RSS Feed



Stories To Change Your Life

GRAPHIC NOVELS: Stories To Change Your Life (UK)
GRAPHIC NOVELS: Everything You Need To Know (USA)
Written by Paul Gravett
Designed by Peter Stanbury
$24.95, £18.99
ISBN: 1 84513 068 5

Buy from:,

Once stereotyped as the preserve of improbably dressed superhumans with world-saving tendencies, in recent years graphic novels have become one of today’s most exciting art forms, taking on the world we live in and reflecting it back to us in a thousand different ways. All of human experience is here, from teenage girlfriends alienated in suburbia to a desperate housewife’s search for passion, brought to life with insight, imagination and page-turning narrative. This is the perfect companion to the world of graphic novels, whether you’re a novice uncertain where to start or an enthusiast eager to discover more. In a series of interlinked chapters, Paul Gravett introduces the masterpieces of the medium and helps readers explore its treasures, from the rich, mysterious textures of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to Marjane Satrapi’s vivid memories of her Iranian childhood in Persepolis.


“...a superb introduction to a medium that is finally... coming into its own.”
The Daily Mail

“...seize upon this useful, incisive, intelligently arranged guide.”

“...the most useful, most illuminating appreciation of graphic novels in print.”
Dallas Morning News

“Nobody puts the love, the lack of ego, and the knowledge into a book on comics like Paul Gravett.”
Alex de Campi

“This guide is smartly designed and a joy to use.”
Paws & Reflect

“ impressed with the brilliant way you've presented and organised all this material...”
Natalie d’Arbeloff

“...a huge thank you for publishing 'Stories to change your life'.”
David Pye

“...designed to overcome negative preconceptions...”
The List

“ none the best current introduction and overview of the graphic novel form.”
Steve Bissette, artist Swamp Thing

“...a very handsome volume...”
Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus

“...30 'masterpieces'... are presented, analysed and decoded...”
State Of Art

“...this book throws windows open on to fresh new worlds...”

“ A perfect present to convert that literary die-hard...”

“This is one hell of a cleverly-conceived book about comics...”
The Comics Reporter

“...insightful looks at most of the notable graphic novels ever created...”
Comic Book Galaxy

“, insightful, demonstrative, useful...”
Charles Hatfield

“...a beginner's guide to one of the most rapidly growing regions of the book publishing world.”
Eye Magazine

“ of the best introductions to the comics medium and its graphic novel form.”
International Journal of Comic Art

“...undoubtedly the best book about graphic novels to sashay this way in a long while...”
Robert C. Harvey

“Graphic Novels is excellent and you should be proud of it.”
Michel Faber

“This is a wonderful primer for someone new to the genre or who is starting a graphic-novel collection.”
School Library Journal

“... it's a beautifully designed and well-conceived treasure trove of a book...”
Gary Sassaman

“Attractively accessible, lavishly illustrated and perfectly composed...”
Page 45

“...Gravett is a serious observer of the scene and covers a lot of ground...”
Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics

“We can only be grateful to Paul Gravett for keeping us informed about some of the greatest modern comics works.”
Strip Vesti

“If you want to know what to read and how to read it....Graphic Novels... is the place to start.”
Brian Appleyard

“...the most definitive guide to the best work in the genre...”
The Times

“...the major [graphic novels] (and some obscure ones)... are astutely summarized...”
New York Times

“We've sold a lot of copies...”
Travelling Man

“This book does it all... You won't be disappointed. ”
Erin Gray, librarian

“Congratulations on a splendid book.”
Philip Pullman

“...a terrific format... Gravett writes with clarity and intelligence. ”
The City Paper

“It's an essential, fabulous volume...”
Gary Spencer Millidge

“Where other guides to comics may fall short, Paul Gravett's Graphic Novels triumphs.”
Publishers Weekly

“Open your eyes to the richness of a much-maligned art form.”
The Independent

“Beautifully designed with a passionate and informed text.”
Dave Gibbons, artist/co-creator Watchmen

What are graphic novels? You might think they are easy to define, but the term has become distorted with prejudices and preconceptions, riddled with confusion among the media and public, and a topic of dispute among ‘graphic novelists’ themselves, some of whom reject the label outright. The word graphic does not have to mean disturbing, extreme, and in your face, shown in hard outlines, grotesque caricatures, or lurid coloring. There is room for very different styles of art. In fact, graphic does not narrow down to drawing and illustration, as in graphics, since some artists create their comics using photos, 3D models, or found objects. The term novel can make people expect the sort of format, serious intent, and weighty heft of traditional literature, as if a graphic novel must be the visual equivalent of “an extended, fictional work.” True, some individual graphic novels can run to hundreds of pages, while others stretch to thousands across multiple volumes - but many are much shorter, or consist of collections of short stories, and they come in all shapes, square, oblong, from miniscule to gigantic. Even more importantly, a great many are definitely not fictional at all but belong in the categories of non-fictional - history, biography, reportage, documentary, or educational. More…


UK: Aurum Press: 1st edition, 2005
USA: Collins Design - 1st edition 2005, 2nd edition 2006
Finland: Otava - 1st edition 2007


With thanks to Steve Bissette, Lotta Sonninen and others who have kindly spotted mistakes and sent in corrections.

Page 6:
The date of this strip was actually July 11, 2004.
Page 58:
Commando has not quite reached 4,000 issues yet; it’s on its way though and has topped 3,500 already.

Page 74:
Captain Marvel is of course the “Big RED Cheese”.

Page 88:
L’Écho des Savanes was not founded in 1974 by a disaffected Moebius & Druillet, but in 1972 by Claire Bretécher, Marcel Gotlib and Nikita Mandryka.

Page 136:
Frank’s pet is called Pupshaw, not Pushpaw. This mistake arose from page 344 in The Frank Book which incorrectly bills the name of ‘Frank’s testy little bowser-box’ as Pushpaw in the title, but amends this to Pupshaw in the text beneath.

Page 171:
Steve Bissette has meticulously clarified the origins of Phoebe Zeit-Geist and thanks to Dennis Perrin’s incredibly detailed biography Mr. Mike: The Life & Work Of Michael O’Donoghue (1998, Avon Books) established that it was not inspired by Barbarella. Bissette writes further:

“O’Donoghue’s first published work in Evergreen Review appeared in the August/Sept, 1964 issue, a satirical article entitled “The Automation of Caprice” (Perrin, pg. 109). Perrin traces Phoebe Z-G’s origins to O’Donoghue’s great affection for Terry Southern’s novel Candy (1957, first US mass market publication 1964); it informed a character featured in O’Donoghue’s “Automation” essay, named Ramona Wedgewood, who evolved into what became Phoebe Z-G… So it appears that Phoebe Z-G evolved and its first chapters were completed before its creators, O’Donoghue and Springer, had seen or were aware of Barbarella; but it debuted one issue after Barbarella’s first translated chapter was published in the US. My statements about the 1950s and early ‘60s material it satirized was correct in terms of the pop cultural context, but Terry Southern’s novel Candy was the clear inspirational wellspring for Phoebe Z-G according to O’Donoghue himself."


If you found this website helpful, please support it by making a donation:

My Books

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

All contents © Paul Gravett, except where noted.
All artwork © the respective copyright holders.