I love a good monster story. Strange beasts lurking in the darkness, and sometimes also the people who hunt them? Sign me up! So here are a few of my favorite graphic novels about monsters for you to peruse. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)
I originally posted this list in 2015, but it’s been refreshed and expanded in 2023 after I re-read most of the books here to make sure I was still enthusiastic about recommending them. However, please let me know via my contact form if you find something yikes in a book I recommend.
The nerd monster-hunting comic I never knew I needed. Our hero is Brian Wegman, an anthropology post-grad whose dissertation may never get approved. He’s called home by his sheriff dad to consult on a murder case in his hometown… alongside cute lady Freddie Roth, a long-ago school friend whose academic career has gone much more smoothly. The case? Bigfoot is killing people. You know, like happens all the time in small rural towns.
Can Brian redeem his academic failures by cracking the case? Will he ever figure out that Freddie is just as much of a nerd as he is and she’d kiss him if given half the chance? And just how many Bigfoots are rampaging through the forest outside of town? Plenty of geek pop culture jokes here, and characters you can’t help but like.
A moody, dark supernatural cop drama centered around Dr. Randal Horne, a physician who killed one of his patients by using a drug his colleagues knew was unsafe. A murder case where the dead body has an invisible head brings him into contact with Detective Joely Huffman and two CDC agents. Together they must track down a rogue researcher whose experiments with a retrovirus now have a body count. The second case for this unlikely team brings them to a small town, looking for an explanation for an animal attack… that looks suspiciously like werewolves.
I loved the diversity of the team, not just in terms of gender and race, but also in personality, and the X-Files vibe was right up my alley. It says it’s Volume 1, but lucky for us it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, since there was never a second installment. (I’d buy a sequel, though, if it turned up now. Just sayin’.)
Sadly under-recognized desert-based fantasy about monster-hunter Irro and his assistant Hari facing off against a cult that wants to destroy all monsters – with no regard for the drastic side effects on the people in their town. It’s very much a tale of “man versus organized religion run amok,” but grounded in Irro and Hari’s personal experience and relationship as things around them get worse and they’re forced to fight back. The art is cartoonish in style, but never silly, and always just exactly enough to get the job done, nothing extra or wasted. C-Man and I both had a great time reading it, and it stands up perfectly on re-reading.
(This is also known in our house as “that book about poor Monkey Girl” and if you read it, you’ll see what we mean.)
Publisher Archaia put out parts 1 and 2, but never the third, so you really have to get the self-published complete edition.
After reading this first volume, I was *so* interested in where this manga is going. And I still am, six books into it!
In 1959 Japan, a young girl is kidnapped by a former fighter pilot right before a typhoon hits their harbor city. The blurb says “there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye” and by the end of the volume we know more about the former than the latter. (The story does somewhat hero-ify the kidnapper for his military service in WWII, so be aware if that’s not something you can read past.) How is the storm connected to the weird animal cries that various characters have been hearing? Why does the book start with a flash of a giant creature rampaging through Tokyo in 2020?
It’s definitely slow-moving in answering those two questions, but it’s been a while since I’ve read a series that takes its time like this to dig into its characters and unveil its mysteries, and I’m here for it.
(My only quibble so far was with the unwelcome and unnecessary detour in Book 5 into objectification and almost-assault of a teenage girl. Luckily, that storyline didn’t continue in Book 6. Honestly I still can’t understand what the point of that subplot was supposed to be, related to the main plot / premise / what had been in the series up to that point.)
LOVE this creepy family of monster-hunters. The first volume begins with a young man taking revenge on a former classmate who bullied him for possibly being gay (non-spoiler: he is). The young man’s revenge is to trap the bully in hallucinations and nightmares. He comes by such dark magic honestly, as his father has retired from his famed monster-hunting career to be a college professor. Unfortunately for Dad, he’s the only one in the family who wants the quiet life! His kids are practicing in secret to follow in his footsteps, and his wife would rather be on ghoul patrol. The poor guy is dragged back into the fray anyway when an old colleague visits with a warning, and from there it’s all double-dealing, old secrets, and running around in dark woods with monsters chasing people.
The second volume of this series was weak in the plot area, IMHO, but it came back strong with the third volume and I enjoyed the fourth as well. I love the big spooky mansion, the brother-sister team-ups, and the general mayhem. The art style is like old photographs, all black and sepia tones, and the monster and other beastie designs don’t disappoint.
I love this book because Šejić writes and draws real characters instead of 2D cutouts that move through a plot. Specifically in this book, a beautiful and somewhat diverse “found family” of monster-fighting undead folks. I want to hang out with them. Or at least work at their HQ. Maybe they have some spreadsheets that need wrangling? I also love this book because the female characters are so strong, and some of them are conventionally sexy, but none of them are objectified. They’re not just on the page so men can ogle them! They’re people! And they kick ass when needed.
The action is great, the comedy is great (even the terrible puns, augh!), the monsters are creepy horrible, and I cherish of all the little touches like Bernadette’s MP3 player and the dorky teenagers raiding on side-by-side computers and they just love hanging out together so much even though their parents hate each other eeee so cute! And because the big romance we find out about near the end (with another pair of characters) is so adorable, I have many FEELINGS about it, and I want another book so I can see more of this please and thank you.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wondrousness of the undead Vikings. Yep, Vikings.
This horror manwha was almost too dark and tense for me, aaaaahhhhh! But I’m so glad I persevered. (And that I took a break between the two books.) I loved so many of the characters, spent the whole time with my heart in my throat waiting for another terrible thing to happen, and felt completely drained at the end. Good stuff!
“Fear and panic spread as a sinister phenomenon marks individuals for certain death.
One day, you will receive a message from an unknown sender. The message will only include your name, the fact that you are going to hell, and the time you have left to live. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide–no escape. When the time counts down to zero, supernatural beings manifest to condemn you to hell. As the nation falls into unrest, a new religious sect begins to interpret the bizarre occurrence as the will of the divine. Could this be a sign of something grander–a blessing in disguise, a holy reckoning, or an evil curse? Amid social chaos and increasing hysteria, the people must find a way to survive this inexplicable terror.”
“Suffering from a rare, incurable illness that causes frightening changes to her body, loner Kuroe Akaishi spends her high school days avoiding all her classmates-especially class idol Arata Minami and his groupies. But when Arata starts making her heart skip a beat with irritating regularity, Kuroe discovers that her illness actually has a big-make that MONSTER-secret: Romance turns her into Love-zilla…literally!”
Spare, heart-wrenching paranormal/horror about a young woman who escaped an abusive household as a child, and now hunts down child abusers – with the help of a father figure who can turn into a terrifying monster. Themes of found family, vengeance, and healing are all interwoven without hitting the reader over the head with any of it. I found it even more compelling on a re-read.
“Some Kind of Blue Moon centers on 20-something college student and werewolf Bert, his best-friend-turned-werewolf-nanny Erin, and the deadly trouble they get into just trying to get through a normal couple of days. Mixing elements of classic horror, John Hughes movies, and 80s/90s comedies, Some Kind of Blue Moon goes for your heart as much as your jugular.”
I’ve read this lil indie paranormal graphic novel twice now, and enjoyed its delightful quirk both times. Very happy for all parties at the end.
(I still have no idea, though, why Stewart used the term “Wiccan” for the adversaries? I don’t think it’s particularly offensive or anything, but it seems very random.)
Six volumes in and I’m still captivated by this manwha series about monster-hunters and a guy who’s being secretly given opportunities to massively level up his skills by an unknown party. I love all the politicking within the monster-hunting organizations and the mystery around the main character’s skill upgrades.
“Known as the the Weakest Hunter of All Mankind, E-rank hunter Jinwoo Sung’s contribution to raids amounts to trying not to get killed. Unfortunately, between his mother’s hospital bills, his sister’s tuition, and his own lack of job prospects, he has no choice but to continue to put his life on the line. So when an opportunity arises for a bigger payout, he takes it… only to come face-to-face with a being whose power outranks anything he’s ever seen! With the party leader missing an arm and the only healer a quivering mess, can Jinwoo somehow find them a way out?”
Six volumes in and I’m still really enjoying this bloody monster-hunting horror series.
“When the children of Archer’s Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.
Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.”
And now since I’ve been a Godzilla fangirl since I was very young and I could not forget him in a post about monsters, here are my two favorite Godzilla graphic novels…
“The year is 1954 and Lieutenant Ota Murakami is on hand when Godzilla makes first lanfall in Japan. Along with his pal, Kentaro, Ota makes a desperate gamble to save lives…and in the process begins an obsession with the King of the Monsters that lasts 50 years!”
“Godzilla continues to destroy cities and lives all over the world and ex-special forces tough guy Boxer is a man with a grudge who vows to end the terror of Godzilla — no matter what! He assembles a top notch team to take him and the other monsters down at $7 billion a bounty.”
I also have to give a nod to Cullen Bunn’s Godzilla: Cataclysm, though I think it could have stood being a bit longer for the story he was trying to tell.
And that’s the list!