When people think of graphic novels, most picture superheroes saving their city. And, while superhero graphic novels are great, they aren’t the only forms of illustrated entertainment available. In fact, there are numerous graphic novels that don’t have anything to do with those with powers outside of the standard human.
If you haven’t checked out everything that the graphic novel has to offer, here are some excellent examples that don’t involve a single superhero.
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
While Alan Moore is more commonly known for his alternative take on the superhero genre, such as he demonstrated in critically acclaimed works like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, From Hell is actually an exploration of the story of Jack the Ripper. While the story is in no way historically accurate, it is a compelling story that falls well outside the superhero standard.
The Giant Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
Famed illustrator and cartoonist, Stephen Collins, directed his unique style to the graphic novel The Giant Beard That Was Evil. The work was nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year award as well as an Eisner Award in 2013. The story is fantastical and quirky, with high-quality visuals propelling the story along.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Here’s another graphic novel that was given its time on the silver screen, but the story has nothing to do with heroes and villains. Instead, Ghost World follows to somewhat jaded young women as they work their way through the world. Part coming of age story, part examination of the times, it explores some very common issues with a unique perspective.
Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira did more than just tell a post-apocalyptic story about teenage gangs and psychic kids; it served as inspiration for productions like Blade Runner. The story works through the political climate that brought everything crashing down, as well as those trying to survive in the aftermath. This isn’t your standard graphic novel by any means and still garners attention after all of these years.
Preacher by Garth Ennis
Recently used to inspire a television series of the same name, Preacher does involve a person with extraordinary power, but it isn’t because of the standard superhero premise. Instead, this graphic novel combines a horror/thriller storyline with the feel of a classic Western. And, as the name suggests, a healthy dose of skewed religious connections.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
When most people picture a memoir, they don’t see it in comic strip form. And that’s why The Complete Persepolis impresses. It tells the tale of the author’s life growing up in Tehran during the time of the Islamic Revolution. Part coming of age story, part political exploration of the era, this graphic novel is often considered one of the best even when compared to those of the superhero variety.
As you can see, the reach of the graphic novel goes well beyond the traditional offerings many people imagine. The ability to express such varying stories in the combination narrative and pictorial formats give many of these tales a unique life of their own, and can be quite immersing. So, before you assume that graphic novels are one thing alone, consider giving these options a try. You may be surprised by what you find.