— More graphic novels were added to this post in March 2019. Happy reading! —
Some comics I read for sheer entertainment. Ridiculous over-the-top plots! Antics, hijinks, wisecracks, and impossible events! Here are some of my favorites that hit that spot for your reading pleasure, in case you find yourself with a dull evening that needs some livening up. Hope you find something new to read.
Before we jump in:
- All comics here can be bought as graphic novels/collections, not only as single issues. Your library may own many of these!
- Amazon links are affiliate links.
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- If you need to know whether a book has certain content that would make it a bad fit for you, I’m happy to check!
Highly entertaining teen drama set at a prestigious private boarding school and the world of competitive fencing, with all the rivalries, romances, and burning resentments you could ever hope for. Very diverse, very queer, and I’m loving the heck out of it. Manga-inspired and trope-filled in such a satisfying way. If you’re looking for a sports comic crossed with a teen soap opera comic, you should absolutely check this out.
Fence is an ongoing comic series, with the first few issues recently collected into the volume linked above.
Diversity Note: Pacat is bi. Johanna the Mad is Mexican.
You didn’t know you needed an underground spelling bee comic book, did you? BUT YOU DO! High school student Webster is inadvertently drawn into a back alley, unsanctioned spelling bee and discovers his true gifts and a world rife with rivalry, intrigue, and secrets. This isn’t your grandma’s safe, polite spelling bee, oh no! Which world will he choose, the safe mainstream or the exciting yet dangerous new world? Can he really trust the Outlaw King and the Black Queen? What is his sister so afraid of? Hopefully he’ll be brave enough (and survive long enough) to find out!
It’s completely frenetic and zany, preposterous in the best way, and I got such a kick out of it. Buzz is complete in one volume.
Nick and Anastasia Mystery are a glamorous celebrity adventurer couple who investigate paranormal secrets. Nick is currently in jail. Doesn’t seem to bother him much. You see, Nick was caught sneaking into Area 51 to investigate a secret military project. Which he found. Which really pissed off the folks running it. With Nick in the clink, it’s up to Anastasia, twin girls saved from a laboratory, an undead crimefighter, and a robot with Jules Verne’s brain to get him out and save the day. And find Edgar Allen Poe’s stolen skull. Because that’s the kind of thing they do.
It’s eccentric without being pretentious, and I had a great time reading it.
Mystery Society has been collected three different times. The volume linked above is the last, the “definitive edition”, but it doesn’t have the extra content included in the hardcover.
We checked this out from the library thinking it was just for Boy Detective, but the adults in the house cracked up as much, if not more, than the intended seven year old audience. The main character is a bookworm guinea pig named Sasspants. Her best friend is a mouse named Hamisher who thought he was a koala but later wants to be a dragon. They live in a pet shop where the owner can’t remember what to label the cages… and there’s always a mystery afoot. The fish are all named Steve. The chinchillas have a pet mouse they carry around like a tiny dog, and they dress him up.
Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry. Six slim volumes, every one is comedy gold.
Diversity notes: (1) Yue is Asian-American. (2) I read the pet shop owner as being neurodivergent in some way, and that is never ever a bad thing to the animals or his friends. They love and admire him exactly as he is.
I’ve always been a fan of Coover’s fun art style, and Tobin is a good storyteller. Bandette is an irrepressible Parisian teenage master thief with the proverbial heart of gold… and an affinity for first editions of good books. The police love to hate her but sometimes need her help. Her rival “Monsieur” wants to save her life, even though she’s after his reputation as the world’s greatest thief. The ballerinas and street urchins just want to help. And poor Daniel! Will his heart belong to the mysterious Bandette forever? Plus, female matador!
This book has a retro, French/Belgian adventure comics feel, like Tintin, but completely fresh. Three volumes are out so far, and this is one that we store in the “grownups” bookshelf but it gets taken out by Boy Detective routinely. Good clean fun for the whole family!
Robo is a sentient nuclear-powered robot built by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. He fought in the second World War and inherited Tesladyne, a corporation devoted to science. Weird science. And occasionally violent science, such as kicking the butt of a walking Egyptian pyramid, or repelling a vampire invasion from another dimension. It’s like a combo of pulp, monster movies, and that friend who wisecracks so much that you can’t stop laughing.
The Robo crew are in the middle of two things, I think? (1) Re-releasing Atomic Robo in un-numbered hardcovers because you really can read them in any order, and (2) Releasing and re-releasing some of their older books through a larger publisher. So it can get a bit confusing, but the upshot is: find a Robo book, read it. Maybe the one linked above first because it’s a good grounding, but after that follow your heart.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Amazon / Kindle/Comixology / Goodreads) By Warren Ellis, with pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger, and colors by Dave McCaig with Paul Mounts. Letters by Chris Eliopolous and Joe Caramagna.
This is possibly the most ridiculous comic I’ve ever read, and I adore it. Warren Ellis took a bunch of obscure, ignored Marvel Comics characters and made a team, then signed them up to work for a corporate subsidiary supposedly fighting Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. But it doesn’t go as planned. Ellis has so much heart for superheroes, but he also loves to mess with the genre, so this sendup is hilarious. Lots of wisecracks, lots of stuff blowing up, and lots of profanity replaced by strings of little skull and crossbones characters. Stuart Immonen is one of my favorites in comics for drawing people, so it’s a win on the art as well!
In print, you can get this in either 2 volumes or the Complete Collection at the Amazon link above.
Ergemoglu Selim is a Turkish soldier who isn’t much good at actual soldiering, though he does brew excellent tea. In Constantinople in 1807, that’s not a recipe for career success in the military. Selim has at least one other skill, speaking English, which brings him into contact with adventurer and thief Delilah Dirk. She’s imprisoned, he’s assigned to question her… which somehow ends with his head on the chopping block, accused of abetting her escape. Spoiler alert: he gets away.
The book is named for Dirk, and she is a kick-ass woman with awesome hair that defies the laws of physics. Selim, though, is the narrator and the heart of the story. She’s the impetuous adventurer, he’s the realist. It’s not an odd couple dynamic, but a complementary pair of friends who didn’t know how much they needed each other until they met. She brings him out of his shell, and he finds his place in the world.
There are two Delilah Dirk books so far and a third has been announced, hurray!
Read all the character dialogue in a British accent. (In your head, not out loud.) It will make this series even better. Giant Days may be one of the perfect first-year-of-college comedy-dramas. Three young women with rooms next to each other become friends through a series of Dramatic! Adventures! told to us in the first volume with one panel each. And that all happened in their first three weeks.
Now they’re confronted with less dramatic but more complicated issues, such as the hot transfer student whom Susan mysteriously hates, Daisy’s burgeoning crush on her classmate Nadia, and Esther getting ranked as highly do-able by the campus bro website. I love books about female friendship where there’s zero rivalry. I love writers who can balance real emotion with banter, and Allison is one of the best. I was a little nervous about how I’d feel seeing his character Esther (one of my faves) drawn by someone else, but Treiman is a perfect fit for the goofball Allison-verse.
I cannot WAIT for the next installment. There are seven published volumes so far, with an eighth and a prose novel announced.
Last but not least, though it’s so old and out of print… David Rees is better known for Get Your War On, the anti-Gulf-War comic. MNFTIU uses a similar medium, which is captioned clip art. It’s completely ridiculous and over the top, even before Snoopy shows up. I can’t stop laughing at the absurdity of it all. The dialogue is probably about 30% profanity. I have a long wait before my seven year old can read it with me. I am waiting very patiently. If you can find a copy for a couple of bucks and love cussing and absurd trash talk, it’s very worth the investment.
I haven’t had time to write reviews of these, but I adore them just as much. One of them may be a perfect fit for you! (Blurbs may be condensed.)
“Life comes at you fast, but dodgeballs come way faster! Tomás is a teenage misfit, but when he joins the Jazz Pandas dodgeball team, he’s thrown into a family of oddballs and outcasts who are willing to do whatever it takes to win the summer regional dodgeball championships. Through a season of highs, lows, and blows to the face, Tomás might finally find a place where he truly belongs, and the person inside himself he didn’t know he could be.”
Found family vibe with queer POC and disability rep YES!
“A betrayed murderess wants revenge. A hard drinking former cop wants his job back. For either to get what they want, they’re going to have to fight their way through fifteen flights of criminals, assassins, drug lords, murderers, yup, even accountants, and… KILL. THEM. ALL.” Also described as “a gonzo graphic novel love letter to 90s action movies” and that is not wrong.
Just don’t eat popcorn while you read it, you might damage the pages!
That concludes today’s roundup of super fun comics that I love and recommend! If you have any suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing this post on social media or with friends.