The Top 5 Fantasy Comics

Dragons, damsels, bards, mead, cheese and bread, unicorns, lots of killing and epic battles, armor forged in the heart of the earth… these are all some common themes in the fantasy genre, and these are all things I really, REALLY love (especially unicorns). My entire life I have been a huge fan of fantasy – the real kind, like Lord of the Rings and all of the literature and media it inspired. While most comic books ARE “fantasy”, this article is about the ones that are FANTASY… the kind with the aforementioned themes and more.

I have spent a lot of time in my lifetime devouring fantasy related things (recently it has been the video game Skyrim, which has reignited my love for this genre). Books, video games, movies, comic books, tabletop roleplaying games… And thus my bookshelves are nearly toppling with fantasy comics and manga. So if you wish to go on an epic quest with pretty pictures, here is what you should pick up.


The Unwritten

Written by Mike Carey & art by Peter Gross

Though not fantasy in the classic sense of the word, it is full of enough fantastical and amazing things that I felt like this comic needed to make the list (it’s also a brilliant read and should be picked up by anyone who hasn’t read it yet). Essentially, it bears a lot of resemblance to Harry Potter… but not in the ways that one would think. The antagonist is Tom Taylor, an arrogant, somewhat unextraordinary young man who had a series of Harry Potter-like books based off of him thanks to his father. He makes his living going to conventions and appearing as the character based off of him, but suddenly the world in the books begins to bleed over into his real life. He is kidnapped by the main villain in the books and thrown into a world of deceit, murder, and blurred lines of reality.
It’s a slightly dark but altogether really solid read, with incredible artwork and a refreshingly new storyline.



Written by Bill Willingham

A modern twist on the faerietale classics, Fables presents familiar characters in completely new ways. For example, Snow White is a jaded and cold ice queen, and several other characters are badass assassins or have places in the Fables government.

The main plot point (no spoilers!) is that a whole bunch of public domain characters from folklore and faerietales are forced out of their “homelands” (the place where it’s bright and shiny and pretty) and have to live in the modern world – which is New York City in a place called “Fabletown” (or in upstate New York at a location called “The Farm”). There are dirty politics, intricate relationships, secret societies, murder… it has a lot of intrigue and classic fantasy elements mixed in with the nitty gritty of a more modern comic.


Grimm’s Fairy Tales

This particular series of comic books is basically a more twisted version of Aesop’s Fables. They have “life lessons” in the pages, but they are oftentimes dark, depressing, and altogether not fun. It takes classic folklore tales – like Cinderella or the Little Mermaid – and makes them into moody stories with expanded plots and unique twists. Throw in a whole lot of buxom girls and these are a pretty entertaining read.



By Wendy and Richard Pini

Until recently I was not on the Elfquest bandwagon. I had friends who were obsessed with it in a near religious manner, but generally tuned out when they were talking about it because I didn’t know exactly WHAT it was. But I finally picked it up a few months ago… and now I am one of those people who rants about it constantly to anyone who will listen. Its cult following is completely justified, as it has a story that sucks you and in and refuses to spit you back out.

When I was younger I talked about getting plastic surgery to make my ears look elf-like, such was my obsession and fascination with Lord of the Rings-esque elves (as opposed to the holiday type). Elfquest features these sort of elves – the tall, pretty ones who are immortal. It is a tale of survival, relationships, and the fantastical. If you want to get REALLY into an awesome fantasy comic, you should delve into Elfquest. And the best part? It’s ALL free to read online.


Written by Jean Van Hamme, Illustrated by Grzegorz Rosiński

I first discovered Thorgal while I was visiting Paris last year for a comics festival. I picked up a copy of it because the art was beautiful and appealed to my fantasy fixation, and though it was in French I was smitten. Upon returning home I acquired a copy in English and I’m just blown away with how awesome this series is. It makes complete sense that it is one of the most popular French comic books of all time.

Of all of the comics on this list, I would probably put Thorgal in the most “classic” of Fantasy categories. It brings to mind epics like Lord of the Rings, with hard edged characters and sweeping storylines. It has a lot of nods to Norse and Atlanteic mythology, and it’s pretty dark and dramatic. I’d highly suggest getting your hands on this comic if you like gritty Fantasy.


Picking just five Fantasy comics for this list was really, really difficult. My shelves are teetering with faeries, unicorns, elves, and badass warriors. What do you think the best Fantasy comics are?


Molly McIsaac wants a pet unicorn and likes to daydream about questing across middle earth. You can follow her misguided ramblings on twitter.


  1. Yes, yes, a million times yes to Unwritten. One of my favorite books on the stands.

  2. I haven’t heard of Grimm Fairy Tales, Elfquest, or Thorgal. My favorite fantasy comic would be Arrowsmith, if it counts.

  3. Orc Stain is a favorite of mine. Hope he gets another issue out.
    Also, Conan.
    And, Saga looks compelling.

  4. Fantasy comics must be slim pickings if Grimm makes a Top Five.

    • Yep, seems a bit of a mental list to me. Gimm is all T&A and no substance. Unwritten isn’t really fantasy in the correct sense (ARE it?). What about everything Crossgen did? Conan? Bone? etc.

      Sorry for the moan!

    • Unwritten is ‘Contemporary Fantasy’ rather then ‘High Fantasy’ (or Epic Fantasy). But yeah, its still Fantasy. Same deal with Fables.

      I gotta agree with the ‘Slim Picking’ comment on Grimm Fairy Tales. Its inclusion is a serious head scratcher.

    • ya everything crossgen did….

  5. Surely Mouse Guard should be here. And of course Conan.

  6. No Sandman?

  7. No Bone? No Thieves & Kings? No Mouse Guard? No Skull Kickers?

    Thieves & Kings gets no love. This is CRIMINAL.

  8. Anyone have a recommendation where to start reading Elfquest? I know the whole series is apparently free online, but I’m looking for a series collected editions that cover the whole run.

    • I dont know man.. ive seen that you have great taste by some of your other comments.. im not sure that youd like it. I tryed to read it pretty recently. It makes this list suspect to me. I think i got through the first ten issues or so.. It seemed infantile to me. Im not trying to step on anyones toes.. but maybe if someone liked it they didnt read what i read or didnt read it recently because when i say infantile .. i mean that literally .. it seemed very simple.. without any intricacy.

  9. Oh yes THORGAL! I was worried no-one in the USA knew this. It’s one of the best Belgian comics out there, I’m glad it’s getting some love

  10. I’m giving Skullkickers some love here too for top fantasy book. Dwarf and human collect bounties and drink beer. Simple and fun for me.

  11. No ‘Dungeons & Dragons’? (<- being serious)

    • The current D&D comics are almost written just like an adventure pack or module. The story skips around, but is fun. It makes a lot of sense to people who have played the game, but when you look at it from purely a comic book angle its not up to snuff with other fantasy books.

  12. list like this always make me sad that Battle Chasers died 🙁

  13. My top 5 would have to be:
    Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man
    Masters of the Universe

  14. So happy to see Thorgal on the list, everyone Ive talked to has no idea what it is! its so amazing i heard about it from becky cloonans blog. and Ive been blown away by every trade! the art is so detailed its amazing!

    • I’m glad someone knows Thorgal too. My sister started collecting this 25 years ago and I continued with that tradition. A new comic of Thorgal only appears every 2 years or so, so it’s always a special event. Oh, and a bit of national pride here, its a Belgian comic, not a French. 🙂

  15. The Unwritten is damn good. I need the last trade to get caught up (on the trades anyway). You can read the entire Elfquest saga @ elfquest dot com. It truly is worthwhile. I have heard of Thorgal for some time, its one of those stories that I keep wanting to get to but just haven’t. So much to do, so little time…

  16. i`ve always split Urban fantasy/modern fantasy and high fantasy/sword & sourcery into two distinct genres. so 1-2 & 3-5 look more like mini-lists to me.

    for the later i’d give an Honourable mention to Demon Knights.

  17. No Conan? No Elric? Shaaaaaame, shame I say, the black spot be upon ye.

    Also if you can track it down the four volumes of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, taken almost word for word from Fritz Leiber’s short stories and drawn by a pre-Hellboy Mike Mignola are just about the best sword and sorcery comics you can get your hands on, brilliant stuff.

    There was a real glut of very bad fantasy comics at the turn of the millenium trying to cash in on the success of Battle Chasers. Dreamwave had about three dull books spun out of their abominable Warlands series that were so derivative the comic might as well have been action figures getting banged together for twenty pages at a time.

  18. Or for a pure comic property as opposed to an adaptation of a book series: Slaine.

    My fave fantasy comic growing up, bought 2000AD every week hoping for more celtic berserker warp spasms.

    Heavy Metal is also good for the odd fantasy comic series, even if you feel like a perv buying it.

    • Slaine is another classic choice this list is woefully lacking in.

      Seriously, I can not get over Grimm freaking Fairy Tales making this list over literally everything else ever published.

  19. Whatever happened to Orc Stain?

  20. The two fantasy comics I can’t get enough of are Bone and Mouse Guard. Bone is easily one of the greatest comics ever and if there is a more beautiful comic book than Mouse Guard, I have never seen it.

  21. common, almost none of what was listed was fantasy as defined in the article. How about Demon Knights, Dungeons and Dragons, and Conan.