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Nothing Was Ever The Same: 10 Comics That Changed The Game

Behold the Manga: Osamu Tezuka's <em>Astro Boy</em>.
Dark Horse Manga
Behold the Manga: Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy.

We'll be releasing the results of this year's Summer Reader Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels later this week — and it's a varied and deeply idiosyncratic list, trust us. Y'all have some fascinating favorite comics.

Not to spoil anything, but the final list skews heavily toward recent offerings, which makes sense: The stuff that's been around a long time may earn people's respect, but new discoveries spark excitement. And that's what any survey that asks folks to name their favorites will naturally turn up.

But we wanted to round out the poll results by highlighting some of the comics that served as milestones, over the years. (Later this week we'll also feature some of the most important and influential old-school comic strips from the earliest days of the form.)

The comics listed below are the game-changers — they opened the medium up in one way or another. Maybe they found new audiences for comics. Maybe they changed how creators and readers approached the form.

We're not talking about plot twists, here, or we'd include a book like Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, for reasons some of you understand very well. Not that kind of game-changer. No, these comics fundamentally changed something more than a single character or storyline. They changed how the entire medium of comics was perceived.

Note: Some of these comics will appear in the final Summer Reader Poll results, others won't. Check back in on Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glen Weldon
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.