Where To Read The Best Graphic Novels and Teen/Adult Picture Books Online
Graphic novels and adult picture books are a very fun way to enjoy a great story. It’s also a great way to get into the habit of reading again, especially if reading a novel feels a bit intimidating. Books with pictures don’t have to be only for kids. In fact, many graphic novels, pictures books, comics, and more are geared specifically towards teens and adults.
Before we go any further, a quick note: When I say “adult picture books” and “adult graphic novels”, I do not mean anything mature or explicit. I’m simply referring to clean content designed for teen and adult audiences. These stories may include references, but nothing graphic. If this is what you’re looking for, you can close this post now.
Below these recommendations of places to find great stories, I will also talk a bit about what graphic novels and picture books are and why they are typically considered different from comics.
Best Apps and Websites to Read Graphic Novels and Picture Books
This is good for people who are new to graphic novels in particular. There are a lot of light stories from horrors to romance to comedy. These are generally pretty fun reads and the library of content is growing quickly. These stories are designed for mobile phones so they’re great to enjoy on the go.
The coolest part about this is that they are very experimental with their formatting. Some of their stories have animations and they’ve tested sound effects as well. I could see some really cool things happening with technology coming into the graphic novel and picture book space. They are operating at the cutting edge of this format!
This comic site also has a section for graphic novels. The Amazon-owned company has both indie and published comics, manga, and graphic novels. There’s pretty good variety in styles of art, stories, and characters and a lot of diversity in the types of stories that are featured. You’ll find some movie spinoff graphic novels here too.
This is one of my favorite sources for traditionally published graphic novels as this company has partnerships with all the top publishers. The quality and variety are great.
Amazon has both free and paid reads that have a wide selection of great works. You’ll find all the famous brands and characters there from the Star Wars graphic novels to the Marvel and DC comics. Many movies have spinoff picture books and graphic novels and you can find them for purchase in the Amazon comics and graphic novel section to read online. Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest libraries for premium graphic novels.
If you happen to have a Kindle or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you may have access to a lot of this content already so take a look.
This site is mainly for comics but has a lot of graphic novel type content as well. This library is fairly large and has some great content all across the board. Action lovers in particular I think will like this site as it does focus more on the traditional action-driven comics filled with fights and superpowers. There is a fair amount of manga to choose from as well. Most of the reads here do seem to be free.
Overall a good choice for comic lovers who might want to dabble into graphic novels too.
Because this is all user-generated, stories here can be hit or miss. These stories are mostly picture-book stories and some people can get very creative with the visuals. Since this is created by users, you’ll see a lot more amateur visuals and writing here. There are certainly gems as well. The tradeoff, I suppose, is that these are all free!
Defining Graphic Novels and Picture Books for Adults and Teens
As the term graphic novel is used pretty loosely these days, I do want to give a quick definition and also explain what I mean when I refer to graphic novels and picture books in this post. Graphic novels are narratives told with sequential illustrations. Unlike comics, these graphic novels tend to tell a full story with a complex plot. Picture books are a marriage between text and images or graphics. Picture books tend to have less text per page and often may have simpler storylines.
What makes these stories for adults and teens, in particular, are the themes. Unlike most comics or kid-oriented picture books, these graphic novels and picture books focus on complex life issues and activities that may not be suitable for kids.
This has drawn comparisons to the cartoon world as well. For years, cartoons were known primarily as a form of entertainment for young children. There was no such thing as “cartoons” for adults and teens. Today, there are many cartoons specifically for adults. Anime and shows like Family Guy, the Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and more are primarily consumed by an older audience than the original cartoon demographic target.
Graphic novels are the same way, providing more complex and mature stories for adult and young adult audiences in a medium that was primarily used for kids.
Why Graphic Novels and Picture Books?
Stories in the graphic novel and picture book formats tend to be very fast paced and the plots tend to be exciting. Spending 30 seconds on a page of a graphic novel generally will tell you far more about the plot, story, and character than 30 seconds of reading in a novel. The image provides a ton of context and sucks readers straight into the story. This makes for much faster reads than traditional novels and allows for a lot more action.
This is especially great for teens and adults because in a busy world and with so many things fighting for attention, these form factors are a strong way to keep us hooked. The best stories in this format pair great storytelling with great visuals and leverage these elements to tackle complex issues and plots.
Visuals are also really great for evoking emotions. If you see an adorable cat, it immediately makes you go “aww”, even if it’s subconscious. Certain emotions and reactions are much easier to incite with visuals.
With technology, unique visuals and animations can even come into play (Spellbound, mentioned above, is a great example of pioneers who are experimenting with both audio and animations in this format).
Future Outlook of Graphic Novels
With the rise of digital reading and multimedia fiction, I expect graphic novels to become more and more popular in the coming years. Mobile reading lends itself to more visual mediums and with more graphic novels being created and adapted from movies and TV shows, a boom is about to come. I’m excited about that future because it’ll mean more amazing stories will be told!