Time Magazine's Top 10 Graphic Novels

shelved under Best of... and Graphic Novels

Back in 2005, Time Magazine ran a list of the 100 best books from 1923 to present. In a nod to the evolving means of telling a story, they included these 10 graphic novels. (And we here at Flashlight Worthy added one more that we think they overlooked.)



by Craig Thompson

Alan Kennedy says:

582(!) pages and you won't put it down. A very personal, confessional tale about growing up in a fundamentalist Christian family and being conflicted about love, religion, and past regrets — drawn in an almost cinematic style, all black & white. I have never met anyone who read this book and was not taken with it.


Bone: The One Volume Edition

by Jeff Smith

Briget from Mount Joy, PA says:

This is a fabulously and lovingly crafted story, an epic in three parts. The first part is decidedly lighthearted, establishing the initial character impressions and the innocence of the mysterious Valley. As the story progresses it gets darker and more serious, but it's always interesting, and there's always at least a little comedy to balance out the intensity.

I grew up reading "Bone" when it was still coming out monthly in single issues, and I was constantly riveted by the story. It's such a great blend of funny and dramatic. The characters are rich and the artwork is fantastic. This is a graphic novel for all audiences, never too bold and never too simple, it hits that perfect balance.


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

by Frank Miller

Pat J. says:

Over the decades, Batman went from being a dark and brooding crime-fighter to a campy Johnny-Do-Good with a utility belt full of convenient tricks. With "The Dark Knight Returns", Frank Miller revisited the origins and the mythos of the Dark Knight, showing a dark and brooding crimefighter at the end — and the beginning — of his career. If there's a more powerful superhero comic, I haven't read it. (Ok, maybe "Watchmen".)


David Boring

by Daniel Clowes

Alan K. says:

Bizarre and brilliant (and, unexpectedly, sexually explicit), this is a kind of twisted soap opera about a creative but reserved guy, his loves and friendships and family issues, against an increasingly apocalyptic background, with some murder mystery tossed in for good measure. You will not be able to predict the twists and turns of the plot, but it sails along and takes you with it. As David's life gets more unbelievable, he seems to become more detached. Very different from Daniel Clowes' more famous graphic novel "Ghost World," but I think just as good.


Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

by Francois Voltaire

Alan Kennedy says:

Quite simply, this book is a masterpiece — not just in the graphic novel genre, but, in my opinion, the "book" genre. Extraordinarily detailed color drawings chronicle (non-chronologically) the Corrigan family living in the American Midwest from the 1880's to the 1980's. Some of the drawings are heartbreaking — how can a picture be both detailed and stark? Ware manages that. You will find yourself gazing for a long time at little pictures, marveling at what Ware is able to convey within the limitations of the graphic novel format. His depiction of family relationships is cringe-worthy and realistic, and he is especially good at conveying the passage of time.


Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories

by Gilbert Hernandez

Eleanor from Columbia, South Carolina says:

The perfect marriage of great story and beautiful artwork . A tale of pain and pleasure in a small Mexican village with characters both rich and poor. One of the greatest graphic novels written in my opinion.



by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Alan Kennedy says:

Kind of like "The Incredibles" without the humor but with trippy artwork. The ultimate "superhero" story, taking its inspiration from all that came before it in that genre. A truly imaginative narrative about the burdens of both power and nostalgia, with super-saturated color drawings and heavy themes.


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

by Marjane Satrapi

While not on Time Magazine's list, we felt that Persepolis was too good to be left off the list.

This book also appears on Graphic Novels: About Women. By Women.


The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

by Art Spiegelman

Funny. While this list was chosen by Time Magazine, people keep writing in with suggestions for additions. One well-phrased suggestion came from my friend Shannon:

"Peter, how could "Maus" not be on this list? I know Spiegelman is a controversial figure, but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that the story of his family's experience in the Holocaust is absolutely the most moving and... I dunno... surprising perspective I've ever read. In my opinion, most graphic novels (especially ones like "Persepolis," that seek to tell a story that is both true and horrible) owe something to Art."