10 books like Beautiful Darkness

By Fabien Vehlmann, Kerascoët,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Beautiful Darkness. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Aya

By Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie, Helge Dascher (translator)

Book cover of Aya: Life in Yop City

I’ve added this graphic novel to my list in part for nostalgic reasons. Although the book and its two sequels were published in the 2000s, they are all set in 1970s Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, when I had the good fortune to live there. Aya is an adolescent girl living in the vibrant neighborhood of Yopougon, where everyone knows each other’s business. While she just wants to focus on her studies, she keeps getting distracted by the drama of those around her—from the boy-chasing machinations of her girlfriends to the foolish missteps of her parent's generation.

Aya

By Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie, Helge Dascher (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Aya is an irresistible comedy, a couple of love stories and a tale for becoming African. It's essential reading." -Joann Sfar, cartoonist of The Rabbi's Cat

Ivory Coast, 1978. It's a golden time, and the nation, too-an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa-seems fueled by something wondrous. Aya is loosely based upon Marguerite Abouet's youth in Yop City. It is the story of the studious and clear-sighted nineteen-year-old Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It's a wryly funny, breezy account of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in…


The Lonesome Era

By Jon Allen,

Book cover of The Lonesome Era

Jon Allen’s coming out and growing up story in his ongoing Ohio Is For Sale series, The Lonesome Era is, so far, his most complex and affecting work, but that’s not saying much for a cartoonist who expands his abilities and repertoire with each new book. The Lonesome Era is a rites-of-passage tale that showcases Allen’s customarily bleak outlook and dry wit, and it is, by turns, hilarious and poignant. I’ve called his work “Kafkaesque situation comedies” in the past, but that description belies the mordant emotional and observational sophistication on show here. He is simply one of the best young visual storytellers around.

The Lonesome Era

By Jon Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lonesome Era as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A touching book that is sure to appeal to any reader who has tried to be the person they were meant to be." - BOOKLIST

Camden is a cat. Camden is also crushing hard on his best buddy and all-around terrible influence, Jeremiah. Young, bored, and trapped in their slowly decomposing Rust Belt town, Camden tamps down his burgeoning feelings for the local ne'er-do-well and allows himself to be dragged along with every awful idea, every hair-brained plan, and every threat to life and limb Jeremiah can come up with. As the dangers of Camden's risk-taking mount, an even more…


Exit Wounds

By Rutu Modan,

Book cover of Exit Wounds

Not only is Rutu Modan one of my favorite illustrators she is also an extremely talented story writer and Exit Wounds is no exception. This was also one of the first graphic novels I had ever read and was so captivating. Her unique art style and writing are truly amazing. I love her color pallet and how it really keeps you engaged from panel to panel. Without giving away spoilers this book is based on real-life events and really gives you a greater sense of life in other countries can be like for better and for worse. 

I love all of Rutu Modan’s books but this one really hit home for me.

Exit Wounds

By Rutu Modan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, Exit Wounds is the first graphic novel to be published in Britain by one of Israel's best-known cartoonists.

A young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent phone call from a female soldier. Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins the soldier in searching for clues. His death would certainly explain his empty apartment and disconnected phone line. As Koby tries to unravel the mystery of his father's death, he finds himself not only piecing together the last few months of his father's life,…


Polina

By Bastien Vives,

Book cover of Polina

Polina is about a would-be ballerina and a teacher and the methods he employs to get the best from his students. Polina ages from child to young adult through its pages, and as her comprehension of the world about her and the people in it changes, so too does the reader’s impressions of her. Like any good character piece, much depends on the performance of the players, and therefore Vivès and his ability to convey subtleties of emotional reactions. He always leaves enough room for the reader’s own interpretations, and so hooks you into the nuances of Polina’s feelings. Vivès can draw anything, but this beautiful, delicately balanced story depends as much on what he leaves out as what he puts in. A small masterpiece.

Polina

By Bastien Vives,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Polina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a very young girl, Polina Oulinov is taken on as a special pupil by the famous ballet teacher Professor Bojinsky. He is very demanding and refuses to adapt his standards to the talents of his pupils, and Polina has to work hard and make great sacrifices in order to reach the level Bojinsky senses she has the talent for. When she graduates and is admitted to the official theatre school, she discovers that Bojinsky's view of ballet is only one of many and that she can't adapt to new rules, new visions. She flees Russia for Berlin, where she…


The Incal

By Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jean Giraud (illustrator),

Book cover of The Incal

The Incal follows John DiFool, an everyday goofball, as he is swept away on the most metaphysical, surrealistic, galactic adventure possible. Written and drawn by two of the wildest, most ingenious imaginations to ever grace the page, Jodorowsky and Moebius guide the reader gracefully to the edge of existence and back – without confusing or pandering to its audience. 

This book works so well because, first, Moebuis’ art is an absolute delight to look at, and second, because using the common-man-character of DiFool as the protagonist, the reader can learn alongside the story in a way that feels smooth and natural – in a world that would otherwise be beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

The Incal

By Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jean Giraud (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Incal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Moebius' and Alejandro Jodorowsky's Sci-Fi masterpiece collected in one epic volume. Lose yourself in the in the story that inspired many legendary filmakers including George Lucas and Ridley Scott.

John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called "The Incal." Difool's adventures will bring him into conflict with the galaxy's greatest warrior, the Metabaron, and will pit him against the awesome powers of the Technopope. These encounters and many more make up a tale of comic and cosmic proportions that has Difool fighting for not…

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

By Hayao Miyazaki,

Book cover of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Volume 1

I absolutely adore Miyazaki’s art in Nausicaa. Although dealing in themes of plague and pollution, the artwork really feels like it comes from a place of love. His creature and vehicle designs exude his adoration of nature and science. And everything is rendered in a soft, effortless chiaroscuro that makes reading an endless pleasure. 

But maybe the single most endearing attribute is the character, Nausicaa, herself. It seems to me, that more often than not, a hero story asks its protagonist to go through some sort of reluctant change to become a hero. But not Nausicaa. She comes to us fully formed, full of virtue and ambition. And so the story is centered on her choices. The story doesn’t happen to her, she drives it herself.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

By Hayao Miyazaki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nausicaa, a young princess who has an empathic bond with the giant Ohmu insects and animals of every creed. She fights to create tolerance, understanding and patience among empires that are fighting over the world's remaining precious natural resources.

Little Bird

By Darcy Van Poelgeest,

Book cover of Little Bird: The Fight for Elder's Hope

In a post-apocalyptic world run by an oppressive American empire, we find Little Bird hiding in a hole. Though her mother was a great leader of the rebellion, Little Bird has found herself very lost, in a very cruel world - and she just might be the last chance that the freethinking people of the Western world have. 

I love that this story takes familiar forces and fears of our modern life and cranks them up to eleven. With that in mind, the star of the show must be Ian Bertram’s artwork. All the huge ideas and themes created by Darcy are elevated to a startling degree by the way Ian is able to build this world visually. The iconography, the violence, the characterizations, it slaps you in the face page after page.

Little Bird

By Darcy Van Poelgeest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the limitless scope of Star Wars and EAST OF WEST paired with the sociopolitical explorations of A Handmaid's Tale and MONSTRESS, LITTLE BIRD tells the story of a young resistance fighter battling against an oppressive American Empire while searching for her own identity in a world on fire. A gorgeously illustrated epic from Award-winning filmmaker DARCY VAN POELGEEST and Angouleme-nominated artist IAN BERTRAM in which one girl risks everything to save her people, their land, and the freedom they so desperately deserve.

Collects LITTLE BIRD #1-5

Akira, Volume 1

By Katsuhiro Otomo,

Book cover of Akira, Volume 1

Akira is a must-read manga masterpiece, a deep analysis of government corruption, political upheaval, criminality, and decay of society. Apart from the breathtaking art, what caught my attention was the complex story and the nihilistic, harsh, and hopeless world Akira shows. There are virtually no good characters in this story and it fits the apocalyptic, decadent reality they face and live. Expect a lot of psychic abilities and motorcycles, along with gritty, graphic violence.

Akira, Volume 1

By Katsuhiro Otomo,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Akira, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Akira 1 introduces readers to a gritty Neo-Tokyo, built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by a blast of unknown origin that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, making him a target for a shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like the one that levelled Tokyo. At the core of the agency's motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear of an unthinkable, monstrous power known only as Akira.

Bone

By Jeff Smith,

Book cover of Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume

Bone was the first book I ever read on my own as a 5th grader. For the first time, I didn’t use an audiobook or need a parent/teacher to read it to me. For that alone, I’ve put it at the top of the list. Bone follows the story of three wayward brothers as they each find their way to a fantastical valley filled with mythical dragons, bizarre creatures, and a lost princess. What starts off as this fun and goofy comic, spirals into this adventure of epic proportions as the author-illustrator takes young readers into a world they never imagined before. 

This fast-paced saga helped captivate me from the first page to the last and I personally owe a lot to this book for helping me overcome my dislike for reading as a young person. This book helped me on my journey to becoming a reader and it…

Bone

By Jeff Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


My Friend Dahmer

By Derf Backderf,

Book cover of My Friend Dahmer

An amazing personal tale of someone who went to high school with, what was to become, infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. What makes it so good, in my opinion, is, that it doesn’t become sensationalist in any way. It clearly shows how a vulnerable, very disturbed child could fall through the cracks in 70’s America. It is drawn in a cartoony style, which helps to create a distance from the reader to the incredibly dark and sad subject matter. It works amazingly well as it is told from the perspective of Dahmer’s classmates. Well recommended!

My Friend Dahmer

By Derf Backderf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Friend Dahmer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My Friend Dahmer is the hauntingly original graphic novel by Derf Backderf, the award winning political cartoonist. In these pages, Backderf tries to make sense of Jeffery Dahmer, the future serial killer with whom he shared classrooms, hallways, libraries and car rides. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a young man struggling helplessly against the urges, some ghastly, bubbling up from the deep recesses of his psyche. The Dahmer recounted here, although universally regarded as an inhumane monster, is a lonely oddball who, in reality, is all too human. A shy kid sucked inexorably into madness while the…

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