The best graphic novels that are just begging to be brought to life on the screen

François Vigneault and Jonas Madden-Connor
By François Vigneault and Jonas Madden-Connor

Who are we?

We’re a couple of award-winning graphic novel creators who happen to have been friends since middle school. We’ve been enmeshed in films and comic books for our entire lives, and always enjoyed discussing them with each other, sharing hidden gems, and staying up late to pore over what went right (or wrong) when a favorite comic was made into a movie or TV show. We’re in the middle of an ongoing wave of cinematic adaptations, with billion-dollar blockbusters and indie gems alike looking to graphic novels for inspiration. Read these five books now before they show up on a screen near you, and you’ll have the sweet pleasure of pronouncing “The graphic novel was better!”


We created...

Apples to Giraffes

On the podcast Apples to Giraffes, we (comic book creators François Vigneault (TITAN) and Jonas Madden-Connor (Grave Wounds) take a close look at the art of adaptation: The transformation of novels into films, films into comics, video games into TV shows, and anything else we decide we want to discuss! In each episode we do a deep dive into a piece of narrative art, successes and failures in previous adaptations, and of course what we think we might do with it if we were in charge. Previous episodes have covered everything from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History to Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, with much more to come!

The books we picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Black Hole

By Charles Burns,

Book cover of Black Hole

Why this book?

Black Hole is a striking tale of a sexually transmitted plague running rampant amongst a community of teenagers in suburban Washington in the 1970s, all illustrated in creator Charles Burns’ almost inhumanly precise and dark art style. Mind-bending and terrifying, this graphic novel has come close to being adapted many times over the year, and its mix of eminently relatable interpersonal drama and existential dread make it a perfect fit for the screen, a horror story with heart and soul.

Black Hole

By Charles Burns,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Black Hole as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Prince and the Dressmaker

By Jen Wang,

Book cover of The Prince and the Dressmaker

Why this book?

A wonderfully charming fairy tale with gorgeous cartooning and character design from creator Jen Wang, this inclusive story features an unlikely, complicated, and ultimately heartwarming relationship between a shy prince with a secret and an ambitious seamstress with the vision to make his forbidden dreams come true. Managing to handle complex issues of identity and personal expression with aplomb, this graphic novel is a great fit for teen and tween readers. It’s equally easy to imagine an animated or live-action version of this feel-good fantasy full of grace, emotion, and spirit. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker

By Jen Wang,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Prince and the Dressmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One

By Matt Wagner, Guy Davis (illustrator),

Book cover of Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One

Why this book?

While Neil Gaiman’s much-beloved classic The Sandman was finally brought to the screen recently, we’re really champing at the bit to see this killer spinoff series adapted. Following the dream-inspired investigations of masked crimefighter Wesley Dodds in 1930s New York, the series is a mix of methodical detective work, believable action, and memorable characters that would translate seamlessly to the small screen. This two-decade-old story is shockingly ahead of its time, foregrounding thorny issues of racial prejudice, violence against women, and the rise of fascism that are more resonant now than ever. Out of print for years, this series is finally getting a massive collection bringing together the first 1000 pages (!) of the series in a single volume… Don’t sleep on this hidden gem.

Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One

By Matt Wagner, Guy Davis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this noir collection, millionaire Wesley Dodds becomes the Sandman to fight injustice in 1930s New York City, going after kidnappers, blackmailers and predators who prey on rich socialites. The year is 1938, and the world is holding its breath-mesmerized by the onrushing storm that will soon engulf it in fire and steel. In New York City, one man's sleep is filled with tormenting visions of the evils that mankind visits upon itself, compelling him to act. And so, by night, Wesley Dodds lays aside the trappings of his inherited wealth to roam the shadows as the Sandman, armed with…

I Killed Adolf Hitler

By Jason,

Book cover of I Killed Adolf Hitler

Why this book?

This slim graphic novel populated with murderous anthropomorphic animals might not seem like an obvious choice for a live-action cinematic adaptation, but the high concept here is irresistible: In a vicious universe where murder for hire is common, a laconic assassin is hired to take out the ultimate target—Adolf Hitler. Time travel, romance, jealousy, and bloody violence ensue, with plenty of twists and turns en route. A surprisingly funny and unremittingly dark sci-fi story that combines effortless French New Wave cool with a Tarantino-esque sense of humor, I Killed Adolf Hitler could become a verifiable dark comedy hit on the big screen.

I Killed Adolf Hitler

By Jason,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Killed Adolf Hitler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Through the Woods

By Emily Carroll,

Book cover of Through the Woods

Why this book?

In this collection of five original horror stories author Emily Carroll embraces the macabre and bloody roots of folktales, crafting resoundingly spine-chilling yarns featuring nasty monsters, plaintive ghosts, and smiling revenants. Short, creepy, and shocking, these genuinely frightening fairy tales (and others from Carroll’s oeuvre, she’s a master of the form) would make for a terrific (in every sense of the word) anthology series, and her innovative art style and storytelling techniques would be sure to inspire the filmmakers who would bring her dark vision to the screen. If you enjoyed A24 films such as The Witch you’ll definitely want to check this collection out.

Through the Woods

By Emily Carroll,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Through the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It came from the woods. Most strange things do.'

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there...

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