10 Graphic Novels Based on Irish and Celtic Mythology

photo of someone in scally cap looking at graphic novels

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The comic book world is no stranger to Irish and Celtic myths, legends, and folktales. As I explored in an earlier post on the potential of Marvel and DC introducing Celtic gods into their cinematic universes, the big comic book houses—no doubt desperate for fresh material after having ravaged the Norse and Greek pantheons—began incorporating the likes of Lir, the Dagda, and Nuada of the Silver Hand back in the 1970s and ’80s.

comic book illustration of Celtic gods
The Celtic gods (a.k.a. Tuatha de Danaan) of Marvel Comics (source: Fandom.com)

But if we’re being honest with ourselves, Marvel and DC’s representations of the Irish and Celtic gods are not all that accurate. One of the most glaring examples being The Mighty Thor issue #386 referring to the ocean god Lir (a.k.a Leir) as the “Lord of the Lightning.” I mean, really, why did they do that? Why not go with an actual “lightning lord” from Celtic mythology, the thunder god Taranis, instead? (How badass is that name?!)

Of course, if you’re looking for mythological purism, comic books are generally not your best bet. And yet…there are plenty that do a substantially better job than the Marvel and DC fare.

In this list, I’ve compiled ten of the best graphic novels based on Celtic mythology and Irish folklore. Some are straight retellings of the ancient tales, while others are tactful expansions and reinterpretations.

The Top 10 Comics and Graphic Novels Based on Celtic and Irish Folklore

1. The Book of Conquests

by Jim Fitzpatrick

Per the publisher: “THE BOOK OF CONQUESTS, published in 1978 is the first of two volumes, which tell the story of the Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of god like warriors who invaded Ireland about 3,500 years ago leaving an impression still felt to this day. These stories are based on the Early Mythological Cycle of Irish stories. This is the story of the First Battle of Moytura, one of the most important epic stories in Early Irish Literature. It tells of the Tuatha Dé Danann, lead by the hero Nuada and their battle with the Fir Bolg tribe for the land of Ireland. This epic story is continued in THE SILVER ARM.” Learn more…

2. Celtic Warrior: The Legend of Cú Chulainn

by Will Sliney

Per the publisher: “An epic saga of greed, sorcery and one man’s heroic sacrifice. Ireland’s legendary super hero, Cú Chulainn, stands alone against the thousands of warriors controlled by the enchantress Queen Maeve, who is determined to capture the Brown Bull of Cooley and claim the lands of Ulster for her own. Supernatural feats of strength, ferocious battles and the tragic destinies of Cú Chulainn and Ferdia are vividly recreated in this action-packed, glorious retelling of one of the most famous stories from ancient Celtic myth. This unique and powerful graphic novel brings to life the legendary figure that is Cú Chulainn.” Learn more…

3. The Daughters of Ys

by M. T. Anderson & Jo Rioux

Per the publisher: “An Atlantis-like city from Celtic legend is the setting of The Daughters of Ys, a mythical graphic novel fantasy from National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and artist Jo Rioux. Ys, city of wealth and wonder, has a history of dark secrets. Queen Malgven used magic to raise the great walls that keep Ys safe from the tumultuous sea. But after the queen’s inexplicable death, her daughters drift apart…M. T. Anderson and Jo Rioux reimagine this classic Breton folktale of love, loss, and rebirth, revealing the secrets that lie beneath the surface.” Learn more…

4. Sláine: The Horned God

by Pat Mills & Simon Bisley

Per the publisher: “Brutal sword and sorcery meets Celtic myth in the number one best-selling graphic novel – back in print, bigger and better than ever in a deluxe collector’s edition. For too long the people of Tir na nOg have suffered under the dominion of the drunes; strange druids who have poisoned the land with their magic. Slaine has had enough of their tyranny and, through the Earth Goddess, he learns some shocking truths about the priesthood and his own future. Now Slaine must unite the four kings of Tir-Nan-Og and use their mystical weapons as he and the Sessair tribe prepare for all-out war!” Learn more…

5. Corto Maltese: Celtic Tales

by Hugo Pratt

Per the publisher: “In this third volume in the definitive English language edition of Hugo Pratt’s masterpiece, the action moves from South America to Europe against the backdrop of the First World War…Events take Corto from a small island in the Venetian lagoon, where he comes face to face with a beautiful blonde spy, to Stonehenge and an adventure with Merlin, Morgana, and Puck. Along the way he meets Ernest Hemingway and future billionaire Aristotle Onassis, Irish revolutionary Banshee O’Danann, the legendary Red Baron, and an intense cast of characters who weave in and out of a series of labyrinthine plots and counter-plots.” Learn more…

6. Wayward Volume 4: Threads and Portents

by Jim Zub & Steve Cummings

Per the publisher: “IMAGE’S SUPERNATURAL SENSATION CONTINUES! The group is pulled apart and the hidden mythic worlds of Ireland and Japan are revealed. JIM ZUB (Thunderbolts, Samurai Jack) and STEVE CUMMINGS (Dead Shot, Legends of the Dark Knight) continue their supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of shows like Buffy with foreign cultures and fascinating mythological monsters. This volume includes design artwork by artist Steve Cummings and profiles on mythical creatures by monster scholars Zack Davisson and Ann O’Regan not found in the single issues.” Learn more…

7. WolfWalkers: The Graphic Novel*

by Samuel Sattin, Tomm Moore, & Ross Stewart

Per the publisher: “In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father whose job it is to wipe out the last wolf pack. Robyn, unable to hunt with her father and sick of being confined, sneaks out to explore the forbidden lands outside the city walls. There, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe of WOLFWALKERS rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night.” Learn more…

*Note: This graphic novel is adapted from the Oscar-nominated, hand-drawn animated feature film WolfWalkers, created by the Kilkenny, Ireland-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon. Learn more about the mythology behind WolfWalkers.

8. The League of Volunteers

by Robert Curley & Barry Keegan

Per the publisher: “1941 and the world is at war. Ireland has chosen to remain neutral, but other dark forces conspire to bring the country to its knees. Collected for the first time, Ireland’s best selling comic by creators Robert Curley and Barry Keegan. This recoloured deluxe edition includes the entire first story arch as well as extras including a Barry Keegan sketch book and League Of Volunteers secret files.” Learn more…

9. The Bog Road

by Barry Keegan

Per the author (Barry Keegan): “When I moved to county Laois in Ireland and lived there for three and a half years where I fell in love with its hidden beauty, my book is a dark fantasy tale set in the county. I wanted to draw more attention to the midlands of Ireland and bring the land to life… The script, black and white artwork were all done by myself. On colours for the first scene was Chris O’Halloran and the rest of the book was coloured by George Patrick Gama with Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou on letters.” Learn more…

10. The Dark Pool

by Barry Keegan

Per the author (Barry Keegan): “This series is a follow up story to The Bog Road. Expanding on the world of modern Irish fantasy. After the success and positive feedback from The Bog Road in 2018 I felt inspired to tell another story from the same world. This time around I will release the story in four parts. My main reason behind that decision was to have some work published a little more regularly considering how long it took to complete The Bog Road. The series will only be available from SubCity stores and online shop, or directly from me through cons.” Learn more…

Thanks for reading!

Let me know if there are any other comic books and graphic novels based on Irish and Celtic myths, legends, and folklore that I should add to this list.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the Marvel (and DC) interpretations of the Celtic gods, check out this post:

P.P.S. If you love Irish and Celtic mythology, I have a hunch you’ll enjoy the short story anthology Neon Druid (which I may or may not have compiled, edited and contributed to).

Neon Druid: An Anthology of Urban Celtic Fantasy

The hardcover Collector’s Edition of the short story collection Pyles of Books called “a thrilling romp through pubs, mythology, and alleyways. NEON DRUID is such a fun, pulpy anthology of stories that embody Celtic fantasy and myth.” Cross over into a world where the mischievous gods, goddesses, monsters, and heroes of Celtic mythology live among us, intermingling with unsuspecting mortals and stirring up mayhem in cities and towns on both sides of the Atlantic, from Limerick and Edinburgh to Montreal and Boston. Learn more…

Oh, right, and I’m also writing a series of pocket guides about Irish mythology. The first one, Irish Myths in Your Pocket, is sort of like a “Greatest Hits” of Irishmyths.com.

Irish Myths in Your Pocket (Celtic Pocket Guides 1)

40+ images, hundreds of fascinating facts about Irish mythology, and one Celtic Otherworld-shattering showdown between Ireland’s two greatest legendary heroes. That’s just a tantalizing taste of what you’ll find crammed into the nooks and crannies of this pocket-sized guide to Irish mythology. And when I say pocket-sized, I mean literally pocket-sized. The paperback version of Irish Myths in Your Pocket: A Tiny Little Book About Irish Legends, Folklore, & Fairytales for Impressing Friends & Family on St. Patrick’s Day and Other Special Occasions is 4 inches by 6 inches, the same size as a photograph. Learn more…

More of the listenin’ type? For a limited time you can use this link to snag 3 free months of Audible Premium Plus.

2 thoughts on “10 Graphic Novels Based on Irish and Celtic Mythology

  1. Thanks for the list! I’ve always been a sucker when it comes to mythology in general and seeing the graphic novels of them just makes it even more awesome. :3

    Liked by 1 person

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