500 Essential Graphic Novels by Gene Kannenberg, Jr.

500 Essential Graphic Novels
by Gene Kannenberg, Jr.
Collins Design, 2008

A bit trainspottery, to be honest, although it puts superhero comics in their proper place by allocating them a single genre category out of ten, for although the capes make up the majority of “graphic novels” published, these are usually reprinted issues of an ongoing series collected in a trade paperback and not as interesting as, say, anything by Daniel Clowes or the Hernandez brothers, or Alison Bechdel, or – well, you get the idea.

The other categories are Adventure, Non-Fiction, Crime & Mystery, Fantasy, General Fiction, Horror, Humour, Science Fiction and War. Not ideal – there’s no category for Grindingly Dull Autobiography, Narcissistic Observational Minutiae, Hopeful Pre-Storyboarded Screenplays, Action Film Cliches, Concept-Driven Merchandise Vehicles or my favourite, Inexplicable Semi-Talented Derivative Squitter That Makes No Publishing Sense Whatsoever Unless The Cartoonist Possesses Incriminating Polaroids Or Is Preternaturally Good At Blowjobs.

There are a generous amount of illustrations, and even a few New Zealand-related books (Two Roger Langridge titles and Dylan Horrocks’s Hicksville, under General Fiction, because there’s no Unfilmable Love-Letter To Comics category), but unless there’s a collected edition, many excellent series are represented by a single title. It’s hard to see why Asterix and the Great Crossing is the essential Asterix book, or why The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 is the one to go for out of the 25 planned volumes in the series, apart from being the first.

Having said that, if you’re interested in comics, it’s impossible to go through this book without making a shopping list of intriguing titles (or, in my case, looking up the library catalogue).


3 Responses to “500 Essential Graphic Novels by Gene Kannenberg, Jr.”

  1. David Thomsen Says:

    Regarding the Green Lantern film mentioned in this week’s Jitterati, the bad guy has red skin, black hair swept back with a widows peak, a little moustache, an oversized forehead, pointy ears and goes by the name of ‘Sinestro’.


    Presumably he is the offspring of Cruella de Vil and Satan.

    If superhero comics like this can be classified as ‘graphic novels’, then Pluto is a planet and Jenny Shipley is the first elected female prime minister of New Zealand.

  2. David Thomsen Says:

    Actually, looking at the trailer, I may have just given away the shocking twist in the sequel. Disregard what I said. Sinestro is good, he volunteers at the SPCA, talks to his mother every weekend and has no intention of betraying the Green Lantern Corps.

  3. Those were simpler times, when they named the supervillains.

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