With most of the world being told that they should only be leaving their home for essential activities, most people have a lot of free time on their hands. It’s the perfect opportunity to read comics and graphic novels.
The only problem is due to the current global situation is that there are no new comics to read. Diamond Distributors has temporarily shut down and as a result there is no new product making its way into comic book stores.
As I mentioned in this call to arms, that’s not an ideal for comic book stores. They rely on the income of new comics and graphic novels each week. But these stores still stock HEAPS of older material and as a result there is a lot of stuff that you can still get your hands on to read.
With this realisation, I took to Twitter to give out more than 80 reading recommendations of older material that you can find at open comic book stores. The result was an eclectic mix of classics, recent releases, hidden gems, and idiosyncratic picks from a wide range of genres.
I have listed them all below for your browsing please, along with additional resources so you can find out more about them.
Although, before you dive in to the recommendations, it’s worth noting that while some stores have been forced to shut, there are many that are still open. Most of these are offering a range of services to get comics to you in a safe way including mail order, home delivery, curbside pick-up and more. You can find out which stores are still open and what services they are offering on the Comics Industry Collective website. Support these local businesses so they can make it through this tough time.
1. Archie Vs. Predator (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by Alex de Campi. Art by Fernando Ruiz.
Before the craziness of Riverdale this was this. This mashup turns Archie comics into a teen survival horror, drawn in the classic style.
2. Batman: Year One (DC Comics)
Written by Frank Miller. Art by David Mazzucchelli.
An excellent telling of Batman’s origins and early days as a crime fighter. Not a single panel is wasted in this stunning 4-part story.
Find out more about this story in an essay that argues why Year One is the definitive Batman origin story.
3. Silver Surfer (Marvel)
Written by Dan Slott. Art by Mike Allred.
If you’re a fan of Doctor Who then you’ll love these fun adventures in outer space. Allred’s art is vibrant, colourful, and expressive.
4. Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (Kodansha Comics)
Written and art by Junji Ito.
Ito takes all of the elements he uses to craft excellent horror comics and flips them for these autobiographical comics about living with cats.
5. The Flash: Moving Forward (DC Comics)
Created by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
The first story as part of the New 52 series. Visually fantastic and experiments with the Flash’s speed in interesting ways. Also a great place to start if you’ve never read The Flash before.
6. Black Magick (Image Comics)
Written by Greg Rucka. Art by Nicola Scott.
Rowan Black is a police detective who happens to also a be witch. While investigating a crime it becomes personal as the secret part of her life collides with her job.
7. Godzilla: The Half Century War (IDW Publishing)
Written and art by James Stokoe.
Moby Dick meets Godzilla in a 50 year tale about obsession. It is rendered in stunning detail. A must for any fans if the Big G.
Find out about all of IDW’s Godzilla comics in this monster guide.
8. Thor: The God Butcher/God Bomb (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Esad Ribic.
This is an epic Thor story told over three different timeline with incredible art. If you love big storytelling and action then you’ll totally dig this.
The God Butcher/God Bomb made it on to the list of Thor comics you should read so you know it’s good.
9. Lowriders in Space (Chronicle Books)
Written by Cathy Camper. Art by Raul the Third.
A really fun space adventure that is inspired by car culture. It has this really cool ball-point pen style that oozes with great detail.
10. The Fade Out (Image Comics)
Written by Ed Brubaker. Art by Sean Phillips.
A pulpy crime comic set in the gritty underbelly of post-WWII Hollywood that focuses on an alcoholic screenwriter who investigates the murder of an up-and-coming actress.
11. Kaijumax (Oni Press)
Written and art by Zander Cannon.
A series that is equally fun as it is heartbreaking that’s all about a prison for giant monsters. There’s a lot of fantastic cartooning going on here. Get on it.
12. Daredevil: Born Again (Marvel)
Written by Frank Miller. Art by David Mazzucchelli.
Kingpin discover’s Daredevil’s identity and does everything in his power to ruin Matt Murdock’s life. This is the brilliantly crafted story of Murdock’s fall and eventual rise.
13. Locke & Key (IDW Publishing)
Written by Joe Hill. Art by Gabriel Rodriguez.
An eerie haunted house series full of twists and turns that was recently adapted for Netflix.
Find out how to start reading Locke & Key in this handy guide.
14. Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics)
Written and drawn by Kazuto Tatsuta.
This is a graphic memoir about one of the many people who work as part of the clean-up of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
15. Hip Hop Family Tree (Fantagraphics Books)
Written and art by Ed Piskor.
Details the early years of hip hop in a way that only comics can. You don’t have to a hip hop fan to appreciate the passion on every page.
16. The Green Lantern (DC Comics)
Written by Grant Morrison and art by Liam Sharp.
More of a focus on Green Lantern being a space cop than superhero. Visually wild, with crazy ideas and incredible detail that harks back to old-school 2000AD.
17. Head Lopper (Image Comics)
Written and art by Andrew MacLean.
Sword and sorcery comics that are filled with dynamic action, cool character designs, and strong cartooning. As the title suggests, plenty of decapitation throughout.
18. Tetris: The Games People Play (First Second Books)
Written and art by Box Brown.
This graphic novel tells the wild (and true) story behind the game Tetris.
Find out more about Tetris: The Games People Play in this review.
19. Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (Marvel)
Written by JM DeMatteis and art by Mike Zeck.
Spider-Man is no stranger to tragedy, but this motif-rich story is probably the darkest in his back catalogue. Very strong storytelling throughout.
20. Spider-Man: The Commuter Cometh (Marvel)
Written by Peter David and Bob Mcleod.
Spider-Man follows a crook into the suburbs and has to adjust to the new terrain in hilarious ways. In my books, it is the funniest Spider-Man story ever.
Both Kraven’s Last Hunt and The Commuter Cometh are part of the 14 Spider-Man Stories You Should Read list.
21. Science Comics: Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers (First Second Books)
Written by MK Reed and art by Joe Flood.
Learn all about dinosaurs in a fun and entertaining way that is perfect for anyone young or old.
Learn more about the whole Science Comics range in this easy guide.
22. Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Pal (DC Comics)
Written by Matt Fraction. Art by Steve Lieber.
This series, which is 9 issues in of 12, is a lot of fun and really funny. All about the shenanigans that Jimmy Olsen gets up to.
23. Superman: Birthright (DC Comics)
Written by Mark Waid. Art by Leinil Francis Yu.
A modern telling of Superman’s origin’s that takes account what has come before and expands on it in interesting ways.
If you like the sound of Superman: Birthright, then you’ll probably be interested in this essay about Superman’s origin.
24. Saga (Image Comics)
Written by Brian K Vaughan. Art by Fiona Staples.
Saga is one of comics that can be shocking, weird, and heart-breaking all in the same time. Lots of imagination and heart go into every issue.
25. Knights of Sidonia (Vertical Inc)
Written and art by Tsutomu Nihei.
To generalise, it is Evangelion in space, but it takes it in a different direction. Mixes intense mecha battles with eerie silence of its environments.
26. Hellboy: The Corpse (Dark Horse Comics)
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
While Hellboy is fantastic in general, this short story is marvellous. It’s eerie with very strong sense of storytelling.
Looking to start reading Hellboy? This guide will help you get started.
27. Klaus (Boom Studios)
Written by Grant Morrison. Art by Dan Mora.
The story of Santa told through the prism of fantasy and super heroics. Beautiful art and a joy to read when a new one-shot comes out each year.
28. Stray Bullets (Image Comics)
Written and art by David Lapham.
A grimy crime comic full of despicable people throughout. Jumps around different time periods from 1970s-90s.
29. Infinity Gauntlet (Marvel)
Written by Jim Starlin. Art by George Perez and Ron Lim.
This epic event from the 90s formed the basis for the recent Avengers movies. It has one of the greatest battle issues (issue #4) in all of comics.
30. Usagi Yojimbo (Lots of different publishers over the years)
Written and art by Stan Sakai.
The series is all about a masterless samurai rabbit, who roams 1700’s Japan. Very strong cartooning and you can start with almost any story.
31. Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth (Rebellion)
Written by Pat Mills, John Wagner, and Chris Lowder. Art by Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland.
This is an insane journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland that is full of crazy ideas. Oh, a wild McDonalds parody.
Find out more about this Dredd classic here.
32. Pretty Deadly (Image Comics)
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Art by Emma Rios.
A supernatural-western hybrid that has dynamic action and beautifully flowing art.
Fnd out what makes Pretty Deadly so good in a review of the first volume.
33. Saga of the Swamp Thing (Alan Moore Era) (Vertigo Comics)
Written by Alan Moore. Art by Stephen Bissette and Rick Veitch.
This series flipped the idea of the swamp monster on its head to tell stories about identity, the environment, and more.
34. Doctor Strange: The Oath (Marvel)
Written by Brian K Vaughan. Art by Marcos Martin.
Doctor Strange vs Big Pharma in a story that explores duty of care the Hippocratic Oath.
The Oath is one of the many excellent comics that made our Doctor Strange reading list.
35. Don Rosa’s Disney Duck comics (Fantagraphics Books)
Written and art by Don Rosa.
Brilliant cartooning, with stories that a full of humour and adventure. Along with Carl Barks, these are the kinds of stories that inspired Duck Tales.
36. Shirtless Bear-Fighter (Image Comics)
Written by Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner. Art by Nil Vendrell.
Big, fun, silly action. If you love Chuck Norris jokes then this is the comic for you.
37. Kill or Be Killed (Image Comics)
Written by Ed Brubaker. Art by Sean Phillips.
A pulpy look at vigilante stories similar to Death Wish. It’s dark, grimy, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
38. Dark Nights: Metal (DC Comics)
Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo.
One of the most bombastic comic book events of all time. Heaps of fun to read. More events should be like this.
Check out the reading order for this well-loved event.
39. All-Star Superman (DC Comics)
Written by Grant Morrison. Art by Frank Quitely.
A gorgeous love-letter to Superman that finds the way to take ideas from throughout his history and make them work all together.
All-Star Superman is one of the many classic Superman tales that made our should read list.
40. Jughead (2015 series) (Archie Comics)
Written by Chip Zdarsky and Ryan North. Art by Erica Henderson and Derek Charm.
A witty and modern take on everyone’s favourite Riverdale slacker.
Learn how you can start reading Archie Comics in this easy guide.
41. Gyo (VIZ Media)
Written and art by Junji Ito.
Fish grow legs and start walking out of the ocean. It only gets creepier when the story transitions into an unsettling body horror.
42. Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City (DC Comics)
Written by Peter Milligan. Art by Keiron Dwyer.
43. House of X/Powers of X (Marvel)
Written by Jonathan Hickman. Art by Pepe Larraz and R.B Silva.
This pair of minis turned X-Men on its head and created an exciting new era for Marvel’s mutants. Available in one big hardcover.
Check out the reading order.
44. Zot! (Harper Collins)
Written and drawn by Scott McCloud.
A bright indie superhero series from second-half of the 80s that mixed manga (especially Astro Boy), European, and US influences. Lots of interesting experimentation throughout.
45. Die (Image Comics)
Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Stephanie Hans.
A character-driven comic that flips the tropes of role playing games and fantasy on their head in interesting ways. Beautifully rendered.
46. Black Widow: The Name of the Rose (Marvel)
Written by Marjorie Liu. Art by Daniel Acuna.
Black Widow is on the hunt after all of her secrets are revealed. Amazing art too. Read this if you want your Black Widow fix before the movie comes out.
47. Spider-Man: Blue (Marvel)
Written by Jeff Loeb. Art by Tim Sale.
This miniseries leans hard into romance element of Spider-Man comics to tell a retrospective story of Peter and Gwen’s relationship. Lots of Spidey action too.
Yet another comics to make our Spider-Man list.
48. The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by Gerard Way. Art by Gabriel Ba.
Weird and dysfunctional superhero comics which have inspired a Netflix series of the same name.
Find out how to start reading The Umbrella Academy in this simple guide.
49. Paper Girls (Image Comics)
Written by Brian K Vaughan. Art by Cliff Chiang.
Four young girls who deliver news papers in 1987 get thrown into time travelling weirdness. Fantastic art and strong character-focused moments.
50. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel)
Written by Ryan North. Art by Erica Henderson and Derek Charm.
A smart, humorous, and downright fun comic. All you need to know about her is that she eats nuts and kicks butts.
51. Wytches (Image Comics)
Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Jock.
A truly terrifying horror comic that will stop you from sleeping.
52. Superman: Red Son (DC Comics)
Written by Mark Millar. Art by Dave Johnson.
What if Superman landed in the Soviet Union instead of Smallville?
53. Moon Knight: From The Dead (Marvel)
Written by Warren Ellis. Art by Declan Shalvey.
Fast, hard-hitting, self-contained stories that mix the supernatural with street-level action. Plenty of bang for your buck with each issue a new story.
Take a look at a preview of Moon Knight #1.
54. American Vampire (Vertigo Comics)
Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Rafael Albuquerque and others.
From the wild west and through the 20-century, this series explores a new breed of vampires. It’s a really interesting take on vampire stories.
55. IDW’s Transformers comics (IDW Publishing)
Written and art by lots of different people.
Depending what you read these comics cover all of Transformers history from pre-war, during the war, and post-war Cybertonian society. Explores a lot of themes the movies are too lazy to touch.
Find out how to make sense of all the different series with this reading order.
56. Farmhand (Image Comics)
Written and art by Rob Guillory.
Agriculture collides with the medical industry when it is discovered new body parts can be grown in a way similar to fruit and vegetables. Sounds amazing, but what if it started to go horribly wrong?
57. Watchmen (DC Comics)
Written by Alan Moore. Art by Dave Gibbons.
Do I really need to recommend Watchmen? Well, I am going to anyway as it is a masterclass in terms of the craft of comics. Also the TV show proves it is still relevant today.
58. Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak. Art by Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti.
Hulk meets Gladiator on an alien world. Great character moments for Hulk and elements of it inspired Thor: Ragnarok.
Check out a review of this modern classic.
59. The Wicked + The Divine (Image Comics)
Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie and others.
Every 90 years, 12 gods are reborn and walk the Earth. Two years later they are dead. This time around they came back as the world’s biggest popstars.
60. The Vision (Marvel)
Written by Tom King. Art by Gabriel H Walta and Michael Walsh.
A tense suburban tragedy that stars a robot family. Plenty of surprises along the way.
61. The Incredible Change-Bots (Top Shelf Comix)
Written and art by Jeffery Brown.
A fun and very silly Transformers parody that drips in nostalgia.
62. Once and Future (Boom Studios)
Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Dan Mora.
A beautiful fantasy comic which explores the Arthurian legend with a great allegory for Brexit.
63. Ant Colony (Drawn & Quarterly)
Written and art by Michael DeForge.
A surreal and bleak look at the collapse of an ant colony. Lots of abstract character designs that are visually interesting in approach.
64. Kingdom Come (DC Comics)
Written by Mark Waid. Art by Alex Ross.
An alternate universe adventure in which Superman come out of retirement after the new generation of heroes takes everything too far. Every page is painted in incredible detail.
Yet another comic on our should read list of Superman stories.
65. Doctor Strange: Triumph and Torment (Marvel)
Written by Roger Stern. Art by Mike Mignola.
One of the greatest magical team-ups in comics as Doctor Strange pairs up with Doctor Doom in order to save the soul of Doom’s mother.
You can fin this on our should read list of stories for Doctor Strange.
66. My Brother’s Husband (Pantheon Books)
Written and art by Gengoroh Tagame.
A man has to come to terms with his deceased brother’s sexuality when his partner come to stay. This short series explores the attitudes around homosexuality in Japan.
67. Batwoman: Elegy (DC Comics)
Written by Greg Rucka. Art by J.H Williams III.
A visual feast that mixes styles and experiments with page layout in inventive ways.
68. X-O Manowar: By The Sword (Valiant)
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Cary Nord.
A great place to reading X-O Manowar (a guy who is essentially a barbarian in an Iron Man style armour). It explores his origins and sets the series up for more action.
69. Sex Criminals (Image Comics)
Written by Matt Fraction. Art by Chip Zdarsky.
There is only one comic worthy of the 69th recommendation. A sex comedy all about a couple who can literally stop time when they orgasm. A dangerously funny comic that has a lot of heart behind it.
Take a look a preview of Sex Criminals #1.
70. Y: The Last Man (Vertigo Comics)
Written by Brian K Vaughn. Art by Pia Guerra and others.
Everyone with a Y chromosome, except a man and his monkey, dropped dead all at once. The series explores society in the aftermath. Lot of themes explored in this one.
71. She-Hulk (2014 series) (Marvel)
Written by Charles Soule. Art by Javier Pulido and Ronald Wimberly.
Fun super heroics combined with courtroom drama in an excellent 12-issues series.
Read a preview of She-Hulk #1.
72. Ghostworld (Fantagraphics Books)
Written and art by Daniel Clowes.
Cynical and witty in a way that only Clowes can offer. Fans of Daria will dig this cult-classic.
73. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC Comics)
Written by Frank Miller. Art by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson.
A game-changer at the time, this classic is still a solid read thanks to its alternate take on Batman and execution of storytelling techniques.
Check out this article in which I analyse this classic comic.
74. Hawkeye (2012 series) (Marvel)
Written by Matt Fraction. Art by David Aja, Annie Wu, and others.
What does Hawkeye do when he is not with The Avengers? He get’s up to a whole kind of different trouble. Fantastic art that has an element of design to it.
75. Starlight (Image Comics)
Written by Mark Millar. Art Gorlan Parlov.
A unique twist of Flash Gordon. A man is tasked with saving the alien world he saved 40 years prior as a young man. Great visuals that are inspired by the golden-age of science fiction.
76. Blackest Night (DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns. Art by Ivan Reis.
While the comic has all of the trappings of a superhero event storytelling, it has a lot of depth to it in the way it explores death in its many facets.
Check out this essay about how Blackest Night explores the concept of death.
77. You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack (Drawn and Quarterly)
Written and art by Tom Gauld.
A collection of witty cartoons full of literary references and deadpan humour.
78. Chew (Image Comics)
Written by John Layman. Art by Rob Guillory.
A food-based weird crime series, set in a world where chicken is banned. Tony Chu is a man with the unique ability of being able to get information about the food he eats.
79. Immortal Iron Fist (Marvel)
Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. Art by David Aja and Travel Foreman.
All the cool martial arts action that you can expect with Iron Fist, but this series really expands the mythos. We get a look at previous Iron Fists and their world.
This story made it onto our Iron Fist should read list.
80. Daytripper (Vertigo)
Created by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.
A beautiful Eisner award-winning series that will make you question your own mortality, and the choices you’re making. If you’re looking for a quick break from reality, this is it. (Review from my wife)
81. Archie: Game of Phones (Archie Comics)
Written by Angelo Decesare. Art by Fernando Ruiz.
The Game of Thrones parody that you didn’t know that you needed.
Check out this article exploring this fun parody.
82. Soppy: A Love Story (Andrews McMeel)
Written and art by Phillipa Rice.
A charming and realistic romance comic about the small moments you share with your partner.
83. Darth Vader (2015 series) (Marvel)
Written by Keiron Gilllen. Art by Salvador Larroca.
This solo series explores the fallout of the destruction of the Death Star through Imperial tensions. Vader is and imposing figure and general bad-ass.
You can find out more about Marvel’s Star Wars comics in this handy guide.