Friday, 26 July 2013

A Graphic Novel Guide: Part one.

There isn't just one type of comicbook or one type of character. There isn't just one company or one setting that everyone ad-hears to. There isn't, to labour a point, just one type of story and on outcome. Heroes don't always win, don't always triumph and don't always shag off screen. In fact there is a graphic novel for everyone!

Wait, I was talking about Comicbooks right? Well a Graphic Novel is just a collection of comics, all bound together to form a self contained story. If you're lucky that story is so good you can't wait to read the next one! Some Graphic Novels are part of an on going story featuring a long standing character/characters and some are mini series that start and end within those few hundreds of pages.

Below are a selection of Graphic Novels I would recommend to you. Some are for more mature readers, some are mainstream, some are violent and some exist as an attempt to bring knowledge and instruction of past events; illustrated dramatisations of historical events.

I've drawn up a List and I'll take you through some of these awesome collections. There are too many to focus on each and every one in the following list but I'll try to smack out a line for each one.

KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT By J.M. DeMattesis and Mike Zeck

Spiderman is an iconic character, he's one of the big boys, of that there is no doubt. In 1989/90 there came an event, a time, when one of Spidey's greatest foes would come to teach webhead the true meaning of their struggle and just what would happen if they stopped playing by the comic rules and Kraven came after Spidey for real.

The result was simply put one of the finest storylines every written in the long history of Spiderman. Over six issues Kraven attacked Peter Parker's life, systematically trying to prove that he; Kraven The Hunter, was Spiderman's clear better.

What you get from this story is the real cost of Peter's life as Spiderman, the heart breaking danger and lonely nights of his loved ones and the knowledge that when he slips out of that window to face the dangers of New York he may actually not make it back. Kraven's madness and ego drives him to extremes as a superpowered killer is praying on the population of New York City and it builds into a conflict so personal that each page aches with the tension.

It's simply put a masterpiece of comicbook writing and is something everyone should read. Not just comic fans.

GOTHAM CENTRAL - Stories set with-in the Gotham City Police Department. Fab writing, gritty art and story lines and cop action all the way. Several brilliant writers have hit this book including Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. DEAD ROBINS is a high point, but it's all brilliant.

TRANSMETROPOLITAN - Written by Warren Ellis. He is brilliant as well. This is basically a futuristic take on Hunter S Thompson. The main character 'Spider Jerusalem' is a gonzo journalist that is thrust into the world after a long period of drug induced exhile. He arrives, exposes arseholes and is an arsehole himself. If you love Hunter S. Thompson's work then you'll love this.

ASTONISHING X-MEN: GIFTED - Joss Whedon did a brilliant stint as the writer of the X-Men. Personally I think he's one of the only modern writers that has shown any love to some of the core characters that long needed work including Scott Summers and Kitty Pryde. Brilliant.

300 By Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

The Battle of Thermopylae, told through the medium of art and story. Yes, you probably have seen the film, yes, it is a visually faithful adaptation that really does understand the core material. This is a beautifully realised dramatisation of the battle and deserves to be on anyone shelf, but more so, just open and look inside and it will stun you. Fabulous art and wonderfully realised it is also directly transported on to screen for the film. You'll wonder how long it took to get the images and angles just right!

I did. 

Miller and Varley are a dynamic duo in themselves. Their work here is amazing, but what they did on the Dark Knight Returns? Even better!

BATMAN - A DEATH IN THE FAMILY - Jason Todd was the Robin of the era and there was much decent throughout the fan base as he seemed to be universally despised. D.C ran a vote, asking the fans if Robin should live or die. This decision would shape Batman for many years to come and forge a period in Bruce Wayne's story that would take him to the edge of despair.  

THE WATCHMEN - Thought to be unfilmable until someone finally took it on this Graphic Novel is one of the greatest Graphic Novels ever written. It's by the powerhouse of comics Alan Moore and illustrated by Alan Davis, a brilliant artistic visionary. You can find out about this anywhere, go get a copy! It's brilliant.

THE CROW - James O'bar's heart breaking classic. Compelling, depressing, thought provoking and emotionally draining. Simply amazing.


Powers centres around a pair of cops that work on the cases that involve superhuman activity. It's aimed at a more mature reader, featuring sex, drugs, violence, gore and swearing. All these things rock!

I won't say much I wouldn't want to spoil anything but I can tell you that Bendis is one of the best writers ever to work in comics and this is some of his best work. To be sure Powers: Supergroup is the best of the Powers graphic novels, but it's number 5 in the series and it's too good for you to spoil this incredibly special story by jumping in half way. 

Read Who Killed Retro Girl and the other Graphic Novels. They are outstanding!

WOLVERINE - Chris Claremont and Frank Miller got together and hit this out in 1982/83. It's THE Wolverine story, the one the 2013 film is based on and you should read it. Fantastic.

THE WALKING DEAD By Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead follows the story of Rick, a small town sheriff who wakes up in hospital after he's been shot to find the world he knew is gone, and now all that remain are the zombies... Or are there survivors out there for him to travel with? 

Yes, there is a big television series but the events are quite different from Graphic Novel to screen. It's fabulously written and I urge you to follow this story for a long as it runs. 

BATMAN: YEAR ONE By Frank Miller.

In the mid eighties Frank Miller rewrote the origin of Batman. He made the decision to bring an edgy and dark value to the Dark Knight. Hell! He brought more than an edge, he swung that sharpened instrument and slaughtered the old, camp, and crap caped crusader and brought an obsessional, violent, dangerous man to the streets of Gotham and set him lose.

Miller understood the character; a violent vigilante interested in cleaning up the streets and removing the institutionally corruption that choked the city he was born in. The city that took his parents from him.

This short series made sense of the Batman mythology and brought a realistic touch to the caped crusader, he was now the Dark Knight, and if you bumped into him on a bad day he'd have you taking your meals through a straw for the next six months... But he wasn't a killer.

Brilliant, mature, utterly compelling. 

Now you may be thinking 'I can't buy all these Graphic Novels,' well that's cool. Here's a tip. If you live in Britain then pop down to your library (while it's still there) and you should find in the youth fiction section a graphic novel shelf. 

Some of these will be on there and if they aren't then walk up to someone and say 'hi, do you have, or can you get these?' The answer should be 'yes, we can and I'll just fetch it.' 

Seriously. This stuff is out there to grab and devour and if you hate what I'll thrown down then don't worry - part two will have plenty more and there is something for everyone out there! 

I hope you find something you love. 

Part two will feature Hulk, Classic Avengers, Mutants Massacred, Fables and a bunch of other stuff...     

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