within three weeks. It’s better than a lot of printed fiction that’s out there.

It’s already been mentioned now, but anyway, I seriously doubt readers of Maus and Maus II would call them comic books.

Besides that though, you’re right :wink:

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

TheNerd, don’t let Neverwhere put you off of Gaiman. I agree, it’s decent but not spectacular. OTOH, the Sandman series really was spectacular. Try it. You’ll like it.

I’ll get around to reading the rest of his stuff. I read everything eventually. But right now I’m in the middle of Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon

Other titles–Usagi Yojimbo By Stan Sakai
Retells Japanese folktales & history with…FUNNY ANIMALS!!!

Cartoon History of the Universe—Larry Gonick. Title sayes it all, a must for true SD fans.

The Dark Knight Returns–a whole nother take on the Batman & the best of the graphic novels no matter what the Sandman fans say.

Lum/Urusei Yatsura —by Rumiko Takahashi
This is what makes Japan laugh.{English translated}
The Return of Lum—by Takahashi 7 volumes & still coming

The Spirit–by Will Eisner. Eisner is the God of Film Noir comics. Get it while you can.

The Big Book Of {insert last part of title here} from Paradox Press. Cartoon illustrated reference books on every bizzare subject from Conspiracies to Hoaxes to Martyers to an unexpurged & non-P.C. version of Grimms Fairy tales {the blood is left in}