With imaginative storytelling, vivid visuals and artwork, and surprising character arches, you should read these award-winning graphic novels.
What defines a graphic novel? He tackles themes and issues with the most complex prose. It presents its reader with the dynamic visuals of a Hollywood blockbuster. It pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling.
These are just a few of the many reasons why graphic novels are so popular with readers around the world. Whether you already know all of this and are looking for something new to read, or are a layman intrigued by the world of graphic novels, then a fantastic place to start is with the greats, the award winners.
The prizes a graphic novel can win
Graphic novels have not always received the recognition they deserve from mainstream literature awards, and as such have historically been overlooked, necessitating the creation of new award bodies. There are several different awards for graphic novels, but the main ones are the Eisner, the Ignatz, and the Hugo (which also covers prose fiction).
One of the most compelling award-winning graphic novels is Art Spiegelman’s “Maus,” which was the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The only other winner came twenty-six years later in 2018 in the form of Jake Halpern’s graphic novel, “Welcome to the New World.”
The best of the best
The Eisner Prize is named after Will Eisner, a famous graphic fiction designer. One of the most famous novels that won the Eisner is visionary Alan Moore’s legendary ‘Watchmen’, which is about how one can put a limit on power (who watches the Watchmen) and personifies the idea of nuclear deterrence in the guise of Dr. Manhattan. To this day, it is still considered one of the best graphic novels ever written.
Another amazing winner that recently received a new audience through its Netflix adaptation is Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” which explores how the dream god is captured, seeks revenge, and restores the imbalance caused in the world by his absence.
The best-known award that frequently honors graphic novels is the Hugo, which in 2022 awarded NK Jemisin’s “Far Sector” the honor for their Green Lantern worldview.
However, the Graphic Novel Awards aren’t just for top DC and Marvel writers, as the Ignatz Award is specifically for work produced by smaller publishing houses to shine a light on rising voices in the industry. One such Ignatz winner is Craig Thompson’s “Blankets,” an autobiographical look at his life growing up in an evangelical Christian family.
While awards can be a useful indicator of the quality of a work, it’s no secret that many brilliant writers get overlooked, so it’s important not to limit your reading list to only those who are under the projectors. For example, if you take a look at a list of the best non-superhero-centric graphic novels (which is often the focus of award-winning works), you’ll find gems like “Pride of Baghdad” by Brian K. Vaughn following an escaped pride of lions following a US airstrike in Iraq. Other notable works include Garth Ennis’ jaw-dropping journey into the supernatural with Grant Morrison’s self-proclaimed Western-Manga ‘Preacher’ and ‘WE3’ exploring free will in ways you’ve never seen before. .