If you love graphic novels then you know that they are a great way to present and deliver new stories, or for that fact bring new life into loved books of the past. Good graphic novels are filled with amazing artwork and laden with color.

But not all graphic novels reach the dizzy heights of the best, and if you are new to the genre of the graphic novel here are some classic illustrated books that you should grab off the shelf to start you along and get you clamoring for more.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl – Phoebe Gloeckner

The New York Times commented on this book by saying that Phoebe Gloeckner had created some of the edgiest work about young women’s lives that existed in any medium. High praise indeed for the follow up graphic novel to A Child’s Life.

“Everything is so loveless and mediocre”

The book is technically more of a diary than an actual novel, which allows the author to talk in the first person about her real-life experiences. There are detailed sexual experiences along with honest accounts of abuse and addiction. The book is full of sketches and drawings that portray her feelings at the time of writing her chronicles, and they immensely help the reader identify what the author was going through at the time.

Black Hole – Charles Burns

Hailing from the 1990’s, Charles Burns has literally etched out a reputation for being one of the top cartoonists that has ever existed. Black Hole took the author ten years to complete and it is not one of you run of the mill bright and airy stories that you would associate with cartoons.

The story is about a group of young adults that are all suffering from a strange sexual disease that has the effect of mutating them in strange and bizarre ways. Society shuns them into developing a sub-culture and the mystery all emanates from there.

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware

Chris Ware is another famous cartoonist and is extremely well known for producing The ACME Novelty Library which was a huge success. Chris Ware took the idea of a simple comic book as art itself, and it was this that lead him to create Jimmy Corrigan.

The story-line is split between the adventures of The Smartest Kid on Earth and to flashbacks to his youth and his early exploits with his grandfather. The artwork is sublime and the precision of the drawings complement the engaging content of the writing.

Maus – Art Spiegelman

This book changed graphic novels for ever, the memoirs of the author’s life living with his parents who had survived the Nazi Holocaust is grim reading in many ways. But this Pulitzer Prize winning novel was not written merely to shock, but to educate as well.

The artwork almost seems scratchy and furious which depicts the Art Spieglman’s outrage at what happened to his parents and millions of other innocent people also. This book is courageous and enlightening and is one of the finest graphic novels ever to have been written.   

Posted by:Elaina