We love fantasy stories that are accompanied by images because they help us to visualize the characters and environments without draining all need for personal imagination.
And that's why graphic novels and comics are so great. You get to see the detailed work that goes into an artist's world and characters, but you also bring your own interpretation to dialogue and actions.
Here are my picks for the best fantasy graphic novels and comic books that are highlights of the medium!
15. Mouse Guard
Here we have the smallest of heroes: mice! Mouse Guard introduces a world of anthropomorphic mice who have a similar history to us—except there are no humans in their world.
But like our world, trouble is always afoot, and that's why the Mouse Guard exists: to come to the aid of every mouse in need.
What makes the Mouse Guard and their adventures so fun and exciting is that their intentions are always noble. They aren't just soldiers, but true guides to all of mousekind.
14. The Unwritten
Looking for a fantasy graphic novel adventure in the vein of Harry Potter, but perhaps more self-aware? Consider The Unwritten!
In The Unwritten, Tom Taylor never had a chance. Why? Because his father wrote a popular fantasy series much like Harry Potter and the main character is modeled after Tom.
Not only is the character's name Tommy Taylor, but many details from Tom's actual life are woven into the story. As a result, fans are always harassing him because he so resembles his fictional counterpart.
Embracing the brightest and darkest sides of young adult fantasy, The Unwritten pays a tongue-in-cheek tribute to its inspirations while forging its own identity.
Mortal and immortal worlds collide in The Many Deaths of Laila Starr. This epic saga finds an avatar of Death reincarnated as a Mumbai girl named Laila Starr, who's tasked with stopping humanity from achieving immortality.
But the more Death goes through with her mission, the more she realizes a richer side to life.
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is a visual treat, with every panel its own colorful tapestry that paints the lavish mythos of Laila's world. With its compelling anti-hero, this fantasy graphic novel really shines.
Epic space operas can also be great settings for fantasy graphic novels—as it the case for Brian K. Vaughan's Saga, which is often described as Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.
The tale follows biracial wife Alana and her horned husband Marko as they fight to raise their daughter Hazel while running from the authorities who seek to apprehend them.
Brian K. Vaughan and illustrator Fiona Staples blend the best of sci-fi and fantasy—the epic, the weird, and everything in between—while successfully portraying a heartfelt story about family.
Here's another fantasy comic series in the vein of Game of Thrones. Marjorie Liu's Monstress centers on a teenager named Maika, who has a strong connection with a monster.
In this world, magical creatures called Arcanics coexist with humans who wage war against each other. To put an end to all of that, Maika has to master her own monstrous connection.
Monstress is one of the best female empowerment sagas in fantasy, with Maika finding the strength to overcome all odds. With rich characters and its Asian-inspired setting, Monstress is simply amazing.
10. Lore Olympus
Lore Olympus began as a viral webcomic by Rachel Smythe with a unique animatic style that fans found accessible. More importantly, its retelling of the romance between Persephone and Hades easily won over many hearts.
Naturally, it only made sense to adopt the graphic novel format—and in doing so, expand the world of Lore Olympus.
Feeling almost like chick-lit come to life, this webcomic adaptation is a fantastically fun show of Greek mythology that simultaneously sticks with known details while putting a fresh spin on things.
9. The Sandman
Neil Gaiman is one of the greatest fantasy storytellers of the modern age. Most of his graphic novels could've made their way onto this list, but we limited ourselves to one for the sake of diversity.
And the one we want to showcase? The Sandman, which is arguably his most complex and most mesmerizing graphic novel to date.
Not only does it have a dense mythology, cool characters, and deeply explored themes, but The Sandman is almost surreal in its narrative. Plus, Gaiman reimagines fantasy tropes in refreshing ways.
Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, is one of Gaiman's most compelling characters, and his supernatural journey made all kinds of waves for modern fantasy readers.
For the average person, putting Bone on the same level as Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings would be far-fetched, especially given the supremely childlike nature of the three Bone cousins.
But when you dive deeper into the world of Boneville and the Valley, it shows itself as the grandest of quests, the most epic in scale.
Out of place they might be in a gritty fantasy setting, but Fone Bone, Phoney, and Smiley do make for courageous—if quirky—characters in this imaginative world where they're determined to free the Valley.
7. Locke & Key
Before Locke & Key became a Netflix Original series, it made its mark as a best-selling comic. The Locke children lose their father to a violent murder, which brings them back to the family's old home, Keyhouse.
Now that they're in isolated Lovecraft, Massachusetts, they have to deal with a grieving, alcoholic mother and their strange home.
This dark fantasy will have you hooked as the siblings start to unlock the mysterious doors throughout the house and find what awaits.
Although Fables contains some of the most well-known characters and creatures from traditional fairytales, it offers a whole new perspective on their personalities and roles.
These fantastical characters all live happily in Fabletown—until The Adversary destroys it.
Now the inhabitants of Fabletown are forced to blend into present-day New York, where they've taken up residence in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
The Rhodes family is devastated when their son, Mikey, goes missing. Mikey's brother watches as his family breaks apart over the loss of his brother. When it seems that no hope remains, Mikey reappears after one year.
Mikey isn't the same kid that he was before. After becoming a warrior in a different world, he brings danger back with him.
Middlewest is centered around Abel, a paperboy growing up in the middle-of-nowhere town of Farmington. If that doesn't sound bad enough, Abel also lives in a trailer with his abusive dad.
So, how does this comic involve fantasy? The author, Skottie Young, slowly unveils the magic within the Middlewest, including Abel's friendship with a fox.
Did you ever want a Jumanji remake involving adults? Die satisfies the craving for a mature, dark take on the classic board game film.
The story begins when six teenagers play Die, a Dungeons & Dragons-esque tabletop game made by one of the teens. After getting sucked into the game for two years, they barely survive.
25 years have passed, and the group is now in their 40s. They revisit their trauma and land themselves back inside Die.
In this post-apocalyptic fantasy setting, the world has become devoid of magic and mystical elements. Hum, the disgruntled ex-bard, lives in this wasteland with his mutant unicorn.
As he embarks on a journey to save his wife's soul, the comic quickly spirals into a very twisted fairytale.
1. Rat Queens
Medieval fantasy worlds are sometimes a bit too serious. Rat Queens puts a raunchy and hilarious spin on the fantasy genre, with four drunken maidens as the stars of the story.
These reckless women, known as the Rat Queens, have traits that can only be described as "medieval millennial."
When the girls get assigned a quest as punishment for their bar brawls, they learn that it's a ploy to get them killed. Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty get ready to roll up their sleeves!