Graphic Novels and Comic Books

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Graphic Novels and Comic Books

One of the first blogs I ever read was Picklebums, written by the lovely Kate Pickle. It’s a quirky, gentle, soul soothing collection of family tales, educational ideas, printables, food, gardening and sustainability ideas. I really love Kate’s writing and whilst I have less time these days to read and comment (at one stage I was pretty much stalking her with my commenting – I blame hours and hours of time spent feeding a baby), I still like to check in and see what she’s been up to. I’ve never actually met Kate offline, but I do believe Edenland, Freerangeshae, Kate and I have a catch up to organise in the not too far future.

Last week Kate had a very cool Comic Book Template on her blog and I’ve printed some out for PudStar – for when she tires of writing in her self-named “Rhymes and Tunes’ book these holidays. Honestly she really does come up with the funniest names for her ‘writing books’ which sit upon her desk in a neat little pile.

Comics and graphic novels are ever-popular in school and public libraries and graphic novels in particular have had a phenomenal rise in popularity. They were always popular, it’s just that now they are also popular in ‘mainstream reading circles’ – I think I made that term up.

To add any of these books to your home, school or library please click on title hyperlinks or cover images. Graphic Novels

So what is the difference? Comics and graphic novels tell stories in both visual and written form. Comics are serialized stories which are told over many editions and often, many years. We get to to know the characters slowly, we see different ‘snapshots’ of their lives and the serialized stories may be linked and progressive. Graphic novels, on the other hand, are a single work in one book – a story from beginning to end. As the term ‘graphic novel’ suggests, they follow more the format and style of a novel. Graphic novels are not necessarily 100% comic book style, though they may be. You will find far more academic discussions out there on the differences between graphic novels and comic books and do comment below if you agree or disagree with my ‘in a nutshell’ definition of the two forms.

We often use comics in the school setting and I’ll most certainly by using Kate’s comic printable alongside my Lego StoryStarter software which I’ve been using with Extension English classes. Creating digital comics out of Lego is THE.COOLEST.FUN.

Some of my favouite graphic novels and comics of the past little while are below, and yes I’ve mixed them all up together – live on the wild side people. I’ve added suggested age ranges in brackets – but I personally detest age ranges and these are a guide only.

The Complete Peanuts 1 to 4

Let us start with an icon in the world of comic books! ‘The Peanuts Collection’ (age range – timeless, not putting an age on this one!) really is an extraordinary project: 50 years of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics, published volume by beautiful, hardcover, collectible volume. Peanuts is one of the most popular comic strip in the history of the world. Its characters – Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and so many more – have become dearly loved icons for generation after generation.

***Darth Vader 2Inside of Jedi Academy

Jeffrey Brown is the author of numerous graphic novels and comics, and he has recently re-imagined some of the Star Wars tales. ‘Vader and Son’ and ‘Vader’s Little Princess‘ have been international bestsellers and there are many graphic novels in the ‘Jedi-Academy’ series (from about 7+ reading age). Inside image from a Jedi Academy novel above.


Ricky RicottaInside Image Ricky Ricotta

Ricky Ricotta (from about 5+ reading age) novels are from Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants, and acclaimed artist Dan Santat;  full of friendship and adventures with illustrations and mini-comics throughout – see above.


Captain UnderpantsInside Image Captain Underpants

You can then of course, follow up  Ricky Ricotta with ‘Captain Underpants’ (from about 6+). Image above.



Escaping a party to hide in a tree and read the last of 'Coco Banjo'

Escaping a party to hide in a tree and read the last of ‘Coco Banjo’

Pud’s favouite graphic novel this week is the latest offering from Nikki Gemmel, ‘Coco Banjo is Having a Yay Day’ (about 7+). I actually haven’t finished this one yet as Pud swiped it from me and has not returned it. I gather it is excellent as we ‘had’ to buy it for two birthday parties last week and she nearly had a meltdown of joy yesterday at Where the Wild Things Are when she picked up a little Coco Banjo activity book with the third copy we were purchasing. She tells me that ‘it’s not meant to be like a joking funny story but there are funny parts. It’s more of an adventure and mystery with some bad and good things that happen’.


anders-and-the-cometBefore Coco Banjo arrived on the scene, Pud was all about ‘Anders and the Comet’ (about 7+) and she is desperately hoping the second installment in this series will be out soon. We read this one together and were really enjoying it, until one night she read on from where ‘we’ agreed to finish and the she polished off the rest of the book. I was very stoked to meet creator, Gregory Mackay, at Sydney Writers Festival recently and while I gushed about how much we had enjoyed his story, he drew Pud her own Anders. Cue ‘Best Mother Award’ when I came home from Sydney.



 ‘Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale’ (about 8+), is a spin off from the brilliant Eric Vale series. Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale first made his debut as a comic book character who was sketched in the free time (and not so free time) of Eric, from ‘Eric Vale’. Love a minor character who has enough life to then get his own spin off series!


eric-vale-epic-failFor a slightly older audience, Michael Gerard Bauer and Jo Bauer also created the fabulous ‘Eric Vale’ series which are laugh out loud funny, but with plenty of really good messages thrown in. This father/son, author/illustrator duo are creating some epically fun, fast-paced, full of heart and soul books and I look forward to seeing that they get up to next. My full review of the ‘Eric Vale’ series is here.


PudStar nearly died with happiness when she found the ‘Geronimo Stilton’ graphic novels in my library. Ten were immediately check out in her name (must never steal books from ones own library) and at least three of them are on the go now. Also perfect for silent car trips – she has three more in the car! Image right at end of this post is of the full colour inside. the-weird-book-machine



‘WeirDO’ series by comedian Anh Do – see full review here. Get on board with this brilliant series. Anh Do’s writting is funny but with real soul and strong messages.


Nelly Gang

‘The Adventures of Nelly Nolan: The Nelly Gang’ is another of our favourites at home, and also at school. Stephen Axelsen is an absolute master of graphic novels for a middle-upper primary audience. My full review of this title is here more information about the lovely Stephen is here and a full wrap of the book launch of ‘The Nelly Gang’ is here ( I launched it!).  ‘The Nelly Gang’ is set in Christmastown in 1860 and it has a fabulous cast of characters which children will readily relate to. Everyone on the goldfields of Christmastown wants to get rich! But when Nelly and her pa, Paddy, finally strike gold, bushrangers are ready to pounce. And so begins a rollickingly tale of gold diggers, immigrants, bushrangers, paddlesteamers, ghosts and goats, a darned horrid schoolteacher and settlements uprooting the lives of Indigenous Australians.


the-stonekeeperInside Amulet

‘Amulet’ (about 8+) has become a world-wide bestselling series and deservedly so. Very Manga-like in appearance, this will have wide appeal. There is family tragedy, mystery and magical worlds.


tintin-tintin-in-tibet the-adventures-of-tintin-collector-s-gift-set-in-a-boxed-slipcase

Ahhh Tintin how I love thee. The Adventures of Tintin (ageless – no age range needed) is a series of comic strips created by Belgian artist Herge – see the collection here. The series first appeared in French in Le Petit Vingtieme, a children’s supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle on 10 January 1929. Set in a painstakingly researched world closely mirroring our own, Herge’s Tintin series continues to be a favorite of readers and critics alike, over 100 years later. I would rather like the boxed set above – just to look at really. How gorgeous are they?



Asterix (also ageless)! Oh course I’ve included Asterix in this collection! How could I NOT? No words needed really, just check out the entire range here.


flora-and-ulysses (1)Inside flora and ulysses

‘Flora and Ulysses’ (about 9+) is a gernre-breaking novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo which I simply adored. This one is a new format-a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell. It begins, as the best superhero  stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry-and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.


smile sistersInside Image Smile

‘Smile’ and ‘Sisters’ by Raina Telgemeier, who did the graphic novel versions of ‘The Babysitters Club’ (I KNOW! See THEM here).  Filled with pre-teen angst, friendship, family and lots of laughs – the two book in this ‘series’ are quite remarkable. Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.


What can I say…tis the ‘Babysitters Club’ in graphic novel form. Clearly I will need these so I can relive my teen years spent reading these (and thinking they were SOOO grown up).

BabySitters Club Graphix



There is hundreds of graphic novel adaptations of other children’s and YA books. I’ve not read every single one of these below, but have read many of them – you can’t go past ‘Coraline’ of course…

coralinethe-graveyard-book-graphic-noveltwilight-volume-1 the-power-of-five stormbreaker-the-graphic-novel romeo-and-juliet percy-jackson-and-the-titan-s-curse nancy-drew-high-school-musical-mystery macbeth horrendo-s-curse clockwork-prince cherub-the-recruit-graphic-novel artemis-fowl-the-arctic-incident-graphic-novel

And then of course there is also ‘Wimpy Kid’ and ‘Big Nate’ which I’ll be honest and say I’ve not read – only cause they are never in the library!


Do you have a favourite graphic novel or comic book?Inside Image Geronimo Stilton

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  1. Susan Stephenson on Jul 8, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I think your nutshell definition is spot on. I’m also noticing several picture book/comic hybrids that I have loved. I also love the way graphic novels can introduce kids to an author without them being intimidated by a more text-dense edition.

    • Megan Daley on Jul 8, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Oh YAY! Thanks so much Susan!!!! And you are (of course) totally correct in what you say about introducing children to an author through graphic novels – I’ve often given readers the Nancy Drew graphic novel if I think they won’t cope with the full text version that their friends are reading – Nancy Drew has had a big come-back in my library in Year Five for some reason!!!!

  2. katepickle on Jul 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Oh thank you thank you thank you! Off to the library we go!

    • Megan Daley on Jul 8, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      No WORRIES!

  3. Stacey on Jul 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Tansy Rayner Roberts has been reviewing a bunch of comics, she includes kid-friendly ones too. There are Little Marvels, A-Babies vs X-Babies, and I think Little X-Men… there are also some Adventure Time spin-off comics.

    • Megan Daley on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Oh! Will check it out! Thanks Stacey!

  4. Helen on Jul 12, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    What a brilliant collection. I’m still a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan – snowmen will never be the same again!

    • Megan Daley on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Calvin and Hobbes ROCK!

  5. Cate on Jul 25, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Great collection… + really excited to see books like Raven’s Gate as graphic novels… going shopping now!

  6. Rebecca on Aug 22, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Hi Megan, Long time reader first time comment writer :). Love this blog on graphic novels. As a Mum of boys and an avid reader myself it had always been a challenge for me to find books that interest Mr 7 who is not so interested. It has only been in the last couple of months that he has really begun to engage with books and his reading skills are coming along leaps and bounds since I discovered graphic novels! However you did miss one book that I have never seen my boy read so fast and it was the first time I have seen him feel the pain of not wanting to put a book down(may have made me a little proud). Special kudos to Aaron Blabey and his latest book “The Bad Guys – Episode 1” Mr 7 is devastated that he now has to wait until November to find out what happens next and I couldn’t be more happy for a kid to be so devastated (hehe). Highly recommend graphic novels to everyone and in particular for kids that struggle with the transition from readers to chapter books!

    • Megan Daley on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Thanks so much for your comment! Do you know – ‘The Bad Guys’ came out the week after I wrote this post and I keep MEANING to add it in…HOW FUNNY IS IT! Thanks for the prompt – shall add! Grahpic novels really are great!

  7. Tiffany H. on Oct 11, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    This is such an interesting post. I love books but am not at all into comic style books so this gives me some great things to look into. I have to tell you that there is a learn to read program that is in comic style and my five year old LOVES it. Such a fun and easy way to learn to read. Here’s the link in case you want to check it out. An Ant Learn to Read I wish it would catch on.

  8. Tim on Jun 2, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Some great selections. I really loved the Bone series by Jeff Smith, which I can’t wait to read again with my kids when they’re old enough

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