Comics for Newbies: Graphic Novels

Ever since I started writing my Comics For… posts over on IGGPPC I’ve had a lot of people asking me to suggest comics and graphic novels for newbies. I’ll get into comics for newbies in a future post (I have SO many suggestions) but I feel like it’s sometimes a bit easier to introduce someone to comics and graphic novels with stand alone stories. So to get you started, here are five graphic novels/memoirs for newbies:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

1. This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

image source: Illustration Friday

A graphic novel that holds so many deep, important issues within its pages is rarely simple, but This One Summer will captivate you with its simplicity. The story of Rose and Windy, two “summer cottage friends” who spend every summer together at Awago Beach with their families. This is very much a story about two young girls, discovering the way the world works, beyond their childhood ideals. A world where things can a do go wrong – sometimes drastically. The art in this book is just beautiful, if for no other reason, this book is a great introduction to graphic novels for its ability to draw you in with its breathtaking illustrations. If you want to start off slow, check out This One Summer it’s not overwhelming and you will get a sense of just how important illustrations can be in story telling.

2. Through the Woods – Emily Carroll

image source: Comics & Cola

Known for her collection of web comics, Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods  is a collection of five unsettling short stories, that have the ability to entertain even those wary of graphic novels. With simple, yet haunting illustrations to compliment the chilling tales, this collection is a fantastic entry point into graphic novels for fans of scary stories.

3. Ghost World – Daniel Clowes

image source: Union Films
image source: Union Films

Most people will be familiar with Ghost World because of the popular movie, but the cult classic started out as a widely popular graphic novel. We follow best friends Enid and Becky as they face the challenges of growing up, and the reality that sometimes that means growing apart. If you’re a fan of the movie or that 90s style geek culture aesthetic I can almost guarantee you will love Ghost World.

4. Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley

image source: Comics Alliance
image source: Comics Alliance

Bryan Lee O’Malley is a great entry point into graphic novels for just about anyone. Much like his Scott Pilgrim novels, Seconds is a fun, entertaining, and easy read.

Seconds tells the story of Katie the head chef of a restaurant that is woken up one night by a mysterious girl who gives her a notebook and a mushroom. Katie comes to learn that when eaten the mushroom allows her to fix any of her past mistakes that she writes down in the notebook. Thrilled that she can correct everything that’s gone wrong in her life, Katie becomes somewhat obsessed with what these mushrooms allow her to do and abuses their power until she’s faced with the devastating consequences.

5. Persepolis -Marjane Satrapi

image source: Sequart Organization
image source: Sequart Organization

Persepolis was actually my first introduction to graphic memoirs, and it remains one of the best graphic novels that I’ve read to date. This has been considered a fairly controversial book, but I truly believe that it’s one that everyone needs to read. Persepolis is a non-traditional coming of age story about the author’s experience growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A unique take on the political and sociocultural issues of the time, Persepolis introduces you to some very important issues and history in a way that keeps you entertained. Now, don’t get me wrong, this book is emotionally charged, but perhaps in unsuspecting ways. Marjane has some of the coolest parents I’ve ever read about and the book is worth a read for them alone, but even if you’re not typically interested in the issues this book brings to light I don’t think you’ll regret giving it a shot.

Have you read any of these titles? If so what did you think? What Graphic Novels (stand alone stories/memoirs) would you suggest to a new reader? Let me know in the comments!



11 thoughts on “Comics for Newbies: Graphic Novels

  1. These are great suggestions! I also liked Seconds very much, although it can’t compare with the Scott Pilgrim series 😉 I have already bought Through The Woods some time ago, and I have actually held This One Summer in my hands in a bookshop but then decided that I had already bought enough books that day and put it down again. As we seem to have similar taste, I will definitely look into your other suggestions. Thanks!

Leave a Reply