If you're reading this post, chances are you already number among the converted—you already think comic books are cool. But there's also a pretty good chance that you have friends who just don't agree with you. Sometimes there's no reasoning with people like that, but sometimes you can work magic. Sometimes all it takes is the right recommendation to turn a skeptic into a comic-loving buddy who will forever share in your obsession. Because what are friends for, right?
Therefore, in celebration of Book Week, The MindHut suggests keeping the following five graphic novels or series in your library at all times. If your hesitant friends can be swayed at all, chances are you'll be able to do it with these classic, fantastic examples of the comic medium (and with almost no superheroes!... not that there's anything wrong with them).
1. Watchmen: We've got to include Alan Moore's famous deconstruction of cape-and-cowl stories. Here is a tale about messed-up people who put on gaudy costumes to feel better about themselves and… maybe… do some good as an afterthought. But what happens when an actual super-powered being who can seemingly do anything appears on the scene? Can the human race hope to compete? This incredibly sharp and twisted look at the most popular comic book genre has captured readers' attentions since its publication in 1985, even appearing on Time Magazine's list of 100 best English-language novels since 1923.
2. Sandman: The story of the King of Dreams returning to his throne after a long and destructive exile, Sandman's a great book for new comic readers for a couple reasons. 1) It's heavily steeped in fantasy and adventure, so it feels like what a lot of people want out of a comic. 2) It also kind of plays in the DC Universe, so there will be familiar elements here, including fleeting of references to characters like the Demon or Bizzaro. 3) It's written by mega-popular author Neil Gaiman! If your friend is crazy about American Gods or The Graveyard Book, put Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes in his or her hand.
3. Scott Pilgrim: People love to laugh. People love video games. People love stories of hopeless love with a happy ending. It only stands to reason, then, that people will go crazy for the six-volume graphic novel set Scott Pilgrim, about a Canadian teen who lusts after an unattainable girl and—for some reason—lives in a world with video game logic (save points, extra lives, enemies drop coins when vanquished, etc.). If Scott wants to get with the girl of his dreams, he's got to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle… no big deal, right? Although a pretty solid film adaptation was made of these books, the original source material is (as usual) a lot richer and more fulfilling.
4. Maus: If you need to prove to a parent, teacher, or librarian that comics can be amazing (and hopefully you don't, but you never know), Art Spiegelman's semi-autobiographical 1980s comic will do the trick. Maus is a story about the Holocaust, shockingly dressed as something out of a Disney animal cartoon… Germans are cats, Jewish people are mice, and despite the pervasive and ugly violence here, everything looks sickeningly cute. But maybe, we're told, this is the only way Spiegelman can process the images of his father's time spent in concentration camps. Maus wonders how one even begins to make sense of something like that. This incredibly mature, disturbing look at one of the twentieth century's greatest tragedies marked a turning point for people recognizing what comics could do. All of a sudden, they were literature (be warned, Maus is not nearly as fun a book as the others on this list, but it is an incredibly fulfilling read).
5. Y the Last Man: Y the Last Man is unputdownable. This is the postapocalyptic tale of Yorick, an unemployed English major who, after a plague wipes out everyone else of his sex, happens to be the last male alive on Earth… except for, weirdly, the helper monkey he's been training for volunteer work. This comic is smart, intense, hilarious and overall one of the most engaging reads you'll find in any medium. Just give your friends the first volume… they will be clamoring to burn through all 10 within just a couple days.
Bonus: Keep a few of these awesome Batman stories on hand. Everybody loves Batman.