No Capes Required: Comics Embrace All Literary Genres!

No Capes Required: Comics Embrace All Literary Genres!

When I was young, I loved comics. Whether it was the X-Men, Batman or Deadpool, I couldn’t get enough of the emersion and escapism that comics offered. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun branching out from the superhero comics of my youth, and my love and respect for the art form has only intensified.

It may come as a surprise that the world of comics has so much more to offer than spandex-clad muscle men and swooning damsels in distress. Luckily for us there are comics out there to suit just about every taste in literature: there are westerns, science fiction, fantasy and noir detective-style comics. And let’s not forget comics with romance, horror, or comics that have good endings and bad. Comics that are weird. Comics that are queer. Comics that are funny. Comics that are cute. And pretty much everything in between.

Here are 20 of my favorite “no cape” comics – some are stand-alone, many are part of a series – for those of you looking for some alternatives to Marvel and DC. If you haven’t picked up a comic in a while, one of these titles may be the perfect place to get reacquainted. If you think you “aren’t into comics” – I guarantee that at least one of these will change your mind.

Graphic novels for people looking for an alternative to superhero comics

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido
Blacksad” written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.34 stars

Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery and intrigue, digging up the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets during the 1950s Red Scare in the United States. Also available as an eComic.

Daytripper / by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá ; with coloring by Dave Stewart ; lettering by Sean Konot
Daytripper” by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.3 stars

Presents key moments in the life of Brás de Oliva Domingos, a Brazilian writer and sometime journalist, and the son of a prominent author, as if each episode would turn out to be the day in which he was about to die. Also available as an eComic.

Duncan the wonder dog by Adam Hines
Duncan the Wonder Dog” written and illustrated by Adam Hines

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4 stars

What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how
humans treat them? Would humans treat them different?

East of West. Volume 1 / Jonathan Hickman, writer ; Nick Dragotta, artist ; Frank Martin, colors ; Rus Wooton, letters
East of West” written by Jonathan Hickman ; illustrated by Nick Dragotta

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.92 stars

This is the world. It is not the one we wanted, but it is the one we deserved. The Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life, lies in DEATH! Also available as an eComic.

Fables: Legends in Exile written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina
Fables: Legends in Exile” written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.98 stars

Who killed Rose Red? In Fabletown, where fairy tale legends live alongside regular New
Yorkers, the question is all anyone can talk about. But only the Big Bad Wolf can actually solve the case – and, along with Rose’s sister Snow White, keep the Fabletown community from coming apart at the seams. Also available as an eComic.

Hellboy by Mike Mignola
Hellboy” by Mike Mignola  (Author/ Illustrator), Various (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.12 stars

When strangeness threatens to engulf the world, a strange man will come to save it. Sent to investigate a mystery with supernatural overtones, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins, and his link to the Nazi occultists who promised Hitler a final solution in the form of a demonic avatar. Also available as an eComic.

Joe the Barbarian" by Grant Morrison (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)
Joe the Barbarian” by Grant Morrison  (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.77 stars

Joe is an imaginative young kid of 11 who happens to suffer from type 1 diabetes. Without supervision and insulin, he can easily slip into a delirious, dissociative state that presages coma and death. One fateful day, his condition causes him to believe he has entered a vivid fantasy world in which he is the lost savior — a fantastic land based on the layout and contents of his home.

King City by Brandon Graham
King City” by Brandon Graham (Author/ Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.99 stars

Joe is a catmaster, trained to use his cat as any tool or weapon. His best friend, Pete, falls in love with an alien he’s forced to sell into green slavery, while his ex, Anna, watches her Xombie War veteran boyfriend turn into the drug he’s addicted to. King City, an underbelly of a town run by spy gangs and dark dark magic with mystery down every alleyway.

Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft” by Joe Hill  (Author),‎ Gabriel Rodriguez (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.16 stars

“Locke & Key” tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them, and home to a hate-filled and relentless
creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all! Also available as an eComic.

Monstress: Volume One - Awakening
Monstress” by Marjorie Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.97 stars

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art
deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of
tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.19 stars

Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law
Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. Also available in Audio and eAudio.

Pretty Deadly: Volume one - The shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Pretty Deadly” by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Emma Rios (Artist), Jordie Bellair (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.82

As Sissy, a girl with a crow head-dress and two different colored eyes, and Fox, a blind old man, travel a fanciful Old West world, they are pursued by Death who seeks Sissy for reasons unknown. Also available as an eComic.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.23

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults. Also available as an eComic.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Sandman” by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Kieth (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.28 stars

After his seventy-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. Also available as an eComic.

Tales from outer suburbia by Shaun Tan
Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.33 stars

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says… These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan’s many fans will love.

Through the woods : stories by Emily Carroll
Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.91 stars

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to. Also available in eBook.

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way
The Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way  (Author), Gabriel Ba (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.96 stars

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born to women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world.” Also available as an eComic.

WE3 : the deluxe edition by Grant Morrison
We3” by Grant Morrison  (Author), Frank Quitely  (Illustrator)

Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely deliver the emotional journey of WE3 – three house pets weaponized for lethal combat by the government – as they search for “home” and ward off the shadowy agency that created them. Also available as an eComic.

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
The Wrenchies” by Farel Dalrymple (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 3.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.28 stars

In a demented future where humanity is oppressed by the evil Shadowsmen, only a gang of ruthless and powerful children called the Wrenchies can hope to stand against them.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Y: The Last Man” by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Pia Guerra (Illustrator), Jose Marzan Jr. (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.11 stars

Yorick Brown and his pet male monkey learn just how valuable they are when they set out across the planet in search of one specific girl in the wake of a strange plague that has killed every man, boy, and mammal with a Y chromosome–except for them. Also available as an eComic.


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