8 Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novels I Love (A Lot)

—-This post was expanded with more books in Novembver 2018. Happy reading!—-

I love the post-apocalypse!

(Wait, that sounds wrong. Let me try again.)

I love post-apocalyptic stories! And as you know, I love comics. So, these are my favorite post-apocalyptic comics. Somewhere in this list is the perfect one for you!

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!
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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!

Girls’ Last Tour (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Tsukumizu. Translated by Amanda Haley. Lettered by Abigail Blackman and Xian Michele Lee.

It feels strange to call this a hopeful post-apocalyptic manga, since all signs point to the main characters eventually starving or freezing to death, but watching these two girls enjoy exploring the ruins of their world leaves me with a somewhat pleasant feeling? Chito and Yuuri basically ride around on a heavy quad motorbike looking for food and fuel, taking in the sights, speculating about what life was like before civilization collapsed. They encounter other survivors, but no one seems to be trying to collect a group, plan for the future, build anything, etc. It’s more existential, I guess? There doesn’t seem to be an overarching plot, but I’m still really digging something about these two friends and their adventures. If you’re looking for something a little quirky after the end of the world, try it out.

There are two volumes of Girls’ Last Tour out so far, and it’s an ongoing series.

Days of Hate (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Aleš Kot, illustrated by Danijel Žeželj, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

Dystopian graphic novel with queer women main characters, and it’s So. Good. I. Can’t. Even. In the United States, 2022, two women are on opposite sides of the struggle against ruling the white supremacist police state. Huian Xing is a bi Chinese-American architect cooperating (kinda) with the government to track down her ex-wife, now-revolutionary terrorist, Amanda. The book follows each woman’s story as Amanda crosses the country carrying out her missions and Huian is subjected to increasing pressure by a government agent. The art is foreboding and lovely, with these muted tones and so much black that it sometimes seems like stained glass, only without any brightness (metaphor intentional). Huian just seems so sad, and as she tells the agent the story of how her marriage ended, we find out why. Kot had me second guessing my understanding of what’s going on multiple times, in such a good way. Can’t wait for the second book!

Smoke (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Alex de Campi, drawn by Igor Kordey, with colors by Len O’Grady and letters by Robbie Robbins.

This story of intrigue and conspiracy tales place in a future London run by a corrupt government. Rupert Cain was separated from his girlfriend when he was forced to transition from soldier to government assassin. Katie Shah is a young reporter whose path collides with Cain’s. She’s trying for an expose on the government, and he’s investigating who killed his former C.O. who’s also his ex-girlfriend’s father. Both of them are into something far bigger than they suspected. Cain is a very human mix of professional competence and hangups about his ex, and Shah has her own complicated combo of perseverance and temper. The story was complex and compelling, and I really enjoyed the worldbuilding! Good near-future post-apocalypse thriller.

(We didn’t enjoy Ashes, the followup story in the same book, as much, because the changes of artist were jarring. However it was satisfying to get some closure with the characters since I’d grown to like them very much.)

The Infinite Horizon (Amazon / Kindle / Goodreads) By Gerry Duggan, with art by Phil Noto and letters by Ed Dukeshire.

Somewhat inspired by The Odyssey, this is the bleakest post-war post-apocalyptic comic I’ve ever read, and I love it. You want a messed up world? Here you go! You want a small number of good people facing off against terrible odds, their fellow citizens running amok? Yep, got that right here! The storytelling is arresting, pitting a husband and father against seemingly overwhelming odds as he tries to reunite with his wife and child. Phil Noto’s art is gorgeous as always. But maybe don’t read this when you’re in a bad headspace about the future of humanity.

The Infinite Horizon is complete in one volume.

Wasteland (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Antony Johnston. Art primarily by Christopher Mitten (6+ of the 11 volumes), with several other artists over the series: Carla Speed McNeil, Joe Infurnari, Chuck BB, Remington Veteto, Justin Greenwood (2 volumes), Russel Roehling, Brett Weldele, Sandy Jarrell, and Omar Olivera. Lettering by Douglas E. Sherwood

The remnants of humanity survive in a desert, long after civilization was destroyed by an event called The Big Wet. There are creatures in the desert who prey on humans, and humans with strange powers who are maybe not so human after all. Like Abi, the village healer and kick-ass gal. Like Michael, the traveler who turns up with a small machine that may lead the way to a lost city. And then there’s creepy Marcus and his creepy sister who are running a large city as their own personal cult. Religion, mystery, corruption, violence, distrust, and death vie with friendship, faith, and magic. C-Man says it would make an excellent Dungeons and Dragons game setting.

Wasteland is a complete series in eleven paperback volumes, but for the love of all that is holy, the tenth volume should be read LAST. It’s full of spoilers, and I don’t know what the heck they were thinking publishing it before the eleventh book where the series ends and you get All The Answers to how the world was destroyed.

There’s also a set of five hardcover Apocalyptic Editions, but I haven’t checked to see how the content is arranged to make sure it doesn’t have the same problem.

FreakAngels (Read as a webcomic / Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By writer Warren Ellis and artist Paul Duffield, with coloring assistance from Alana Yuen.

“23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.”

What happens next, basically, is that the Freakangels try to save everyone they can, even from members of their own group who’ve gone renegade. They’re headquartered in London’s Whitechapel district, trying to rebuild enough to provide food and shelter for the people in their care, when an armed young woman shows up from a nearby settlement with a grudge against them. Non-spoiler alert, it’s the handiwork of a Freakangel the rest of the group thought was dead. From there, things only get more complicated.

It’s a post-apocalyptic mystery / thriller / soap opera and it’s compelling at every step. The place and time the Freakangels inhabit seems so very real, and the personalities of large cast in this series are always perfectly distinct. C-Man believes this is Ellis’s best work, which is saying a lot because we’re Ellis fanpeople in this house. Freakangels is complete in six paperback volumes, and IMHO the end is sweet and sad and happy all at the same time. I was not disappointed.

Content warning: Sexual assault.

Lazarus (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) Written by Greg Rucka, art and letters by Michael Lark with Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Level, and colors by Santi Arcas.

Lazarus takes place in a future America where ultra-rich corporate families own everything, including other people. Cities are in ruins. Serfs toil on corporate holdings. Each family has an agent and defender, known as a Lazarus, endowed by massive amounts of technology and drugs with almost unstoppable healing powers. Forever Carlyle is her family’s Lazarus, and she serves her family loyally, but they’re not telling her everything. (Non-spoiler: they’re not very nice people.) Forever is lethal in action, but as a person, she’s quiet and thoughtful… and not entirely fitting in with her assigned role. Every time a new volume comes out, I’m on the edge of my seat to see how Rucka is going to complicate things for her and for others in the cast I’ve grown to love. It’s a phenomenal near-future post-apocalypse story of corruption, power, military strategy, and personal betrayals, and I adore it.

Lazarus is an ongoing series. There are five paperback collections so far, plus a very enjoyable short story collection Lazarus X+66 by Rucka with various co-writers and artists. There’s also a hardcover series being published, each volume of which collects more content than a paperback volume.

Calexit (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Matteo Pizzolo, illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan, colored by Tyler Boss, flatted by Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

A gritty political dystopian graphic novel about life in California after secession from a right-wing tyrannical United States. The characters’ personalities grabbed me in this one, especially the man who seems to be our main character. Jamil, a young smuggler/courier, has a bird-shaped bot assistant on his shoulder and a powerful commitment to remaining neutral among the various factions battling over California’s future. If someone has money, Jamil handles the goods, eschewing only weapons because that’s part of staying neutral. But when he’s hired to escort a wanted rebel, queer brown female revolutionary star Zora McNulty, neutrality is no longer a protection. Jamil and Zora are very, very different people, so being on the run together in the second volume is going to be quite interesting.

It’s significantly violent, so skip if that’s a problem for you. It also sometimes crosses my personal line into sexualizing some female characters for no good reason (WTF with the Nazi gang women?), but I’m enjoying the rest of the book well enough to look past that for now. About 1/3 of the paperback volume is back matter, but it’s fairly thick for a trade paperback, so all is well.

Diversity note: Nahuelpan was born in Canada but grew up in and now resides in Chile.

That concludes today’s roundup of comics about the post-apocalypse 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.

11 thoughts on “8 Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novels I Love (A Lot)

  1. Skye

    Lindsey, I think Lazarus especially should be at the top of your list. Great female character (and she’s not the only one), great creepy family conspiracy angle, good action, and serious social justice/critique overtones.

  2. nikki @ book punks

    Oo la la! Thanks so much for this list. I’m making a big fat lsit of all the PA stuff written in the last 200 years, and this helped me add another few things to it. And to my massively huge reading list. But these look really awesome. Yey.

  3. Catherine

    I went online to search for a list exactly like this. I’ve been watching a lot of Post-Apocalyptic movies and shows and just recently started getting into comics. I’ve already ordered Infinite Horizon and am planning to order Lazarus, thanks for this list!!

  4. Skye

    Thanks for commenting Catherine! Apologies in advance if Infinite Horizon makes you distrust all of humanity! ;)

    1. Skye Post author

      Good point Francisco, she’s an institution at this point! Which she would mock me for saying, I’m sure.

  5. Olga

    Thanks for the list! I’ve never heard of any of this comics before, but they look like very interesting reads!

  6. Grimmace

    I’ll toss in Sweet Tooth, Y The Last Man, and if you can handle the gore and vileness, Crossed

    1. Skye Post author

      I read Crossed + 100 and I really, really liked it, but whoa nelly content warning for gore and vileness as you said!

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