Comic books are an often underappreciated art form. Some critics consider them childish or a dilution of literature. Comic book fans know the opposite to be true. The best comic books combine expressive artwork and prose to tell some of the most important and enduring stories. They teach us powerful lessons in an accessible and enjoyable way.
National Comic Book Day is an opportunity for more people to discover the joys of comic books! That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best comic books for people to try. There’s a real mix of genres here, from superhero to antihero, and fantasy to dystopia. There's something for everyone.
Comic Books Day is celebrated on the 25th of September every year. It honours the artists, writers and designers who bring our favourite comic books to life. Whilst it initially started in the US, its popularity is growing in the UK too. Lots of stores and groups put on events to celebrate the day, which you can get involved in.
There are so many ways to celebrate Comic Books Day. Your local comic book store may put on an event where you can get together with other fans. If you don’t have a local store, you may be able to tune into an event online. These may be free or you could have to pay for access. If you don't want to pay, you could always find a podcast or interview on YouTube. Learn more about the industry as you listen to famous authors talk about their writing process, or find out how your favourite artist got their big break.
The best way to celebrate National Comic Books Day though, is to pick up and read a comic book. It could be an old favourite or something completely different to anything you've ever read before. If you’re new to comic books or if you’re a fan who’d like some new reading suggestions, check out our list of the best comic books below.
Watchmen is a masterpiece by British creator, Alan Moore. It follows a group of superheroes who are stalked by an unknown assassin, revealing their all too human failings. They enforce their own ideas of morality, even against the will of the people. Watchmen is an excellent introduction to the comic book genre, particularly for people who are concerned that comics are cheesy and juvenille. It explores serious political themes and shows just how easy it is to be corrupted by power, even with the best of intentions.
Maus was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. It was created by Art Spiegelman, who interviewed his father Vladak, a Holocaust survivor, over a decade. The comic book weaves between two timelines: the present as Art interviews his father, and the past where Vladak’s experience with the Nazis is recounted. An impactful story, which recounts the horrors of The Holocaust but also shows how trauma impacts families for generations.
You’ve probably seen the films, but have you read the comic books? Batman takes a darker turn in The Dark Knight Returns, as an older Bruce Wayne is forced to come out of retirement to take on a violent gang. He must face down old enemies like Two-Face and the Joker, as well as new ones like Superman. This really makes you question what it is to be a hero. An important comic book for any DC fan.
An epic series with over 70 issues, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman follows Morpheus or Dream, the personification of dreaming. The series starts as Dream escapes imprisonment and seeks to regain control over the world of Dreaming. Whilst Dream remains a central character, new characters and storylines emerge as it progresses. A must-read for fantasy fans. You can buy single issues or purchase the full series in paperback form.
The best comic book for superhero fans; X-Men #1 launched a new era for everyone’s favourite mutants. With 8 million sales, X-Men #1 goes down as the best-selling comic book of all time. It has a star-studded line up including Storm, Cyclops and Wolverine, who must band together to defeat Magneto. This comic defined how a whole generation think of X-Men. Check out the iconic outfits as well.
Locke and Key follows the Locke siblings as they return to their ancestral family home, Keyhouse, after the brutal murder of their father. They soon discover that not all is as it appears at Keyhouse. They find a series of magical keys that open doors to a demonic dimension. Demons escape and start possessing people; all part of their quest to find the Omega Key. They need the Omega Key to unseal the entrance between Earth and their dimension once and for all. Fans of the supernatural will love this series.
Scott Pilgrim is a charming 23 year old, coasting through life. Until he meets Ramona, the delivery girl of his dreams. He’ll do anything to be with her, including defeating her 7 evil exes. A fun, quirky story, which really captures what it’s like to be in your 20’s. All the characters are flawed, sometimes even unlikable, just like real life (but with more video game style fighting). These comic books have became a bit of a cult classic, much like the film. You can buy the full series on paperback.
The comic book prequel to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us video game, widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time. It shows us how Ellie and Riley first meet, and how they become involved with the Fireflies. A must-read for fans of the game or the series, which really develops Ellie’s backstory. It's also one of the best representations of women and girls we've read in comic books too, who are often oversexualised and underdeveloped in this genre.
My Favourite Thing is Monsters is an incredible story, enriched by brilliant illustrations. It follows 10 year old Karen Reyes as she investigates her upstairs neighbour, Anka’s, murder. A truly compelling read that can compete with any novel for quality of storytelling. And Volume 2 has just been released; we can’t wait to read it!
Another of Alan Moore’s works, V for Vendetta is a dystopian graphic novel with all too familiar themes. After a nuclear war in continental Europe, Britain is a police state taken over by the political party Norsefire. V, our hero hidden behind a Guy Fawkes mask, takes on the state with his protegee Evey. V starts with a series of assassinations, before looking to destroy the government itself. An impressive, politically pertinent comic book.
Don’t be fooled by the cute cartoons, Bone is one of the best comic books we’ve read. It's so good it is even compared to Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings - high praise indeed! Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are chased out of their hometown, Boneville. They find themselves in a valley, which is soon caught up in a war against an evil Locust Lord. An epic fairytale adventure with characters you really care about, and lots of laughs along the way! You can buy issues or the full series.
We hope this has given you ideas for some of the best comic books to read on National Comic Book Day! Once you’ve finished reading, you can always sell your comic books to WeBuyBooks. Just enter the ISBN number and we’ll give you an instant cash offer. Then, post your comics to us for free and we’ll pay you the next day.