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A Graphic Novel List for Grown Ups


Did you love comics as a kid but feel guilty when you're reading them now? Well here's a few graphic novels, all illustrated by the author, which are a little more for adults than for children. I wasn't crazy about all the titles on this list (I tend to like the ones for kids a lot more) but all of them show real creativity and are worth checking out at least once. If you think I'm a little too harsh, or maybe you even agree with me, be sure to comment below and tell me why you think I may have been a little too critical with your favorite title. Happy reading! 

This dystopian look at a future New York City follows the lives of several adult characters falling in and out of love with each other. Centered around a futuristic strip club where voyeurs can now literally see "inside" a woman's body, dishwasher John falls for the new dancer named Daisy. Meanwhile Strel, the dance manager, must contend with her fighter boyfriend's return to town and his continued persistence to mend their fractured relationship. Strel's cousin, a struggling artist named Eloy, finds a kindred spirit in Kim, one of the club's bartenders.

While the detailed black and white illustrations attempt to bring this bizarre world into focus, it's the overall plot elements which cause this trade to fall short of its potential. For example, one of the earliest interactions between Strel and Kim is their conversation over the latter buying a gun for protection; while it could be easily assumed that Kim's life will be threatened in the climax, this part of the story is all but forgotten as the relationship drama begins to unfold. Many science fiction elements are included, but prove to be too conceptually confusing and relate very little to the emotions of the characters which is clearly the focus. Paul Pope's art proves to be compelling enough to propel readers into the next page, but his lack of an overall cohesive story adds up to less than 100%.

Looking for something grittier? Check out Brian Wood's Demo or DMZ series.

Vader, a struggling journalist, is kind of a mess. He drinks too much, he's awful to his girlfriend Ivy, and he has severe daddy issues. When he sees a man named Otis as a bar, Vader can't help but feel that's he is a familiar face from his past. Their friend-in-common Woodrow also becomes an important character as he begins an online seduction of Vader's girlfriend Ivy in the online fantasy enviornment called "Second World" - most likely a parady of the website Second Life.

A confusing plot tries to weave all of the characters together but does a bad job of making it seamless, coherent, or even relevant. The exaggerated black and white illustrations don't seem to fit the story's more serious elements, including Otis's supposed past as a government sanctioned terrorist-finder. In fact, the drawings serve as a visual distraction from an already confusing story overall. While these characters are no doubt intended to be charmingly neurotic, they instead appear viciously self-involved and horrible to each other.

Other realistic titles include Exit Wounds or Neil Young's Greendale.

Looking for more? Check out these extended reviews available through our blogs:


X-Men: Longshot
Marvel Comics, 208 pages, Nov. 2008.

Interdimensional star turned rebel warrior Longshot flees Mojo and his entertainment-ruled world. 

Read the extended review on 



Vixen: Return of the Lion
DC Comics, 128 pages, Dec. 2009.

G. Willow Wilson's take on one of the very first African American superheroines. Illustrations by Cafu.

Read the extended review on



Superman Earth One
DC Comics, 136 pages, Nov. 2010.

A reimagining of Clark Kent's origin, with him arriving in Metropolis as an angst-ridden young adult.

Read the extended review on



The Boys, vol. 1
Dynamite Entertainment, 200 pages, June 2007.

Sometimes you need to be saved from the superheroes; Meet Butcher and his team of buttkickers.

Read the extended review on



Batwoman Elegy
DC Comics, 192 pages, July 2010.

After a young, Jewish-American lesbian woman is kicked out of the military, she becomes a hero.

Read the extended review on



Runaways, vol. 1
Marvel Comics, 144 pages, Dec. 2006.

If your parents are the worst group of villains in Los Angeles, you might just run away from them, too.

Read the extended review on



Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predators and Prey
Dark Horse Comics, 144 pages, Oct. 2009.

Everyone's favorite blonde slayer deals with a variety of problems, including vampire reality television.

Read the extended review on



X-Factor: Time and a Half
Marvel Comics,168 pages, Nov. 2009.

A team of haphazard mutant detectives deal with an unstoppable enemy and a dark, dytopian future.

Read the extended review on



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also check out Brian Wood!

almost anything you pick by this creator (and local boy: Brooklyn!) is awesome. my personal favorite is the first series of Northlanders (called "Sven The Returned"), which is all about different aspects of Viking history and geography.

Ditto for Northlanders!

I'm just reading this series right now, and it is the bees' knees. Lots of blood, lots of swearing, and lots of fun!

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