In honor of my novel The Con Artist coming out in July, which is a prose mystery about a famous comic book artist accused of murdering his editor at a comic con in San Diego, I asked Crime Reads if I could do a recommended reading list of the exact opposite—incredible comics that are themselves mysteries.
Crime is a huge genre in comic books, and has been ever since Crime Does Not Pay horrified anti-funnybook crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham back in the 1940s. But in order to keep this list even somewhat manageable, I had to limit it to strictly mysteries—somebody’s been killed, or kidnapped, or something’s been stolen, and the hero has to figure out the who’s, what’s and the why’s. No crime comics, no thrillers.
(Side Note #1: I always say the Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres are all part of the same three-sided coin: a Mystery is the crime from law enforcement’s point of view, the Crime story is, of course, from the criminal’s point of view, and a Thriller is from the victim’s point of view. In the cartoon animal hierarchy of who’s chasing whom, that would be: Mystery :: Dog –> Crime :: Cat –> Thriller :: Mouse. You can use that analogy whenever you like for free, Crime Reads. You’re welcome.)
Another basic rule: No adaptations from other media. So no Darwyn Cooke’s Parkers, no Nancy Drews, no Sherlock Holmes. Everything on this list is pure comics.
Also: No Watchmen. It’s fascinating the most-read superhero graphic novel is also a murder mystery (Who killed the Comedian?) and I don’t know about you, but I think we’re all a little sick of hearing about freaking Watchmen, aren’t we?