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When actors and celebrities write, they usually tend to focus on memoirs and autobiographies, with the occasional cookbook or children’s picture book thrown in for good measure. But thanks to the rise of comic book culture, an increasing number of stars are penning graphic novels. This makes perfect sense since the format’s visual storytelling closely resembles the medium of film and television. Writing a graphic novel is also a great way for a star to develop a potential movie vehicle, or to lay the groundwork for a cable series that’s well suited to their strengths as a performer.
The good news for fans is that reading a celebrity’s graphic novel lets you see them in a whole new light, and with the increasingly sophisticated kinds of stories that graphic novels are capable of telling, you’re practically guaranteed to find a title or two that suits your taste. So to help fill your bookshelves with an array of exciting reading material, here are 11 celebrity-penned graphic novels that are well worth your time.
‘M.O.M.: Mother of Madness’ by Emilia Clarke
A lifelong fan of superheroes and comic book movies, “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke often felt left out of the genre as a child because of her gender. But after taking center stage at Comic-Con’s iconic Hall H multiple times over the years, she decided it was finally time to create a comic book of her own. On July 21, Image Comics will debut the first issue of “M.O.M.: Mother of Madness,” a 3-part miniseries written by Clarke, in collaboration with comic book writer Marguerite Bennett, who’s worked on popular titles like “Batwoman,” “X-Men,” and “Josie and the Pussycats” in the past. Combining humor, action, and a feminist sensibility, the story centers on a single mother named Maya who begins to develop strange superpowers, and uses her newfound skills to battle a group of lethal human traffickers. All three issues will eventually be collected in a single graphic novel.
‘BRZRKR’ by Keanu Reeves
This explosive new series co-written by Keanu Reeves is already one of the bestselling comic books in years, and for very good reason. The story of an immortal warrior named Berzerker who satisfies his unquenchable appetite for violence by working as an operative for the U.S. government, “BRZRKER” is already being developed as both a live-action film and an anime series for Netflix. In terms of action, the book’s lead character makes John Wick look like Mr. Rogers. Since “BRZRKR” is a brand new title, it’s currently available to purchase as serialized single issues, but the first volume of the collected graphic novel will include issues #1 through #4, and is scheduled to be published in the fall.
‘They Called Us Enemy’ by George Takei
This acclaimed autobiographical graphic novel was co-written by actor George Takei and tells the true story of his family’s three-year long imprisonment in a Japanese American internment camp beginning in 1942. A heartbreaking tale filled with moments of profound sadness and righteous anger, “They Called Us Enemy” offers a firsthand account of one of the darkest moments in American history. Takei’s eye for detail evokes pain and joy in equal measure, and his deep love for humanity shines through on every page. Winner of the prestigious 2020 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, this is a graphic novel that’s truly impossible to forget.
‘Spider-Man: The Short Halloween’ by Bill Hader and Seth Meyers
Most celebrities who write graphic novels channel their energy into creating original stories and characters, but SNL alumni Bill Hader and Seth Meyers opted to lend their unique sensibilities to the world’s most beloved web-crawler, Spider-Man. A playfully irreverent story about what happens when Spidey is knocked unconscious and finds himself mistaken for a drunk dude in a spandex costume on Halloween night, this laugh-out-loud tale is beautifully drawn by award-winning illustrator Kevin Maguire, whose stylish art fits the material perfectly.
‘Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars’ by Ethan Hawke
2016 was the year of the Western for Ethan Hawke. Not only did he star in both “The Magnificent Seven” and “In a Valley of Violence,” he also co-wrote this acclaimed graphic novel about the bloody war between the United States and the Apache nations in 1872. Gorgeously illustrated in evocative black and white by co-writer Greg Ruth, “Indeh” is told primarily through the eyes of the Apache, and it offers an unflinching look at the brutality that was committed against them in the name of Manifest Destiny. A perfect read for fans of this year’s Oscar-nominated film “News of the World.”
‘Cold Space’ by Samuel L. Jackson
Oscar-nominee Samuel L. Jackson may be best known these days for his iconic portrayal of Nick Fury in the Marvel movies, but he’s also a popular comic book creator in his own right. His action-packed graphic novel “Cold Space” combines elements of film noir, spaghetti westerns, and military science-fiction, and it features an ultra-cool lead character named Mulberry, who just so happens to look identical to Jackson himself. Borrowing a page from Dashiell Hammett’s classic thriller “Red Harvest,” “Cold Space” chronicles Mulberry’s adventures after he crash lands on an alien planet and finds himself caught in the middle of a violent civil war. If you read it in one sitting, it’s like experiencing a big screen blockbuster from the comfort of your couch.
‘OCT: Occult Crimes Taskforce’ by Rosario Dawson
Having starred in “Sin City” and voiced Wonder Woman in several animated DC movies – not to mention her role on the Netflix superhero series “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and “Iron Fist” – Rosario Dawson is a force to be reckoned with in the world of comic books. So it’s no surprise that she co-created her very own original graphic novel with writer David Atchison. “OCT” tells the story of Sophia Ortiz, an elite member of a NYC police division that hunts supernatural criminals. Naturally, Ortiz looks exactly like Dawson herself, and every panel of this book resembles a movie thanks to the painterly work of artist Tony Shasteen.
‘March’ by John Lewis
A celebrity of a different type, legendary congressman John Lewis was a giant in the Civil Rights Movement and a tireless advocate for equality at home and around the world. Although he’s perhaps not the first name you might think of when you hear the term “graphic novel,” Lewis did, in fact, co-write one of the most important non-fiction comics in recent memory. Rendered in striking black and white by artist Nate Powell, “March” tells the story of the nation’s fight for civil rights, and pays special attention to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. A “New York Times” bestseller and the only graphic novel to ever win a prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, “March” is a powerful work of art that feels especially relevant today.
‘The Guild’ by Felicia Day
Beloved for her role as Vi on the hit show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” actress, comedian, and writer Felicia Day is a fan favorite among the comic book and gaming communities thanks to her vibrant charm and winning sense of humor. Her popularity skyrocketed online when she created the cult hit “The Guild,” a wonderfully witty web series that ran for six seasons and was loosely based on her real-life gaming history. Halfway through the run of that show, Day released the first issue of “The Guild” graphic novel, which acts as a prequel to the web series. All eight issues have been collected in two bound volumes, and they belong on the shelf of anyone who’s ever tried their hand at an online role playing game.
‘Get Jiro!’ by Anthony Bourdain
It’s easy to see what an enormous comic book fan Anthony Bourdain was when you flip through the pages of this indescribably strange graphic novel about a sushi chef with an unfortunate habit of decapitating rude diners. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles where rival warlords battle for dominance by cooking delicious meals for hungry patrons, “Get Jiro!” is a one-of-a-kind satire on fame, foodie culture, celebrity worship, and the importance of restaurant etiquette. Interspersed amid the hilariously gory samurai-style kitchen battles are images of actual food being delicately prepared, all of it stunningly drawn by artist Langdon Foss.
‘The Music Box’ by Jennifer Love Hewitt
The star of “Can’t Hardly Wait” provided the creepy concepts for this chilling graphic novel about a haunted music box and the eerie effect it has on anyone who comes into possession of it. Hewitt is no stranger to the horror genre, of course, thanks to her role as Julie James in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and its sequel, not to mention her five seasons on the TV series “Ghost Whisperer.” But “The Music Box” takes her fondness for fear to a whole new level. Comprised of five atmospheric short stories, the book occasionally resembles spooky version of the classic TV show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”