Comics and video games have been friends for quite some time. Whether it’s games based on popular MCU films – those fortunately stopping at Thor: The Dark World – or those with entirely original universes, comic book video games are thriving to this day.
However, we absolutely believe that you can never have too many cartoon video games. There are plenty of wonderful comics out there that are great for video game processing, but perhaps lack the massive hammerheads, uncomfortably big muscles, and long blonde hair needed for a more action-oriented game. Basically, it’s not Thor. Instead, these comics would make fantastic visual novels.
5 Giant Days
For those who don’t know, Giant Days is a remarkable comic that deals with the day-to-day struggles of a college student. Set in a somewhat Americanized version of the UK, Giant Days follows the lives of three college students, Esther, Daisy and Susan. They all have deeply relatable personalities and issues and struggle with newborn flu, painful breakups, turning 18, and coming to terms with their sexuality. It’s a wonderfully insightful comic that perfectly captures the nuances of college life, what it means to be a woman, and that messy age between childhood and adulthood.
Giant Days has all the makings of a visual novel. First and foremost, its art – which is phenomenal thanks to Disney’s Lissa Treiman – is perfectly suited to a visual novel format. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed and the characters are extremely expressive. Second, the individual stories of personal struggles, friendly banter, and forays into feminism that it so brilliantly explores are tied together by the characters’ overarching stories and their relationships to one another. It’s a very person-centered comic that puts more emphasis on the writing and character development than the action. So it would be a much better fit for a visual novel than any other genre of video game.
4 The wicked + the divine
The Wicked + The Divine is a truly compelling comic that explores the corrupting power of fame against the backdrop of reincarnated gods. If that sounds a bit full, that’s probably because it is. The Wicked + The Divine is a relentlessly dark comic that tackles tough themes like life, death, insecurities, and a deeply desperate desire for fame. Its cast of characters ranges from the arrogant to the likeable, but they’re rarely good people. However, that’s what makes this unique comic so special. It’s this more realistic look at what it means to be famous that underpins his fantastical narrative.
Beyond its obviously gorgeous artwork, The Wicked + The Divine has an incredibly gripping story that just wouldn’t work as anything other than a visual novel. While there are action moments scattered throughout, The Wicked + The Divine focuses more on its core characters and their impending deaths. Also, as the comic is told from the perspective of an outsider who later becomes an integral part of the events that unfold, there would be an accessible point of view for the player to adopt. If you like good twists too, then you’re in for a treat with The Wicked + The Divine. Of course, we’re not here to spoil things for you, but trust us when we say that this comic’s ending would make for a memorable experience.
Crossover looks like an impossible comic. It takes hundreds of popular superheroes from dozens of real comics – we’re talking about Superman, Spider-Man, Invincible, etc. – and crashes them all in the real world. Of course, chaos ensues, and it turns out the human race doesn’t appreciate superheroes killing them, trashing their cities, and just being super annoying. So, with the help of a few rebel heroes, the Everyday Joe pulls out the misguided comic book characters and locks them away for good. It’s a complex comic that takes something we’ve all dreamed of and looks at it through a much more realistic lens.
Of course, Crossover might not instantly seem like the perfect material for a visual novel. However, what better for a comic about comic book characters entering the real world than a genre that is essentially interactive comics? It’s a great meta that only intensifies its overall narrative and commentary. You can even expand the plethora of comic book characters that also seem to include some popular visual novel protagonists, or even additional superheroes that really need their own games. Of course, Crossover would translate pretty well into a visual novel format anyway. It’s character-driven, not too action-packed, and has absolutely gorgeous visuals thanks to its talented team of artists. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a no-brainer. Crossover needs a visual novel crossover immediately.
2 ghost world
It’s rather amazing that Ghost World – or at least some variant of it – hasn’t already been adapted into a visual novel. Not only is his exploration of adolescence, friendship, romance, and life the main material for an introspective visual novel, but his art is so intricate and uniquely beautiful that it seems like it should already exist. For those unaware, Ghost World follows two smart, witty, and incredibly cynical girls named Enid and Rebecca as they try to figure out what to do now that they’ve graduated high school. Throughout the comic, their relationship suffers, they fall in love, and begin to learn what’s important in life.
Ghost World, like Giant Days, is an incredibly insightful and often unflinching examination of young people and their relationship to the world.. Having already been adapted into a film – a very, very good one at that – Ghost World has proven it can transcend the page. As a visual novel, those who feel more drawn to interactive media than reading can experience this one-of-a-kind narrative that may actually motivate them to evaluate their own lives. Or, you know, just have a relatively fun time where they cry once in a while.
Snotgirl is the creatively named comic about the superficiality of social media personalities. Following the snot-filled story of the titular wife, Lottie, Snotgirl explores the toxic duality of fame and the disparity between your on-screen persona and the less glamorous reality. Which is a really fancy way of saying it’s like that friend of yours who posts great photos of themselves on vacation looking incredibly neat, but who eats a tub of ice cream every day and who still doesn’t have his life in order. Of course, Snotgirl goes way beyond that, contextualizing its reality story within the sphere of fashion blogging. It’s an in-depth, nuanced study of an utterly unsympathetic person struggling with the same insecurities many of us know very well.
Of course, as with all entries on this list, Snotgirl has incredibly unique art that would translate perfectly into a visual novel format. However, what would make Snotgirl the perfect visual novel is its exploration of beauty. As a visual novel, Snotgirl – aside from being a social media commentary – would almost work as a deconstruction of the rather unfortunate trope of exaggerating female anatomy in visual novels. Whichever way you look at it, it’s fair to say that if this were to ever see the light of day, it would be one of the best comic book video games ever made.
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