There’s nothing wrong with an ugly comic book – as long as it has a great story – but sometimes you’re
just in the mood for some eye candy. You’ll note that all of the images below are actually from the art
within the comic books themselves, not just from the cover art, which is well known to be typically
more appealing than the ink gracing the actual panels of most comic books. Read on and prepare
yourself to be visually stunned.
Nonplayer, art by Nate Simpson
It would be near-blasphemous to not mention Nonplayer right away. The superb line work, vibrant
coloring, and incredibly detailed landscapes easily place it among the most beautiful comics ever
created. The story isn’t bad either, taking place in a futuristic world where a full-immersion virtual
reality "video" game has taken the world by storm. Except that the main character, Dana, begins
to discover that some things just aren’t right in the game, like a missing character that might have
somehow died in real life. Warner Brothers has already acquired the movie rights, so if we’re lucky, we
might get to see these adventures on the big screen.
There’s just one tiny little problem with Nonplayer… only one issue has been published so far. Nate
Simpson, the sole artist (and writer), had an unfortunate bicycle accident late last year, which resulted
in a broken arm – and it had to be the one he uses to draw. Fortunately, he’s since recovered and is
currently working on the second issue.
Morning Glories, art by Joe Eisma
Unlike some of the other comics in this list, Morning Glories isn’t known for an extreme level of detail:
instead, its beauty mostly stems from delightfully crisp, simple artwork and a gorgeous color palette.
The story tells the tale of a wonderfully diverse six member ensemble cast and their experiences at the
decidedly creepy Morning Glory Academy. It’s clear from the first issue that the school has some dirty
secrets, and that the students are going to have to hatch an escape plan in order to survive the sadistic
A critical and commercial success still in production, 20 issues of Morning Glories have been released
Orc Stain, art by James Stokoe
When you’re talking about Orc Stain, the word "overwhelming" might come to mind. James Stokoe’s
art is so mind-bendingly detailed that you might have trouble actually reading the comic, instead
spending hours pouring over the intricate characters and scenes. This isn’t a comic you’ll pick up, read
once, and then bag and board, never to be opened again. Some of the scenes channel a practically
Where’s Waldo-esque sense of exploration, and explore you shall. Seeing everything in a single read-
through just isn’t possible.
A must-have for lovers of the fantasy genre, Orc Stain takes place in a magical land where tribal Orcs
are constantly vying for power. The main character, One-Eye (who, appropriately, has only one eye),
finds himself in a situation where he’s being pursued by another band of Orcs, who apparently want
him due to his lack of an eye. The plot can at times feel as overwhelming as the art, but one thing is for
sure: you will not be bored.
Promethea, art by J. H. Williams and Mick Gray
Whether or not Promethea can be considered a "beautiful" comic may largely be a matter of personal
taste, but with the amount of variety and artistic experimentation found within each of the 32 issues,
it’s likely that there’s something for everyone. Promethea tells the story of a young woman living in an
alternate envisioning of New York City, who, through a series of bizarre events, is practically forced to
take on the essence of Promethea, a being destined to destroy the world.
One additionally nice thing to note about the comic is that it’s finished, having been published from
1999 to 2005. Curious readers and art-lovers alike who find themselves hankering for a completed
work can pick up a set of sturdy hardcover graphic novels that compile all of the issues into three hefty
tomes, called Absolute Promethea Vol. 1-3.
Shinku, art by Lee Moder, Michael Atiyeh, Matthew Waite
Image’s Shinku may seem like an unlikely addition to this list, as the artwork itself isn’t particularly
stunning compared to the other candidates, but the moment you crack open the cover to any of the
issues, you’ll understand. Not only does the comic utilize a delightful color scheme – the neon lights
and city streets of a re-imagined Tokyo are incredibly pretty – it also offers some of the best paneling
and character choreography to have ever graced an action-packed book.
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer might particularly enjoy the titular character of Shinku, a samurai-
sword wielding girl whose sole purpose is to decapitate as many vampires as possible. While this
concept doesn’t necessarily break any new ground, writer Ron Marz (perhaps best known for his work
on Witchblade and Silver Surfer) spins a fascinating yarn about ancient blood-sucking monsters, a
tough vampire slaying girl, and the man who gets caught in the middle.