May 14 2012

Five Graphic Novels You Need To Read

Published by at 10:00 am under Comics,Lists

Uzumaki: Volume 1: Junji Ito

This may be the only time I recommend Manga, only because if there is one thing us web nerds try to force on people, it is our love of Manga, and I won’t do that to you guys. I will say that this is one of the creepiest stories I have ever read, easily one of the most insane, and just oozing with originality throughout its entirety. It is also pretty damn creepy.

Uzumaki is a story about a town being haunted by spirals. While that idea may seem shallow and silly, it is taken to some absolute extremes, and some of the visuals and ideas in this story will really stick with you. There is this scene with an eyeball in the book, where this girls head opens up and swallows her eyeball into a spiral, all while she stands there, emotionless. Though it is not particularly gory, it is a very effective moment, and something about the visuals of the scene have stayed with me since the first time I read it.

Yup, that’s it. That is the “head swallows eyeball in a spiral” scene that flickers through my subconscious every night when I try to sleep.

While there is no denying that the book is strange, there is a sort of Twin Peaks madness to the people who inhabit this town, and what is happening to them. Wow, I have brought David Lynch up twice. I write movie lists, I compare them to comics. I make comic lists, I compare them to movies. Odd how my mind works.

Uzumaki is told like a soap opera, with cliff hanger scenes between volumes. And every time something insane happens, you think they have reached the apex of weird. Then you get the next volume and something even weirder happens.

Pay extra attention for “snail boy” because the way he looks will eat away at your soul.

It is like the video in The Ring. I have to show this to you, so it will no longer haunt me.

By the way, Uzumaki was made into a live action film, and somehow, it is not that bad. Actually, comparatively to the book, it sucks. Stick with the source material and read the books. The movie is only enjoyable if you are on drugs, and we all know, drugs are bad, mmmKay?

Locke and Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft: Joe Hill

When I heard Joe Hill this was Stephen King’s son and he had made a horror comic set in a New England town called Lovecraft, I was both intrigued and apprehensive. Intrigued, because, well, horror has to run in his blood, after all.

But apprehensive because a New England town named Lovecraft just sounded too much like something his Dad would have written, so that threw me off. Luckily, my cool Uncle ( we all have one ) bought me the first graphic novel, and I was immediately hooked.

From the artwork to the imagination involved, this book is close to perfect.

As much fantasy as it is horror, the book tells the story of the Locke family, who move to Lovecraft after an untimely and unforseen tragedy, involving the death of their father, a school teacher, under some terrible circumstances. The new home they move to, though, has more in store for them than they can possibly imagine.

Wait, that sounded like a trite ghost story.

And they move into a house that seems to have more secrets than they do.

Ok, that sounded like a cheesy B-movie tagline.

Ok, let me try again. The long and the short, they have different keys to different doors in the house, and the doors are actually portals to different dimensions and different powers, and each new book tends to focus on new keys and new doors. SO while one chapter may involve dead people and a serial killer, another invovles the Locke children going through a door that makes them into their spirit animals. Ah, that sounds better.

Strange, yes. But brilliantly weaved and wonderfully illustrated, it is like a Narnia for a new generation. With way more death, and a few less religious metaphors.

And though I need to recommend the entire series, start with Welcome to Lovecraft and be prepared to be drawn in to this world, hook, line and sinker. Oh, and some serious props for the artwork of Gabriel Rodriguez, whose thick line work and expressive faces almost evoke a Pixar vibe. Pixar as fed through the King lens.

I would want to live in this world, if there was less eyeball stabbings.

And in a move of utter stupidity, FOX passed on an incredibly well made pilot for the series. Anyone who has read the books can tell you , this trailer was pitch perfect with the book, and if my eyes never get to see this in its entirety, I will be a very sad Remy.

httpv://youtu.be/r_KmKC5K8QU

Kickstarter to fund this series, please? Here, take my money.

Honorable Mentions:

Sweet Tooth: Post apocalyptic trip about a boy with antlers, trying to make sense of a dying world. Amazing book.

Chew: A detective who gets psychic impressions from eating things. And sometimes, eating people. Funny, cool and original.

Y the Last Man: Great series that fell a little short on the ending, but still warrants a read before Hollywood ruins it.

Fables: Before shows like Grimm stole the idea of fairy tales living in the modern world, Fables did it first, and Fables did it better.

PopBot. Ashley Wood is a God of mine. Pick up  PopBot (or anything with his name attached) and find out why.

Anytime I mistake myself for an artist, I look at some Ashley Wood art and go weep in a corner. 

 





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21 responses so far

  • AetherMcLoud

    Berserk > Uzumaki any time of day.

  • Dave Strong

    Good article. Definitely agree about Wormwood! One thing though, it’s Alex Ross, not Alex Jones’ Kingdom Come. Just wanted to let you know.

  • jaromir

    Yes, thank you for mentioning that about “Fables”!

  • Don

    I have not yet read any of these books. Will try them based on your recommendations.

    I do agree that Y: The Last Man kinda fell flat towards the end but man, that series was fun. People should also read the graphic novel of Wanted just to see the concept of a world ruled by supervillains (hey it’s not a superhero book technically) though the last chapter was extremely weak

    And I don’t know what it is about the Killing Joke but I still prefer The Long Halloween. Anyway nice list!

  • shwiggles

    I hope Berserk gets finished one day…writer is getting up there in age. Best manga ever though. Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind is also good, the 7 volume collection.

  • Nick

    Good picks!

    Other suggestions:

    Ex Machina
    Transmetropolitan

  • trashcanman

    Am I the only one who actually likes The Boys better than Preacher? Also, give Testament a look. It is basically an R-rated sci-fi interpretation of Bible stories that goes back and forth from biblical times to the future to illustrate the cyclical nature of the stories and it is goddamn amazing.

  • Lys

    The art in Black Hole is truly amazing. It has such an otherworldly quality to it that matches the unsettling feel of the story perfectly. The book itself might be massive, but it’s really not that long of a read. The panels are big and many are wordless, so you can finish it in a day.

    A few more of my favorites that, like Black Hole, lean more towards the novel part of the graphic novel spectrum:
    – Castle Waiting
    – Fun Home
    – Blankets

  • Mike

    Wormwood is a great and bizarre read. I love anything by Ben Templesmith and enjoy the kind of stories he attaches himself too. Oddly never read the 30 days of Night series though.

    I’ve read the first volume of Fables and there is something original and humorous about it that seriously made me rethink characters like Prince Charming.

    The others on this list that I don’t know do seem up my alley and I am intrigued by this ‘Popbot’ and the piece of art you attached to it. Maybe I’ll check it out.

  • Carax

    Glad you mentioned preacher and fables. surprised there is no mention of the boys. Still good article

  • Andy

    Great list as always. Now I have even more stuff to look into.

    I’d like to see a little more love for Runaways. At least everything that Brian K. Vaughn wrote for them. I bet Joss Whedon could direct the hell out of a film adaptation.

    Also, much love going out to Arseface.

  • devdas5z

    Preacher was a great comic for most of its run, but the last stretch was awful. The ending was both tonally and conceptually absurd (basically it sheds its dark humor for a maudlin western-style romance with the Preacher on horseback, crying over his girlfriend.) And Cassidy turns into a wimp.

    I highly recommend it though, provided one stops before the ending. Like a lot of ongoing comics, the questions and the journey are more interesting than the answers.

  • https://www.facebook.com/asleepinsidemysoul Remy Carreiro

    For me, the greatest thing about doing these lists is that I can come to the comments later with a pen and paper, and walk away with a ton of new books to read based on you guys suggestions. Thanks for the feedback, guys. The Boys just climbed my rank of “must reads” cuz you guys have not steered me wrong yet.

  • gingerspoons

    you had some great suggestions !

  • Pepper

    I hate you for the snail boy gif.

    otherwise, great list. I now have a list of books for my holiday reading!

  • XianAer

    HUGE fan of Locke and Key, Y: The Last Man, and Fables. Thanks for the summer reading list!!

    A few others maybe:

    Sandman: The Dream Hunters (or anything Sandman-esque, really)
    Anything by Craig Thompson (i.e. Blankets, Habibi)
    Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s “Unwritten” series

    Thanks again!

  • Lucien

    why the hell isn’t watchmen ANYWHERE on here? or is that something you assume everyones already read? I loved that one.

  • Lucien

    oh crap, I’m sorry I commented without reading the first sentence. feel like a jerk now.

  • Straenge

    Great list but as far as *need* to read books, I fully believe everyone needs to read Transmetropolitan as well. It’s just one of those series that gets into your head and stays there, fermenting. I blame Warren Ellis.

    You may have convinced me to pick up the Wormwood series again. Oddly enough, I bought the first one in a dollar bin which didn’t give me high hopes but the artwork just looked too good to pass up so I guess I will have to get the second one. I am just glad that I am seeing Preacher on a list again. I loved that series.

    Another one I also recommend is a classic though, it can be a bit confusing for some, The Invisibles.

  • RemyCarreiro

    @Lucien, no worries , mate. We have all done it.
    @Straenge, Good call about Transmetropolitan, it is a great book. And I did want to put The Invisibles because it is so insane and all over the place, but, I feared I might lose some people because that book is not instantly enjoyable for some people, it tends to take a little longer to get in to because of how insane it is, but I am a huge Grant Morrison fan and I agree with you.

  • Rwn

    Just wanted to say thanks for mentioning Locke & Key. It is simply an amazing story. I have at least a passing familiarity with all of the titles you mention in this article; all of them are good, but for my money L&K is the top pick. (Preacher is every bit as incredible as you say, but the price consideration knocks it down a peg.)

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