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.)
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.
The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay by Erik Evensen, with color assists from Jeff Fugelsang and letters by Matt Talbot (Amazon / Goodreads)
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.
Bad Medicine written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, drawn by Christopher Mitten, colored by Bill Crabtree, and lettered by Douglas E. Sherwood (Amazon/ / Goodreads)
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’.)
City in the Desert By Moro Rogers, lettered by Deron Bennett (Amazon / Goodreads)
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 of three, but never the third, so you really have to get the self-published complete edition.
The series Asadora By Naoki Urasawa, translated by John Werry (Amazon / Goodreads)
“In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path.
In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom—and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye.
When Asa’s mother goes into labor yet again, Asa runs off to find a doctor. But no one bats an eye when she doesn’t return—not even as a storm approaches Nagoya. Forgotten yet again, Asa runs into a burglar and tries to stop him on her own, a decision that leads to an unlikely alliance.”
Content warning: Volume 5 has a secondary storyline where a teen girl secondary character is objectified and almost assaulted. It feels out of place in the series, and luckily was not continued in Volume 6.
The series The October Faction by writer Steve Niles and artist Damien Worm, color assist by Alyzia Zherno, and lettering by Robbie Robbins and Shawn Lee (Amazon / Goodreads)
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.
Death Vigil by Stjepan Šejić (Amazon / Goodreads)
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.
The series Hellbound by Yeon Sang-Ho, illustrated by Choi Gyu-Seok, translated by Danny Lim, lettered by Michael Heisler (Amazon / Goodreads)
“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.”
The series Kaiju Girl Caramelise by Spica Aoki, translated by Taylor Engel (Amazon / Goodreads)
“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!”
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…
Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (Amazon / Goodreads)
“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: History’s Greatest Monster by Duane Swierczynski, art by Simon Gane and Dave Wachter (Amazon / Goodreads)
“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!