Updated on December 10, 2021
The holidays are almost here. Some are likely looking to buying graphic novels for loved ones. But which ones are worth buying as gifts? Ideally, you should buy graphic novels in a genre the intended recipient likes (mystery, horror, romance, etc.). However, some general suggestions can’t hurt.
Below are a list of my recommended graphic novels and trade paperbacks. All of the suggestions are also in print (as of this writing).
Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years
Various (writers, artists)
Lois first appeared alongside Superman in their debut in 1938’s “Action Comics” #1. Since then, Lois has gone through a lot of changes and versions, many of which are included in this anniversary volume.
I picked this one for one of my favorite Superman stories, “Action Comics” #484 (June 1978). That issue featured the wedding of the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane; it was written for the 40th anniversary of “Action” (and both newlyweds). Other stories include “Wonder Woman” (vol. 2) #170, a story where Lois accompanies (and interviews) Wonder Woman on a typical day.
DC Super Hero Girls: Past Times at Super Hero High
Shea Fontana (writer), Agnes Garbowska, Yancey Labat (artists)
DC Super Hero Girls focuses on the adventures of Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, and other familiar heroes (and even some villains). Here, they’re all students at a superhero high school, whose principal is Amanda Waller. It’s basically a cross between the old Disney movie “Sky High” and the DC Universe. This particular volume features a time-travel trip by the students of Super Hero High.
Several graphic novels have been released to date.
Scooby-Doo Team-Up, vol. 1
Sholly Fisch (writer), Dario Brizuela (artist)
“Scooby-Doo Team-Up” is a series featuring the Scooby-Doo gang teaming up with a different DC Comics superhero or Hanna-Barbera character in each issue. Heroes the gang’s met so far include Batman and Robin, Superman, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Secret Squirrel, and even Jonah Hex!
To date, there’s three trade paperbacks available.
All Star Superman
Grant Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely (artist)
“All Star Superman” is of the most popular Superman stories in the last few years. It features a number of Silver Age Superman elements used in a modernized take by Morrison.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol. 1: Squirrel Power
Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist)
Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green has had her own ongoing series for the past few years; it features her adventures both as a superhero and as a computer science major at college. Others featured include Nancy Whitehead, Doreen’s roommate; Tippy-Toe, Doreen’s pet squirrel/sidekick; and fellow heroes/classmates Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi.
One of my favorite stories features Doreen’s friends trying to write for her a dating profile… which just ends up reflecting their own interests and views. (Tippy-Toe’s was particularly hilarious.)
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, vol. 1: BFF
Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare (writers), Natacha Bustos (artist)
A retooling of an old concept, “Moon Girl” features the adventures of the world’s smartest person… who happens to be a nine-year-old African-American girl in New York. She’s also accompanied by her pet dinosaur, a red Tyrannosaurus rex named Devil Dinosaur (created by Jack Kirby himself).
Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!, vol. 1: Hooked on a Feline
Kate Leth (writer), Brittney Williams (artist)
Marvel’s Golden Age-humor-character-turned-superhero Patsy Walker gained her own series. Here, Patsy’s trying to run a temp agency for metahumans, as well as get a fresh start on her own life. Jubilee and She-Hulk are among the co-stars.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales, vol. 1
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Sara Pichelli (artist)
Miles Morales gets his first ongoing series set in the actual Marvel Universe. However, his life’s otherwise similar to his earlier series: juggling school, family responsibilities, and being a superhero.
Goldie Vance, vol. 1
Hope Larson (writer), Brittney Williams (artist)
This series features Goldie Vance, a teenage amateur detective in an idealized early 1960s Florida. She spends her time solving mysteries at the resort hotel her father manages. Aiding Goldie on her cases are her various friends.
Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Noelle Stevenson (writer), Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen (artists)
The first volume sets up the adventures of a group of friends at a Girl Scouts-esque summer camp; however, it’s a camp where strange supernatural goings-on happen on a daily basis.
The Backstagers, vol. 1
James Tynion IV (writer), Rian Sygh (artist)
“The Backstagers” resembles a male version of “Lumberjanes.” In this case, it’s the adventures of a group of stagehands at an all-male high school’s drama club. Said adventures stem from strange supernatural goings-on backstage.
Kelly Thompson (writer), Brianne Drouhard (artist)
Yes, it’s the adventures of yet another young amateur detective, only this one’s the princess of a fairy tale-like kingdom. In Maxine’s case, she’s more interested in solving mysteries than learning royal duties.
Love and Capes, vol. 1: Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Thom Zahler (writer/artist)
“Love and Capes” revolves around the love life of Abby and Mark, a couple dealing with the ups and downs of Mark’s dual identity as a superhero. A fun and enjoyable series, with a few references to certain superheroes. For instance, Mark’s best friend is an African-American millionaire playboy with a non-powered crime-fighting identity.
Atomic Robo: The Everything Explodes Collection
Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist)
“Atomic Robo” is a series starring the titular character, a sentient robot created by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. Since that time, Robo’s had various adventures against a variety of threats. In the present day, Robo runs his own facility staffed by fellow scientist adventurers; they’re all dedicated to studying science (and combating science gone wrong).
This volume collects the first three trade paperbacks of the series.
Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale
Dan Parent (writer, artist)
Archie introduced their first gay character, Kevin Keller, in 2010. Since then, Kevin’s become a mainstay in Archie’s line of books, as well as appearing in the CW series “Riverdale.” Kevin’s also had his own ongoing comic, plus a miniseries set during his early adulthood.
Astro City: Life in the Big City
Kurt Busiek (writer), Brent Anderson (artist)
“Astro City” has been running since 1995, but the series found a new home with Vertigo in 2013. Each issue focuses on a different aspect of life in superhero-filled Astro City, mostly from the perspective of the ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) people who live there.
Here’s a list of other suggestions that didn’t make the above list:
- Wonder Woman.
- The Justice League, the Flash, and other DC superheroes.
- Spider-Man, the X-Men, and other Marvel superheroes.
- Archie and other non-DC/Marvel comics.
- Webcomics often have print collections available.