7 Kick-Ass Graphic Novels About the Undead: Zombies and Vampires

Who doesn’t love a good zombie or vampire story? Aside from people who are scared of zombies or vampires, I mean. If you’re one of those people, please stop reading this post!

Everyone else, read these graphic novels! They’re awesome. They all have strong characters, art I enjoyed, interesting plots, good writing… and the undead. What more could you ask for? (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

Any book on this list I loved at the time I read it, whether I had a chance to write a review or not. Obviously a re-read years later might reveal a problematic aspect I didn’t pick up on back then. Please let me know via my contact form if you find something yikes in a book I recommend.

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks (Amazon / Goodreads)

The popcorn of the zombie comic world! Hicks is one of our favorite comic writers and artists. C-Man and I found out about her from her Wolverine short story pitch and we’ve bought almost everything she has in print. In Zombies Calling, her first book, she gives us Joss, a Canadian university student who (a) wants to be British and (b) is obsessed with “The Rules” of how to survive in zombie movies. That obsession becomes quite useful when her campus is invaded by the undead! Just like in the movies, her zombie-ass-kicking skills magically emerge!

Even her initially skeptical roommate Sonnet bashes one in the head with a library book – though she doesn’t find the whole thing as exciting as Joss does. Hicks’ cartoon-style art matches the fun story and the slightly goofball personalities of Joss and her friends. It’s a fun lighthearted zombie book that doesn’t try to be something it’s not. And if you can resist a book whose cover features a pink-haired woman stabbing a zombie with a spork…

I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang, illustrated by Janina Görrissen, inked by Maria Viccar, and lettered by Eldon Cowgur (Amazon / Goodreads)

If this were a movie, I’d own it and watch it repeatedly! Nerdy-cute smart high school kid Jack Chen is paired with exuberant, athletic Dicey Bell on the classic “parent an egg” project. Mutual crush ensues, which is adorable, but trouble in paradise arises on their first date: a disease outbreak, during which Jack is supposed to be taken to his scientist parents by special agents. Nothing could go wrong there, eh? The page size of this hardback means that Görrissen packs a lot of action and detail into a small space, and she pulls it off. And who can resist the gal in a sundress with a baseball bat, backed up by her geeky boy-crush holding a crowbar?

This is the first book in a series, but sadly for me, each is a different story. No continuing adventures of Dicey and Jack! :(

The Walking Cat by Tomo Kitaoka, translated by Caleb D. Cook, lettered by JM Iitomi Campbell (Amazon / Goodreads)

I really enjoyed this take on the zombie post-apocalypse. What you have to remember when reading this one, however, is that the cat is the main character.

“A survival horror tale about a cat’s journey after society collapses.

Zombies roam the earth and civilization as we know it is dead. When Jin—a young man trying to survive the chaos—rescues a cat from certain death, the unlikely duo sets off on a quest to find a mysterious island where Jin’s wife may be alive. Witness the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a fearless feline whose curiosity may kill him yet.”

The Zombie Hunters by Jenny Romanchuk (Amazon / Read as a webcomic / Goodreads)

This webcomic started as an in-joke where Romanchuk was drawing herself and her friends as the characters. Then it took on a life of its own, in which survivors of a zombie plague live on an island, regularly scavenging the abandoned cities for useful items. There was clearly an evolution during her production of the story as a webcomic. The art changes styles a couple of times within this collected edition. But it’s worth the ride – by the end of the book, The Zombie Hunters has built up a fascinating world, a diverse set of intriguing characters trying (and often failing) to co-exist peacefully with each other, and hints of enough backstory and interpersonal history and drama that I wanted more.

What I especially liked about this book was the abundance of female characters. The main character, Jenny, opens the book by screwing up her first mission as leader of a team in the zombie-infested wasteland outside their island compound. Her team is composed of an almost equal number of women and men, as would probably happen in a post-apocalypse where all available human resources are needed to survive. Katie, Sammie, and Maureen aren’t all the same gal, either, they have distinct personalities and appearances. And they kick ass. :)

Due to health problems, Romanchuk was unable to print the second volume. Thankfully for fans, though, the webcomic is still online. So very worth reading even though I doubt there will ever be an “end” to the story.

Content warning, though: ableist language that I found pretty jarring on a 2023 re-read.

The series Day Men by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson, art by Brian Stelfreeze, colors by Darrin Moore, letters by Ed Dukeshire (Amazon / Goodreads)

Who watches over vampires during the day? David Reid knows, because he’s one of them. Trained, trusted, and ultimately disposable. A servant of scary, scary masters, right when all kinds of hell are about to break loose.

Nelson wrote Hexed, one of my favorite comics (see my magic comics post), so I knew he could tell a good creepy story. His team-up with Gagnon has created a multi-layered story with just as much dread and human pain as in Hexed, with the delicious addition of more conspiracy and suspicion. Stelfreeze and Moore are a great pair as well. I especially love the facial expressions, and the coloring of the clothing and backgrounds. Oh, and the fire. The fire is really pretty.

If this doesn’t end up with a movie deal, there is no justice in this world.

The series Silver by Stephan Franck (Amazon / Goodreads)

Original review after Books 1 and 2:

Sure, go ahead and steal a collection of rare silver from the estate of Mina and Jonathan Harker during an auction. What could go wrong? And when you screw it up and then decide to steal even more silver from a castle full of vampires… well, let’s hope anyone makes it out alive. I enjoyed this pulp 1930s heist well enough to back the second volume on Kickstarter as well, and it didn’t disappoint. The black and white newsprint-looking art, the surly gal with a sword, and serious vampire mayhem is an irresistible combination. Bonus: a kid who can see any future except his own. What’s up with that?

Update after finishing the series: One of my best Kickstarter decisions ever. Four volumes of pure heist-y vampire-y goodness.

Update to the update: In 2022-23, it’s being reissued in two hardcovers, which I am tempted to buy because the covers are really nice.

The series Call of the Night by Kotoyama, translated by Junko Goda, English adaptation by Shaenon K. Garrity, touch-up art and lettering by Annaliese “Ace” Christman (Amazon / Goodreads)

Twelve volumes into this vampire manga and I’m still delighted with it. Both of the main characters are oddballs compared to their peer groups, and their dynamic is so interesting to me, especially as they’re drawn into a web of interactions with various other humans and vampires.

“Antisocial, dorky boy seeks fun-loving, sexy vampire for blood-sucking and transforming into her minion.

One night, sleepless Yamori slips out of his home to walk the streets of his town. Life after dark is a revelation! Especially when he meets flirtatious Nanakusa… She’s a lot more fun to share the night with than old drunks on park benches. When she invites him to spend the night at her place in an abandoned building, he’s stoked! But then he awakens to kisses on his neck with a little too much bite to them…

Now that Yamori knows Nanakusa is a vampire, the question remains—is it just the delicious taste of his blood that makes her meet him night after night for late-night adventures, conversation and…naps? Or something else? Then, when a cute girl from Yamori’s past shows up and competes for his attention, his budding relationship with the undead is truly put to the test!”

And that’s the list!