Graphic novels experienced a late-20th-century renaissance whose impact continues to be felt today, as a new generation of artists have taken the comic form to innovative heights that would have been unimaginable to comic book pioneers like Stan Lee and Will Eisner.
Covering memoir, journalism, history, and science fiction, the best of the graphic novel boom demonstrate a stunning range that impart a vision of the world that is by turns enlightening, horrifying, and somber.
Far from the cult of superhero comics that once dominated the market, titles like Maus and Jimmy Corrigan have become widely-taught classics, and in the recent My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, the genre has a true masterpiece that breaks new ground in expressive art. Below are 11 graphic novels that bring the world into sharp focus and bridge the gulf between commercial and fine art, literature and pulp.
Along with Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine’s art style has come to define the world of independent comics. Summer Blonde collects his Optic Nerve strips into a single volume, making for a sweet and sadly funny collection of short stories that examine human loneliness from a variety of vantage points, including those of a telephone service rep, a derivative writer, and an obsessive, socially-challenged stalker.