7 of the best graphic novels for reluctant readers

Published on: 15 November 2017 Author: Sophie Offord

Alexis Deacon gives us his top graphic novel picks for children all the way up to 12 years.

Alexis Deacon is the creator of Geis: A Matter of Life and Death and Geis 2: A Game Without Rules (Nobrow): fantastic and enthralling graphic novels for all young fantasy fans.

Graphic novels and comics can be a brilliant way to get kids into books, even if they don't especially like reading. Lots of children love stories with pictures, as well as words, and there truly are some amazing choices around.

We asked Alexis Deacon to share his own favourites...

Alexis Deacon's top 7 graphic novels for kids

1. Nausicaa by Hayao Miyazaki

This is one of the most exciting, best-drawn series you will ever read. The story follows Nausicaa, a young woman who is pulled against her will into the heart of a great conflict that threatens to destroy all that she cares for. Nausicaa is one of the inspirations for my character Io in the Geis series.

2. The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz

This choice is kind of a cheat, as I was involved in the initial development of this story, but Viviane Schwarz did all the actual work! The book includes a bear in a wrestling mask, a monkey in a jam jar, and three ancient, nightmare-battling spirit sheep. What’s not to like? The Sleepwalkers is on this list because it is a story full of kindness and hopefulness. It’s based on the idea of helping others. Even the things we fear the most can be overcome when we have help.

Read our review

3. The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg’s books are full to the brim with a love for stories and storytelling. She weaves tales together, the familiar alongside the strange and the new, making worlds that are entirely her own. The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth is the perfect introduction to her work. It is about the power of love to triumph over all, even the gods themselves! Her second book, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, is also excellent, but more suitable for children aged 12 and older.

4. The Arab of the Future: Volumes 1 and 2 by Riad Sattouf 

I am mesmerised by these books. To my mind, the best stories should transport you utterly, so that you forget you are reading a story and feel you are living the events described. The Arab of the Future is a series of stories about the author’s childhood in the Middle East. They are told with such marvellous attention to detail and with such sympathy for all the characters shown that the world and its people become part of you. This is an ongoing series and I can’t wait for it to continue.

5. Little Vampire Goes to School by Joann Sfar

If you don’t know the work of prolific French artist Joann Sfar, I highly recommend it. Not all of his work is suitable for children but the Little Vampire series most definitely is. The great strength of Sfar’s work, like Quentin Blake before him, is that he draws what is essential for the story and isn’t too fussed about anything else! The directness and playfulness this brings to his work are extremely infectious and Little Vampire had me giggling along the whole way through.

6. The Adventures of Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls / Prisoners of the Sun by Hergé

I’m sure everybody knows Tintin, but I have to include these two on my list because they were my favourite when I was a child. I vividly remember Rascar Capac, the Inca mummy, coming to life in The Seven Crystal Balls, and then the journey through the Peruvian mountains, facing crocodiles, ants and avalanches in Prisoners of The Sun. These stories have it all: adventure, danger, mystery, the supernatural and the bonds of friendship keeping everyone together – just!

Read our review of The Adventures of Tintin

7. Judge Dredd - The Judge Child by Alan Grant and John Wagner, illustrated by Mick McMahon, Brian Bolland and Ron Smith

I was reading an issue of 2000AD when I first realised I would one day like to draw comics for a living. Many Judge Dredd stories are excellent, but this collection manages to achieve something that feels grander and more epic than the others. It follows the quest to find the Judge Child, prophesied to be the only one who can avert an impending catastrophe. As the quest nears its end, it becomes clear that all is not as it had first appeared. This saga features superb drawing throughout and is full of wonderful characters and places.

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Read our review of Alexis Deacon's book

Curse of the Chosen: Volume 1

Author: Alexis Deacon

The chief of her tribe is dying, and has no heir. To decide the rulership of her kingdom after her death, she calls fifty warriors to her bedside to send them on a quest: they will be transported to the edges of the kingdom, and have to make it back before dawn.

Read more about Curse of the Chosen: Volume 1