Fantasy is in many ways the perfect genre for comics and graphic novels because the combination of text and art allows creators to even more vividly bring to life the worlds that they create. Given this, it is not surprising that so many comic books and graphic novels fall into this genre, including some of the most famous superhero stories. This post includes some of the best fantasy stories found in comics and graphic novels and offers many different options for fans of all types of fantasy.
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (2007 Great Graphic Novels For Teens) – Set in a world made up of anthropomorphized animals, bearded women, mysterious travellers, and magic, this graphic novel is in the style of traditional fables, but with a more modern focus. Though set at the castle of the title, which is isolated since a Sleeping Beauty-like incident decades before, the book is actually broken into a series of stories, each of which focuses on a smaller group of the castle’s inhabitants. It is an interesting and unique read that is perfect for fans of fairy tales and fables.
Gotham Academy: Endgame by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher with art by Jeff Stokely, Clio Chiang, Joy Ang, and Vera Brosgol – I’ve mentioned Gotham Academy in the past, but this issue warrants special consideration because it is a self-contained one-shot that serves as a great entry point for those who haven’t yet started the series. The conceit of the issue is that inhabitants of Gotham Academy are telling scary stories while the Joker is terrorizing town. Each of the stories is illustrated by a different artist, which works perfectly as they are each supposed to be told by a different member of the Gotham Academy community. This is a perfect introduction to the Gotham Academy storyline.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – In Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (perhaps best known for Lumberjanes) has created a funny epic fantasy world that centers around Nimona, a young shapeshifter who wants to serve as the sidekick to a villain, specifically Lord Ballister Blackheart. Combining elements of traditional fantasy and science fiction storylines while simultaneously turning many tropes on their head, this is a great book for fantasy fans who want to try a graphic novel. Originally a webcomic, the print edition of Nimona is due later this month.
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki – This volume collects the webcomic of the same name by Jillian Tamaki, co-creator of This One Summer, which was a 2015 Printz Honor Book and a 2015 Caldecott Honor Book. Though most of the strips are only loosely connected, they all follow students at a school for magical and mutant students that seems at times to be patterned on Hogwarts. The themes run the gamut from issues that will be familiar to anyone who has attended high school to jokes based on common fantasy tropes. Though the book is completely different from This One Summer, fans of that book should check it out to see another side of Tamaki’s work.
Shutter by Joe Keatinge with art by Leila Del Duca – This urban fantasy is about Kate Kristopher, an adventurer and explorer who must try to work out the secrets of her family and particularly her father whose death she is trying to cope with. The artwork in the comic brings Kate’s crazy world to life very effectively and the first volume ends with enough questions still unanswered to leave readers eager to learn more about the secrets Kate confronts. This book will particularly appeal to fans of Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross.
August Moon by Diana Thung (2013 Great Graphic Novels For Teens) – This graphic novel is set in the mysterious small town of Calico that celebrates an annual festival devoted to the Soul Fire, the name they have given to the unexplained lights in the sky that they believe are the souls of their ancestors. In reality, these lights come from the lanterns of creatures that look like giant bunnies and who hide from the community in the nearby forest. When a sinister corporation attempts to bulldoze the forest without telling anyone in the town, Fiona Gan must join together with the local children, including Jaden who may or may not come from the moon, to try to protect these animals and the forest. The story has a fable-like quality and integrates elements of Asian culture throughout. It is a great option for readers of all ages.
There are many more fantasy stories being told in comics and graphic novels and I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments!