Thanks to the popularity of super heroes in cinema, the average citizen views comic books as a genre filled with nothing but costumed crime-fighters. However, the world of comic books is far richer than they might expect.
From touching autobiographical works to fantastical inventions to epic sagas, comics can cover a wide variety of subjects. As a matter of fact, some of the best works of comic book art come from stories that have nothing to do with super heroes. Read on if you want to know about must-read comics that do not revolve around the increasingly crowded super-human space.
10 The Walking Dead
Given the prevalence of zombies in pop culture and the existence of The Walking Dead TV show, you might think the comic book series is not worth your time. However, you'd be dead wrong. Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead is already completed, whereas the show is not. Plus, numerous changes have been made when adapting the comic to television. Reading the comic will provide fans of the series with extra content, surprises, and the classic understated quality that makes Robert Kirkman a force to be reckoned with in the comic book world.
9 Mouse Guard
Don't let their adorable faces fool you. David Petersen's Mouse Guard is a gritty tale about a group of medieval mouse warriors sworn to protect innocent citizens. Yes, we're aware this might sound a bit ridiculous. Just trust us. Pick up one issue of Mouse Guard and watch how it sweeps you off your feet with a fantasy story that could rival Game of Thrones. If you're familiar with Watership Down or the Redwall series, then Mouse Guard will be right up your alley. Who needs super heroes when you have mice in shining armor?
For those looking for a quieter and more relatable story than what a Marvel or DC super hero could provide, Blankets should be your first pick. Craig Thompson shows us the beauty in the simple moments of one man's life. Told as a sort of autobiography, Thompson revels in his imagination and in the wonderful clarity of his first experiences with love. Even though a super hero isn't punching a villain in every panel, Blankets feels like a more satisfying story because it is far more real than anything a super hero could provide us.
7 From Hell
Many know Alan Moore for his famous works like Watchmen or V for Vendetta or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Nudging those super-heroic comics aside for the moment, fans of Moore's intricate style of writing will definitely enjoy From Hell.
Part mystery, part historical fiction, part psychological thriller, From Hell deals with the notorious Jack the Ripper killings in London's late Victorian era. Dive into Moore's twisted tale that tells of the dangers of secret societies and murderous inclinations. Just don't expect to get an easy night's sleep afterwards.
6 Ghost World
Anyone who has been a teenager in the history of ever knows of the stereotypical angst that can course through your veins outside of your control. Ghost World perfectly embodies these troubling times by showing readers a glimpse into the lives of two young girls who feel like outcasts. Mistakes are made, cringe-worthy moments are experienced, and growing up is made painfully clear. However, Daniel Clowes does a more than adequate job of capturing why being a teenager can be one of the most confusing times in your life.
Before Once Upon a Time popularized the idea of featuring fairy-tale characters in the real world, Fables did it first. After being chased from their mystical homelands, familiar faces from our favorite stories have to make do with hiding out in New York City.
Many of the issues showcase a mystery-esque narrative, but once things ratchet up a notch in terms of fantastical battles, you won't be disappointed in terms of action. Plus, these mythical characters often display all-too-human emotions that will have you wondering what separates you as a reader from them as a fictional being.
Brian K. Vaughan is rapidly becoming one of the top names in the comic book industry, and it isn't hard to see why. His epic stories, no matter how far-reaching, always strike an emotional chord in readers. Take Saga, for instance. Set in the far reaches of the universe, blending fantasy and science-fiction, Saga essentially tells a story of a family trying to stay together in love and happiness. It doesn't get simpler or more complex than that. Saga is still an ongoing series, so we recommend you hop on board now so that you can reach the series' conclusion with the rest of the fandom.
3 The Sandman
While the occasional "super-heroic" character might feature in Neil Gaiman's fantastical Sandman series, the story itself delves more deeply into myth and fantasy than costumed crime-fighting. As part of the pantheon of Endless, the character of Dream has to navigate the terrors and wonders of all sorts of realms. Whether he is mucking about in human affairs, ruling his own dream realm, or tiptoeing through Hell, the mythical Sandman is rarely bored. Readers will not suffer from boredom either if they're reading Gaiman's epic masterpiece.
2 Y: The Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan makes another appearance on this list, but the quality of his work speaks for itself. The premise alone of Y: The Last Man is intriguing enough to make anyone want to check out the series. Yorick Brown is just your average male, until one day, when all the men in the world spontaneously die...except for him. Yorick's grasp of pop culture and sarcasm makes his journey through this new world relatable, while still maintaining the scope of the tragedy. Plus, Vaughan manages to acknowledge the irony that even in a world composed mainly of women, the last man is still the protagonist of the story.
To say that Maus is a work of art would be as senseless as saying that a life is a work of art. However, there is a vein of truth in that statement. Art Spiegelman's story of his father's life during the Holocaust moves emotional mountains, all with the brushstrokes of a pen on paper. Portraying Jewish men and women as mice and Germans as cats, Spiegelman draws the lines between cultural identity and his own sense of self. There aren't really words available to us to say how phenomenal Maus is, so all we can do is say that it is the finest work of art the comic book form has yet produced.