10 Famous Novelists Who Have Dabbled in Comics


This week, we were delighted to come across You’ll Have to Save That For Another Time, a comic written by Dave Eggers and drawn by Noah Van Sciver, over at Trip City. Unaware as we were that Eggers had any talent for the comic strip, we were inspired to go hunting for other noted novelists who’ve made forays into the graphic form, whether official (that is, published) or personal. Keep in mind that we’re focusing on novelists who went to the colorful side as opposed to the other way around, so you won’t find Neil Gaiman (mastermind as he is), Warren Ellis, or their wonderful ilk here. Check out some novelists who can also write comics after the jump, and if we missed your favorite cross-over, be sure to add it to our list in the comments.

Dave Eggers

We don’t know much about this collaboration, but we have heard that Eggers once wrote a comic strip for SF Weekly entitled Smarter Feller, so he may have some experience in the area. Eggers also edits the Best American Nonrequired Reading series, which often includes alternative comics. Read the whole comic here.

Margaret Atwood

“Basically I can’t draw,” Atwood admits. But that doesn’t stop her from creating cartoons. Under the pseudonym Bart Gerrard, Atwood drew Kanadian Kulture Komic for This Magazine. “You’re supposed to do one thing,” she says, “if you do more than that, people get confused and want to write about you.” Now, Atwood publishes her Booktour Comix on her website.

Michael Chabon

Considering Michael Chabon’s demonstrated interest in comic books, his foray into the genre proper is perhaps no surprise. And in fact, his own comic, the quarterly anthology Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist , features the hero from the comics described in his Pulitzer-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Jonathan Lethem

In 2006, Jonathan Lethem wrote a ten-issue revival of the late-’70s Marvel comic Omega the Unknown, with art by Farel Dalrymple. When asked why he chose this character and series to revive, Lethem admitted, “Sheer and perverse adoration of the original. When Marvel invited me into their vault of iconography, I simply leapt at the icon that resonated most deeply with me… It didn’t hurt that Omega had been laying in neglect for so long. I might have had trouble trying to utilize a character who’d been put through so many paces as Spider-Man or the Hulk, say. Omega seemed a resource of thwarted possibility, open to speculation, not plumbed-out.” Lethem even name-drops the character in The Fortress of Solitude, so you know he’s the real deal.

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing, she of multiple genres and tables full of awards, is obviously a woman of many talents. In 1995, she was commissioned by David Thorpe to write a literary comic book as part of a series “intended to match ‘literary’ authors — like Kazuo Ishiguro, Angela Carter and Ian Banks — with the best comics artists — like Lorenzo Mattotti, Dave McKean and Francois Schuitten.” Lessing chose to write a fantastic fable, though unfortunately it was the only one of the intended series that made it into print.

Jodi Picoult

You may know Picoult as the bestselling author of many books or as one of the voices who spoke out against the over-hype of Jonathan Franzen, but did you know she also had a hand in the exploits of Wonder Woman? Indeed, in 2007, Picoult wrote a story arc lasting a few issues for DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and later wrote about the superhero’s kick-ass qualities for Playboy .

Stephen King

King’s first foray into comics was in 1985, when he wrote part of a for-charity X-Men comic book called Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men. But it wasn’t until 2007 that he made any real contribution to the genre. In that year, King published the first issue of a seven-issue limited-series spin-off of his Dark Tower books, called The Gunslinger Born. In 2010, DC Comics published American Vampire, a monthly comic book series by King and Scott Snyder (who took over as the sole writer after the sixth issue), which we count as King’s first original work in the comic form.

James Patterson

We’re sorry, but we have to ask — James Patterson, haven’t you written enough books? In 2010, the absurdly best-selling thriller writer announced that he would begin writing spin-off comic books for his Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard series. Supposedly, there was also an original comic in the works, “Beer Belly and the Fat Boy,” but if that ever emerged, we haven’t heard of it.

Brad Meltzer

Meltzer might be the best known of these crossovers, probably due to his exceptional success in both genres. Not a true dabbler — though he did start out as a novelist, and thus suits our purposes — he writes bestselling political thrillers (The Fifth Assassin) and award-winning comics (Justice League of America) to general acclaim.

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card has gotten a lot of recent attention about his forthcoming foray into comics — but not in a good way. Card was hired to write a new story to open DC’s Adventures of Superman series, and upon hearing the news, the Internets (much to their credit) erupted, citing Card’s much-criticized flagrant homophobia. The artist who was meant to draw the story has dropped out, and its future remains in question.