100 Must-Read Comics about Brave People Who Aren’t Superheroes

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Is it possible to note, without sounding like some treacly after-school special, that there are heroes all around us? Maybe not.

This is a list of must-read comics and graphic novels about people (and a few animals) whose courage doesn’t involve superpowers. Superpowers are awesome, of course, but it’s also inspiring to read about people who are brave in different ways. They might have profound emotional strength. They might be deeply committed to a political or ideological cause. They might take risks in artistic or creative fields. Or they might display classic physical bravery.

This doesn’t mean that all these books are serious. While some of these characters are dealing with illness, displacement, or oppression, others are trying to solve a puzzle or paint a damn good painting. Whether the protagonist is a Monet-inspired mouse or Mandela, here are 100 picks that show the breadth of fortitude.

4 book covers, part of the list of 100 must-read comics about brave people who

 

Emotional Bravery

Cover of Lulu Anew

Lulu Anew by Étienne Davodeau

“At the end of yet another unproductive job interview, Lulu, on a whim, takes off for the shore just to get away from it all. She’s got a husband and kids left bewildered but it’s nothing against them. This is just her time, getting away from the grind and with no other plan than savoring it. Surprised at her own temerity, she meets other people on the edge of the world. It wasn’t meant to be for long. It wasn’t meant to be anything but in the end thrilling, fun, and possibly dangerous, this improvised experience will make of Lulu a different woman.”

The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon

“Twenty-eight-year-old Nao Brown, who’s hafu (half Japanese, half English), is not well. She’s suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and fighting violent urges to harm other people. But that’s not who she really wants to be…She begins to draw and meditate to ease her mind and open her heart—and in doing so comes to a big realization: Life isn’t black-and-white after all…it’s much more like brown.”

Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

“One night in Beirut in September 1982, while Israeli soldiers secured the area, Christian militia members entered the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and began to massacre hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians. Ari Folman was one of those Israeli soldiers, but for more than twenty years he remembered nothing of that night or of the weeks leading up to it. Then came a friend’s disturbing dream, and with it Folman’s need to excavate the truth of the war in Lebanon and answer the crucial question: what was he doing during the hours of slaughter?

Barefoot Gen Vol. 1: A Cartoon History of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa

“This is an all-new translation of the author’s first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere.”

Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends Vol. 1 by Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi

“Recent high school transfer student Hasegawa Kodaka is pathetically inept at making friends. When he comes across the brash loner Mikazuki Yozora, who typically chats with her imaginary friend, the two outsiders become the unlikeliest of allies. Realizing that they have no hope of a normal social life, the two outcasts decide to form a group called “The Neighbors Club” in order to make friends and maybe even learn a thing or two about social skills.”

Nelson by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix

“London, 1968. A daughter is born to Jim and Rita Baker. Her name is Nel. This is her story, told in yearly snapshots. Each chapter records the events of a single day, weaving one continuous ribbon of pictures and text that takes us on a 43 year journey from Nel Baker’s birth to 2011. Based on an original idea by Rob Davis and co-edited by Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, Nelson celebrates the incredible diversity of talent in British comics today.”

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me by Lorina Mapa

“When she learns of her beloved father’s fatal car accident, Mapa flies to Manila to attend his funeral. His sudden death sparks childhood memories. Weaving the past with the present, Mapa entertains with stories about religion, pop culture, adolescence, social class and politics, including her experiences of the 1986 People Power Revolution which made headlines around the world.”

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough-talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men.”

marjane satrapi complete persepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.”

Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

Lost Girls is an erotic graphic novel inspired by Victorian children’s literature. The three protagonists are fictitiously based on the familiar faces from Wonderland, Oz, and Neverland, who meet as grown women in a mysterious hotel in 1913 England.”

Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

“Chunky Rice is an anthropomorphic turtle who follows his urge to move on, leaving behind lovesick Dandele, a bug-eyed mouse, and a dreamy longshoreman. Chunky books passage on a barely seaworthy craft piloted by a shady skipper.”

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets is the story of a young man coming of age and finding the confidence to express his creative voice. Craig Thompson’s poignant graphic memoir plays out against the backdrop of a Midwestern winterscape: finely-hewn linework draws together a portrait of small town life, a rigorously fundamentalist Christian childhood, and a lonely, emotionally mixed-up adolescence.”

Habibi by Craig Thompson

“Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them.”

Hole in the Heart: Bringing Up Beth by Henny Beaumont

Hole in the Heart is a moving and refreshingly honest look at raising a child with special needs.”

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

“This ongoing comic strip chronicles the lives of a tight-knit group of lesbian friends over an astounding 21 years of life, work, love, boredom, political activism and countless reversals of fortune.”

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

“A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.”

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

“This epic story of Sherman, Dorothy, Ed, Stephen, Jane, and Mr. Flavor is not to be missed. Alex Robinson’s completely natural and inspiring knack for dialogue has made his story of dreary jobs, comic books, love, sex, messy apartments, girlfriends (and the lack thereof), undisclosed pasts, and crusty old professionals one of the most delightful and whimsical graphic novels to hit the stands in years.”

Mail Order Bride by Mark Kalesniko

“Monty, a white, lonely comic-shop owner, expects his Asian mail-order bride to fulfill his stereotypical fantasy, but she turns out to be much more complex than that in this sharp and affecting look at their prickly relationship.”

Epileptic by David B.

“This autobiographical work plumbs the psychological, social, and symbolic reaches of the author’s experiences in a family that must deal with a devastating disease.”

Blood Song: A Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker

“A young woman bravely escapes a military assault on her island village, journeying across the ocean to arrive, unknowingly, in the Big City. There she meets and falls in love with a saxophone player, who makes heartfelt music. The police find and silence him, confiscating his saxophone and warning him not to make music again as it’s strictly forbidden in the Big City. When the street musician continues to make music with his voice the police soon find and imprison him, making the future uncertain for the talented performer and the brave woman who loves him.”

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

“Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.”

arrival shaun tanThe Arrival by Shaun Tan

“Tan captures the displacement and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel.”

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

“This quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonists is famously an anagram of the author’s name) follows the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, two best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart.”

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

“A graphic memoir of eating disorders, abuse and recovery. Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the weak, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.”

Slow Storm by Danica Novgorodoff

“A firefighter in rural Kentucky, Ursa searches for her place in life, struggling to meet her own expectations. When a tornado hits her town, the ensuing chaos brings her world into sharp focus…It is then that she meets Rafi, an illegal immigrant whose life isn’t going the way he’d pictured it either. Their encounter is the catalyst for Ursa and Rafi, who take different roads to the realization that wanting your life to change isn’t enough to make it happen.”

Building Stories by Chris Ware

“Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, this book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public.”

Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds

“This clever, satirical graphic novel reimagines the Flaubert classic Madame Bovary through contemporary mores and attitudes.”

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

“In six interconnected, darkly funny stories, Tomine forms a quietly moving portrait of contemporary life. Tomine is a master of the small gesture, equally deft at signaling emotion via a subtle change of expression or writ large across landscapes illustrated in full color.”

 

Ideological Bravery

 Cover of Zahra's Paradise by Amir & KhalilZahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil

“Set in the aftermath of Iran’s fraudulent elections of 2009, Zahra’s Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has vanished into an extrajudicial twilight zone. What’s keeping his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of his mother, who refuses to surrender her son to fate, and the tenacity of his brother, a blogger, who fuses tradition and technology to explore and explode the void in which Mehdi has vanished.”

The System by Peter Kuper

“A sleazy stockbroker is lining his pockets, a corrupt cop is shaking down drug dealers, a mercenary bomber is setting the timer, a serial killer is stalking strippers, a political scandal is about to explode, the planet is burning, and nobody’s talking. Told without captions or dialogue, this piece of art is an astonishing progression of vivid imagery, each brilliantly executed panel contains layer upon layer of information that forms a vast and intricate tour of an ominous world of coincidences and consequences.”

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner

“With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realizes that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he’s sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII.”

Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, John Higgins, and Marc Olivent

“Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young woman’s journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the north. Framed for a murder she did not commit, Christie has no other choice but to run for her life.”

20th Century Boys Vol. 1: Friends by Naoki Urasawa

“Failed rock musician Kenji’s memories of his past come rushing back when one of his childhood friends mysteriously commits suicide. Could this new death be related to the rise of a bizarre new cult that’s been implicated in several other murders and disappearances? Determined to dig deeper, Kenji reunites with some of his old buddies in the hope of learning the truth behind it all.”

Library Wars: Love & War by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa

“Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the Library Forces ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favorite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she’s finally a recruit, she’s finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it in for her!”

Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist by Diane DiMassa

“Hothead Paisan, the over-caffeinated, media- crazed psychotic lesbian “with scary hair and a fetish for guns, grenades, mallets, and sharp objects,” returns for more search-and-destroy missions and preventative homicides!”

Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece

“In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could “pass” among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going “incognegro.””

Quarantine Zone by Daniel H. Wilson, Fernando Pasarin, Matt Ryan, Paul Mounts, Elmer Santos, Beth Sotelo, and John Starr

“If we could ‘cure’ ourselves of the capability to do evil, should we? And could a person truly be good without the choice to do evil?”

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

“Before he became a respected Congressman, John Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. He marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement that would change a nation forever.”

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell

“A New York Times-bestselling graphic novel based on the true story of two families—one white and one black—who find common ground as the civil rights struggle heats up in Texas.”

 Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez

“The classic graphic biography of Che Guevara—the most iconic revolutionary of the twentieth century.”

Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth, and Bryan Talbot

“A story of loyalty, love, and courage, Sally Heathcote, Suffragette follows a housemaid swept up in the feminist militancy of Edwardian Britain.”

Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel by Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin, and Kyle Baker

“This scathingly hilarious political satire—produced from a collaboration of three of our funniest humorists—answers the burning question: Would anyone care if East St. Louis seceded from the Union?”

Neil Young’s Greendale by Joshua Dysart, Cliff Chiang, and Dave Stewart

“Even for politically active teenage girls, Sun Green has always been different. In the fall of 2003, as the nation gallops blindly into war, a Stranger appears in her hometown of Greendale, and everything starts going to hell. In an effort to overcome the pain the Stranger brings, Sun unearths the mystery of the Green family women, and in doing so, finds her own inherent power, not just to confront the Stranger, but to confront the mounting injustice of the world outside of Greendale as well.”

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

“Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel.”

Last Days of an Immortal by Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Bonneval

“In the distant future, Elijah is a member of the “Philosophical Police,” who must solve conflicts that arise out of ignorance of the Other. Two species are fighting a war with roots in a crime committed centuries ago, and Elijah must solve the crime and bring peace between their species, while also confronting his own immortality in a world where science provides access to eternal life.”

Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy by Steven Nadler and Ben Nadler

“This entertaining and enlightening graphic narrative tells the exciting story of the seventeenth-century thinkers who challenged authority—sometimes risking excommunication, prison, and even death—to lay the foundations of modern philosophy and science and help usher in a new world.”

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by by Apostolos Doxiadis,‎ Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie Di Donna

“This exceptional graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, and Kurt Gödel, and finds a passionate student in the great Ludwig Wittgenstein. But his most ambitious goal—to establish unshakable logical foundations of mathematics—continues to loom before him.”

The Dharma Punks by Art Sang

“A group of anarchist punks plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national restaurant by blowing it sky-high. Still reeling from a friend’s suicide and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, the main character Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship, and the ghost of Kurt Cobain.”

Six Days in Cincinnati: A Graphic Account of the Riots That Shook the Nation a Decade Before Black Lives Matter by Dan Méndez Moore

“The graphic narrative history of the 2001 Cincinnati riots, told for the first time from the perspective of the participants.”

Nelson Mandela: The Graphic Novel by the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory

Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book tells the story of the life and times of Nelson Mandela and his eventual rise as the first democratically elected leader of South Africa.”

Snowpiercer, Vol. 1: The Escape by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette

“In a harsh, uncompromisingly cold future where Earth has succumbed to treacherously low temperatures, the last remaining members of humanity travel on a train while the outside world remains encased in ice. The surviving community are not without a social hierarchy. Yet, things are about to change aboard the train as passengers become disgruntled…”

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 by Riad Sattouf

“In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria—but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.”

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg by Kate Evans

“A graphic novel of the dramatic life and death of German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.”

Becoming Unbecoming by Una

“This extraordinary graphic novel is a powerful denunciation of sexual violence against women. As seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl named Una, it takes place in northern England in 1977, as the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer of prostitutes, is on the loose and creating panic among the townspeople…A once self-confident Una teaches herself to ‘lower her gaze’ in order to deflect attention from boys…But as the police finally catch up and identify the killer, Una grapples with the patterns of behavior that led her to believe she was to blame.”

The Art of Flying by Antonio Altarriba and Kim

“A deeply personal testament, Altarriba’s account of what led his father to commit suicide at the age of ninety is a detective novel of sorts, one that traces his father’s life from an impoverished childhood in Aragon, to service with Franco’s army in the Civil war, escape to join the anarchist FAI, exile in France when the Republicans are defeated, to return to Spain in 1949 and the stultifying existence to which Republican sympathisers were consigned under Francoism.”

 

Creative Bravery


Cover of Graphic Science: Seven Journeys of Discovery
Graphic Science: Seven Journeys of Discovery by Darryl Cunningham

“Much is known about scientists such as Darwin, Newton, and Einstein, but what about lesser known scientists—people who have not achieved a high level of fame, but who have contributed greatly to human knowledge?”

Neurocomic by Hana Roš and Matteo Farinella

Neurocomic is a journey through the human brain: a place of neuron forests, memory caves, and castles of deception. Along the way, you’ll encounter Boschean beasts, giant squid, guitar-playing sea slugs, and the great pioneers of neuroscience.”

Palestine by Joe Sacco

“Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s (where he conducted over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews), Palestine was the first major comics work of political and historical nonfiction by Sacco, whose name has since become synonymous with this graphic form of New Journalism.”

Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by  Anne Martinetti,‎ Guillaume Lebeau, and‎ Alexandre Franc

“The life of Agatha Christie was as mysterious and eventful as her fiction. This insightful, surprising and definitive graphic novel traces the life of the Queen of the Whodunit from her childhood in Torquay, through a career filled with success, drama and adventure, to her later years as ‘Dame Agatha’.”

Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie by Néjib

“Haddon Hall was an old villa on the outskirts of London. At the twilight of the Swinging Sixties and the dawn of the decadent Seventies, it was the sole witness to a major event in pop music: David Bowie’s invention of himself.”

Audubon, on the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau and‎ Jérémie Royer

“At the start of the nineteenth century, John James Audubon embarked upon an epic ornithological quest across America with nothing but his artist’ s materials, an assistant, a gun and an all-consuming passion for birds…”

Wake Up and Live: The Life of Bob Marley by Jim McCarthy and Benito Gallego

Wake Up and Live is a bold graphic novel depicting the life of Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter and musician Bob Marley. As a committed Rastafari, he became a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity, a harbinger of peace and truth who resonated with audiences worldwide.”

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness vividly portrays the unpredictable life of a loner, patriot, outlaw, and music rebel.”

Musnet: The Mouse of Monet by Kickliy

“A young boy mouse travels the country side looking for work and happens upon the Monet’s garden. He takes on a job and becomes inspired to learn to paint. Will he paint in the classical ways, or in the new style of the impressionist? Which way will his brush sway?”

Marbles, by Ellen ForneyMarbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

“Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between ‘crazy’ and ‘creative’ in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.”

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity.”

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

“Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. In a tenacious daze, he leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this ‘escape’ really about?”

Brief Histories of Everyday Objects by Andy Warner

“Hilarious, entertaining, and illustrated histories behind some of life’s most common and under-appreciated objects—from the paperclip and the toothbrush to the sports bra and roller skates.”

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

“A beautifully illustrated book of imaginary fables about Earth’s early—and lost—history.”

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

“Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold.”

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

“David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!”

Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez, Dean Haspiel, and José Villarrubia

“Seventeen-year-old Sonia, a medical student with dreams of becoming a modernist painter, is caught up in Fidel Castro’s revolution from the moment it captures Havana on New Year’s Eve 1958.”

Dreams in Thin Air by Michael M Nybrandt and Thomas E. Mikkelsen

“Cycling across Tibet, Nybrandt learned about the heartbreaking treatment the Tibetan people received at the hands of the Chinese Government, but also their love of soccer. He envisioned a Tibetan national football team to create awareness of their plight and showcase their unique culture—without reference to politics. This is the story of how the team came to be.”

 

Physical Bravery

Cover of The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeThe Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

“Rick Grimes is not prepared for this. A couple months ago he was a small town cop who had never fired a shot and only ever saw one dead body. Separated from his family he must now sort through the death and confusion to try and find his wife and son.”

 Rendez-Vous in Phoenix by Tony Sandoval

“Tony Sandoval was born and raised in northwestern Mexico, where the temptation to cross the border in the US becomes a matter of the heart. Drawn by love, his urge to visit his American girlfriend can’t wait for the lengthy, frustrating visa process standing in the way of their relationship. So he makes the ultimate romantic gesture: smuggling himself across the border, despite the dangers he’ll face from the heat, coyotes, barbed wire, and—most daunting—the US border patrol…”

Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth

“The year is 1872. The place, the Apache nations, a region torn apart by decades of war. After having a vision, the young Goyahkla approaches the Apache leader Cochise, and the entire Apache nation, to lead an attack against the Mexican village of Azripe. It is this wild display of courage that transforms the young brave Goyakhla into the Native American hero Geronimo. But the war wages on.”

Ricky Rouse Has a Gun by Jörg Tittel and John Aggs

“Rick Rouse is a US Army deserter who, after running away to China, gets a job at Fengxian Amusement Park, a family destination heavily ‘inspired’ by Western culture, featuring Rambi (the deer with a red headband), Ratman (the caped crusader with a rat’s tail), Bumbo (small ears, big behind) and other original characters. The park’s general manager is convinced that Rick was destined to greet Fengxian customers, dressed as none other than Ricky Rouse. This original graphic novel is a relentless action comedy, a satire of US-China relations, a parody of Western entertainment and a curious look at China.”

Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins

“Depression-era Chicago is awash in liquor and blood, ruled by guns, graft, and gangsters like John Looney. His most feared enforcer is Michael O’Sullivan, known as the ‘Angel of Death.’ But when O’Sullivan’s twelve-year-old son witnesses a gangland murder committed by Looney’s brutal son, O’Sullivan’s entire family is marked for execution to cover up the crime. O’Sullivan and his son find themselves on the run…and seeking vengeance…on the long, bloody road to Perdition.”

Clean Room Vol. 1: Immaculate Conception by Gail Simone, Jon-Davis Hunt, and Quinton Winter

“Journalist Chloe Pierce had no idea that her fiancé Philip’s decision to pick up a book by enigmatic and compelling self-help guru Astrid Mueller would change her life forever—by ending his! Three months after reading Mueller’s book, Philip had blown his brains out all over Chloe’s new kitchen—and something in that book made him do it. Now, Chloe will stop at nothing as she attempts to infiltrate Mueller’s clandestine organization to find the truth behind Philip’s suicide and a “Clean Room” that she’s heard whispers of—a place where your deepest fears are exposed and your worst moments revealed.”

Nailbiter Vol. 1: There Will Be Blood by Joshua Williamson, Mike Henderson, Adam Guzowski, John J. Hill, and Rob Levin

“’Where do serial killers come from?’ and why has Buckaroo, Oregon given birth to sixteen of the most vile serial killers in the world? NSA Agent Nicholas Finch needs to solve that mystery in order to save his friend, and he’ll have to team up with the infamous Edward ‘Nailbiter’ Warren to do it.”

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson, Dan Jolley, Joëlle Jones, and Jenn Manley Lee

“A deadly virus killed every adult on Earth, leaving only the kids behind. With her parents gone, Lisa is responsible for her little brother, Todd. She has to make sure they stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but on Grand Avenue, some kids are surviving. Because of Lisa.”

Sherlock Bones Vol. 1 by Yuma Ando and Yuki Sato

“When Takeru adopts his new pet, he’s in for a surprise-the dog is none other than the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective. What’s more, this ‘Sherdog’ has decided that Takeru is the reincarnation of his long-time assistant, Dr. Watson. Takeru may think Sherdog (or he himself) is crazy, but with no one else able to communicate with Holmes, he’s roped into becoming the canine’s assistant all the same. Using his exceptional sleuthing skills, Holmes uncovers clues to solve the trickiest crimes.”

Rover Red Charlie Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis and Michael Dipascale

“A story like no other, as an unlikely band of canines set out to survive in a world gone horribly mad. When a worldwide plague wipes out humanity, what happens to man’s best friend? Charlie was a helper dog and he was good at it. Now he and his friends Rover and Red must escape the bloody city and find their way in this strange, master-less new world.”

Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto

“Street urchins Black and White have skyscraper-sized chips on their shoulders, but are fiercely loyal to each other. Black is especially quick to avenge any slight against his dim-witted pal. The result? The citizens of Treasure Town are afraid of them, the police are afraid of them—even the local yakuza gangsters are afraid of them! But when the crime boss known as the ‘Rat’ returns to Treasure Town, it looks like there’s gonna be a rumble…”

Whiteout Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber

“You can’t get any further down than the bottom of the world—Antarctica. Cold, desolate, nothing but ice and snow for miles and miles. Carrie Stetko is a U.S. Marshal, and she’s made The Ice her home. In its vastness, she has found a place where she can forget her troubled past and feel at peace…Until someone commits a murder in her jurisdiction and that peace is shattered.”

bitch planetBitch Planet Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly DeConnick,‎ Valentine De Landro,‎ Robert Wilson IV, Cris Peter and Clayton Cowles

“The premiere volume of the critically acclaimed and deliciously vicious sci-fi satire.”

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris by Bessora, Barroux, and Sarah Ardizzone

“Alpha’s wife and son left Côte d’Ivoire months ago to join his sister-in-law in Paris, but Alpha has heard nothing from them since. Without a visa, he is adrift for over a year, encountering human traffickers in the desert, refugee camps in northern Africa, overcrowded boats carrying migrants between the Canary Islands and Europe’s southern coast, and an unforgettable cast of fellow travelers lost and found along the way.”

Black Hole by Charles Burns

“The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways—from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable)—but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.”

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

“This compelling graphic novel intricately weaves together true-life narratives from 1912 and 1926 and a fictional story set in the present day. How to Survive in the North is an unforgettable journey of love and loss that shows the strength it takes to survive in even the harshest conditions.”

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Nathan Fairbairn

“The first in a series of brand new FULL COLOR editions presents Scott’s first ‘evil ex’ battle as you’ve never seen it before!”

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

“On the island of Here, livin’s easy. Conduct is orderly. Lawns are neat. Citizens are clean shaven-and Dave is the most fastidious of them all. Dave is bald, but for a single hair. He loves drawing, his desk job, and the Bangles. But on one fateful day, his life is upended…by an unstoppable (yet pretty impressive) beard.”

City of Glass by Paul Karasik, David Mazzucchelli, and Paul Auster

“Quinn writes mysteries. The Washington Post has described him as a ‘post-existentialist private eye.’ An unknown voice on the telephone is now begging for his help, drawing him into a world and a mystery far stranger than any he ever created in print.”

Garbage Night by Jen Lee

“In a barren and ransacked backyard, a dog named Simon lives with his two best friends: a raccoon and a deer. The unlikely gang spends their days looting the desolate supermarket and waiting for the return of the hallowed ‘garbage night’—but week after week, the bins remain empty. While scavenging one day, the trio meet Barnaby—another abandoned dog who tells them about the ‘other town’ where humans are still rumored to live. Spurred on by hunger and the promise of food, the trio joins up with Barnaby and set off into the unknown…”

Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos, and David Mack

“Ten years after starting Project Mayhem, he lives a mundane life. A kid, a wife. Pills to keep his destiny at bay. But it won’t last long—the wife has seen to that. He’s back where he started, but this go-round he’s got more at stake than his own life. The time has arrived…”

Blacksad: A Silent Hell by Juan Díaz Canales and Jorge Guarnido

“Detective John Blacksad returns, with a new case that takes him to a 1950s New Orleans filled with hot jazz and cold-blooded murder! Hired to discover the fate of a celebrated pianist, Blacksad finds his most dangerous mystery yet in the midst of drugs, voodoo, the rollicking atmosphere of Mardi Gras, and the dark underbelly that it hides!”

Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1 by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima

“An epic samurai adventure of staggering proportions…Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Okami in Japan) is acknowledged worldwide for the brilliant writing of series creator Kazuo Koike and the groundbreaking cinematic visuals of the late Goseki Kojima, creating unforgettable imagery of stark beauty, kinetic fury, and visceral thematic power that influenced a generation of visual storytellers both in Japan and in the West.”

Y: The Last Man Book One by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzan, Jr.

“This is the saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.”

Revolver by Matt Kindt

“Almost thirty and living in Seattle, Sam shuffles to his bed after a night out at the bars. The next morning he wakes up and catches the bus into the city, starting another day of his dead end life. But today on the radio he hears that the stock market has crashed, news of a bird-flu epidemic erupting in Asia pushes past a report of ‘radioactive-material-gone-missing-in-Russia.’ Did Sam really wake up this morning? The world has gone crazy—turned on its head.”

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

“Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna.”

Sweet Tooth Book One by Jeff Lemire

“Kids like Gus have a price on their heads. Seven years ago, the Affliction raged like a forest fire, killing billions. The only children born since are part of a new breed of human-animal hybrids. Gus is one of these children, a boy with a sweet soul, a sweeter tooth-and the features of a deer. When vicious hunters descend on his isolated forest home, a mysterious and violent man called Jepperd rescues Gus. The hulking drifter promises to lead Gus to The Preserve, a fabled safe haven for hybrid children.”

Hostage by Guy Delisle

“In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, André was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle recounts André’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.”

What do you think are must-read comics about brave–but perhaps not super–heroes? 

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