Ten terrific comics and graphic novels for children

Published on: 01 May 2022

Mega Robo Bros creator Neill Cameron believes that there's a comic out there for everyone - from reluctant readers to bookworms. Here are ten of his top recommendations for some graphic novels and comics that all children can enjoy.

Comics aren't just for superhero fans

As someone who creates comics and graphic novels, I’m sometimes asked if they’re a great way to encourage boys or reluctant readers into reading. It’s true that they are, and that’s a brilliant thing that deserves to be celebrated. But I think it’s really important to remember that comics aren’t just one thing, and they aren’t just for one kind of reader.

Comics are a fantastic, vibrant, complex and diverse art form in their own right. They combine all the power and potential of written language with all the joys and immediacy of visual art. They are their own language, their own medium, and like any medium they can be used to convey a potentially infinite range of ideas and experiences.

Comics can be hilarious or terrifying, thrilling or ridiculous, or all of those things all at once.

They can be an incredibly effective way of communicating complex information, they can deliver action scenes to make Hollwood producers weep with envy, they can break your heart or give you an absolutely killer fart joke. Truly, comics have it all.

Getting lost in stories

The rewards children can get from reading comics are boundless. I’d use the word ‘immeasurable’, but they can of course in some ways be measured. You can track literacy metrics, and associated educational achievement and life outcome indicators, and all that sort of thing. And it’s true that comics are certainly an incredibly powerful weapon in the arsenal of any parent or educator interested in improving literacy. But some things you can’t measure. Sometimes you have to simply step back and appreciate the intangible pleasures of seeing children get completely absorbed; lost in stories and characters and worlds of imagination, in ways comparable to other kinds of books or films or games, and in ways that only comics can offer.

We’re entering something of a new golden age in terms of comics and graphic novels for young readers. While Britain has for a while arguably lagged behind other areas of the world such as Japan and Europe in terms of its appreciation of children’s graphic novels, the incredible popularity of books like Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series may have finally breached the floodgates, and we are now beginning to see an explosion in terms of range and availability, led by brilliant creators like the UK’s own Jamie Smart and his hilarious, bestselling and wildly-beloved Bunny VS Monkey books.

From reluctant readers to dedicated bookworms, there really is a comic out there for everyone. And I am very strongly of the opinion that every child should have a chance to discover theirs.

Neill's top ten comics and graphic novels for children

Looshkin by Jamie SmartIllustration: Jamie Smart

Looshkin by Jamie Smart

Jamie Smart’s Looshkin is a blue cat, an inexhaustible well of mayhem and lunacy, and a figure of near-religious adoration amongst pretty much every child I have ever met. Chaotic, hilarious, endlessly inventive and completely unique, Looshkin is guaranteed to cause helpless laughter and very possibly lifelong obsession.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

The funny and charming tales of young Phoebe and her accidental best-friendship with a magical unicorn named, improbably, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, these stories blend magic, imagination and empowerment with deadpan and highly relatable jokes about the familiar indignities of school and childhood.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

The phenomenally popular Raina Telgemeier has a unique gift for taking very down-to-earth, intimate subjects and turning them into compulsively readable graphic novels. This memoir, following on from her similarly wonderful Smile and Sisters, tells the story of her middle-school struggles with phobias, IBS and anxiety, in ways that are honest and powerful and completely accessible.

Illustration: Mathieu SapinIllustration: Mathieu Sapin

Akissi: Tales of Mischief by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin

A collection of short stories based on Abouet’s childhood memories of growing up in Ivory Coast, these magnificently colourful books tell the tales of young Akissi, her friends and family, and the endless series of scrapes she gets herself into. Overflowing with character,humour and a vibrant sense of place.

Roy of the Rovers by Rob Williams and Various

A reboot of beloved British comics icon Roy Race - footballing hero and star striker for Melchester Rovers - these engrossing graphic novels update the series with modern sensibilities combining action, emotion and dynamic artwork, for a new generation of football fans and young readers.

Mech Cadet Yu by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa

A tale of invading monstrous aliens, the giant robot pilots who stand against them, and a plucky underdog kid who inadvertently finds himself thrust into the having-to-save-humanity spotlight. Mech Cadet Yu is wildly fun, full of great characters and thrilling action, and all delivered through Takeshi Miyazawa’s stunning, kinetic artwork.

Illustration: Adam and Lisa MurphyIllustration: Adam and Lisa Murphy

Corpse Talk by Adam and Lisa Murphy

Taking the format of an interview show, each episode of Corpse Talk features Adam, the cartoonist-host of the series, interviewing the exhumed corpse of a famous historical figure and getting the distilled story of their lives. Each strip is a masterpiece of clarity and concision; huge historical subjects related with humour, humanity and a characteristic respect for both the strip’s subjects and its young readers.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Winner of just about every book award the US has to offer, and deservedly so. American Born Chinese tells a complex, three-stranded story combining mythology, coming-of-age experiences, racism and stereotyping, but does so with a clarity of storytelling purpose that is truly remarkable.

No Country by Joe Brady and Patrice Aggs

Set in a terrifyingly plausible world where Britain is a failing, civil war-torn state and focussing on one family’s attempts to stay together amidst the rising chaos, this story does an incredible job of making potentially complex or far-off issues feel real and relevant to young readers, and balancing the potential terror of the characters’ situation with the warm, lived-in reality of their family bonds.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

A distilled blast of pure emotion, this is a sweet and heartfelt YA romance set in an all-boys school that through its fluid and beautifully paced black and white artwork manages to perfectly capture the intensity of teenage yearning, heartbreak and joy.

More graphic novels for children

Explore the world of comics and graphic novels with our booklists aimed at children of all ages.

Favourite Graphic Novels for Primary School Children

These comics and graphic novels offer a different route into discovering the pleasure of reading.

Favourite Graphic Novels for Secondary School Children

The graphic novel format is a great way to engage reluctnat readers, present difficult subject matter in an accesible way, as well as to just enjoy a great read. There is something on this list for every teen.


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