Santa Monica Public Library Santa Monica Library Homepage
  • Santa Monica Picks: Graphic Novels


    Graphic Novels

    Graphic novels are a relatively new literary form using the comics medium to present a wide range of subjects and attitudes. While developing mainly from the tradition of comic books and strips, many graphic novels are also influenced by humor magazines such as Mad and by film. The underground comics of the sixties and the zine movement associated with punk rock have also been significant in the development of graphic novels.


    Graphic novels frequently take on subjects not associated with the comic book form. Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, dealing with the Holocaust and its long-term effects on his family, is the best known example of this, but there are many other fine cases, including Ho Che Anderson’s biography of Martin Luther King, Osamu Tezuka’s life of Buddha, Joe Sacco’s war journalism from the Balkans and the Middle East, and emotionally complex personal stories of young adulthood by Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge and of middle age by R. Crumb and Harvey Pekar.


    When graphic novel writers do take on traditional comics materials, it is often in an unusual and challenging manner. Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen assembles Victorian celebrities and characters from popular fiction of the time into a team of adventurers, while Frank Miller’s Dark Knight books imagine Batman as a troubled vigilante, a representation that influenced Tim Burton’s 1989 film. 


    All Library patrons have access to all the materials in the Library’s collections. Readers (and parents of readers) should be aware that graphic novels, like many other contemporary art forms, can be intense or explicit. To avoid unpleasant surprises, approach these books as you would a non-illustrated book rather than as you would a cartoon.


    Because of their relationship to comic books, some readers may assume that graphic novels are only aimed at certain kinds of readers or tell a limited range of stories. Browse the Library collection and try some of the following recommendations. You may be pleasantly surprised.


      If you like this author or title...   ...try this graphic novel
    The Diary of Anne Frank, Elie Weisel’s Night  Maus by Art Spielgelman
    Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum  Anything by Rick Geary
    Anne Rice’s vampire books The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
    J. D. Salinger, Lost in Translation  Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
    1984, Brave New World, Brazil  2024 by Ted Rall
    Anzia Yezerskia, Isaac Bashevis Singer Dropsie Avenue, The Name of the Game, and Minor Miracles by Will Eisner
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, Neal Pollock Anything by Peter Bagge
    Repo Man, Mi Vida Loca, Los Lobos Love and Rockets series by the Hernandez brothers
    Michael Chabon The Golem’s Mighty Swing by James Sturm
    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston The Four Immigrants Manga by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama
      Graphic Novels Websites

    The Comics Journal A magazine that covers from the comics medium from an arts perspective with news, interviews and reviews.  

    International Journal of Comic Art "Publishes research on any aspects of comic art, defined as animation, comic books, newspaper and magazine strips, caricature, gag and political cartoons, humorous cartoons, humorous art, and humor or cartoon magazines."  

    Great Graphic novels for Teens  American Library Association compilation of top graphic novels for teens.
Santa Monica Public Library © 2015 • 601 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 • 310-458-8600
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Accessibility Policy | Contact Us