Thrillist’s 33 Graphic Novels of All Time

There is an absolute abundance of graphic novel and book lists out on the internet. 100 best this and 100 best that. All have some value, and all pretty much say the same things. Which is why the 1001 list I have been working on this year has been so important and valuable for me. It has introduced me to a variety of different authors and styles of graphic novels. Most have been amazing.

However, I came across this list on Thrillist that had some really cool additions to the normal list fodder you see and I hadn’t heard of some of them. I don’t normally reblog content, but this list is definitely worth checking out. I have added some of the notable standouts here but review the whole list.


28. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by Robert Crumb

Like Hagio, Crumb is one of sequential art’s all-time greatest craftspeople and artistic innovators, shepherding the underground comics movement of the ’60s into existence through the sheer force of his peerless hatching, unbound id, and (just as important and way too frequently overlooked) drive to self-criticize. While collections featuring his great creations Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Flakey Foont, and Devil Girl, not to mention his collaborations with comics’ great everyman writer Harvey Pekar, abound, this lion-in-winter adaptation of no less a work than the first book of the goddamn Bible is the best place to witness Crumb’s genius. Largely stripped of the sociopolitical context that has made his comics so controversial over the years, Genesis’ portraits of ancient men and women struggling to survive shows that his primary interest lies in chronicling the physical and mental experience of being human.

I love these illustrated novels. While they do not replace reading a novel in its entirety, they do give an interesting take on notable source material.


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Bechdel is mostly noted for Fun Home: A Tragicomic, but she has many other standout works. Including, “Dykes to watch out for” series. She combines humor with scathing commentary.

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5. Maus by Art Spiegelman

It’s no exaggeration to say that without this book, you wouldn’t be reading this list. Yes, comics had shown signs of intelligent life as an art form prior to the 1986 publication of underground cartoonist-turned-Reagan-era anthologist Art Spiegelman’s memoir of life with his Holocaust-survivor parents cum biography of his father’s experience under the Nazis’ exterminationist regime. But it took Spiegelman’s drive to take on the defining event of the 20th century — and arguably all of human history — to coalesce those early markers into a bona fide movement.

This has led to the misguided perception that Maus won simply by showing up. Don’t buy it. Spiegelman’s scratchy, overloaded artwork all but fumes with fury at the dehumanizing injustice done to his family and their fellow Jews, ladening page after page with an overwhelming amount of black-and-white brutality. The central conceit — the Jews are drawn to look like mice, the Germans like cats — may have grabbed attention by tying the subject matter to cartooning’s long history of anthropomorphized animals, from Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat on down. But in the end that’s just a fig leaf that enables Spiegelman to go farther and hit harder than a more straightforward depiction of events could dare to pull off — like moving the camera away from the slaughter but still broadcasting the screams of both the living and the dying.

You could probably write a dissertation on Maus. It is deep and transcended the genre. Especially for 1986.

Check out this list on Thrillist, I don’t agree with all of them. I personally couldn’t stand “Black Hole”, but it is good fodder for reading in the future. If you like these selections let me know. I know of plenty of other novels that are along this same vein.


  1. mulholland

    I recently read Fun Home (after seeing it on stage) and really fell for it and Bechedel’s style. If you haven’t read it, I’d be interested to see what you think 🙂

    1. Beth Tabler

      I read that a few years ago and loved it. I had no idea they had a stage show! Bechdel has this really cool satirical, tragic, and funny style that is entertaining to read. She reminds me a lot of Marjane Satrapi. Persopolis has that same kind of edgy commentary. Have you read it? I think it is on the 1001 list.

      1. mulholland

        Heall yeah! They turned Fun Home into a full Broadway Musical. I think it won a bunch of awards too. It was so good!

        I read Persepolis years ago after I saw the film version. It’s one of my go-to recommendations when I try to convince people that ‘comics’ can have real heart. .

  2. Beth Tabler

    I wish I understand where people got the notion that comics have no heart? From what I have read in my quest to become an “expert” in comics is that more often that not they are nothing but heart. Instead of solely relying on words or only images to get across the writers thoughts and feelings they have access to both. I dare anyone to read Maus and not be deeply affected.

Tell me what you think!

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