I wanted to do a post about the top ten greatest comics/graphic novels of all time. So, I did what anyone in this day and age would do, googled “greatest graphic novels of all time” and started slowly plodding through a lot of opinions. This was a mistake.
Thinking I would get a consensus, I read lists by reputable sources (like Time), comic book news sources, retailers (like Forbidden Planet), and other bloggers. There’s even a website dedicated to the 100 greatest, but only lists the top 93, so far not covering the top seven.
There was some agreement: “Watchmen,” “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” and “Maus” usually made up the top three. Each of these graphic novels deserves a top spot on any list. “Watchmen” deconstructed superheroes for the first time, made them human and dark. “The Dark Knight Returns” saved one of our classic heroes from being lost and remembered as a camp TV show. And, “Maus” proved that the medium can be more than just superheroes and can be literary.
There seemed to be little agreement otherwise.
This is good for graphic novels. It proves there are a lot that should be read, according to these top ten, 25, 30, 50 and 100 lists (there was also no consensus on how many should be listed). It would be a fine idea to just go to any of these lists and start reading anything you haven’t read. But, if you’re trying to compile a definitive top ten, it makes your head hurt.
Of course, most greatest of all time lists are based on opinion, and everyone has a different opinion. I just thought that with graphic novels I’d see much of the same, over and over. I guess this is why it’s good to not bring up the topic which graphic novel is best in a comic book shop; you’re likely to get some heated discussions.
Other than the top three, there was another common thread: Alan Moore is the greatest comic book writer. In most of the lists I reviewed, Moore’s books appeared often: “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta,” “From Hell,” “Miracleman,” “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “Swamp Thing.” After seeing the eclectic mix of titles, it was good to see Moore’s name over and over as I’m a fan. I would love to buy more stuff from him.
Frank Miller also appeared a lot, with “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” “Sin City,” and “Daredevil.” Following him were many names from overseas, like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and Warren Ellis.
So, instead of creating my own list, which probably would have been just as hard as compiling one from other lists, I encourage you to check out the lists already out there. Many of them would be a good start or continuation for any collection.