17 Sensational, Free and Downloadable Graphic Novels

The web is home to a treasure-trove of free culture. Thousands of artists, writers, film-makers, poets and illustrators craft impressive creative works and share them freely online, in the interests of making their work accessible to as many people as possible. We thank them for that.

In this post, I want to highlight a booming segment of the online free culture movement: graphic novels.

Each link will take you to a page where you can download or view a high quality graphic novel or excerpt freely and with no strings attached.

There are plenty more to be found, but these seventeen are some of the best you’ll find.

1. NYC2123 is a graphic novel designed for the Sony Playstation Portable, though it can easily be viewed as an image slideshow on any PC. It’s a B&W cyberpunk story, set on a post-apocalyptic earth. There are currently 6 issues available for download.

nyc2123.jpg

2. Fell #1 by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith follows Detective Richard Fell, recently dumped in the roughest part of town and forced to try and stay afloat amongst the decay. Like many graphic novels, this one is heavy on the dystopia and will please anyone who likes their characters dark and morally ambiguous.

fell.jpg

3. Crossing Midnight Vol. 1: Cut Here is a fantasy meets Asian horror story of two twins born under strange circumstances. It’s set in present day Nagasaki, Japan, and is bound to please fans of J-Horror.

crossingmidnight1.jpg

4. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile asks the question: what if classic fairy-tale characters were banished to present day New York?

legendsinexile.jpg

5. Deadman Vol. 1: Deadman Walking follows the journey of a man struggling to solve the mystery behind his own death.

deadmanwalking.jpg

6. Salamander Dream is the whimsical story of a girl and her salamander spirit friend. The print version of the novel was named one of the best comics released in 2005 by Publisher’s Weekly.

salamander.jpg

7. Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned is the story of Yorick Brown, the last man alive in a world inhabited only by women.

thelastman.jpg

8. Meanwhile is an interactive comic from Jason Shiga — kinda like a much cooler version of those Choose Your Own Adventure books you read as a kid.

meanwhile.png

9. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, written by best-selling Sci-Fi author Neil Gaiman, chronicles the story of Morpheus, Lord of Dreams.

thesandman.jpg

10. The War of the Worlds graphic novel adaptation is available freely online courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

waroftheworlds.jpg

11. DMZ Vol. 1: On the Ground is the story of an embedded war journalist trapped in the war-zone that is now New York City.

dmz.jpg

12. Outside the Box chronicles the dangerous adventures of a bored dotcommer drawn into events much larger than himself.

outsidethebox.jpg

13. Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Crawling From the Wreckage twists the group of superheroes stereotype on its head.

doompatrol.jpg

14. Indefensible Positions is a modern day story where magic and myths are real.

indefensiblepositions1.gif

15. Hellblazer: Original Sins follows the early days of John Constantine, a British occultist with murky morals who is often forced to save the day.

hellblazer.jpg

16. Chaos PhD is a finely crafted and off-beat homage to the Silver Age of American comic books.

chaosphd.gif

17. Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing tells the tale of an unlikely hero: a swamp creature forced to fight against the destructive influence of a corrupt and decadent human-kind.

swampthing.jpg


82 Responses to “17 Sensational, Free and Downloadable Graphic Novels”

  1. JMD on January 9th, 2008 12:55 am

    There are some outstanding web-comics on print-comics publisher Top Shelf Productions’ website:

    http://www.topshelfcomix.com/comix.php

    But the real gem is the ambitious 50-part downloadable original graphic-novel SUPER-SPY (PSP-compatible), by writer/artist Matt Kindt, which was collected in an acclaimed print edition:

    http://www.topshelfcomix.com/comix.php?artist=22

    In the burgeoning world of online-graphic novels, SUPER-SPY is a breakthrough for the medium. It’s also incredibly good — a tour-de-force by a creator at the top of his game.

  2. Castellan on January 9th, 2008 1:33 am

    Here’s another great online graphic novel, featuring cats from the ’20s:
    http://lackadaisy.foxprints.com/archive.php

  3. Awesome on January 9th, 2008 3:52 am

    Tasco has some original insults there. I need to remember those

  4. Robin on January 9th, 2008 6:00 am

    Not to steal tasco’s thunder, but you forgot one great novel, 1984, released with the Free Art Licence. Check it out: http://1984comic.com/

  5. Carl Feucht on January 9th, 2008 8:41 am

    Dear tasco,

    Please take a moment to read and then reflect on the following Wired magazine article concerning the manga industry.
    Japan, Ink: Inside the Manga Industrial Complex
    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/15-11/ff_manga

    Hopefully, if you really consider the implications therein, then you’ll run out of pejoratives. At least we can hope you may.

    All the best,
    Glib

  6. Carl Feucht on January 9th, 2008 8:43 am
  7. Larry W. Virden on January 9th, 2008 7:02 pm

    I was rather surprised not to see http://www.megatokyo.com/ on the list – this is the one graphic novel which has kept me engaged for more than four years now.

  8. JimShelley on January 11th, 2008 3:09 pm

    Great Article. Let me add one more site to your list:

    http://www.FlashbackUniverse.com

    Free Downloadable Digital Comics!

  9. Daniel on January 11th, 2008 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the addition guys, these are nice as well.

  10. Skellie on January 12th, 2008 9:14 am

    The post looks great, Daniel — thanks for putting so much care into the formatting!

  11. Glenn Hauman on January 12th, 2008 11:09 pm

    You might also enjoy the new ongoing graphic novels at http://www.comicmix.com, including GrimJack, Jon Sable Freelance, Munden’s Bar, EZ Street, Demons of Sherwood, and many others.

    And that’s not counting the previously published books there as well, like Shaman’s Tears, Black Lamb, Bar Sinister, and a number more to come.

  12. Lucas on January 13th, 2008 5:00 am

    10 of the 17 are links to DC Comics paid graphic novels.

    Perhaps your definition of a “free graphic novel” is different from the norm..I would expect graphic novel to be at least the first full volume of some of the above series. Having Swamp Thing #21 for download, while great, is not a graphic novel, and having to then buy the rest to get the full series hardly allows it inclusion in a list of “free graphic novels.”

    Its easy to include Sandman in a “list of greatness” but its hard to weed though all the bad webcomics out there and find true free graphic novel greats. I really don’t mind if they are links to eventaully printed and for money graphic novels like The Shooting War, but if its free and a graphic novel the whole thing should be online for free.

  13. jeff on January 14th, 2008 6:34 am

    Phil Foglio has published the entire Buck Godot series online as a every-other-day serial, which is cool since I missed one of the series at some point.

    They also publish his Girl Genius series, though I’m not sure if that was published as a graphic novel first or not.

    http://www.airshipentertainment.com/index.php4

  14. Michael on January 14th, 2008 10:14 am

    Girl Genius started as a regular print comic, but it turns out to be cheaper and less time-consuming to give the comics away on the net than to publish printed copies. At least two of the six graphic novels were published before the comic was available online (other than a couple issues). Sales of printed graphic novels (the real source of money in the comics industry) are up considerably.

    One collection of Buck Godot short stories was put online (less a seriously NSFW story) and we are currently in issue 2/8 eight of a graphic novel that was only available as individual issues. (You can also see issue 7 online since they ran out of the printed version of that issue long before the others.)

    What’s New with Phil and Dixie is also being serialized online, but `novel’ doesn’t apply there.

  15. Daniel on January 15th, 2008 2:11 pm

    Do you realize that many of these (the DC ones) are just links to 1 free downloadable issue from a collected story-arc that you have to purchase? Despite whether or not there is a difference between a “graphic novel” and a collected story-arc trade (opinions vary), its curious that you call single issues by that term, as they simply aren’t the same as a “graphic novel” no matter how you define the term, and that’s fairly common knowledge … I’m not trying to be reductive or pedantic, just wanted to point that out in case you were unaware that’s what some of the links were going to.

  16. Daniel on January 17th, 2008 11:13 am

    @Daniel: Yes we were aware of the fact that the DC ones point to one issue only. We thought they were pretty good anyway, that is why they were included.

    As for the term itself, I believe that even a single issue might be called a graphic novel. More issues would compose a graphic novel series.

    I will gladly take a look on any contemporaneous dictionary link you might have stating otherwise, though.

  17. Emperor on January 18th, 2008 2:38 am

    Individual comics are… well comics or comic books, which is what

    Longer comic books often usually with a thicker cover can be called prestige format comics

    Collections of comics (what DC and the other publishers are pimping with the free comics) are technically called trade paperbacks, although the term “graphic novel” is often used for them as a marketing term to help people ignore the fact they are buying comics.

    Graphic novels (in the strict sense) are books with the story told in comic form (or sequential art if you want to try to convince yourself or the market that they aren’t buying comics).

    Links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prestige_format
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_paperback_%28comics%29
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_novel

    That said that is all pedantry and hair splitting (as would pointing out War of the Worlds was a webcomic first and then collected into a print volume, with some of the panels tinkered with to make it work on the page) and it is a good list of comics.

    If people haven’t bought the actual graphic novels that the comics are free samplers for then they really should: Sandman, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Hellblazer, etc. are all bona fide comic classics.

    My only complaint would be that there could have been a bit more diversity as all the free Vertigo/DC first issues are linked to from here:

    http://www.dccomics.com/sites/vertigo_num1s/

    Other companies (like Image, with Fell) have their first issues free as a marketing device, see e.g.:

    http://www.myspace.com/darkhorsepresents
    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=138349
    http://www.blacklibrary.com/articles/warhammer-monthly.asp
    http://www.archive.org/details/wngmnky

    Then again that is what the comments are for ;)

  18. John D on February 14th, 2008 8:49 pm

    You missed a good one. There’s a great version of Bram Stokers “Dracula” on the web here:

    http://www.coyotepuck.dragoncity.net/dracula/

  19. chinyew on August 30th, 2008 4:05 pm
  20. Arama Motoru Optimizasyonu on September 30th, 2008 10:28 pm

    i read your all articles
    that is very good
    your have perfect web site

  21. php dersleri on October 17th, 2008 7:40 am

    You missed a good one. There’s a great version of Bram Stokers “Dracula” on the web here

  22. Manu on October 24th, 2008 9:20 am

    Free Download Tintin Comics

    http://www.halffry.com/downloads.html

  23. loko jones on December 4th, 2008 11:12 am

    i would like to be sent free comics via my email address above. and i would love it if this site will have marvel comics and manga comics for free download by its numerous fans of which i am one of them.

  24. ardacan on February 5th, 2009 12:44 am

    muhhaaaa very funy

  25. nickler on March 24th, 2009 10:04 am

    Great posts are hard to do consistently on a day-to-day basis. Probloggers really have to work at it. I thought about all the different ways and angles a blogger can approach choosing posting topics

  26. Mehmet on April 6th, 2009 8:20 am

    that is very good
    your have perfect web site

  27. siki? on April 24th, 2009 2:18 pm

    that is very good
    your have perfect web site

  28. Medyum on April 25th, 2009 7:52 am

    Yes we were aware of the fact that the DC ones point to one issue only. We thought they were pretty good anyway, that is why they were included.

    As for the term itself, I believe that even a single issue might be called a graphic novel. More issues would compose a graphic novel series.

    I will gladly take a look on any contemporaneous dictionary link you might have stating otherwise, though.

  29. raj on April 27th, 2009 3:45 pm

    great this is very helpful to my next web project. thanks again

  30. medyum on May 19th, 2009 7:32 pm

    Great posts are hard to do consistently on a day-to-day basis. Probloggers really have to work at it. I thought about all the different ways and angles a blogger can approach choosing posting topics

  31. Boris on May 28th, 2009 12:00 am

    I second the “Lackadaisy Cats” recommendation. It hasn’t finished any arcs yet, and doesn’t update very often, but the art and characterization are fantastic and stylish. As of now there’re 80 or so pages done, all of them well worth your time.

  32. Nelson on June 18th, 2009 12:10 am

    Awesome!

  33. türkçe klipler on June 22nd, 2009 4:46 pm

    I second the “Lackadaisy Cats” recommendation. It hasn’t finished any arcs yet, and doesn’t update very often, but the art and characterization are fantastic and stylish. As of now there’re 80 or so pages done, all of them well worth your time.

  34. çilek oyun on June 27th, 2009 9:31 am

    I second the “Lackadaisy Cats” recommendation. It hasn’t finished any arcs yet, and doesn’t update very often, but the art and characterization are fantastic and stylish. As of now there’re 80 or so pages done, all of them well worth your time.

  35. Shawn on June 27th, 2009 5:44 pm

    An Indian Graphic Novel, first of its kind online. Will give you a perspective of life in India. http://www.keralacomics.com/nishanth-the-beginnings/index.php

  36. Jan on July 9th, 2009 7:01 am

    You forgot the best one of them all http://www.freakangels.com also by Warren Ellis.

  37. k?z oyunlar? on August 18th, 2009 8:36 am

    I second the “Lackadaisy Cats” recommendation. It hasn’t finished any arcs yet, and doesn’t update very often, but the art and characterization are fantastic and stylish. As of now there’re 80 or so pages done, all of them well worth your time.

  38. Nsovo on November 26th, 2009 9:23 am

    I love these comics. But they mostly Volume ones…And I don’t have the kind of money to but them because I am a student and I am South African, Can’t we Get Them for Free??

  39. vanchirak on December 18th, 2009 5:43 am

    i found a pretty cool one.. although a bit more alternative:

    http://www.sympathygang.com

  40. Becca on March 5th, 2010 9:23 pm

    Thanks so much for compiling these! They’re all wonderful and so is the world of graphic novels. :)

  41. jasmin on June 30th, 2010 11:22 am

    thanks for these! they all look really good. one question tho,
    where could I download ‘Salamander dream’?

  42. guzel sozler on July 30th, 2010 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on these great resources I have found them really helpful

  43. coder99 on August 2nd, 2010 5:55 am

    good collection!

  44. BJ challo on February 24th, 2011 12:41 am

    hey guysthese are really great they are an inspiration to me.

  45. jayden hobbins on February 24th, 2011 12:46 am

    i think im totally gay for aaron leckie…… just sayin i dream about him everynight and i dream nasty things that could be illeagal in some states/countries

  46. medyum on April 16th, 2011 3:51 pm

    thanks for these! they all look really good. one question tho,
    where could I download ‘Salamander dream’?

  47. Sanket on June 26th, 2011 3:25 am

    that is very good, you really did great job.

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