Over the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”
At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.
Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.
Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.
Before I forget, you also may want to check out my other website: ComicBookSchool.com, where you’ll find some interesting educational resources for aspiring creators.
In no specific order, here are 10 non-superhero comics (plus one bonus) you can check out:
Y the Last Man
Imagine every man on Earth died at the exact same moment, leaving the world inhabited exclusively by women. Except this one guy and his pet monkey…they’re the only living males in this post-male world. Great hook, right? Brilliantly written with plenty of twists and turns. It’s a long, but finite series collected in 10 trade paperbacks. Y the Last Man blends science fiction and social commentary in a creative, touching story about love and relationships. And a monkey.
Y the Last Man on Amazon.
Y the Last Man on BN.
The Walking Dead
If you’ve watched the show on AMC TV, then you’ll want to go back to the comics. The original idea was excellent, but it was the character development that made this series so brilliant. Where most zombie movies follow a limited cast over a 90-minute movie, this extends the horror into a survival story. At the core, this is a story about family and what you’d do to protect your loved ones. There’s 22 collected editions and it’s an ongoing series, so if you get started, you will find plenty to read.
The Walking Dead on Amazon.
The Walking Dead on BN.
One day, Rachel wakes up dead. Murdered, actually, and she’s trying to find her killer. Or killers. Or whatever happened to her (which gets weirder and creepier every issue). As of right now, this is an ongoing comic series, but the creator has a history of creating long stories and concluding them in a satisfying and effective way. A twisty story with stunning art and crackling dialogue.
Rachel Rising on Amazon.
Rachel Rising on BN.
Aliens from space experiment on a man, leaving him trapped in a body made entirely out of organic concrete. It’s a strange premise, but it explores what happens when an ordinary individual becomes a worldwide celebrity with near-superhuman strength. It’s fun, weird, and sad all at the same time, as the main character realizes he’ll never again enjoy the touch of another human. One of my all-time favorite comic series.
Concrete on Amazon.
Concrete on BN.
If you don’t mind a little bit of religious commentary, check out Preacher. It’s the story of a Texas preacher who gets accidentally possessed by a supernatural being called Genesis. (Okay, okay, it’s got a lot of religious commentary.) It’s one of the most politically, religiously, and socially incorrect comic series ever published. Definitely not for the faint of heart. That said, it’s exceptionally well written and drawn for the entire 75-issue tale.
Preacher on Amazon.
Preacher on BN.
If you’ve ever wondered what fairy-tale characters would be life if they were real, then you should read Fables. It’s the most creative and entertaining interpretation of your favorite mythical characters and creatures. The first story line is a murder mystery with fairy tale creatures, but taken very seriously. It’s so creative and twisted that you’ll never read a bedtime story the same way ever again.
Fables on Amazon.
Fables on BN.
A deeply personal and moving story about life, death, and survival in Nazi concentration camps. As told by mice. It sounds like it would be the setup for a children’s story, but this is darkly serious and emotionally moving. It was the first and only comic to ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. Tough, powerful stuff that’s actually taught in some universities.
Maus on Amazon.
Maus on BN.
If you like your dames sexy and your palookas tough, then check out Sin City. (Did I really write that sentence?) Yes, there was a movie based on the comics that prettymuch followed the story shot for shot, but there’s something more intimate and engaging about the printed comic. It’s a film-noir style comic story. If you like that sort of thing, then pour a glass of the hard stuff and curl up with a good book.
Sin City on Amazon.
Sin City on BN.
It’s funny. I mean it. There aren’t a lot of comics out there that can make you laugh, but Hate is actually funny. It’s a slice of life comic that would have made a great sitcom. It’s also an amusing look back at the grunge era, when we all wore flannels and hung out at record stores. It’s an amazingly creative story where the characters age noticeably over the duration of the series.
Hate on Amazon.
Hate on BN.
It’s a comic book, but it’s more of a love letter to science fiction. The stories are colorful, psychedellic homages to the sci fi movies, TV shows, and books of your youth. It’s dreamy, clever stuff that shows how far you can push the envelope in visual storytelling. It’s like an acid trip on paper.
Planetary on Amazon.
Planetary on BN.
7 Days to Fame
Imagine a TV show where people go on live television to commit suicide. They so desperately want to become famous that they are willing to die for fame.
Okay, I admit, 7 Days to Fame is a comic book series that I wrote, so I am a little biased. It’s also not on the official list above because it’s not in that league. It’s a 3-issue mini series that is no longer available in stores. You’d have to email me directly to buy it. It’s only $5 for all three issues (including shipping in the USA). Eventually, I will find a publisher and we’ll get it reprinted properly. Until then, I’ll just keep selling them myself.
That’s a list of 10 non-superhero comics that you can check out, if you are interested in reading some comics, but don’t know where to start. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many independent booksellers will help you get some of these comics.
The search engine below will help you find a comic shop near you:
Comic Shop Locator
If you liked this list and want me to add more, let me know in the comments below. I can easily give you another 10 ideas. And, if you’d like me to recommend 10 superhero comics, I’m happy to do that as well.
(Seriously, tweet this out and leave a few comments, so I have an excuse to give you 10 more.)
Be sure to check out ComicBookSchool.com my educational website on sequential storytelling.