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500 Essential Graphic Novels

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  24 reviews

500 Essential Graphic Novels is an all-in-one guide to this exciting form of visual literature.

Including more than 350 authors and 400 artists, this lush volume contains an essential mix of some of the finest visually-stunning stories of our time. From politically-charged non-fiction sagas to imaginative fantasy tales, this ultimate guide has something to satisfy
Paperback, 528 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Harper Design (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  179 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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George Marshall
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book fails to deliver the fundamental reauirements of a guide (especially an 'ultimate' guide) that you can trust it and can learn from it. I have consistently disagreed with its assessments - for example its glowing praise for the dire 'Can't Get No' (slated by Goodreads reviewers) or its lame criticisms of Jimmy Corrigan ("needs a more interesting subject") which I,and most others, regard as one of the masterpieces of modern comics. Kannenberg has a very poor visual sense, consistently ...more
Sooraya Evans
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Got a copy of this for a steal at the Big Bad Wolf sale.
A decent guide to some cool graphic novels, broken down by genre.
But some of the titles recommended here were rather disappointing.
So, I'm guessing it was solely based on the author's own personal taste.
Jul 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This collection rocks! For anyone who has even a slight interest in graphic novels, I highly recommend this compendium. Kannenberg does an excellent job of reviewing graphic novels from across the world and throughout the span of the past century. I really liked the fact that the book was divided in to genres (i.e. fantasy, horror, superhero, war, etc.). I found myself taking copious notes on titles that I wanted to pick up because the reviews sounded so great. This is a must read!
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
No doubt there's some great books featured here. Unfortunately, it all but ignores incredible and terrific work, specifically in the super-hero genre, especially the Silver and Bronze Ages. Virtually all of the books listed here are Indie type books. If you're looking for a historically balanced list of recommendations; this book utterly fails.

The authors very narrow preferences clearly trump many obviously missing classic works.
Stephen Arnott
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
If, like me, you're relatively new to the world of graphic novels you'll find this a solid, comprehensive introduction to the subject.

There are some omissions that some might find surprising (no 'David Boring' for example, rated as the best graphic novel by some) but you can't please everyone.

This book has introduced me to a number of excellent comic series that might have otherwise passed me buy. I have a lot to thank it for.
Found some interesting new stuff. Too much superhero, action, v. male comics for me, but I'm a Lynda Barry/ Charles Burns type of guy so I'm not surprised.
Benjamin Hare
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Gene Kannenberg, Jr. has a PhD in comics (!) from the University of Connecticut, and has written extensively about the history of the comic book medium, so it seems only apt that he should put together a list of the most essential graphic novels. It’s a big list and includes a wide sampling of material from adventure, non-fiction, crime and mystery, fantasy, general fiction, horror, science fiction, superheroes, and war comics. Each entry includes a plot synopsis, a brief review by Kannenberg, ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, fumetto
Troppe scelte opinabili, troppo americanocentrico. Buono per degli spunti ovviamente.
Matthew Noe
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A dated, but still useful tool for collections. That said, I disagree vehemently with so many of the ratings I can't help but wonder...
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
When I might have been reading as a young child, I was watching movies instead. When I finally started reading in my teens, instead of literature aimed at my age group, including Comic Books of all stripes, I dove straight into literature with a capital "L". My first books were THE GRAPES OF WRATH, CATCH 22, and THE HUMAN FACTOR by Graham Greene and I never looked back. In the past couple years though I have discovered the Graphic Novels or Comics that I did not read back in the day. Now ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Don't know where to start or you're like me re introducing yourself to the wonderful, awesome universes that the graphic novel can take you to, then this is the book for you.

I loved the way the graphic novels are grouped according to genre - making it easy to dip into the worlds of the superhero or the take a slide into the world at war. This is a great reference material to for the librarian who wants to build a collection of graphic novels for their patrons.

Well written, illustrated and
Smsu Library
As the graphic novel emerges as a new art form / literary medium, (i.e. MAUS winning the Pulitzer), this would serve as a reference book for both collection development as well as general information on the works. It is also very useful for film, as many of these works have been adapted for the screen quite recently.

This is an excellent source guide that I use quite a bit at the public library (from my own collection) and is written with with an academic audience in mind.

Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
nice overview of 500 graphic novels. Inclusions/Exclusions are debatable and it all came down to the author's personal preference, I'm sure. I found a lot of the categorizations to be a bit arbitrary. Many of the books in each category could easily fit into at least one other category. Still a nice way to explore graphic novels and comics which I hadn't heard of before, and have added a lot more titles to my to-read shelf while browsing this book tonight.
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, comic-books
A very good way to be introduced to a broad swath of the best in graphic novels. It unfortunately (but necessarily) can only give the briefest of synopses to many of these works - but it does a great job of getting you interested in a lot of books you might not have come across or been interested in otherwise.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction for someone like me who's fairly new to graphic novels. I only wish Kannenberg had included next to the graphic novel pub. date the date(s) the individual issues or strips originally appeared. Otherwise, it's a great resource.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, own
A pretty decent list of comics. It includes a number that I don't like, but also includes all of my favorites with just few exceptions (notably Three Shadows). Anyway, it gives me some ideas of comics which I would like to read and it makes a great coffee table book.
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphicnovels
A great resource for anyone who wants to devour or even just delve into graphic novels. I felt the author tended to be a little overly positive in his reviewing, but overall the book accomplishes what it set out to do and in an organized fashion.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
What can you say about such a thing? It's a list of graphic novels the editor thought were good. I agree with many ratings, disagree with only slightly fewer, and learned about a lot of books I should check out. So I guess it did its job.
Dave Riley
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
An extremely useful reference manual. Handy for the graphic novel newbie such as I. Essential tool, for me.
Sep 06, 2009 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Read 50 books on the list. More in queue at prospector from book suggestion.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
one to have on your reference shelf!
Russell Berg
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Very useful reference and a good way to find stuff that I hadn't heard of before.
Maura Finlay
Aug 11, 2010 marked it as to-read
Skimmed a copy of this at the library, unfortunately it was in the reference section. Looked like it had a lot of good choices and want a copy for myself.
rated it it was ok
Jun 15, 2010
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Gene Kannenberg Jnr. gained his PhD on comics at the University of Connecticut and has published numerous articles on comic art, including work for The Comics Journal. He has served as Chair of the International Comic Arts Festival (ICAF) and is the current Director of the Comic Art & Comics section of the Popular Culture Association.