Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Akira
Akira

Comic books and graphic novels have a long history and have remained a popular interest, particularly for teenagers, since their inception. While DC Comics and Marvel Comics introduced some of the most well-known and enduring characters, that is only one part of the story. This list celebrates comics and graphic novels, as well as their big-screen adaptations, from around the world.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration74 mins

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie(2015)

Much-loved Charlie Brown attempts to navigate school life and falls in love with the new girl as Snoopy embarks upon an adventure of his own.

The Peanuts comic strip is one of the most influential and well-known in US history, debuting in 1950 and running all the way through to the year 2000. Despite using 3D CGI animation, this film adaptation remains faithful to the look of the much-loved characters. Other adaptations of classic US comics include ‘The Addams Family’.

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Moomins On the Riviera

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration74 mins

Moomins On the Riviera(2014)

The Moomins set sail for a glamorous adventure in this sweet animation.

The quintessential Scandinavian selection are the Moomins, originated in a series of books and a comic strip by a Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator in the 1940s. In this hand-drawn animation whose plot is taken directly from the comic, the hippo-like creatures decide to take a vacation from their Moominvalley home and head for the glamour of the Riviera.

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Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration87 mins

Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion(2018)

Best friends Asterix and Obelix accompany their village druid on his search for a successor to teach the secrets of his magic potion.

France has a long history of comic book creations, many of which have become successful films. More recently these include ‘The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…’ and ‘April and the Extraordinary World’, but the country is best known for its Asterix tales, which originated in 1959. We have a number of Asterix titles – which combine language-learning with history – on our catalogue.

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Whisper Of The Heart

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration111 mins

Whisper Of The Heart(1995)

14-year-old Shizuku is mad about reading and writing stories in this charming Studio Ghibli anime.

Japan’s Studio Ghibli have adapted a couple of their films from manga, including ‘The Wind Rises’ which came from Miyazaki’s own source material. ‘Whisper of the Heart’ – which is notable for being one of the few Ghibli titles not directed by either Miyazaki or Takahata – is a coming-of-age romance in which two teenagers are drawn together through a love of reading.

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Rock Dog

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration90 mins

Rock Dog(2016)

Comedy animation about a Tibetan Mastiff dog who develops a love for music and seeks to become a rock star.

Though the premise has been significantly altered, music-based animated adventure ‘Rock Dog’ is actually based on a Chinese graphic novel written and illustrated by a Chinese rock star. As a result, the film – which follows a teenage Tibetan Mastiff who heads to the big city in order to follow his dreams of becoming a musician – is a US-China co-production.

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Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica (Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang)

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration92 mins

Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica (Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang)(2013)

Spanish adventure in which unruly twins Zip and Zap are sent to a strict summer school, where they form a gang of rebels to defy the cruel director.

This title is taken from a series of Spanish comic books published from 1947 to 2002, ‘Zipi y Zape’, named after the titular twins. This also has a double meaning in their native language, with the Spanish word “zipizape” translating as “turmoil” which hints at the trouble they get themselves into. In this case, they find themselves pitted against a cruel school principal.

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Ethel & Ernest

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration95 mins

Ethel & Ernest(2016)

Beautifully animated life story of The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs.

Raymond Briggs is an English author and illustrator perhaps best known for ‘The Snowman’. In this work however, adapted from his 1998 graphic novel, he explores his parents’ lives, from their first meeting through to the days of World War Two, and the influence they would have upon him.

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The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of the Unicorn

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of the Unicorn(2011)

Breathless adventure from Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, based on the Hergé comics and full of affection for its subject.

The ‘Tintin’ comics come from a Belgian cartoonist, though they were first published in French in 1929. Since then, the character’s popularity has seen ‘Tintin’ being published in more than 70 languages. This adaptation – influenced by three stories – was directed by Steven Spielberg, co-produced by Peter Jackson, and written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration117 mins

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse(2018)

Dizzying animation in which numerous Spider-Man incarnations from different dimensions team up to defeat villain Kingpin.

There are many examples of modern US comic books making their way to the big screen including ‘Captain Underpants’, ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Teen Titans Go! to the Movies!’ This, however, is arguably the most significant. Based upon the Spider-Verse storyline from Marvel Comics in 2014, the film’s entire aesthetic makes it look and feel like a comic book brought to life.

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Captain Marvel

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration124 mins

Captain Marvel(2019)

A fighter pilot becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Marvel Comics have always been popular, particularly with teenagers, but the arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen has increased this. After the first phase of some of their most familiar characters, adaptations of lesser-known quantities such as ‘Doctor Strange’, ‘Ant-Man’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ were the next test, but they have proven equally successful.

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Shazam!

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration132 mins

Shazam!(2019)

Set in the DC Universe, a streetwise 14 year-old is given the ability to turn into an adult superhero at will by uttering a single word.

Similarly in the DC Universe, the initial attention was on the major characters – Batman and Superman – whose cinematic stories we’ve seen many times before. But the adaptations of characters like ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Shazam!’ have generally been regarded as more interesting and mostly garnered better reviews, possibly because they feel fresher and more enjoyable as a result.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration107 mins

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World(2010)

Scott Pilgrim finally meets the girl of his dreams but must fight for her affection in this highly stylised, energetic action comedy.

Based on a series of six volumes released between 2004 and 2010 (with its name taken from the second), this cult hit is an inventive and stylised fantasy-adventure comedy from British director Edgar Wright. The film’s story is taken from all six volumes of the original material, though the ending differs because the film was shot before the final volume had been released.

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Persepolis

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Persepolis(2007)

Adapted from Marjane Satrapi's brilliantly funny autobiographical graphic novel about a rebellious young girl's experience of revolutionary Iran.

‘Persepolis’ is a French graphic novel and is also an autobiographical account of a young girl’s experience of growing up in Iran and Austria. While most comics and graphic novels tend to be grand, fantastical adventures, this is a revealing tale about one person’s identity, culture, and history, covering topics including religion, gender, music, sexuality, and mental health.

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A Silent Voice

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration130 mins

A Silent Voice(2016)

A poignant, heartfelt anime about a young deaf girl who moves to a new school and is bullied by her classmates.

There are any number of classic manga but there are also modern manga being adapted for the big screen as the anime boom continues. ‘A Silent Voice’ was originally published in February 2011, with a film adaptation following in 2016. This title covers subjects which aren’t often focused on in manga/comics, such as mental health and disability, and features a deaf protagonist.

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300

Cert15

Age group14–16

Duration117 mins

300(2006)

Spectacular comic-book style version of the 480 BC conflict between a small group of Spartans and the huge Persian army.

American comic book legend Frank Miller – who also made the likes of ‘Sin City’ – wrote and illustrated ‘300’ as a miniseries in 1998, retelling the Ancient Greek battle from the perspective of Leonidas of Sparta. Zack Snyder adapted it into a successful blockbuster in 2007 on which Miller served as an executive producer and consultant.

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V For Vendetta

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration134 mins

V For Vendetta(2005)

Unusual, ideas-packed thriller set in a parallel Britain, where a Guy Fawkes- inspired terrorist tries to stir up resistance against a dictatorship.

A political work which has an enduring legacy with its messages about totalitarian governments from British writer Alan Moore who was also behind the likes of ‘Watchmen’, ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ and ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’. The film – written by the Wachowski siblings – continues to be an annual tradition for many around Guy Fawkes Night.

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Vi är bäst! (We are the Best!)

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration97 mins

Vi är bäst! (We are the Best!)(2013)

Joyous, energetic Swedish coming-of-age comedy in which three teenagers decide to form a punk band in 1980s Stockholm.

This Swedish coming-of-age punk comedy was written and directed by Lukas Moodysson and adapted from his wife’s graphic novel, named ‘Never Goodnight’. Both versions focus on three teenage girls who decide to form a punk band despite having little musical talent, with themes around friendship and embracing difference.

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Akira

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration124 mins

Akira(1988)

Groundbreaking anime in which a group of biker teenagers are effected by a secret government project in a futuristic neo-Tokyo.

This classic cyberpunk manga was initially serialised in the pages of Young Magazine from 1982-1990, and published in the US by Marvel Comics as one of the first manga ever to be completely translated into English. The seminal anime adaptation arrived in 1988, becoming a cult hit with western audiences, and remains stylistically and thematically influential to this day.

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The Death of Stalin

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration107 mins

The Death of Stalin(2017)

Dark political satire about the chaos in the Soviet Union following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

This is a particularly unusual case as the original graphic novel, published in two volumes in October 2010 and May 2012, was French. The adaptation from Armando Iannucci, however, was comprised of a largely British cast. Both versions act as satires on the state of The Soviet Union in the 1950s following the death of its leader, resulting in a suitably farcical power-struggle.

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