Yesterday, I discussed some of my favorite movies for the Geek Out challenge, and the prompt that Megan from A Geeky Gal came up with for today is to discuss my favorite manga or comic series. Like my favorite movies, I thought it would be fun to discuss a bunch of my favorite series, instead of only picking one. This isn’t necessarily a ranked list, but here is a small sampling of the enormous number of comic and manga series that I enjoy reading.
I definitely have a rocky relationship with Saga. When I heard that there was a sci-fi space operatic retelling of Romeo and Juliet available, I was super excited to get my hands on it. At first, I fell in love exactly as much as I had hoped to, but over time, I found that the political aspects of the world were getting in the way of the ill-fated romance between the main characters. With that said, however, every time I debate dropping this series, a new volume comes out that is so good that I have to see what happens next. In spite of the ups and downs that this series has taken over the years, I would still highly recommend it to others, especially if the more political aspects of the world sound intriguing.
Lumberjanes is a comic series that may be primarily targeted towards a younger audience, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It follows a group of campers as they discover that their home for the summer might be a bit more spooky than initially anticipated. The girls and their interactions are put at the forefront, and it’s really fun to watch them try and balance their traditional camp activities, like making macaroni art and learning to swim, alongside trying to hunt down the cause of the supernatural presence at the camp. It reminds me of Scooby-Doo, and I still have a number of collected volumes to read in the future, so I can’t wait to return to it!
Giant Days is a series about three young women with vastly different personalities being forced to share a dorm room together during their first year of college. As would be expected, they all become the best of friends and navigate their lives together. Sometimes, I just want a sweet story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this is the perfect series for that purpose. All of the characters are memorable and the ongoing plotline is interesting enough to keep me reading, but also doesn’t punish me too much if I go six months without reading a new volume and need to be reminded of what happened last time.
I don’t read much manga because I pick up a lot of my comics digitally, and most of the manga I have interest in reading doesn’t get published in an easily-accessible digital format. After playing Danganronpa, however, I knew that I wanted some more dark and twisted stories in my life, which led me to Death Note. I checked out all twelve volumes in one go from the library and just read them back-to-back until I had finished the entire series. While the plotline does have its ups and downs, especially between volumes seven and ten, it’s definitely a favorite of mine.
Locke & Key
If I was ever asked to show off a single graphic novel series that defines what I look for in my comics, I would show off a copy of Locke & Key. The atmosphere is unsettling without moving fully into the horror space, the characters are interesting, and the storyline has a strong sense of momentum that works in tandem with the artwork, instead of one aspect constantly dragging the other along. I read all six volumes in a few days because I couldn’t stop once I had started. While I still haven’t read anything else by Joe Hill, I would certainly like to give his other works a try in the future.
I’m not a huge fan of superhero comics, but that’s mostly because it’s really hard to get into them. Every new series out these days seems like it has three other arcs that are required reading before being able to understand what is happening, which makes it exceptionally difficult to even determine if I enjoy the superhero genre or not. Ms. Marvel understands how inaccessible this genre can be, which makes it the perfect series for me. Kamala Khan is more than the titular Ms. Marvel, as she also has an encyclopaediac knowledge of the Marvel universe heroes. Therefore, when one shows up in a crossover, her character can be used to subtly introduce the newcomer through her starstruck eyes. While I still don’t quite feel ready to dive into other Marvel series yet, I have learned a shocking amount about the overall universe through reading Ms. Marvel.
I put off reading Watchmen for a long time. First of all, it does involve superheroes, which made me worry that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Secondly, it’s actually a really long graphic novel, coming in at well over 400 pages. After owning it for years, however, I finally picked it up earlier this year. Honestly, it’s hardly my favorite graphic novel, but the reason it earns a space on this list is that I respect it immensely for its contributions to the genre. This 1980s comic series bind-up reads like a blueprint for everything that I pick up and fall in love with today.
One of the things that I love most about Watchmen is that it has some of the most unique uses of the artistic half of the graphic novel format that I have ever seen. There were so many creative variations of playing two separate stories out simultaneously, with one taking place visually and the other through the written text on the page. Far too frequently, the art in graphic novels becomes supplemental to the words on the page, to the point where I wonder why a given story wasn’t just published as a traditional novel. From a modern standpoint, I don’t think that Watchmen holds up overly well compared to its more contemporary peers, but looking at the history and artistry that this story contains, I believe this should be required reading for fans of the genre.
There are so many other graphic novels that I could have discussed, but this post would never end! Maybe I’ll do a follow-up in the future and discuss some of my other favorites. For now, thanks to A Geeky Gal for making this challenge and be sure to check out her response here! What are your favorite graphic novels? Let me know in the comments below!
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