10 Graphic Novels That Don’t Need Superheroes To Be Awesome – 71Bait

People typically associate comics and graphic novels with superheroes, and considering cinematic universes like the MCU and DCEU dominate the media, that makes a lot of sense. The reality is that comics cover a lot of interesting subjects when it comes to graphic novels. Although there are many graphic novels about Batman, Superman or the Avengers, these books are not always about superheroes.


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From emotional, realistic stories about domestic life to epic adventures with normal, relatable people, graphic novels have a lot to offer fans of all ages and genres. Many graphic novels have been made by artists looking to move and inspire their readers without a single superhero in sight.

Some entries in this list deal with sexual assault

10 The Thread Of Art is an insightful journey through history

Gradimir and Ivana Smudja The Thread of Art follows Luna, an artistic teenage girl, and her cat Vincent as they stumble upon a common thread and follow it into Lascaux Cave, home to some of the first parietal murals of all time. This is just the first stop on your way to meet some of history’s greatest artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Hokusai and Pablo Picasso.

In each chapter, Luna and Vincent help the artists complete their work without getting into trouble themselves. The Thread of Art is an engaging and entertaining story that doubles as a crash course in art history and encourages readers to learn more.

9 The Secret to Superhuman Strength is an autobiographical satire

The secret of superhuman strength is a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel that explores the author’s relationship with movement throughout her life. On all pages, Bechdel reflects on her personal journey towards fitness, bodybuilding, outdoor sports and stress management. She also thinks about the pros and cons of their “perverse fixation on muscles.

Bechdel’s novel couldn’t be further from superhero values. Instead of the overpowering Marvel heroes, she shows the hardships of each physical achievement. Anyone looking for a self-care read full of hard truths should check it out The secret of superhuman strength.

8th Chicken with Plums is an emotional story about love, family and passion

What Marjane Satrapi is famous for Persepolisthis is not her only masterpiece. Chicken with plums, a 2004 graphic novel by Satrapi, follows Sartrapi’s great-uncle Nasser Ali Khan after his tar, a long-necked, waisted lute, is damaged beyond repair. The instrument serves as a trigger for the man to think about his family, his former loves and his passions.

Like all works by Satrapi, Chicken with plums is a melancholy tale entirely embedded in historical truths. No need for epic battles or super villains, this graphic novel has powerful statements about life that will linger in the reader’s mind forever. It’s also short so you can read it in one go.

7 In Habibi, love conquers everything

After being sold as a child bride and raped when she was only nine years old, Dodola takes it upon herself to save others when her husband dies. When she meets Zam, a younger naïve boy who has been sold into slavery, they form an unbreakable bond, even amidst their town’s corruption.

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Craig Thompson habibi deals with gruesome issues such as slavery and child rape. However, Thompson manages to craft a softly spoken, tender story around characters that feel very real to read. Given that habibi is as heartbreaking as it gets.

6 My Favorite Thing Is Monsters was praised for its beautiful art

A semi-autobiographical tale My favorite thing is monsters is Emil Ferris’ first graphic novel. This book tells the story of Karen Reyes, a Chicago girl living in the 1960’s trying to uncover the truth about the death of her mysterious neighbor Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor.

It’s common for comics to neglect art while prioritizing plot. However, My favorite thing is monsters stands out for his incredible drawings. Ferris’s realistic portraiture and use of flash, combined with the story’s raw emotionality, made this one of the best works of the decade.

5 Shadow Life reflects life, death and older queer people

In 2021 Hiromi Goto and Ann Xu founded shadow life, a short graphic novel that follows Kumiko, a stubborn but hilarious 76-year-old widow who keeps trying to escape death. This attempt to thwart fate helps her heal her past relationships and brings her closer to her family.

shadow life doesn’t need a good versus evil dichotomy to offer fans the clash of times: life versus death. This graphic novel is an eccentric race against time, but also a beautiful reflection of the rigors of growing older, especially as a queer person. Its amazing story deserves it shadow life a nomination for the GLAAD Awards.

4 They Called Us Enemy is George Takei’s autobiography

in the They called us enemies Actor and activist George Takei shares his childhood memories of being imprisoned in an American concentration camp during World War II. Written by Takei with co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and artist Harmony Becker, this emotional tale follows Takei and his family as they flee Japan, only to find themselves in a prison disguised as a resettlement center thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to land.

As he educates readers about the aftermath of World War II in America, Takei opens a portal to the most intimate moments of his family life. Coming from a well-loved public figure like him, They called us enemy is a punch in the gut for anyone with heart and an inspirational story.

3 Jack the Ripper comes from hell

Horror fans can rejoice From hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Set in the Victorian era, this novel revolves around Jack the Ripper, who proposes a fictional solution to one of mankind’s darkest mysteries: the identity of the killer. Moore and Campbell follow Frederick Abberline’s investigation while also delving into the bizarre circumstances that led to Sir William Gull, the royal physician, killing five women.

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From hell has no superheroes. Instead, it follows a full-fledged and very real villain, although the story itself is mostly fiction. As always, Alan Moore surprises fans with complex characters embedded in a plot full of twists, where many hidden meanings and conspiracies are revealed. From hell is at the same time contemporary theory, historical reflection and social criticism.

2 Understanding comics teaches the art of sequential storytelling

Less a novel than a metafictional text, understand comics by Scott McCloud is a complete comic book course. In more than 200 pages, McCloud examines comic book theory, its formal aspects, part of its history, and its most important concepts.

While this book is pretty much a college course, McCloud never neglects entertainment. The novel is filled with light-hearted jokes that often help the reader better understand sequential art concepts. Any fan of comics or art in general will find this understand comics is a valuable learning tool.

1 A Contract with God is considered one of the first – and greatest – graphic novels

The graphic novel par excellence, Will Eisners A contract with God is an anthology of four different stories dealing with universal themes such as religion, death, love and identity. These stories are a window into human nature and use characters that everyone can relate to.

Unlike superhero comics, which are often two-dimensional, the characters in A contract with God are not just good or bad. They are human, which means they face terrible aspects of life like racism, while also making mistakes, sometimes unforgivable ones. Eisner earned his place in comics history with this iconic graphic novel.

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