When it comes to mystery novels there are a few names that pop into everyone’s minds. Whether those names are Agatha Cristie, Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Alan Poe it’s always a matter of personal preference. In my mind though and maybe because of that personal preference names such as Neil Gaiman or that of Alan Moore is certainly at the top of the list when it comes to the best mystery graphic novels of our time.
Of course, the list of graphic novelists that triumph in mystery and horror is long and keeps on growing. Within this article, I will try to list just what I consider the best mystery graphic novels and their authors.
Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald
“This supernatural mystery set in the world of Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos features a brilliant detective and his partner as they try to solve a horrific murder.”
The 2014 Hugo Award winner for short stories, Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald is a fictional story that combines two amazing worlds that most of us are familiar and love. The one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. It’s a full-on mystery, adventure graphic novel that will take you from Baker Street all the way to the Queen’s palace in order to investigate a murder of cosmic horror.
The unique story was written by Neil Gaiman and the breathtaking art of Rafael Albuquerque make this one of the most intriguing Mystery graphic novels of our time. As with every good mystery book, there are twists and plots that you won’t anticipate until the very end.
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
“Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Rendered in a kaleidoscopically and breathtakingly virtuosic visual style that combines panel sequences and montage, Emil Ferris’ draftsmanship echoes the drawing of Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Robert Crumb. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is a revelatory work of striking originality that has been lauded as the debut graphic novel of the year.”
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is Emil Ferris first graphic novel and if that wasn’t enough it’s her first publication altogether which makes it even more of an achievement since her masterpiece easily makes the cut as one of the best Mystery graphic novels ever written.
When Art Spiegelman (writer of Maus on of our all-time best graphic novels) says that “Emil Ferris is one of the most important comics artists of our time.” people seriously should listen.
Batman: The Long Halloween
“Taking place during Batman’s early days of crime fighting, this collection tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face.”
Certainly one of Jeph Loeb’s and Tim Sale best works of all time. Batman: The Long Halloween is an amazing story that follows Batman, James Gordon and Harvey Dent in a race to catch a serial killer nicknamed Holiday who murders only on holidays.
Loeb’s story is second to none since it matches that of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One but also adds a touch of light horror that was missing. Although this is a mystery, horror story it is also a major drama story since within it we see the fall of a great, decent man, Harvey Dent who will eventually become one of Batman’s greatest adversaries, Two-Face.
Tim Sale is an absolute master when it comes to art and he proves it in Batman: The Long Halloween. Sale’s portrayal of the events is something that will create a pathway for your imagination to always follow when you think of Gotham and its characters.
When it comes to the best mystery graphic novels, “Murder Mysteries” is the one that comes first in mind. Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell reunited in order to create a story of creation itself. The story seems pretty similar to most detective noir stories with a detective doing his usual rounds in order to find out the truth behind a murder. But when the detective is an angel investigating the death of fellow angel things can get a bit more complicated. It’s a story about murder, love, revenge and the creation of the universe that only a writer such as Neil Gaiman can conceive and sum up within 100 pages.
Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye
Crime, mystery, violence, sex, guns, drugs, dark alleys and thugs. Put all those together and you’ll get Frank Miller’s Sin City. Nothing more nothing less.
The story revolves around Marv, a bulldozer of a man trying to find answers behind the murder of an “angel” or else Goldie and who is trying to frame him for that. His adventures on the dark alleys of Sin City and his encounters with the mob will not only provide you entertainment but also justification for always having Sin City in our all-time best mystery graphic novels as well as the best graphic novels to have ever been written.
Watchmen is a graphic novel that fits many categories, probably one of the reasons why it became such a sensation for decades. Starting with the murder of a superhero and Government agent, The Comedian, and the investigation held by others like him. It’s a story full of mystery and twists. Watchmen takes place in a world that super-heroes are not exactly what everyone might be used too. With no real superhuman power (other than the obvious Dr. Manhattan) they are dealing with an amazing number of human problems such as alcoholism, mental instability, sadness and more that will make you re-think what you knew about everything.
Watchmen is the child of writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons which has been voted year and year again the best graphic novel of all time. If you could only read one graphic novel from this list, Watchmen should be it.
Y: The Last Man
Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and art by Pia Guerra Y: The Last Man tells the story of Yorick Brown, an unemployed escape artist that is the only man alive after a virus killed the entire’s earth male population.
Together with a government agent, a scientist and his pet monkey (also male) heads out to find answers. While searching for answers Yorrick comes against groups of angry female Republicans that now run the government as well as new age Amazons that try to eliminate the last threat as well as other threats.
Fables combine fairy tales and folklore with real-life by bringing all those characters we grew up with such as Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming etc to life, right at the center of New York.
When a powerful creature known as the Adversary took their homeland all of the inhabitants were forced into exile. Now disguised as normal humans they live their days peacefully in a secret society they’ve managed to build in New York, called Fabletown. All this is going to come crashing down when Snow White’s sister is getting murdered and Fabletown’s sheriff (a reformed Big Bad Wolf) is asked to solve the mystery.
Brought to us by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Marc Andreyko, Torso is a graphic novel based on the real events of the Cleveland Torso Murders that took place in 1934 – 1938. Torso tells the story of Eliot Ness after his success of bringing down Al Capone and his associates. Now heading to solve the mysteries of the Cleveland Torso Murders with his team of the Untouchables. I have to admit that this one even though a great mystery novel it is also quite morbid and horrifying. Knowing that this of all novels within this list is a real life story makes a whole lot of difference. Certainly, one to have in your collection if you are interested in the best mystery graphic novels.