Some popular comics with adults include “Watchmen,” “Sandman” and “Preacher.” These sophisticated graphic novels dispense with the conventions of traditional super hero comics, offering complex storytelling and adult themes.
Alan Moore’s 1986 limited series “Watchmen” offers a postmodern deconstruction of super hero comic books, spinning a dark, Cold War-era tale of washed up, burned out heroes who are unsure if the world even needs them. Moving between past and present, the comic uses the death of a prominent hero to explore issues of power, authority and nuclear paranoia in a narrative filled with interlocking imagery and symbolism.
Along with “Watchmen,” Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” helped comics catapult into mainstream respectability, showing that the medium could encompass literary sophistication and artistic complexity. Focusing on Morpheus, a nearly omnipotent embodiment of the concept of dreaming, the series is an extended meditation on the power of dreams and storytelling. Incorporating a wealth of literary and historical subjects, the comic addresses everything from Shakespeare to the Roman emperor Augustus.
Emerging into the 1990s landscape informed by “Watchmen” and “Sandman,” Garth Ennis’ “Preacher” pushed the boundaries of artistry and taste even further, offering up one of the most transgressive comics ever printed. The series stars Jessie Custer, a Texas preacher who is accidentally imbued with godlike powers. Accompanied by his assassin girlfriend Tulip and Irish vampire friend Cassidy, Custer embarks on a bizarre odyssey through a nightmarish American landscape of sadists, serial killers and cult leaders.