While many cartoonists can be defined by a singular book or series, collections of their shorter, sometimes lesser-known works can more intimately reflect their artistic sensibilities. Compilations containing varied works including gag strips, absurd non sequiturs, experimental vignettes, and the like reveal a more complete portrait of the creator. They also act as a useful introduction for new readers while offering more grist for avid fans. Here are ten short story comic collections from some of the industry’s most celebrated names.

Killing and Dying
Adrian Tomine, 2015. Drawn & Quarterly

Tomine’s latest showcases the comics auteur’s ability to present flawed, human characters in a piquant slice-of-life setting. The collected stories explore contemporary anxieties with a touch of humor and emotional nuance, depicted in Tomine’s clean lines and muted tones, which has made him one of the industry’s most widely-admired and sought-after creators.

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Bill Willingham et al., 2006. DC Comics/Vertigo

With characters plucked from over centuries of myths, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes, the Fables universe is a panoply of stories and characters. In 2006, writer Bill Willingham and a posse of artists presented the backstories of a number of series regulars, borrowing the multi-narrative structure of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The book received the Eisner Awards for Best Anthology and Best Short Story.

The Push Man and Other Stories
Yoshihiro Tatsumi, collected in 2005. Drawn & Quarterly

In 2005, Drawn & Quarterly collected a number of Tatsumi’s (A Drifting Life) shorter works, published in the late 1960s. The stories focus on the lives of those who dwell on the margins of society and offer a depressing, but darkly humorous look at their struggles within a bleak urban environment.

A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories
Will Eisner, 1978. Originally published by Baronet Books

Eisner’s A Contract With God is a true comic book classic and arguably one of the first “graphic novels” ever. Using his own upbringing in the Bronx as inspiration, Eisner’s four stories take place in a city tenement building and follows the plights of its impoverished Jewish residents. Like Tatsumi’s Push Man, Eisner’s characters endure hardships both big and small that force them to confront the meaning of life.

Kevin Huizenga, 2006. Drawn & Quarterly

Huizenga parses quotidian life with a series of stories centered around suburbanite Glenn Ganges. The simplicity of Huizenga's linework belies the complexity of his themes such as religion and parenting, touched upon in prosaic, contemplative moments. This work won the 2006 Ignatz Award for Best Anthology.

Fragments of Horror
Junji Ito, 2015. Viz

Junji Ito is a master of Japanese horror, able to conjure some truly grotesque imagery. Fragments collects the author's more recent works, which see often unsuspecting—but no less innocent—characters that are subject to psychological and physical torment.

How To Be Happy
Eleanor Davis, 2014. Fantagraphics

Davis juxtaposes comedy with tragedy in a series of shorts to delight in and ponder, where absurdity is a means to prod life’s biggest questions. She varies her visual style throughout the book, and is most effective with her vibrant, fully-painted pages, which exude a timeless quality reminiscent of folk art. A 2014 PW Best Book.

It Was the War of the Trenches
Jacques Tardi, 1993/ 2010. Casterman/ Fantagraphics

Tardi’s tales from World War I capture the morbid drudgery that is trench warfare and finds pockets of profundity that speak to the nature of war and man. His stark, inky forms perfectly convey the blackened skies, scorched landscape, and gritty reality faced by thousands of soldiers.

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
Moto Hagio, collected in 2010. Fantagraphics

Moto Hagio is one of Japan’s most influential mangakas, and her work elevates the shojo genre with a more mature tone and daring subject matter. In 2010 Fantagraphics collected stories from over 40 years in a “Hagio primer” to showcase the author’s critically acclaimed stories, which take on issues of sexuality, gender, and love.

Everything Together: Collected Stories
Sammy Harkham, 2006. PictureBox

After editing the highly influential Kramers Ergot, Harkham delivers an anthology all his own, one which exhibits narrative whimsy and a knack for eclectic humor. The stories vary in length, but Harkham’s deft handling of layout and paneling make for an immersive and affecting read. Winner of the 2012 L.A. Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels.