Originally posted by Mvoid:
Before we get started though, let's get a couple of ground rules down. . . .
Lastly, let's get specific. For instance, Sandman is not an answer. Kindly Ones is.
See, I have a big problem with this. I really do regard the entire "Sandman" sequence, from "Sleep of the Just" to "The Tempest," to be a single novel. That it happens to be printed in 10 volumes doesn't disqualify the whole to be thought of as a single work of art -- would you insist that "The Return of the King" is a novel but "Lord of the Rings" is not?
The entire "Sandman" saga is only a little longer than the two-volume "Church & State" -- surely you wouldn't deny that those two volumes form one novel (more on Cerebus itself in a moment)? I agree with the guy who put the five-volume "Adolph" down, too.
Now, I'll admit that there are works such as "Cerebus" or "Lone Wolf and Cub" that are so long they are difficult to treat as a single novel. We need a new category or term for such works, "graphic epic" or the like, to indicate that they are just too vast to be properly compared to what we normally think of as a novel. And when large chunks of stories that big can be broken out into unified wholes that can stand alone, it makes sense to do so, as at least one of many valid ways to examine them.
But "Sandman" just isn't that huge. It's one novel, made up of smaller stories, some of which could be thought of as novels if they could stand on their own, but for the most part they really don't. "Cerebus" is
that huge, so I do list parts of it.
"Berlin" is an unfinished work in progress. The first volume is on my list as a separate work just because that's all that's published in this format so far, but when it's finished it will be a single work published in three volumes.
"Love and Rockets" isn't any bigger than "Sandman," but it's not as monolithic, either. While the chunks fit together, they don't really make a coherent whole from beginning to end. "The Death of Speedy Ortiz" doesn't really have a resolution, but neither does "Chester Square," so even aside from the two brother's separate concerns (three really -- people forget Mario), it makes no sense to insist on "Love and Rockets" being thought of as a whole.
On the other hand, short stories related only by place or theme without a unified narrative running through them do not to me consitute a "novel," no matter how good they are, so I've excluded "A Contract With God" and "A Life Force" by Eisner, though I did include "Dropsie Avenue," since it tells a single story throughout. There are other Eisner works that probably fit, but I haven't read them all yet.
Ever since Truman Capote published "In Cold Blood" as a "nonfiction novel" it's been accepted that a true tale told novelistically qualifies, but not everything labeled a "graphic novel" should be. "Understanding Comics" is an absolutely essential book everyone should have on their shelves, but it's not on this list. "Maus" is.
Those are my
ground rules. I was going to try to put these in order of preference, but I decided to go alphabetical instead:Adolph
by Osamu TezukaAge of Bronze Vol. 1 - A Thousand Ships
by Eric ShanowerAlec: Three Piece Suit
by Eddie Campbell(Yeah, I know it violates my unity rule, but the two graphic novels included ("Graffiti Kitchen" and "The Dance of Lifey Death") are almost impossible to find as stand-alones. And yeah, they're too short to really be novels, at 48-pages each. Tough. I'm calling each one a novel, and each one's worth being on this list. So there.)All the Wrong Places
by Tom GalambosBerlin - Part One
by Jason LutesThe Birthday Riots
by Nabiel KananBlood of Palomar
by Gilbert HernandezBone
(7 volumes so far)
by Jeff SmithCages
by Dave McKeanChelo's Burden
by Gilbert HernandezChurch and State
by Dave Sim and GerhardThe Compleat Moonshadow
by J.M. DeMatteis and Jon J. MuthThe Cowboy Wally Show
by Kyle BakerThe Death of Speedy Ortiz
by Jaime HernandezDropsie Avenue: The Neighborhood
by Will EisnerEthel and Ernest
by Raymond BriggsFlies on the Ceiling
by Jaime HernandezFour Immigrants Manga
by Henry Yoshitaka KiyamaFrom Hell
by Alan Moore and Eddie CampbellHigh Society
By Dave SimI Never Liked You
by Chester BrownJaka's Story
by Dave Sim and GerhardJar of Fools
by Jason LutesA Jew in Communist Prague
(3 volumes so far)
by Vittorio GiardinoThe Jew of New York
by Ben KatchorJimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
by Chris WareLost Girl
by Nabiel KananLove and Rockets X
by Gilbert HernandezMaus
by Art SpiegelmanMelmoth
by Dave Sim and GerhardOur Cancer Year
by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner and Frank StackPalestine
by Joe SaccoPedro and Me
by Judd WinickThe Playboy
by Chester BrownPoison River
by Gilbert HernandezSafe Area Goradze
by Joe SaccoSandman
by Neil Gaiman and various(if you insist, consider each of the 10 volumes listed separately -- there's not a weak one among them)Signal to Noise
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeanStuck Rubber Baby
by Howard CruseThe Tale of One Bad Rat
by Bryan TalbotThieves and Kings
(3 volumes so far)
by Mark OakleyTorso
by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc AndreykoThe Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeanUncle Sam
by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross(I know what you're thinking -- wasn't there a 40s superhero character by this name? Yes, there was. Doesn't DC own that character now? Yes, they do, but no, this doesn't have anything to do with him.)Violent Cases
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeanWandering Star
by Teri Sue WoodWhy I Hate Saturn
by Kyle BakerWig Wam Bam
by Jaime Hernandez
Final note: I left off Preacher
and The Invisibles
because it could possibly be argued that they are essentially non-costume superhero books, and because I've certainly got enough stuff on my list already, but I think they're well worth reading.