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Get Into Comics!

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Comic books began in the 1930s as a unique American art form that has grown - like so many American forms of entertainment - to spread around the globe. From Japanese businessmen reading manga on the subways of Tokyo to French artists re-interpreting Proust with words and pictures, comics have changed entertainment and challenged perceptions. These days, there are comic books for every taste, from slam-bang super-hero adventures and thoughtful slice-of-life to thrilling science fiction and intense drama.

If it's been a while since you've read a comic book, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the breadth of variety available!

If you're new to comics, here's some information that will help you get the most out of them.

 

Comics as Literature

In 1992, the comic book world found itself in unprecedented territory when Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his stunning Holocaust survival story, Maus. Since that watershed event, the mainstream acceptance of comics and graphic novels has only grown. Recently, comics and graphic novels have attained a new level of literary acceptance and acclaim. Recognition from such respectable outlets as the National Book Foundation, TIME Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal,NPR and Publishers Weekly — as well as countless awards — has proven the merit of comics and graphic novels as a literary form.

Some award-winning and critically acclaimed comics include:

 
 

Beowulf (First Comics)
Winner of the Kirby Award (Best Graphic Album category) for 1985

The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens (Eclipse)
Winner of the Kirby Award (Best Graphic Album category) for 1986

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (DC Comics)
Winner of the Kirby Award (Best Graphic Album category) for 1987 

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland (DC Comics)
Winner of the Harvey Award for 1988

Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons (DC Comics)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Other Forms category) for 1988

Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown (Vortex)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album category) for 1990 

The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess (Vertigo)
Winner of the World Fantasy Award (Best Short Fiction category) for 1991 

Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker (Piranha Press)
Winner of the Harvey Award 1991 

Maus, A Survivor's Tale — My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman (RAW Books and Graphics)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 1992

To the Heart of the Storm by Will Eisner (Kitchen Sink Press)
Winner of the Harvey Award for 1992 

Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde and P. Craig Russell (NBM Publishing)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 1993 

Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner and Frank Stack (Four Walls Eight Windows)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 1995 

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (Paradox)
Winner of the Harvey Award for 1996 

Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert (Dark Horse Comics)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 1997 

It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Oustanding Graphic Novel category) for 1997 

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 1998 

Cages by Dave McKean (Kitchen Sink)
Winner of Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 1999 

Superman: Peace on Earth by Alex Ross (DC Comics)
Winner of the Harvey Award 1999 

You Are Here by Kyle Baker (Paradox)
Winner of the Harvey Award for 1999 

Batman: War on Crime by Paul Dini and Alex Ross (DC Comics)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 2000 

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (Eddie Campbell Comics, Top Shelf Productions)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 2000 

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 1 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (DC Comics)
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award (Best Illustrated Narrative category) for 2000 

Last Day in Vietnam by Will Eisner (Dark Horse Comics/Maverick)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 2001 

The Golem's Mighty Swing by James Strum (Drawn & Quarterly)
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 2002 

Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim (Self-published) 
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Promising New Talent category) for 2003 

The Cartoon History of the Univers III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance by Larry Gonick (W.W. Norton) 
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work category) for 2003 

The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award (Best Illustrated Narrative category) for 2003 

Three Fingers by Rich Koslowski (Top Shelf Productions)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 2003

Blankets 
by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf Productions)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 2004 
Winner of the Harvey Award (Best Graphic Album of Original Work) for 2004 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Winner of the American Library Association's Alex Award for 2004

Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino (La Mano)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Anthology or Collection) for 2005 

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi (Patheon)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 2005 

Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Anthology or Collection category) for 2006 

Fun Home: A Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
Time Magazine's Best Book of 2006

Tricked by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf Productions)
Winner of the Ignatz Award (Outstanding Graphic Novel category) for 2006 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for 2007

Essex County: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf Productions)
Winner of the American Library Association's Alex Award for 2008

Girl Genius, Vol 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones by Kaja & Phil Foglio (Studio Foglio)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Best Graphic Novel category) for 2009

Girl Genius, Vol 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm by Kaja & Phil Foglio (Studio Foglio)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Best Graphic Story category) for 2010

Girl Genius, Vol 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Nyse by Kaja & Phil Foglio (Studio Foglio)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Best Graphic Story category) for 2011

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award for 2011 

Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Avatar Press)
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award (Best Graphic Novel category) for 2011 

Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Best Graphic Story category) 2012

Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton  (McFarland)
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award (Best Graphic Novel category) for 2012

Alabaster: Wolves by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Dark Horse Comics)
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award (Best Graphic Novel category) for 2013

Saga, Volume One by Brian K. Vaughn (Image Comics)
Winner of the Hugo Award (Best Graphic Story category) for 2013

El Deafo by Cece Bell (Harry N. Abrams)
Winner of the American Library Association's Newbery Medal for 2015

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
Winner of the American Library Association's Caldecott Medal for 2015 

March: Book Three by John Lewis (Top Shelf Productions)
National Book Award winner for 2016

Roller Girl by Victoria Jaimeson (Dial Books)
Winner of the American Library Association's Newbery Medal for 2016