The comic book industry has been in full swing for the last several years as the popularity of superhero films rises.
This holiday season is the perfect time to give Netflix a rest, and drive to the nearest comic book shop for a handheld adventure. But with DC Comics, Marvel, Image Comics, and more pumping out so many titles, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Between Batman, space gods, Olympian love tales, and arcane murder mysteries, there are a slew of graphic novel genres.
Here’s a list of quirky, dark, and action-packed graphic novels to pick up this holiday season:
That Texas Blood
Chris Condors and Jacob Phillips
A series of unfortunate events leads Sheriff Joe Bob Coates and writer Randy Terrill on a collision course in Texas after the untimely murder of Terrill’s brother. Following this, the small town that is Ambrose County becomes the setting for a localized manhunt to find the suspect and their motivations. That Texas Blood by Chris Condors and Jacob Phillips masters humanity, and the individual’s response to tragedy, rage, sorrow, love and loss.
Are You Listening?
Are You Listening? is a dreamy fiction tale by award-winning cartoonist Tillie Walden that explores the nuances of grief, friendship, and the journey to find safety. The story centers Lou and Bea, two young, queer women who take an unexpected road trip across West Texas. Walden bends reality in a shocking, imagination-fueled climax, expanding the graphic novel from what it first seemed to be. Are You Listening? is genuinely wonderful and its calm-yet-winding momentum, in tandem with awe-inducing artwork, make for an unforgettable read.
God Country by Donny Cates is a cosmic Texas tale about a grandfather who obtains a giant sword and must protect his family from the gods who want it back. The story the adventure genre’s tropes and simplifies them in unexpected fashion, making for a refreshing reading experience.
Cowboy vampires? Yes. Cowboy vampires. Donny Cates’ gritty action comic follows the Bowmans, a family of mostly-peaceful vampires who run a local BBQ restaurant in an attempt to remain hidden in East Texas. However, their safety is threatened when several humans and one of their own are slaughtered, leaving the Bowman family careening into the public-- and enemy’s -- spotlight. Fists are thrown, teeth are barred, and lots of blood gets spilled (and drank) in this story riddled with plot twists as well as everything lovable about vampires.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
It’s no coincidence that in every “Best Batman Stories” list, you will find The Long Halloween. It’s a gripping mystery intertwining the Dark Knight, his rogues' gallery, and Gotham City’s rampant crime syndicates. The story follows the brooding-but-masterful vigilante as he follows the trail of the Holiday Killer who only murders on holidays. This is a whodunit depicted with a grimey art where no one wins. Written by comic legend Jeph Loeb, you will find there are not many comics like this classic, hence the reason why you should clear out some shelf space to make room for it.
Lore Olympus has taken the romance genre by storm, becoming one of the most popular stories in the genre. It takes the complicated mythology of the Greek gods and represents it in this gorgeous romance between Persephone and Hades. Lore Olympus also focuses on the development of self-worth, the effects of and healing from trauma, and breaking away from others’ expectations to follow your own path. Writer Rachel Smythe pairs ethereal art with a goofy, heart-wrenching story that will have you gushing over the two gods’ as they grow closer.
N.K. Jemisin has honed her craft for sci-fi and Far Sector is proof. Rooted in DC Comics’ Green Lantern mythos, the story follows Sojourner "Jo" Mullein who is sent to the far reaches of space to The City Enduring, a metropolis with emotionless citizens. Here, she must navigate politics and social unrest as the first murder in five centuries has the city reeling. The story is largely absent of over-the-top heroes as Jemisin gives her protagonist ample space for her own character development. Not only is it an enjoyable title for both new and long-time readers, but it also addresses political topics familiar around the world today.
The Black Monday Murders
The Stock Market Exchange is a secret magic cult for the 1%, and a demon god controlling the world’s money. Fans of the occult genre will fall in love with this one-of-a-kind mystery blending the stock market and economics with magic and white-collar crime. Jonathan Hickman writes a fantastic slow-burn that establishes a web of plot points, and characters that build into a magnificent climax where all is revealed.