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Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Someone Who Doesn't Read Graphic Novels
(In no particular order)
1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, Peter Gillis, Renae De Liz, and Ray Dillon
For those who have read The Last Unicorn, I think they will appreciate how the story is told visually. For those who haven't read Beagle's unique fantasy novel, I think it would be a great way to be exposed to the story to hopefully inspire them to read the original (and possibly see the 1982 film, too).
2. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (23 volumes)
If there is one manga series I will recommend to just about anyone, it is Fruits Basket (the same goes for the anime as well). It has this warm feeling throughout the story even when there are trying times for the main characters, and you can definitely see how Takaya's art style grows from the first volume to the last. With memorable characters and so many great interwoven stories, you won't be disappointed with this series. If you want a shorter series by her, I recommend her earlier series Tsubasa: Those With Wings (only 3 volumes).
3. Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Mature)
Hoo boy... this is for the paranormal detective readers and certainly not for the faint of heart. There were times that I was to the point of tears while reading this graphic novel because of the themes it discusses. However, despite those, there is the overall theme of this group of dogs and a cat in charge of investigating paranormal activity in their neighborhood. That is pretty darned cool, and Thompson's art does not disappoint in showing the stories.
4. Yume Kira Dream Shoppe by Aqua Mizuto
If you prefer stand-alones, then look no further than this bit of cuteness. At one volume, Mizuto's book tells four stories all connected to the Dream Shoppe. Each main character of the four stories visits the Dream Shoppe, hoping to find the means of granting their greatest wish. However, they learn that sometimes it's not about having the wish granted for them but how they grant the wish themselves.
5. Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima (Mature) (28 volumes)
The first volume was a gift from my Aikido sensei...and I'll always be grateful for that even though the story does revolve around revenge. It's a fascinating story that includes a lot of Japanese history, which is another reason to check it out if you're a fan of Japan.
It's just a beautiful series. That's all I have to say about it. Oh, and it involves fantasy and giant spiritual robots, how awesome is that? With this series being as short as it is, Magic Knight Rayearth is a great series to "test the waters" of manga.
7. Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Mature)
If you're a fan of noir or the old-school private investigators, look no further than Blacksad. Diaz Canales touches upon hard themes and there are graphic parts to the three stories told in this edition. But between the art and the storytelling, it is just remarkable. I'm not sure if there will be another volume, but as stand-alones go, it's one worth checking out.
8. Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova (Mature) (3 volumes)
Three volumes in one, this is one kickin' omnibus for a graphic novel. I've always loved conventions, particularly those of the anime and sci-fi/fantasy type, and having a graphic novel series that takes place at an anime convention is awesome unto itself. Chmakova has a great style, great story, and great characters, which makes this another great "stand-alone" or rather "three-in-one" graphic novel.
9. Millennium Snow by Bisco Hatori (2 volumes)
Yes, I know I put volume two on here, but that's because my favorite character is on this cover! If you're wanting to "test the waters" of manga, this is another excellent choice since the series IS only two volumes long. If you do happen to like Hatori's style, might I also recommend Ouran High School Host Club by her.
10. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (4 volumes so far)
I've only recently become absorbed with this middle grade/young adult graphic novel series, and already I'm hooked. Kibuishi has a unique style and story to tell, and for those who enjoy kick-butt heroines, you'll need to look no further. While there is much growing up to do for our main character, there's so much going on around her that forces her to make decisions without thinking. This is an excellent choice for your pre-teen to enter the world of graphic novels.