Three must-read graphic novels and comics

By: Chloë Williams, Columnist

We’re all used to the classic superhero comic stars. While they are great, there are a lot of under-appreciated comic books and graphic novels out there that deserve some love. 

These stories all have captivating characters in a vivid world that you don’t just have to imagine, but can see. Check out these three books to expand your easy reading during social distancing, and try out a new genre of reading if you haven’t already been exposed to the world of comics.

“Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye” by Jon Rivera and Gerard Way, illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming

You’ve probably heard of Batman, but have you heard of DC Comics character Cave Carson? “Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye” is a comic series co-written by Jon Rivera and Gerard Way, and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming. 

Carson is a geologist and underground explorer. His greatest accomplishment was the “Mighty Mole Project,” in which he invented a machine to help him dig around under the Earth’s surface. Now retired, he lives with his daughter Chloe after the tragic death of his wife, Eileen. 

After his cybernetic eyes start giving him strange visions, the two venture underground and discover that there was a lot more to Eileen’s life than they knew. Having a brief appearance in previous DC stories, Carson is now hitting the spotlight with a DC Comics Young Animal series. 

This story is a completely immersive experience, hooking the reader with a lovable father-daughter team, and sending them deep underground into a page-turning adventure. Colorful and imaginative, this comic brings a new life to the superhero genre. 

The world-building in this comic is truly commendable, and introduces audiences to frightening monsters, intriguing magic, and the possibility of an entire fantastical world lying right underneath their toes. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of escapism, look no further than this captivating comic with its striking illustrations and characters one can root for. 

“iZombie: Dead to the World” by Chris Roberson and illustrated by Michael Allred

Perhaps you are familiar with the CW show, “iZombie,” based on this comic series by author Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred. If so, then you might be familiar with the story of Liv, a new zombie who is trying to retain a normal life while controlling her all-consuming urge for brains. 

Different from the TV show is the Halloween-world constructed between the pages of the comic. Instead of crime-fighting mortician Liv, Gwen is a gravedigger living among a town filled with all kinds of creeps and ghouls.

Her best friends are a ghost living in her graveyard, and a were-terrier. Their town is under attack by a girl-gang of vampires, and if that wasn’t enough to deal with, Liv is also being seeked out by a mummy who wants revenge.

There are a lot of supernatural stories out there, but “iZombie” really stands out. Its creators have done well in creating a captivating world of many different spooks, while keeping its story focused on the experience of Gwen. 

Her world is much more expanded in the comic series, and even in the first issue, “Dead to the World,” Gwen is already set on multiple different paths. She is juggling a romance, solving a mystery, and learning how to navigate her new life. Gwen has deep secrets, and must conceal herself from almost everyone she knows. 

Within the pages of the comic, Gwen really comes to life in a way that is completely different from how we see her counterpart Liv onscreen. This is a series that has heart, and if you’re a sci-fi/horror fan, give it a shot.

“Cursed Pirate Girl” by Jeremy A. Bastian

“Cursed Pirate Girl” is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Jeremy A. Bastian. It is perhaps my favorite book that I have on my shelf, because it is an absolutely stunning work of art. Each page is filled from top to bottom in intensely intricate pen drawings. This is a book that could be read over and over, with the reader finding new details in the artwork each time. 

The book tells the story of The Cursed Pirate Girl, on a mission to find her pirate father with the help of a bossy parrot and friendly fish. In her way are sharks, undersea knights, cruel pirate captains, and a whole host of underwater monsters. Depicted are exciting undersea battles, and the heartfelt journey of a lost girl looking for her roots.

Any audience could clearly tell that this is a work that the artist has poured their heart and soul into. Expect full-page illustrations where every star, every board of the pirate ship, and every ripple of the waves can be seen in explicit detail. 

“Cursed Pirate Girl” has elaborately-drawn borders, compelling characters, and, like all good books have, a map. I cannot speak highly enough of this graphic novel. When you open it, it is as if you are entering the intricately-crafted mind of Bastian himself.

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