Graphic novels are, by their nature, a blend of the written word and visual art—so it’s no wonder that they make a perfect medium for stories that cross boundaries, merge genres, and defy convention. We’ve pulled together a list of graphic novels and non-fiction that make the most of their art form by telling incredible, inventive, and irresistible stories that refuse simple categorization.
With the perfect blend of horror, science fiction, and humor, Boys Weekend is a vibrant and immensely imaginative romp through a bachelor party weekend plagued by killer cults and monsters. Through their beautifully illustrated graphic novel, Mattie Lubchansky explores existing as a transfemme person in a man’s world, maintaining friendships through transition, and wading through the cult-like effects of masculinity and capitalism.
A graphic masterpiece over a decade in the making, Blood of the Virgin turns a historical fiction tale on its head with a surreal look at the making of a motion picture. Following the protagonist through his work at an exploitation film production company, this novel explores parenthood, sex, the immigrant experience, early Hollywood, and, shockingly, the Holocaust.
It’s no wonder that a book about the life of “the Man of a Thousand Faces” would be an inventive and nuanced work. Pat Dorian’s intimate and moving graphic biography harkens back to classic New Yorker cartoon styles to tell the story of Chaney’s life, his films, and the makeup magic that made him a household name.
As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying, Black Hole transcends the horror and graphic novel genres by deftly exploring a strange plague devastating the lives of teenagers in mid-1970s suburban Seattle. Through this masterful blend of genre, Charles Burns paints a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation.
By blending together multiple art forms and storytelling mediums, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye brings a uniquely moving story of a fictional Singaporean comics artist to life. It also explores the tumultuous history of postwar Singapore and its modern incarnation as one of the world’s most prosperous nations.
In 1928, Joseph Moncure March penned a long-form poem about the Jazz age, debauchery, sex, and intrigue, that was quietly published and subsequently banned. Decades later, Art Spiegelman (whose work has been famously banned as well) set this cult-classic verse alongside his own dark, dazzling, and disturbing artwork, creating a mash-up of art forms that is at once startling and seductive.