Literary Lists: Five Excellent Graphic Short Stories To Read This Month

A panel from "Sixteen Miles To Merricks" by Barnaby Ward.

A graphic short story can be a hard thing to quantify – it lingers somewhere between a comic strip and a graphic novel. They’re usually short enough to read in a single sitting, but often longer than just a couple of pages. Many also deal with darker or more metaphysical subject matter than what the average reader might conceive of as a “comic”.

If you haven’t read any graphic novels before, graphic short stories can be an excellent starting point. Below are five of the best that I’ve been able to find –  a reading list that should get you easily into the form, and provide a solid few hours of visual and verbal entertainment.

“Love In A Very Cold Climate” by Isabel Greenberg

Our first comic is also the shortest – at just four pages this little gem should take no time at all to breeze through, but it’s well worth a lingering look. As well as gorgeous, warm, loose artwork by Greenberg, it also revolves around a touching and wonderful story.

“Sixteen Miles To Merricks” by Barnaby Ward

A slightly longer affair, this comic by Barnaby Ward holds its cards close to its chest, remaining mostly metaphorical and mysterious until close to the end. Rest assured that the denouement is worth the wait, though. Ward has crafted a brilliant and eerie story with much to recommend it.

“His Face All Red” by Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll’s brilliant horror comic is as unsettling as any big-budget movie, if not more so. It tells a story featuring a number of predators – one big and hairy, and the others rather more subtle in their hunting. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop until the breathtaking final panel.

“XKCD: Time” by Randall Munroe

And now for something a little more unusual: XKCD’s “Time” sequence. This three-thousand panel labour of love by Randall Munroe was originally published over the course of several days. It starts out whimsical and light, but slowly evolves into a soulful story set in an alternate universe. Thanks to Geek Wagon’s viewer – you don’t have to sit around for two solid days to read the whole thing!

“Doll And Maker” by Dan Kim

A silent comic, “Doll And Maker” nonetheless carries a lot of punch. It’s another horror offering, but edged with a fantasy fairytale feel that makes it all the more disturbing. The icy atmosphere of terror is aided by Kim’s beautiful, spare, black white and red artwork.

If these five offerings have whetted your appetite, then don’t forget that graphic short stories often crop up in the pages of Neon. Take a look at issue forty-three for Faye Moorhouse’s “The Cat Ladies Of Czechoslovakia”, and check back in a month or two for our next literary list.