Renegade Reading: Banned Graphic Novels and Comics

By Kat La Mantia | August 29 2022 | GeneralGraphic Novels

Banned Books Week this year is coming up on September 18 – September 24! Graphic novels are not immune to challenges and censorship, with graphic illustrated works frequently finding themselves banned from classrooms and libraries for alleged violence, “pornographic” illustrations, and other “adult” themes.

Books banned most frequently include those dealing with sexuality and gender, war and genocide, religion, race, and more. Book banning unfortunately continues to be on the rise in the US, with parents and school districts seeking to restrict students’ access to books based on their own concerns or in order to comply with new statewide legislation, like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. PEN America keeps tabs on US book challenges and bans, collecting them into an index. Their Banned in the USA report examines trends in book banning and reports on the continued rise in censorship in libraries and classrooms.

PRH has compiled a Banned Books Resources Hub. Check it out for more information about how to fight back against book bans.

Below are some of our most frequently or notably challenged graphic novels, all of which are worth a read this September.

The Complete Maus
A Survivor's Tale
978-0-679-40641-9
The definitive edition of the graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker) • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • One of Variety’s “Banned and Challenged Books Everyone Should Read”A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats. Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history's most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.
$35.00 US
Nov 19, 1996
Hardcover
296 Pages
Pantheon

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
978-1-101-87179-9
The only graphic adaptation of Anne Frank's diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary--it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature.
$25.00 US
Oct 02, 2018
Hardcover
160 Pages
Pantheon

The Complete Persepolis
Volumes 1 and 2
978-0-375-71483-2
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir of growing up as a girl in revolutionary Iran. • "That Satrapi chose to tell her remarkable story as a gorgeous comic book makes it totally unique and indispensable" —TIMEPersepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
$27.00 US
Oct 30, 2007
Paperback
352 Pages
Pantheon

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
978-1-4012-8416-9
From Alan Moore, literary figures from throughout time and various bodies of work are brought together to form the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! Now, the history and origins of the League are revealed in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: BLACK DOSSIER!
$19.99 US
May 08, 2018
Paperback
200 Pages
DC Comics

Watchmen (2019 Edition)
978-1-77950-112-7
A hit HBO original series, Watchmen, the groundbreaking series from award-winning author Alan Moore, presents a world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history--the U.S. won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the Cold War is in full effect.
$24.99 US
May 20, 2019
Paperback
448 Pages
DC Comics

Sandman Box Set
978-1-4012-9470-0
The iconic series THE SANDMAN from New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman collected in a beautiful slipcased box set!
$250.00 US
Oct 06, 2020
Boxed Set
3000 Pages
DC Comics

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
978-1-56389-929-4
In this sequel to Frank Miller's seminal graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it's three years later and the DC Universe is at peace. At least on the surface. And Batman must return once again to save the world from themselves.Still, the world looks fine: a perfectly choreographed, pretty little world where everything that's ugly, or even potentially disturbing, is all nicely wrapped up with neat little ribbons and swept under the carpet.  Only Batman knows better.  He's watched it fester to near-breaking point, and it's time for the only free man left who can effect any real change to bring it all down around their ears once and for all.The Dark Knight returns once again with a vitality unseen since the first years of his war on crime.  Together with his army of Bat-soldiers, including Carrie Kelley—formerly Robin, and now the new Catgirl—the Dark Knight wages a new war on a diseased world that's become completely lost.Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again features appearances by such DC icons as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, the Atom, the Question and more.  But are they still the World's Greatest Heroes or part of the conspiracy? This incredible volume, designed by multiple award-winner Chipp Kidd, features a new introduction by Miller commenting on returning to the world he created fifteen years ago.  The book includes the complete 3-part story, plus numerous sketches and other never-before-seen material.
$19.99 US
Jan 01, 2004
Paperback
256 Pages
DC Comics

Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe (New Edition)
978-1-4012-9405-2
Critically acclaimed author Alan Moore redefined graphic novel story-telling with Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics' greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman's world forever.
$17.99 US
Sep 17, 2019
Hardcover
96 Pages
DC Comics

The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel)
A Novel
978-0-385-53924-1
An instant classic when it was published in 1985, Atwood's genre-bending, dystopian story comes to life in this new, beautifully illustrated graphic novel.
$23.95 US
Mar 26, 2019
Hardcover
240 Pages
Nan A. Talese

When Stars Are Scattered
978-0-525-55391-5
National Book Award FinalistHeartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.
$22.99 US
Apr 14, 2020
Hardcover
264 Pages
Dial Books
Age 9-12 years

V for Vendetta
978-1-77951-119-5
The graphic novel that inspired the hit Warner Bros. motion picture and DVD from the Wachowskis, the directors of THE MATRIX films and SPEED RACER.
$24.99 US
Nov 17, 2020
Paperback
296 Pages
DC Comics

The Magic Fish
(A Graphic Novel)
978-0-593-12529-8
In this gorgeous graphic novel that Entertainment Weekly called "one of the most astounding . . . of the year," fairy tales are the only way one teen boy can express himself to his parents, who are Vietnamese immigrants. But how will he find the words to tell them that he's gay?
$23.99 US
Oct 13, 2020
Hardcover
256 Pages
Random House Graphic
Age 12 and up

They Called Us Enemy
978-1-60309-450-4
New York Times Bestseller!A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
$19.99 US
Jul 16, 2019
Paperback
208 Pages
Top Shelf Productions

Y: The Last Man Omnibus
978-1-4012-9815-9
Brian K. Vaughn's classic 60-issue post-apocalyptic series is now available in this new omnibus.
$150.00 US
Dec 17, 2019
Hardcover
1440 Pages
Vertigo