The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
- For people who like… mythology, gods, mortals, literary references, heroes, villains, tragedy, magic, darkness, beauty, Shakespeare, death, dreams, and nightmares.
- Ages: 15+ is ideal. Adults who have never considered reading a graphic novel before.
- Parent warnings: Dark themes. Suggestive situations.
- NOTES: #1 in a series of completed books
House of Mystery Vol. 1: Room and Boredom by Matthew Sturges
- For people who like… The Sandman series as the House of Mystery is a Sandman location. Literary references, interesting characters, pirate ladies, British gentlemen, weird stories
- Ages: Mature 15+.
- Parent warnings: Some gross stories. Sometimes scary.
- NOTES: #1 in a current running series
Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
- For people who like…Fable retellings, fairy tale retellings, fairy tale modern interpretations, The Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Cinderella, the three little pigs, Boy Blue, magic, dark themes, dark fairy tales, epic good vs evil, beautiful artwork, inventive worlds
- Ages: 15+ Good for boys, girls and adults of all ages
- Parent warnings: Some beloved fables will die, often in tragic ways. Dark situations.
- NOTES: #1 in a current running series. There are also spin-offs featuring special characters like Jack of Fables
Blankets by Craig Thompson
- For people who like…quite possibly the most beautiful book ever written, coming of age stories that battle rigid fundamentalist Christian upbringing against discovering one’s own true self and a person’s own spiritual path, art, memoir, stories of artists being held back by a family who doesn’t value art and creation, falling in love, growing as a person, being socially broken and finding one’s self again.
- Ages: 14+
- Parent warnings: Discussions on religion, spiritual beliefs, not falling in line with your parents, mental and emotional trauma, discovering ones identity, but despite these tough subjects, Blankets opens a dialogue that is honest and welcoming and safe. This can be, potentially, one of the best places to start a dialogue with your kids about religion, growing up, and accepting people for who they are.
- NOTES: Not a series. I would give everyone in the world a copy of this book for Christmas.
The Walking Dead, Book 1 by Robert Kirkman
- For people who like…zombies, monsters, heroes, scary villains, survival stories, dystopian fiction, scary stories, the television show on AMC, anything-goes-fiction
- Ages: 17+
- Parent warnings: Graphic violence and gore. Readers younger than 17 should be mature and comfortable with fictional violence. Main characters are not safe from death.
- NOTES: #1 in a current running series. It has been adapted for a television show currently running on AMC
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
- For people who like…Dark themes, dark characters, indie music, stories about identity and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life
- Ages: 15+ Especially good for girls and those who don’t fit in.
- Parent warnings: Some dark themes, desperation, and mouthy teenagers
- NOTES: Not a series. Inspired a movie of the same name. A copy of the movie and book together would make an excellent holiday gift.
Flight Volume One by Kazu Kibuishi
- For people who like…experimental art, experimental storytelling, short stories, web comics, anthologies, beautiful artwork
- Ages: 13+
- Parent warnings: Some of the stories will make you cry, but is pretty PG-13
- NOTES: A series of books that are not related to one another that contain different writers/artists
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- For people who like….stories about growing up, excellent storytelling, powerful characterization, memoirs, childhood, coming of age stories, stories about growing up in another country (Tehran), history, women’s issues
- Ages: 13+
- Parent warnings: Many English teachers are teaching this book in school. It is about growing up Tehran and eventually leaving the country. Teaches diversity, history, and women’s identity. A candid memoir in art form.
- NOTES: Was made into a movie. The movie and book together would be an awesome gift.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
- For people who like…history, political themes, great storytelling, edgy and dark stories, war, conflict, the movie, superheroes, anti-superheroes, villains, heartbreak, stories without a happy ending, betrayal, teamwork
- Ages: 17+
- Parent warnings: Contains graphic violence and some sexual situations. Strong language and relevant political themes.
- NOTES: Not a series. The book and movie together would make an excellent gift. Plenty of merchandise tie-ins.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
- For people who like…challenging stories about race, diversity, stereotypes, and emotionally gripping climaxes, Chinese mythology and religion, growing up, coming of age
- Ages: 14+
- Parent warnings: Being taught in high schools, deals with race, stereotypes, and fitting in. Some challenging and emotional themes, but all very important concepts.
- NOTES: Not a series.