A comprehensive ranking of the best 50 graphic novels of all time is an impossibly subjective process bound to infuriate nearly everyone. So, naturally, it’s my second assignment on ONE37PM’s comics beat.
There are arguments over what qualifies as a graphic novel. Following the strictest definition, some might argue that it applies only to books written in a single, unified novel format—but let's spice this list up and throw that definition out the window. This list will include everything from indie graphic novels to acclaimed comic runs and a handful of manga, though admittedly not as much of the latter as the genre probably merits. Maybe we’ll do a top ten manga one day.
For graphic novels that are collected versions of single issues (nearly all of them on this list) the dates listed are from first publication of the single issues, rather than the date the collections were published. Full disclosure: if there’s a suspicious prevalence of comics around 2014, that’s when I worked in a comic shop and read everything that came out, so there’s some bias there.
The list is ranked, but outside of the top ten or so that can be vague and occasionally arbitrary, in case you’re baffled at how Sex Criminals beats V for Vendetta and the Dark Phoenix Saga.
A few classics won’t make the cut, but if your favorite didn’t make the list, it’s probably because I haven’t read it yet. Let us know on Twitter and we'll add it to the reading list (not to this list, though, that ship has already sailed).
Also, for simplicity, we'll be listing where to buy these collections new, but definitely consider supporting your local comic shop or buying these used from eBay or similar retailers.
There may be very little in the top ten that’s unexpected, but I’m guessing there could be a few surprises throughout the top 50. Enjoy—and/or prepare to get very angry at—my list of the 50 best graphic novels of all time.