Today, anything that smells even slightly of comic books gets a bad rap in some circles, which is why I've put together a list of 11 literary graphic novels all book nerds should read. Even if you've never picked up an Archie comic, these graphic novels will show you just how versatile the medium can be.
I have never been a comic-book reader, but I love graphic novels. Throughout middle and high school, my library reading challenge cards were filled with volumes of Ranma 1/2, Love Hina, and DragonKnights, even as purists argued that manga didn't "count" as books. (They totally do, BTW.)
Thankfully, kids these days have much better access to graphic novels than I did. Graphically-inclined series like Babymouse and Captain Underpants help ease kids into chapter-book reading with visual storytelling. A number of books for children and teens — including Walter Dean Myers' Monster and Gertrude Chandler Warner's The Boxcar Children — are available in graphic novel formats that motivate reluctant and learning readers to embrace literature.
If you've never read a graphic novel, there's no need to jump into Watchmen or From Hell, although those are both fantastic works of graphic literature. Try out one of the 11 literary graphic novels on the list below, and I'm sure you'll be coming back to the comics shop for more.
'Boundless' by Jillian Tamaki
This collection of graphic short stories from This One Summer co-author Jillian Tamaki highlights the anxieties of contemporary women as they seek to improve themselves — for better or worse.
'Hark! A Vagrant' by Kate Beaton
Perfect for any history buff or literature fan, Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant is chock full of inside jokes that will have you cackling for days.
Pyongyang' by Guy Delisle
Based on his experiences working as a liaison between French and North Korean production companies, Guy Delisle's Pyongyang examines the curiously sinister nature of the North Korean capital, where everyone is happy and the old and sick don't exist.
Rolling Blackouts' by Sarah Glidden
While her friends gathered interviews from people living in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, graphic novelist Sarah Glidden shadowed them, creating a work of meta-journalistic art that documents how journalism is done.