With graphic novels and web comics being as popular as they are, it’s hard to imagine a time in which they were seen as lesser forms of literature. And yet, their growing status as both an academic discipline and mainstream pastime – one that masterfully ties art and storytelling together – is relatively new. It is this unique balance that often makes the consumption of comic books a make it or break it deal for novice readers.
However, what would happen if the decidedly marketable YA novel were to be adapted into a comic? Would said novices be more inclined to read one?
In the hopes of gaining a fresh look on top of a wider audience, several titles have already sought this treatment. The following five definitely pack the energy, mystery, and worldbuilding needed of not only great books, but great adaptions.
1) Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
My first introduction to Patrick Ness was through his award-winning book, A Monster Calls. While a good read, the book didn’t seem deserving of the sheer amount of hype it was getting. But one fateful summer, I came across The Knife of Never Letting Go and my thoughts concerning the author completely changed. His ability to simultaneously limit the reader to the perspective of a naïve boy and bombard us with a flood of information is astounding. The premise sets up a universe in which the males of a particular space colony have developed the ability to hear each other’s thoughts – thus leading to the hero’s predicament of holding a dangerous secret. With its highly original premise and powerful message regarding innocence and trust, Ness’ trilogy continues to be my favorite sci-fi series to this day and would make a fascinating comic book with its take on Noise.
2) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This beautifully written book and its two sequels are the only series I’ve read multiple times – as well as the only one to have left me with a bonafide “reading hangover.” While Daughter of Smoke and Bone isn’t without its faults, protagonist Karou and the fantastical world that comes to take a hold of her life are so strange and vivid that you can’t help but fall in love. Taylor puts her own spin on Shakespeare’s most done to death (pun intended) work Romeo and Juliet by orchestrating a war between chimera and corrupt angels that not only challenges the reader’s preconceptions of good and evil, but those of one’s very own identity. For a story that transcends time and space, she does well to keep us grounded in the details of whatever our heroine or secondary characters are experiencing in the moment. Although this novel is slated to get a movie in the near future, I still feel that a comic book adaption would have better captured its somber, yet enchanting tone.
3) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell always came across to me as a writer who knew how to get quirky characters right. Fangirl Cath, for example, appealed to my own geekiness without crossing the line into trope-filled territory. She’s introverted, but lends help when others need it the most. She’s awkward, but extremely confident in her craft. She’s – alright, perhaps she is a bit tropey. But more importantly, her story is an uncommon one that juggles comedy, drama, and of course, plenty of fanfiction. I could easily see Rowell and Noelle Stevenson – the creator of Nimona as well as the artist behind Fangirl’s cover – collaborating on an equally hilarious and moving adaption of the latter.
4) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Even after having read most of Neil Gaiman’s works, I could never forget the gem that is The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Next to literary giants such as American Gods and Coraline, it’s no surprise that this book often gets lost in the crowd. Nonetheless, it is certain to leave readers wishing that today’s urban fantasies were more focused on the magic of the everyday and less werewolves and vampires. It’s a story about a boy conquering his innermost fears, one both haunting and triumphant in its simplicity. While not strictly a YA novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane most certainly needs a comic book adaption capable of bringing its vision to life.
5) Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
I recently wrote a review for this newcomer to the YA canon, and I’ll continue to stand by it. Sarah Kuhn’s incredibly fun characters, rapid-fire dialogue, and tongue-in-cheek humor all culminate into a comic book-esque extravaganza – with Japanese American superheroes to boot! You’re missing out if you haven’t already picked up a copy.