Do you have a non-comics reader in your life who thinks comics are non-literary, superhero smut designed for nerdy men? Do they need a conversion? Well, have no fear, Ginnis and Ivy are here to recommend some comics for turning your non-comics reader into an avid fan!
Ivy: Blankets by Craig Thompson is my classically easy sell for reluctant comics readers. It’s won a ton of awards, it’s big and thick (just like a real book!!) and it deals with real, “serious” topics like growing up, religion, and sexuality. I know I’m coming off as snarky here, but Blankets is a seriously beautiful and poignant book that sticks with you.
Ginnis: And Blankets is frequently on the most challenged books lists. That’ll make your non-comics reader feel like they are sticking it to the man!
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Ginnis: You really can’t go wrong with Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home. This is the Alison Bechdel of the Bechdel test after all. It’s a great book for showing how comics are not limited to superheroes and woman with gravity defying breasts. It’s dark, relatable, intelligent, and funny. If your non-comic reader is still hesitant, spice it up by telling them how often Fun Home is banned from school libraries by pearl clutching conservatives.
Ivy: The spiritual follow-up to this book, Are You My Mother?, is also amazing (seriously, it changed my life). Just don’t give them to your parents, because they’ll probably think you hate them.
Ivy: Hawkeye is the easiest sell in the world for non-comics people interested in superheroism. “He’s in the Avengers, except he’s just like…a dude,” is usually enough to pique someone’s interest. Plus, this book has depth of emotion that transcends a lot of the bust-em-up superhero genre, as well as a strange, meta sort of surrealness that takes it into a place of art. Fraction and Aja know what they’re doing. Trades one and two make a great gift — but maybe stop before the publishing schedule got all screwy, and the series started to get a little confusing as a result.
Ginnis: Persepolis is the autobiographical graphic novel of Marjane Satrapi, growing up during the war between Iran and Iraq. It rips your heart out and puts it back in. It takes you to a place that may be entirely unfamiliar to you if you have the privilege of living in a country not plagued by war (well, war on its own soil…). But, many of Persepolis’ themes are universal: growing up, love, heartbreak, understanding our identities, and the meaning of home. You can find it in two volumes, but just go ahead and buy The Complete Persepolis for your gift recipient. Otherwise, they will be distraught when they can’t finish the book in one sitting. (Also, another for the list of most challenged books.)
- Pretty Deadly
Ginnis: Got a friend who is into westerns? Then just put a bow on this beaut of a comic by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios. Pretty Deadly takes what is often a male dominated genre and places the fierce broads of the genre front and center (one of these broads being Death’s daughter). Deconnick’s comics often defy the traditional storytelling narrative of comics which is actually less of an adjustment for new comic readers.
Ivy: Pretty Deadly has some of the most immaculately crafted action/fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a comic — give it to your biggest action fan, and then tell ’em to shut right up if they complain that it’s a “girl book.”
- Rat Queens
Ivy: For your friend who loves games and gaming, but doesn’t read comics, I recommend Rat Queens Vol.1: Sass & Sorcery, from Kurtis J Wiebe and Roc Upchurch. It’s been the subject of some recent controversy, with an artist change happening suddenly under horrible circumstances. However, Wiebe’s writing is the real gem of the comic: it is darkly comic, full of cursing, and basically a long love letter to tabletop RPGs. Are they playing Dragon Age? Give ‘em Rat Queens.
Ginnis: Rat Queens gives me so many feels for its depiction of brawlin’ badasses who work hard and party harder. There’s different colors, different species, different sexualities, and different body types. It’s refreshing as an ice cold beer.
Ivy: I mean, come on. Everyone and their mama is reading this book.
Ginnis: What she said.
- Sex Criminals
Ivy: I am a passionate advocate of Sex Criminals, but it might be a hard sell — I can just see someone opening the wrapping paper and being all “what the hell is this what are you suggesting oh god.” But it really is such a special book — and I guarantee they’ve never read anything like it.
- Through the Woods
Ginnis: Through the Woods is perfect for non-comic readers because it really shows what visual storytelling can do. A horror graphic novel, the book has very little in the way of dialogue and exposition. Most of the storytelling is done through Carroll’s amazing art. If you have any fantasy/fairy tale/folklore/horror fans in your life, get them this.
Ivy: This book is actually my pick of the year. So beautiful, so scary, so haunting. Fans of fairy tales and folklore will love it. The art is so beautiful that it almost stands alone as a monograph of Carroll’s work than a linear story. It is a touch gorey/gross, so it’s not a great match for fairy tale enthusiasts who like the Disneyfied versions of things.
- The Wicked + The Divine
Ginnis: Superteam Kieron Gillen and James McKelvie’s latest is superb. With a rich mythology and intriguing concept, The Wicked + The Divine follows the lives of 12 gods who are brought back to earth every 90 years. Sounds pretty cool, huh? Get this one for the mythology geek in your life. Also, good for any of your friends who appreciate David Bowie, the Thin White Duke years.
Ivy: I second — this comic is a must for pop music fans or mythology buffs.