Best 15 Fantasy & Sci-Fi Graphic Novels for Kids (And the Whole Family)

Bone HeaderTime for a confession: I didn’t read a lot of comics growing up.

I had no one to introduce them to me. Nor was there this awesome list of the best fantasy/scifi graphic novels for kids that my parents could reference.

But being an avid fan of the medium now, I wish to Odin my folks had had the smarts to do so! So do your kid a favor, Oh Geekly Mom or Dad: If you have even the barest inkling that your little man or lady might be interested in stories told through sequential art, don’t delay in putting a really good graphic novel in their hands!

For those of you who might not know where to start, here’s a helping a hand: a list of the top 15 fantasy/sci-fi graphic novels that you should introduce your kid to. Each one of these is a book chock full of big ideas, relatable characters, exciting adventures, and moral lessons aplenty.

And keep in mind: These aren’t the best fantasy and sci-fi graphic novels ever. These are graphic novels geared toward children, so don’t get in a tussle over the fact that The Watchmen isn’t on this list.

But Comics Aren’t REAL Books, Are They?

Comics

Oh, bite your tongue! It’s true that the times, they are a-changin’, and the public at large is realizing the worth of comics. But all too often comic books are still disparaged as an unintelligent and unworthy storytelling medium.

There’s a lot more to comic books and graphic novels than capes, tights, unitards and kryptonite.

And even when those things are included in a story, today’s comic output is far more intelligent and complex than its detractors give it credit for. I defy you to convince me that Alan Moore’s Watchmen or Neil Gaiman’s Sandman aren’t highly literate works of art that pose the deepest questions of morality that humans have ever been smart enough–or brave enough–to ask. You can’t! Because they do.

Sure there are some comic titles that offer nothing but brainless, effortless entertainment. There are even some that are so far along the brainless and effortless route, that they’ve traveled well beyond entertaining and into the realm of complete and utter pointlessness. But then again, there are novels, plays, movies, songs, operas, poems, essays, biographies, paintings and dance pieces that do that, too.

A real book–or, to blow it up even bigger, real art–is defined by the changes it affects in the readers, viewers and participants. I can tell you from firsthand experience that comic books and graphic novels are real art.

I know this because there are titles that have undeniably altered my existence. For the better.

Okay, enough ranting. If you’re reading this, then chances are I’m preaching to the choir. But never let anyone tell you–or especially your wonderfully geeky kid–that comic books aren’t real books. They are. Because they have power. And if you introduce your kid to the titles below, you’re not only giving them hours and hours of unforgettable entertainment… You’re also giving them that power. And that’s a pretty dang special gift for a parent to give a child.

All right, grab my hand and help me down from this soapbox, ’cause I’ve got some wicked awesome comic book and graphic novel titles to tell you about!

Top 15 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Comics for Your Geekly Kids

This list is by no means a be-all-end-all rundown of the only graphic novels or comic book series that you should show share with the family. On the contrary, this is just an excellent starting point. If your kid has any interest in the medium, this list will cultivate their love for stories like these and pretty soon they’ll be branching out on their own!

  • Disclaimer: I won’t pretend I know what your kid can and cannot handle in terms of violence or adult content. I was raised on Jaws and Stephen King novels and while the content never bothered me, not everyone is the same. For each of these selections, I’d advise you give the pages a quick peek first to make sure your kid can handle it. That being said, each of these titles has an enormous amount of heart, intelligence and compassion to offer each and every reader, no matter their age. And they are geared toward children…

Okay, on with the show!

15. Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini

Elfquest

Elfquest has probably been around longer than both you and I have. It’s a story that takes place in a fictional world inhabited by elves and other mystical/mythological creatures.

Follow the adventures of the fierce Wolfriders, the peaceful Sun Folk, the mountain-dwelling Gliders, the sea-adventuring Wavedancers, and the war-ready Go-Backs. It’s the perfect series for young fans of fantasy and the issues are available for FREE here.

14. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi

AmuletDoors in the basement leading to other worlds, monstrous kidnapping spiders, elven kings, a talisman with mysterious powers, and a brother and sister pitted against a sinister evil. Seriously, what else could a young reader even possibly ask for? Amulet is a series that will captivate your youngins and pull them into a magical world of unimaginable wonders. And you know what? It’ll pull you there, too, if you give it half a chance.

13. Bad Island by Doug TenNapel

Bad IslandTHIS. This is what Lost could have been, what we all hoped it would be. Bad Island is the story about a family shipwrecked on a very strange island in the middle of a vast ocean. An island full of inexplicable plants and animals and dangers around every corner. TenNapel is a wonderful cartoonist and storyteller who weaves a tale of high adventure and deep intrigue. The target audience may be of the younger variety, but the whole geeky family can get behind this excellent book.

12. Oz by Eric Shanower

OzThere are plenty of Wizard of Oz adaptation out there, in every medium, but Shanower is a master of the Oz-lore and a brilliant storyteller and his series about the magical land is a MUST-READ for anyone with even the slightest interest in that mystical world. The series is pretty extensive–with such great volumes as The Enchanted Apples of Oz, The Blue Witch of Oz, and The Ice Kind of Oz–and any one of them is a gateway to oodles and oodles of fun. Yes, oodles and oodles.

11. Bone by Jeff Smith

Bone

Imagine the cartoony styles of old comic strips like Pogo, the epic sweep of The Lord of the Rings (RELATED: Learn how to Decorate a Lord of the Rings Themed Room), and the unique humor of a fiercely funny storyteller combined into a single series and you’ll have an idea of what Bone might be.

But let me tell you right now: it’s far better than you can even imagine. Kids will love it and so will you.

Crave it? Get it!

10. Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka

Astro Boy

This classic Japanese science fiction series is aimed perfectly at the younger generation, though the action set pieces and lovable characters make it addictive for readers of all ages.

Crave it? Get it!

9. Adventures of Tintin by Herge

Tintin

Herge’s Tintin is a young reporter who gets swept away on exotic quests and adventures all over the world.

Steven Spielberg made a film version of one of the books just a short while ago, and while it’s certainly a fun ride, there’s so much more excitement in store for the young reader who devours the entire collection.

Crave it? Get it!

8. Tom Strong by Alan Moore

Tom Strong

Alan Moore is arguably the best comic book writer in the history of the medium. (And, listen, you won’t find many people out there who would dare to argue.)

Among his many thrilling, intelligent books is Tom Strong, an homage to both the golden age of superheroes and the serial adventurers of the early 20th Century who put every kid that followed their adventures on the edge of his or her seat.

It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s exhilarating, and it even offers a cerebral layer that makes it compulsively readable for adults.

Crave it? Get it!

7. The Mice Templar by Brian J. L. Glass

the mice templar

Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, evil tyrants with blood on their hands, and young rebels willing to risk it all for victory and ever-lasting peace.

Oh, yeah, and they’re mice.

But don’t let the anthropomorphized characters make you think this is just a kiddie book–the pages are full of bloody action and heart-thudding derring-do. Everything a child of geeky parents could want!

Crave it? Get it!

6. Fables by Bill Willingham

Fables

This beautifully drawn and expertly plotted comic series tells the story of famous characters from fairy tales and folklore who escape their own land and the Adversary who’s taken over, to seek refuge in our world.

It’s a wickedly fun romp with characters that are both familiar and mysterious, and one you won’t be able to put down. This series also has some of the most gorgeous page-layouts of any comic I’ve read. Bill Willingham is an absolute genius.

Crave it? Get it!

5. Serenity by Joss Whedon, Zak Whedon and Various

Serenity

Is this cheating? I don’t care. The television show Firefly was terribly short-lived, which was unfortunate, considering the enormity of the universe created by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear, the likability of each character, the mysteries and enigmas with solutions only hinted at, and a whole host of unanswered questions.

The film Serenity helped, but no two-hour movie could ever hope to wrap it all up. So thank all the gods in the ‘Verse that Joss and Co. decided to continue the saga in comic book form.

There are currently three volumes and a few one-shots on the shelves, and they are all exciting, contemplative, funny, heart-wrenching, and perfect for children of all ages.

Crave it? Get it!

4. WE3 by Grant Morrison

WE3

Crazy-good writer Grant Morrison and crazy-good artist Frank Quitely team up here for their own version of Homeward Bound. And it ain’t nothing like the original.

Bandit, Tinker, and Pirate (a dog, cat, and rabbit) were all kidnapped and placed in robotic armor and given the ability to speak through brain implants. And they’re on the run for their freedom.

It’s only three issues long, but WE3 packs more of a wallop than most 70-issue arcs on shelves today. It’s emotional, it’s thrilling, and it’s an absolutely unforgettable read that your kids will literally thank you for introducing them to.

Crave it? Get it!

3. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man

What happens when a mysterious force causes every man in the world to die at the same time? And what happens if you’re a man who has somehow escaped this bloody fate?

Would you hide? Would you run? Would you try to find the answers to your inexplicable survival?

In Y: The Last Man, Yorick Brown finds himself faced with these questions and thus begins an incredible adventure with one of the most satisfying conclusion of any comic series I’ve ever read.

Crave it? Get it!

2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Another entry from the master storyteller himself, Alan Moore, is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

I’d suggest this for the more advanced kid readers, not because of any outrageous content, per se (at least not in the first two volumes), but more because of the complex nature of the tale. It’s a great way, though, to introduce and enthrall your kids to characters from classic literature.

Be careful: TLOEG is definitely a gateway drug in that respect. Next thing you know, your kid will want to read Dracula, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or, god forbid, the adventures of Allan Quartermain! No, wait. That’s a good thing.

Crave it? Get it!

1. Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Sandman

Okay, okay. I know, I know. Sandman is definitely not a kid’s book. But if your child has reached a level of maturity where you’re okay with him or her reading stories that feature some adult themes and imagery, then you CANNOT allow them to go through life without having read this series.

If you’ve ever asked that age-old question above (“but comic books aren’t real books, are they?”), then this series will provide you with the definitive answer.

If ever a series of graphic novels could ever be said to surpass most volumes of literature in complexity, scope, thematic resonance, and sheer intelligence, then this is definitely one of them.

Crave it? Get it!

Summary

And there you have the top 15 fantasy and sci-fi graphic novels that you really need to introduce your kids to.

Like I said before, some of them might be appropriate for everyone while others ought to wait until your kids’ teen years, but they are all worth reading.

And re-reading… And re-reading… And… And… And…

Daddy Multiverse

(Thank you, Wired, for the above photo, showing the dutiful geek dad in action.)

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About Perry Rosenbloom

Perry Rosenbloom is a Geeky Dad trying to raise a Geeky Son. He is the founder of GeeksRaisingGeeks and enjoys everything from killing orcs & trolls to building ergonomic workstations. When not at his Sit/Stand desk, he can be found adventuring throughout Colorado with his family.

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