I realize I’ve read quite a number of comics throughout the years, most of which had been volumes of manga. So I decided to split this list and do a top six for manga and a top six for graphic novels. Yes, I decided on six each because it was already difficult to choose, considering how much I love many graphic novels.
Top Six Graphic Novel Series
Fables by Bill Willingham – It was definitely my love for fairy tales that brought me to this graphic novel, though it did take me two volumes to finally warm up to the series. Even then, I’ve yet to finish the series itself, because bad things happen to my favorite characters, and there’s only so much pain and agony I can take, and the best bits have always been during the Adversary arc anyway. Would highly recommend in any case.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman – Not gonna lie, I only picked up the series after I’d read the volume on the Endless. Each of them were so fascinating that I wanted to know more about them, and when I realized there was an entire series about Dream, well, I couldn’t resist. Gaiman works with several artists each volume, so the artwork was hit or miss for me, though the strength in this series has always been the writing, which Gaiman always manages to knock out of the ballpark.
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yang – I thank Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for letting such a talent like Gene Luen Yang take over in penning the sequel spinoffs of Avatar: The Last Airbender. So far, each storyline is made up of three volumes that continue the adventures of Aangvatar in the years after the Hundred Years War. I could never say no to more stories about any of the original Team Avatar, and my interest gets even more piqued when a number of these stories feature Zuko quite a bit (because omg I love him, yes.).
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – I’ve probably said this so many times in my reviews by now, but I love this series. So. Much. It’s a fantasy and space opera saga taken to the max, with all the humor and adult content to boot. It’s about star-crossed lovers, both of whom are not broody, lust-driven teenagers (in fact, they’re only sometimes lust-driven adults). It’s about escaping from a war nobody really remembers the reasons for existing. And the artwork is just fantastic.
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda – Who run the world? GIRLS. Queen Bey’s song should be the tagline for Monstress, because women are clearly the ultimate power in the series universe. I’ve only read the first volume so far, but I am certainly intrigued, and I definitely want to know what happens next!
Sin City by Frank Miller – I was torn between this and another series, but Miller’s Sin City won out because it’s just classic noir in its most fantastical. “A Dame to Kill For” is definitely one of my favorite shorts, though honestly, any issue that showcased the women of Sin City pretty much rocked.
Top Six Manga Series
One Piece by Eiichiro Oda – Honestly, this is the only unfinished series I’ve been willing to read manga-wise. It’s also the only shounen that made the list, but then again, I suppose I’ve only recently started reading shounen manga anyway. All the same, One Piece is terrific. It’s got pirates, magic, a crew I’ve come to love as one of my fictional families, and enough humor to make me chortle out loud for minutes at a time.
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori – Hands down one of my favorite series ever. EVER. I marathoned the anime over a weekend in college, and I had no regrets. The manga was much better, because it allowed more development in the various characters within the pages. Plus, there was definitely more of Kyouya in the manga. Much more.
Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino – Before Twilight, I was hooked on this series. Yes, it has emo vampires (oh Zero, you are so emo). Yes, it’s got some weird vampire love triangle I really don’t want to get into. Yes, I was definitely going through a vampire phase at the time, which is why I enjoyed this series so much.
Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP – Cardcaptor Sakura is actually not my favorite of CLAMP’s (my favorite happens to be Magic Knight Rayearth), but it is where my fangirling of CLAMP definitely started. My sister and I used to collect graphic novels when we were kids (those saved-up allowances took us places, I swear!), and at least half of our manga collection is made up of CLAMP works. I’m pretty sure the only ones we hadn’t purchased were anything past XXXHolic.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi – The story that launched a thousand ships! Oh yes. I grew up on Sailor Moon. I had Sailor Moon jammies that I didn’t even know was a thing until I stumbled upon the dubbed cartoon one random Saturday morning. Heck, they’ve even rebooted the anime recently!
Kodocha by Miho Obana – This was just such a feel-good series by the end of it that I was definitely one very satisfied reader. Not that I was hard to please as a kid. There’s apparently a sequel to the series, with a grown-up Sana and a grown-up Hayama, which is the only thing in this list–aside from Oda’s list of One Piece characters.