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8 Graphic Novels That Read Like True Crime

These works of fiction capture the darkest snapshots of reality.

graphic novels that read like true crime
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  • Photo Credit: "We Can Never Go Home" by John Wagner & Vince Locke

True crime is in the midst of booming popularity. Between books, blogs, podcasts, and film and series adaptations, it seems like there's another case unfolding everywhere we look. Some have you might have run out of investigations to explore. Others might feel the tragedy of loss wearing them thin.

However, plenty of gripping fictional crime stories can give the same macabre, heart-racing feeling that comes from real-life cases. With these graphic novels overflowing with violence, mystery, interpersonal drama, and loss, the fear and aching spill off the page.

Here are eight graphic novels that read like true crime. Plus, if you're going to participate in Free Comic Book Day (May 6 this year!) you might want to choose one of these!

a history of violence

A History of Violence

By John Wagner, illustrated by Vince Locke

Tom McKenna is a simple family man—until an attempted robbery at his diner earns him fanatic media attention. Though he foiled the plans of the wanted murderers turned thieves, Tom's new celebrity status stirs up some trouble from his own past. A group of mobsters has been waiting decades to settle a score with him, and now's their chance. Tom must take an unhappy walk down memory lane and face the violence of his past as killers flock to his small town. But can he keep his family safe in the midst of the chaos?

the new deal

The New Deal

By Jonathan Case

Set in 1930s New York City, there's no classier place than the Waldorf Astoria. After Nina and her swanky entourage check in at the hotel, things quickly get messy for bellhop Frank and maid Theresa. The pair get tangled up in a string of mysterious thefts, leaving them to uncover the truth on their own as the stakes continue to rise. Of course, the class politics don't make things any easier.



By Max de Radiguès

A young mother, May, and her preteen son, Eugene, take part in an historic feat of crime—52 simultaneous robberies in one city. Now the pair are on the run, not only from the police, but from the former accomplices they've double-crossed. Traveling all across America, this desperate duo encounters mysterious truckers, big-dreaming bandits, and off-grid geriatrics. With danger hot on their heels, this mother and son are just racing to survive.

american carnage

American Carnage

By Bryan Hill, illustrated by Leandro Fernandez

Former FBI agent Richard Wright is a Black man who has the social privilege of passing as white. Offered a chance at personal redemption, his old mentor sends him undercover to infiltrate a white supremacy group that may be possible for the murder of an agent. A mission like this is asking for trouble, but it could be Richard's last chance to turn his life around.

dead dog's bite

Dead Dog's Bite

By Tyler Boss

It's been three whole days since anyone has seen Cormac Guffin. She's only missing, but the town is already acting like they're at her funeral. The police aren't any help at turning up any hope or answers. So if anyone is going to track Cormac down and bring her home, it's going to be Joe, her best friend. But Joe is soon to find out that nothing in this strange case is as it seems. This graphic novel combines tense mystery with the ungrounded tone of The Twilight Zone.

we can never go home

We Can Never Go Home

By Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon, illustrated by Josh Hood

While this graphic novel requires a bit of a suspension of belief, considering it features superpowers, the hopeless violence unraveling in this work encapsulates the dire tragedies constantly splashed across our news screens. Duncan and Madison are two teenage misfits in a desperate situation. Their powers have them constantly looking over their shoulders, and their lousy decision-making sees them tangled up in crime. Speeding towards self-destruction, this pair has only each other, their gifts, and a handgun.

i am alfonso jones

I Am Alfonso Jones

By Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings

This graphic novel also brings an air of fantasy into crime, but weaves a story that is painfully relevant to today's socio-cultural landscape. Alfonso Jones is looking forward to a lot this year. He's excited to play the titular role in his school's hip-hop adaptation of Hamlet. He's going to tell Danetta, his best friend, the truth about his feelings. And he's going to buy his first suit.

When Alfonso is at the store perusing his options, an off-duty cop thinks a clothes hanger is a gun. Alfonso is shot, and the next thing he knows, he's waking up in the afterlife. On a ghost train, he's given guidance by well-known victims of police violence. As Alfonso's loved ones struggle to cope, Alfonso sets out on a journey of understanding. But both the living and the dead fight for justice.

nijigahara holograph

Nijigahara Holograph

By Inio Asano

This graphic novel is an essential read if you're fascinated by cases like the Slender Man stabbing.

Rumors have been growing among the children in town that a strange creature has been skulking around in the tunnels behind the school. When the dead body of Arié Kimura's mother is found near the tunnel, it seems to confirm these chilling stories. The children scramble to find a way to appease the monster, settling on human sacrifice. Their victim? Arié, who they blame as the cause of this dastardly curse. When Arié is shoved into a well, this deadly act has long rippling consequences.