Artwork, bound with words (and perfect binding)
September 8, 2010 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Not quite book-filter: I'm looking for graphic novels (or comics wrapped up as TPBs) with astounding artwork. I've long since given up following comics as they come out, so I'm interested in any artists doing great things with the medium.

I've recently begun reading the hardback compilation of Marvel's Wonderful Wizard of Oz* and find the artwork in it simply amazing. I'm fully used to seeing wonderful covers (usually inked by a separate artist), but rarely have I seen illustration done so well, so consistently throughout a series. I want more. Obviously, if the works suggested have good stories, all the better, because I will be reading them, but primarily I'm interested in any volume for its naunced, clever or otherwise interesting artwork.

To provide context, this was one of the covers. As was this, and this. Whilst, I think this is a fair representation of the art therein, there is also a preview of the first nine pages.

I really liked the Mouseguard books, for example. And I Kill Giants. And Y: The Last Man (though the internal artwork doesn't live up to the great covers, to a degree).

On the other end of the spectrum, those whose artwork I've not really enjoyed include Persepolis, Maus, and Bone. I've not seen the Bone colour prints, though.

So MeFites, I'm sure some of you are familiar enough with these books listed, and of the scene in general, that you can make recommendations.

*Alas, Marvel's website is so bad I can find now authoritative page for the comic.
posted by Smoosh Faced Lion to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend the Flight comic anthologies. There are currently six I believe, and as an anthology, I think their uniting thread is not a theme, but consistenly beautiful artwork. The nice part about them is that there is a wide variety of artists represented, so it's almost shopping through a catalogue of new artists to invest in.
posted by librarianamy at 4:45 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

You simply must pick up Shaun Tan's The Arrival. I also enjoyed Tales of Outer Suburbia.
posted by canine epigram at 4:54 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sandman? The series was a mish-mosh of stories, and the art came that way, too -- some is pretty hit-or-miss, but when the art was good, whether internal or on the cover, it was very good.
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:56 AM on September 8, 2010

A few off the top of my head:

- The Fountain, written by Darren Aronofsky and illustrated by the sublime Kent Williams. Beautiful all the way through.
- The Hellcat mini-series written Kathryn Immonen, interior artwork by David Lafuente Garcia. Brilliantly drawn and just a fun and awesome story.
- Anything and everything featuring Mike Mignola. Man oh man, I can't recommend this guy enough.
posted by fight or flight at 4:57 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Promethea is visual poetry.
Powers takes a while, but really hit a stride in clarity of visual expression around TPB #7 or so. I like its strong shapes and how it doesn't shy away from color to express mood.
Since you like Maus, you might also get a lot out of Guy Delisle's Shenzen and Pyongyang, both of which I thought were beautiful to look at in an austere way.
posted by Mizu at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've really enjoyed the recent 3-part The Chimpanzee Complex (google image search link) not only for its lovely, slightly photo-story (?) artwork.
posted by nofunnyname at 5:20 AM on September 8, 2010

Oh, wait, sorry, you didn't enjoy Maus? Either way, still check out Guy Delisle's work. It's just similar in that it's fairly cartoony, but he has a lot more in terms of detail and character expression than Maus or Persepolis, for example. And I feel like the stories he tells in them are worth knowing.

While I'm still double-commenting, you might also enjoy Sparks: An Urban Fairytale.
posted by Mizu at 5:20 AM on September 8, 2010

Some of Darick Robertson's artwork for Transmetropolitan is incredible, stuffed with detail and very vivid. Opinions are divided on the writing/storyline, but I enjoyed it.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:22 AM on September 8, 2010

Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Hunter has some great three color artwork. You can see the first few pages on Amazon.
posted by dortmunder at 5:54 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I thought Bride of the Water God was beautifully drawn. Fairly typical love/mistaken identity story, but good fun & reasonably well told. Short (6 volumes??) manga.
posted by Ys at 6:04 AM on September 8, 2010

Batman: Arkham Asylum for fanciful illustrative style.

Marvels, Kingdom Come, and other Alex Ross books for a more photorealistic style.

Personally I really like the clean linework in Invincible. It's also a great story.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:17 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

You might want to give Bryan Talbot a try. Especially his recent Grandville and The Tale Of One Bad Rat. Though all his stuff is great (imho)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:30 AM on September 8, 2010

It's not a traditional graphic novel, but if you want to see a compelling use of the medium, check out Lynda Barry's What It Is.

Equally awesome is Dan Clowes' Ice Haven and pretty much anything published by Drawn and Quarterly.
posted by rockstar at 6:31 AM on September 8, 2010

I came in to suggest What it Is by Lynda Barry and The Sandman. Darn. I guess I'll just leave.
posted by wayland at 6:46 AM on September 8, 2010

Seconding Bryan Talbot, especially Alice in Sunderland and Heart of Empire. If you get the HoE CD you get both Heart of Empire and the complete Luther Arkwright, but if you're into the art, you also get the pencils and a commentary for practically every page. You can read the first chapter (including the extras) for free here.
posted by itsjustanalias at 6:58 AM on September 8, 2010

Blankets by Craig Thompson is an absolutely gorgeous book - both the writing and artwork. One of the few books I've read that really earns the 'graphic novel' label imho.

Also purely for the art I would check out anything by Paul Pope - he's an astonishingly gifted artist even though I'm not personally sold on his storytelling.
posted by AJD at 7:06 AM on September 8, 2010

I'd agree with the Flight anthology recommendations, but if you want to jump to what I feel is some of the most brilliantly drawn stuff therein, Michel Gagne's The Saga of Rex is finally going to be collected in a trade paperback.

In a totally different vein, Lone Wolf and Cub.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:16 AM on September 8, 2010

I second the Paul Pope. He's got a new one upcoming called Battling Boy. But check out the Heavy Liquid & 100% collections. And if you can get your hands on anything THB related.

Also look for the Frank collections by Jim Woodring.

If you're in for that kind of strange, pick up the Flaming Carrot collections (if still in print). The art's not tremendous per se, but it's well worth reading.

Same with say...anything Tony Millionaire does.

Another trade to pick up from a few years back I really enjoyed - My Monkey's Name is Jennifer. Hilarious b&w comic.

An ongoing series I really like for the story & art is The Goon. The colors are gorgeous. Same with Madman, especially the most recent iteration. Allred's doing some amazing stuff.
posted by Hesychia at 7:21 AM on September 8, 2010

Bryan Hitch's work on the Ultimates got me back into reading comics. I love, love how he draws Captain America.
posted by zzazazz at 7:31 AM on September 8, 2010

Most anything David Mack does is great - Kabuki: The Alchemy is particularly amazing.
posted by Dmenet at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anything Dave McKean has done, included the aforementioned Arkham Asylum.

Anything Jon J. Muth has illustrated. Moonshadow is a good example of his early work.
posted by elendil71 at 7:43 AM on September 8, 2010

He's older, but pretty much anything by Moebius is astounding. Look for 40 Days in Desert B -- it's unavailable in a lot of places, but it is only images so any international edition would do.
posted by newmoistness at 8:16 AM on September 8, 2010

You should check out Alex Maleev, particularly in the Daredevil series written by Brian Michael Bendis (who is an excellent writer).
posted by castlebravo at 8:18 AM on September 8, 2010

I will second Guy Delisle, including his third book which I read this summer, Burma Chronicles.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling that you'd love Fables.
posted by demagogue at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2010

Nthing the Flight anthologies. Also, while it's a different kind of beautiful than most of the things in your question, the artwork in Asterios Polyp is fantastic, and often changes to reflect the themes and mood of the story.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2010

Seconding Mike Mignola and The Arrival.

I've been waiting long for Yaxin - Le Faune Gabriel, which will be published in French a week from now, and later in English and Spanish. The art is astounding and can be previewed here.
posted by martinrebas at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chris Ware's work is full of meticulous detail (Jimmy Corrigan esp)
Doug TenNapel has charming stories with wonderful art (Creator of Earthworm Jim)
Alex Ross does picture-perfect painting-like frames in all the books he's worked on.
and, nthing Mike Mignola, Craig Thompson, and Dave McKean.
posted by rrrico at 11:59 AM on September 8, 2010

Off the top of my head, that haven't come up yet-

Three Shadows
Bill Sienkiewicz's Moby Dick
Aya (some previews)

Seconding Blacksad for seriously dazzling draftsmanship-- European comics are where the bar is set for that sort of thing. It's nice to see Blacksad available in English from Amazon, and even nicer to see Regis Loisel's Peter Pan there too.

(aside: answering this question has led me down the hitherto-unknown youtube rabbithole of European comics trailers, from which I may never emerge. Nooooo...)
posted by Erasmouse at 3:29 PM on September 8, 2010

If it's great art you like, European comics particularly shine in this. Moebius was already mentioned; some of my other favorites include Enki Bilal, François Schuiten, Milo Manara, François Bourgeon, Jean-Claude Mézières, and Makyo.

Also, I don't think anyone's mentioned Little Nemo and other works by Winsor McKay.
posted by zompist at 5:41 PM on September 8, 2010

Chris Ware (Fantagrapics).
posted by marimeko at 6:34 PM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: I will readily admit I was not expecting quite so many responses. As such, its going to be some time before I get through all the recommendations, let alone purchase them.

Obviously, with it being somewhat of an opinionated, chat-filter question, there are no wrong answers, and I appreciate everyone's input, but I'll still, at some point, mark some best answers and let everyone know what my favourites end up being :)

Thank you all for helping me out with this vitally important task.
posted by Smoosh Faced Lion at 4:55 AM on September 12, 2010

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