Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Big Questions” as Want to Read:
Big Questions
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Big Questions (Big Questions #1-15)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,403 ratings  ·  196 reviews
A haunting postmodern fable, Big Questions is the magnum opus of Anders Nilsen, one of the brightest and most talented young cartoonists working today. This beautiful minimalist story, collected here for the first time, is the culmination of ten years and more than six hundred pages of work that details the metaphysical quandaries of the occupants of an endless plain, exis ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published April 12th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Big Questions, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Big Questions

Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
254th out of 2,109 books — 4,813 voters
Watchmen by Alan MooreV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanBatman by Frank Miller
500 Essential Graphic Novels
101st out of 778 books — 560 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Seth Hahne
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen

Anders Nilsen wrote what I consider to be the worst comic I've ever read. Or mostly read. I didn't actually finish Monologues for the Coming Plague. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way through I ragequit, angered by my own dogged tenacity in pursuing a book that clearly wasn't going to be worth my time. This never happens. There are large numbers of books that I haven't finished due to apathy or dislike, but always the motivation for abandonment lies in the realm of disint
Jan 02, 2015 Oriana marked it as didntfinish-yet
September 2013
Keith: there's a book that, like, i really fucking insist you read
me: ok what is it?
me: whoa, that looks great
i will put it on my to-read-eventually list
Keith: ugh you and your lists
me: well what else can i do?
me: haha ok ok

December 2013
me: so i'm like 75 pages into big questions and i kind of hate it
is it going to be like this the whole way or does it change?
Keith: why do you hate it?
me: i dunno man, pa
Apr 05, 2012 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: deep thinkers and people with good upper body strength ... it's heavy
I really don't know how to rate this at all. I like to give stars where stars are due, especially with a 600+ page monster that I easily read in 2 hours.

I like to think I'm intelligent. But I have my doubts sometimes. Recently, I came across a gushing email I sent to one of the Prinz Honor winners, thinking I was all smart and funny and congratulatory. Nope. The hasty email had a bunch of dumb typos that upon re-reading, made me look and sound like a 14 yr. old Twi-hard.

I'm sorry, Craig Silvey
My life is full right now. I am beginning to feel it is cluttered with tasks, activities, and events, when in reality is just rich with work, love, and friends. A clutter of blessings. This book is big and heavy, and for awhile I resented it for just having so much mass, when my life is so full. I begrudged it. But it has become my escape from to do lists and cuddling and eating, into to a vast open landscape, lonely and quiet, inhabited by creatures that are mysterious, distant, and sad, hungry ...more
I found this in a box by my door when I got home from work today and read all 600+ pages in one sitting. Anders Nilsen is my favorite visual artist, and I had bought a few of the stand alone volumes of this, though I hadn't been able to track down the whole thing. Now that I've finished it all it is amazing how complete the whole saga feels, yet how somehow small it feels, despite the length. The plot goes here and there and characters act on their own accord. Comics aren't written like this. Th ...more
Charles Hatfield
In this eerily post-9/11 fable, a plane crash, an unexploded bomb, and the wanderings of two men—one the downed Pilot, the other a preverbal Idiot, i.e., either an imbecile or a saint—disrupt the lives of a motley community of animals, most particularly a charm of finches, who live on a vast, vague plain in some unspecified microcosmic world. One of the finches, Charlotte, reads “the giant bird” (the plane wreck) and its “egg” (the bomb) prophetically, becoming the evangelist of a new faith. Oth ...more
I love these enormous graphic novels that almost become cinematic as you turn several hundred pages. Such a beautiful physical object with thick sheets and a thick spine and overall serious rectangular heft contrasted by the open white expanse inside, a desolate territory offering a house, an old woman, an idiot, a plane that crashes into the house, the pilot, plenty of wonderfully named finches, an innocuous old snake, an owl, an underground afterworld, a bunch of catty crows (also wonderfully ...more
"Big Questions" is an artifact that goes beyond my idea of "book." Whatever it is, it may be the first of its kind. It is a marriage of old-school myth, odyssean epic, Aesop-ish fable, series of comic strips, graphic novel, filmic philosophical text.

And it's a journey into a unique, desolate, flat, comic world. One whose borders are, in themselves, a question. "Big Questions" invites us into this dubious world, and once we are there, the borders are unclear but still intensely confining. It doe
Hannah  Messler
If someone asked you what that book you're reading is about, you'd have to say, "It's about a bunch of little birds who discuss and are confronted by philosophical and existential issues and events," and you would sound like a total jerkoff who's about to over-pronounce 'macchiato' when you order it and then go sit by the window where everyone who walks by can see you, with your adorable gramma shawl perched around your shoulders and the logo on your tote bag facing out and I would see you and w ...more
I wish I could give this book so many more stars. It is an incredible read.

The main characters are mostly birds who talking to one another, goof off, and figure out their roles. It's equal parts surreal/philosophical and birds-being-weird funny stuff. They all have names, so it's not as hard as I thought it would be to tell the different finches apart.

The art is truly incredible. Nilsen goes from really simple to staggeringly detailed throughout. The line quality is so sensitive which results in
I haven't read another book this year that has jammed itself more firmly into my head.

I tried to describe the plot to a Christian friend of mine and she thought it sounded like an anti-God diatribe. I didn't agree. It does concern faith, but many of the character put faith into things they do not fully understand and not it's not always to the same effect.

Is there a deeper purpose to it all? Is it just circumstantial happenstance with animals and humans colliding against each other randomly?

I ne
Mar 26, 2012 Raina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Raina by: Noah
This book is a monster.

It doesn't surprise me that Nilsen was working on it for years and years and years. You gotta admire a monsterwork like that.

I really dug the slow burn of this book. It starts out so so simply. Two birds...

Bird 1: Sure am getting sick of these seeds.
Bird 2: I know what you mean.

And Nilsen adds elements to the story so so quietly, so gradually, that you barely notice how complicated the story becomes until you're finished.

It is epic.

One word of caution: I had a really har
I stumbled across this today at the library. Started it when I got home and didn't move for a couple hours straight as I delighted in 600 pages of...something. I'm not sure what it was. A group of indistinguishable birds discussing the implications of a plane crash, mundane daily life, the variety of seeds, impending death, the joys of doughnuts, and other topics worthy of "big questions." I think Nilsen did a fantastic job of directing the reader's focus through his well timed, rhythmic panels. ...more
James Sie
Wow. An opus of narrative art, like the Ulysses of graphic novels, and it mostly concerns itself with a flock of finches in the forest. You feel like you've entered into a dream, one where planes crash from the skies, crows cast aspersions while feasting on corpses, and an idiot man-boy wanders the forest, protected by birds. The art is sometimes simple, sometimes impressively detailed, with a Gahan Wilson-esque tone. Amazing how it can be so flip and irreverent at one moment, and so weighty the ...more
I don't quite know how to rate this yet. this book is long and heavy, and though I liked it for the most part, it seemed like a drag most of the time. the art is simple and minimalistic, telling the story mostly through images, and I find it suitable as the book is told in the point of view of somewhat philosophical birds. the events that happened in the book are often strange, and maybe even morbid, not at all what I expected. it was interesting to read about the birds' debates on existential q ...more
L Hess
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I just finished this book during a thunder storm and about 30 minutes before visiting some friends after hearing about the death of one of our high school classmates just one year after finishing senior year. Anders Nilsen spent 15 years on this project and I've finished it in two days, and this is a book that's a bit hard to talk about or, for me, to even organize my thoughts about. It's not because it blew me away that I can't figure out what I think, but because there's just a lot in here. On ...more
Matthew Santoro
I'm not entirely sure what I just read, but I am entirely sure that I loved it. Nilsen weaves a beautiful and tragic tale of existential angst set in a unique and captivating environment. His simple style nevertheless manages to capture so much emotional complexity. White it starts as what seems like a series of unconnected, sketchbook comics, it fuses into a tale like nothing I've read in a long time. This book is a true triumph, and as a project of 15 years, it was certainly worth the effort.

Here is such a tender world of birds.

I'm in awe of the way these panels zoom and cycle through the book's setting, a woods with a small cabin where one man lives among birds and another man crashes his plane. The images connect birds with planes, planes and torpedoes with bird eggs, dead swans with slits in the world into the underworld, oil spills with oil-black crows, birds with stars, tree limbs with desiccated arms, and on. Several of these panels shatter me (the bird held underwater, the s
This book reads like a quiet film, with lots of slow momentum and big, haunting ideas placed in relatively simple and beautiful scenery. Heavy on deep questions of faith and reasoning, the survival setting and food chain aspects of the animal relationships create a world within our own, where we see animals questioning things we find ourselves questioning, and realize through their lack of understanding just how little we can understand.
Joey Alison Sayers
"Graphic novel" is so often a misnomer. The term is applied to graphic memoirs, graphic short stories, collections of comic strips, silly little scrawlings of garbage, anything really. But Big Questions is the novel-est graphic novel I've ever read. Amazing. Plus: talking birds.
Lorra Fae
Can I rate this 10 out of 5? I rank this in my top 2, it is beautiful, MASSIVE, and starts sweet - then becomes much deeper. So many little birds and their fascination with an "egg" (really a bomb) and a fallen plane (giant bird) that hatches (a pilot) - there is also a retarded boy and his grandmother, a friendly snake, and a bunch of really jerky crows.

The whole thing is AMAZING, and I BAWLED at the ending.

If a comic can make you cry your eyes out, it's good, trust me. That is the sign of any
Lee Ann
Okay, I really tried to like this comic. And I DID like it... for about the first three hundred pages. Then... I lost interest. There were characters I cared about- Algernon, Curtis and Betty, Clay, the Snake... (And hey what happened to the matriarch?)

But in the end, it read like a "literary fiction" novel, trying way too hard to sound all profound and mysterious, and giving no real resolution to any of the plots. And I did not get the whole pilot's thing with the birds. In fact, I really didn'
Imagine BBC's Planet Earth produced by minimalist philosophers.

That's Big Questions for you.

Not much happens in the barren unknown lands of Big Questions. A flock of finches routinely muse life's questions. A macabre murder of crows cackle at others while devouring flesh. A secretive snake leads an injured bird into an underground purgatory. A lonely idiot and his grandmother feed doughnut crumbs to the birdies. And a downed pilot dreams of swans and salvation.

That's pretty much it.

This is a b
Who wouldn't love a huge graphic novel with finch politics, narcoleptic pilots, and a snake who gives injured finches rides on his back? Especially when it's really just a huge parable about other things such as bombs, things that are bigger than we are, whether to stand by when your intuition is telling you to do something, etc.? The art is great. I highly recommend this if you like art, graphic novels, or ... well... big questions.
Anders Nilsen's Big Questions are so big they outweigh and otherwise outmeasure their subject. How can a bird contemplate a book that is too heavy for it? And how can we begin to understand the mysteries of our existence that far surpass the human mind? Stuff like that.
It is giant and terrible and sad and took me two sittings to get through it; and I'll read it again at least once before I totally decide if I get it, or if the parts I don't think I get are there to get at all. At which point I might write something, or I might not. I'd suggest you go find this one yourself, really. Birds and snakes and planes and death. And grass and death.
It's kind of a masterpiece really. I was constantly amazed where the story went and how the vast cast of characters reacted and interacted. Even though most of the birds are drawn exactly the same, I found myself really cheering and caring for some of them. Also, loads of insight into how we react to changes in our surrounding. Just fantastic.
It kind of makes me feel bad to read this book quickly. It took so long to make. But I bought it, so I can reread it, and that makes me feel better about sitting and reading it in one swoop.

It's a strange story, and it has sad bones. The kind of sadness that you can almost forget about, so it also has a lightness right above it, and humor.
Brady Dale
I am trying to love this enough, but I can't. It's too much. I love it all I can and it's not enough. It deserves more than I can give it. It's that good. It's better than I can handle saying. It's better than I am capable of expressing or appreciating. It gives way more than you can give. It gives it all and then it gives some more.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One
  • BodyWorld
  • The Wrong Place
  • Heads or Tails
  • Congress of the Animals
  • The Ticking
  • Goliath
  • Mother, Come Home
  • Hey, Wait...
  • Monsters
  • Mister Wonderful: A Love Story
  • The Hive
  • Ant Colony
  • Gloriana
  • How To Be Happy
  • My Dirty Dumb Eyes
  • Unterzakhn
  • The Nao of Brown
Anders Nilsen (born 1973) is a popular artist and graphic novelist who grew up in Minneapolis and lives in Chicago, IL.

He works on an ongoing comic series, Big Questions (Drawn and Quarterly), which has been nominated several times for the Ignatz Award. In addition, his comics have appeared in the anthologies Kramers Ergot[1] and Mome.[2] His graphic novel Dogs and Water won an Ignatz Award in 200
More about Anders Nilsen...

Other Books in the Series

Big Questions (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Big Questions #1
  • Big Questions #2
  • Big Questions #3: Astrophysics
  • Big Questions #4: Asomatognosia
  • Big Questions #5: Nothingness
  • Big Questions #6: Anoesia and the Matrideicidic Theophany
  • Big Questions #7: Dinner and a Nap
  • Big Questions #8: Theory and Practice
  • Big Questions #9: The Lost and Found
  • Big Questions #10: The Hand That Feeds
Dogs and Water Don't Go Where I Can't Follow Monologues for the Coming Plague The End Rage of Poseidon

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »