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I love graphic novels, and not just superhero graphic novels or sci-fi graphic novels. I love all graphic novels. No, not in the sense that I love every single graphic novel I ever read. (That would be wild. And, honestly, impressive. Not to mention my Goodreads would quickly disprove any claims otherwise.) But I love reading all sorts of genres of graphic novels, including those that defy easy categorization. In fact, I especially love graphic novels that play with genre, mixing them up and blending them together in creative ways. These genre-blending graphic novels are some of my absolute favorites from stories of epic space fantasy to SFF horror.
I could easily make an entire article out of every subgenre of genre-blending graphic novels included on this list, but since this is a bit of an overview — and not meant to be comprehensive — it’s a good place to give you an introduction to various categories of genre-blending graphic novels. We’ve got graphic novels new and old, from historical fantasy to SFF romance, and everything in between. So, go ahead, use this as a guide to start off on a journey filled with genre-blending graphic novels. This list is only the beginning.
Historical Fantasy Graphic Novels
Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
In a world inspired by the history of the Middle East, a girl from a subjugated cultural group decides to hide her origins and become a knight to earn the highest military honors and gain full citizenship. But Aiza soon learns that becoming a knight is not all she thought it would be. Not only does she have to hide the tattoos that would reveal her ethnicity to others, she is also confronted with what the “greater good” of the Bayt-Sajji Empire and their military power really means. And she’s not at all sure it’s worth fighting for.
Ronin Island by Greg Pak, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Irma Kniivila
When a catastrophic event rocks nineteenth century Japan, China, and Korea, survivors find refuge on a hidden island. But when an advancing warlord’s forces and a horde of mutated creatures threaten their hard won peace, two young warriors, one the orphaned daughter of Korean farmers, the other the son of a great samurai warrior, must work together to protect their home.
A Gift for a Ghost by Borja González, translated by Lee Douglas
In two parallel stories, Borja González tells of youthful dreams and haunting desires. In 1856, Teresa is most interested in writing avant-garde horror poetry than making the suitable match her aristocratic family expects of her. In 2016, three girls hoping to start a punk band, equipped with all but musical talent, notice another reality beginning to intersect with their own. An echo of something that happened 160 years ago is sending ripples throughout time, and now Gloria, Laura, and Cristina must deal with it just as Teresa before them.
SFF + Horror Graphic Novels
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
Forever and always one of my favorite graphic novels. This series blends gorgeous art deco-inspired artwork with a steampunk Asian-influenced story full of magic, mythology, and otherworldly horror. Maika is a part-wolf descendant of a goddess, but it’s the war between the witch-nuns known as Cumaea and the human-animal hybrids called Arcanics — and her own mother’s obsession with an ancient artifact — that have impacted her life the most. Now, after escaping the clutches of the Cumaea and becoming possessed with an eldritch god, she finds herself a target from both sides of this unending war.
Clean Room by Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, and Jenny Frison
A journalist looking for answers after her husband dies by suicide begins digging into the self-help cult he followed and the guru-like leader he all but worshipped: Astrid Mueller. Chloe is certain there is more to this woman and her group, and she’s ready to storm their top-secret sanctuary, the Clean Room. But the truth about Astrid and her group is more shocking — and horrifying — than Chloe ever could’ve imagined. And now, Chloe is a part of it.
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos
This dark magical western follows Death’s daughter, death-faced Ginny, as told by a fox. It’s a tale of vengeance and honor depicted through a sunset-colored palate and stunning artwork that will draw you into a world so beautiful you’ll almost forget it’s horror.
Sentient by Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Hernández Walta, and Steve Wands
What’s more horrifying than being locked on a spaceship with no one to help you? When an attack kills the entire adult crew of a colony ship, the A.I. VALERIE becomes their caretaker and teacher. Without the A.I., the children will die, with no knowledge of how to steer a ship or survive in space. But can Valerie rise to the occasion? And what will come of the children even if she does? This graphic novel takes so many twists and turns I don’t want to say much more, but it does get dark and pretty violently graphic, so don’t go into it unprepared.
Horror + Mystery Graphic Novels
We Don’t Kill Spiders by Joseph Paul Schmalke, Shawn French, Alyssa Slobodzian, and DC Hopkins
A Norseman detective is summoned to investigate a series of murders in a Scandinavian hamlet during the early Viking Age in this tale of horror and mystery. Teaming up with a necromantic witch, he sets out to discover the identity of a serial killer. It’s detective noir meets Vikings — what could be better?
Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, and Jason Wordie
In 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott is investigating police brutality and corruption. But this is no ordinary investigation, because Elena knows that the corruption goes deeper than the police. There is a secretive occult group using supernatural forces to achieve their ends, and it’s this very group that took her husband from her. And now, she’s determined to uncover the group that destroyed her family.
Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera, and Miquel Muerto
Something is killing the children of Archer’s Peak. Most of the children who disappear never return, but those who do speak of unimaginable horrors lurking in the shadows of the forest. It’s only when a mysterious woman arrives in town, claiming to see the monsters these children speak of, that tides turn. Now that Erica Slaughter has arrived, it is the monsters who should be afraid.
Horror + Comedy
I Hate This Place by Kyle Starks, Artyom Topilin, and Lee Loughridge
A couple inherit a farmhouse only to discover it’s already home to a plethora of ghosts, aliens, and supernatural beings. In order to survive, Gabby and Trudy must abide by the “house rules.” It’s horror and humor and all sorts of supernatural shenanigans married into one.
The Dark Room by Gerry Duggan, Scott Buoncristiano, Tamra Bonvillain
A curator of cursed objects searches for a lost camera that depicts photos of the real world turned hellish alongside her best friend, a break-dancing skeleton, and her werewolf ex-boyfriend. The story is equal parts horror and wit, charm and darkness.
Science Fiction + Fantasy AKA Space Fantasy Graphic Novels
Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
In a distant (but perhaps not far, far away) galaxy, two women from very different backgrounds discover a vast conspiracy between a dominant religion and the galaxy’s most powerful mega-corporation. Now, a novitiate on the run and a space captain in charge of a ragtag crew making intergalactic deliveries must decide between exposing the truth, potentially plunging the worlds into anarchy, and letting the existing powers-that-be continue on with their corruption.
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer
Pseudo-medieval space knights and mecha jousting tournaments — it doesn’t get much more space fantasy than that, does it? Cosmoknights is a rollicking SFF adventure about reclaiming princesses from the patriarchy and fighting for what’s right in a backward system. And it is absolutely just as fun as it sounds. I devoured the first volume and can’t wait for the second. You can also read it online here: www.cosmoknights.space
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I can’t imagine there’s a comics fan on planet Earth who doesn’t know about Saga at this point, but not including it as a genre-blending SFF series would just feel disingenuous. Set in a war-torn galaxy, two soldiers from opposite sides fall in love. Their relationship was bad enough, but their child — a symbol of possible peace between their people — is too much to be born. Narrated from the point of view of the girl this baby will grow into, Saga is the story of love, loss, and rowdy adventure in a dangerous universe.
Prism Stalker by Sloan Leong
A young refugee working as an indentured servant far from her devastated home planet is taken by a private military company to help colonize a new planet teeming with psychic life. Grappling with the strange new powers this planet brings her, Vep tries to survive training even as her mind and body are changed irrevocably. This graphic novel is wonderfully strange and full of psychedelic illustrations that perfectly bring the story to life.
SFF + Romance Graphic Novels
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu, and Joamette Gil
Supernatural teen romance is a well-known and well-loved genre, and, in Mooncakes, Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu take that genre and make it all about queer young love and found family. Hard of hearing teen witch Nova Huang works at her grandmother’s magical bookshop, but reports of a white wolf in the forest lead to the unexpected: the return of her childhood friend, Tam Lang. Tam, a werewolf, is battling a demon in the forest. They’ve wandered for years, on the run from dark forces determined to steal their wolf magic. But Tam finds a safe space among the Huangs, and, together, Nova and Tam take on the occult powers threatening their peaceful way of life.
Taproot by Keezy Young
A gardener who can see ghosts and his best friend Blue struggles to move on from their feelings for one another, even though one is dead and one is still living. But bigger problems are afoot as the supernatural community in town grows unsettled by the presence of a Reaper looking to track down a necromancer with the ability to see the dead. Determined to keep Hamal safe, Blue is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, even if it means never seeing the boy he loves again.
Pixels of You by Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota, and J.R. Doyle
Two aspiring photographers — a human and a human-presenting A.I. — are forced to work together when their rivalry nearly topples the art show their mentor is putting on. Indira isn’t impressed by Fawn’s photography. After all, how can an A.I. who uses her eyes to take pictures really be making art? But slowly, the two rivals begin to see things from each other’s perspective, and their burgeoning friendship turns into something even more.
Crema by Johnnie Christmas, Dante Luiz, Ryan Ferrier, and Atla Hrafney
Being a barista who sees ghosts when she drinks too much coffee might seem inconvenient, but when a ghost asks her to take a letter to his long lost love in Brazil, it’s the perfect excuse to follow the cute heir to a Brazilian coffee plantation back to her home. Their whirlwind romance is interrupted, though, when the ghost’s letter turns out to be something much more sinister.
Oh, not enough genre-blending stories for you? Well, we can’t have that. Try these various genre twists on for size: