What types of comics and graphic novels does he read? Perhaps he just needs to introduce you to more accessible material. The mainstream superhero stuff can be pretty daunting for new readers (picking up X-Men these days is akin to tuning into a long-running soap opera), but there are tons of new reader-friendly comic books and graphic novels out there.
These days, with art styles influenced by movies and animation, it’s usually pretty easy to tell what’s going on in each page. Just remember– we read comics from left to right. In Japan, right to left. (And they start at the back of the comic. But that’s a whole other topic.) And while tons of comics are being adapted into movies these days, I wouldn’t hand just any series to a new reader. (Watchmen is one of the best works of fiction ever produced, but it’s more than a little daunting upon first glance.)
Here are a few comics I always recommend to girlfriends, female pals, guy friends…basically anyone who is looking to get into comics. All are well-written, beautifully and clearly illustrated, and fall outside of the usual “capes and tights” superhero fare.
Michael Cera is starring in the upcoming movie version of this series of fun, accessible graphic novels (five are available so far). Scott Pilgrim is your average lovelorn twenty-something slacker in a terrible indie band who falls head over heels for the bewitching Ramona Flowers. The catch? He has to battle seven of her ex-boyfriends before they can truly be together. You’ll dig the funny dialogue, relatable characters, and juicy relationship drama, while your boyfriend will appreciate the occasional action movie-worthy fight scenes and multiple video game nods (Scott’s band is called “Sex Bob-Omb”). My girlfriend–who is into punk and indie music and never read comics before she met me–loves this series.
Fairy tale favorites like Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf step into the real world in this addictive, long-running series. Writer Bill Willingham flips the script of the usual fairy tale and legend tropes, showing that fictional characters can be just as messed up as the rest of us. The story makes you feel for the characters, as they flee their magical land for Earth after being run out by a mysterious adversary, while the art (by Mark Buckingham and a bevy of other artists) is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. Fans of Wicked, Harry Potter, Disney movies, and other accessible fantasy will find a lot to love in Fables. Runner-up: Author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman’s (Coraline) dense, but highly rewarding, Sandman series.
Strangers In Paradise
This award-winning comic, about the life and loves of best friends Francine and Katchoo, is now available in six affordable book-sized digest collections. Terry Moore’s artwork is crisp and accessible, and the story has brought more than a few of my lady friends to tears. (Okay, fine, I might’ve gotten a little choked up as well.) With two well-developed female leads, and more drama in one book than in an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy, it’s a wonder Hollywood hasn’t already turned Strangers in Paradise into a movie. Or at least a cable TV series.
Y the Last Man
Yorick Brown is the sole survivor of a plague that kills Earth’s entire male population. Suddenly plunged into a world run entirely by women, Yorick must figure out the cause of the plague with the help of a deadly government agent, a duplicitous genetic scientist, and a monkey. Fans of high-concept science fiction that mixes thrills with social commentary will want to check out this acclaimed series from writer Brian K. Vaughn (Lost) and artist Pia Guerra. (Shia LaBeouf is rumored to be starring in the movie. Shia in a world populated entirely by women? That’s going to be a blockbuster.)
Perhaps you’ve seen the hilarious Thora Birch/Scarlett Johansson movie? Well, it was actually based on a graphic novel (by acclaimed writer/artist Daniel Clowes) that’s just as moving and well-observed. The comic book actually goes deeper into Enid and Rebecca’s relationship, as the Steve Buscemi role was amped up for the flick. Required reading for anyone who loves a good snarky, coming-of-age tale.
And there’s a whole lot more out there. Bone is an award-winning fantasy comic book series beloved by kids and adults alike. If you’re looking for a deeper read, Fun Home, a tragic-comic tale of a young woman’s relationship with her closeted homosexual father, is a brilliant work of art that scored multiple awards and accolades. (My girlfriend is also digging the Marvel Divas series– basically Sex and the City with superpowers.) All of these titles can be readily found at any good bookstore, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from visiting a comic book shop. Don’t worry, they’re not that scary.