Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Top Graphic Novels of 2014

Ah, it is that time of year, time for me to name the graphic novels I regarded most from the past year.
In no particular order, and in random categories I picked because they seemed fitting, I give you my list (the title links lead to the original reviews):

Best Historical Fiction:
A simply affecting story of a grandmother telling her granddaughter a long held, difficult secret. This one made me cry, I'm not going to lie.

Best Autobiography/Memoir:
Over Easy
I grew up in a family in the restaurant business, and this book perfectly captured the loony, earnest, random, and convoluted lives of the people who work in diners. It is a wonderful piece of nostalgia, beautifully rendered.

Best Biography:
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
The behind the scenes life of the biggest wrestler ever. I liked that this book was full of interesting and almost unbelievable exploits but also did not shy away from the more difficult and negative aspects of a larger than life figure. This rare kind of biography is fun, complex, and bittersweet.

Best History:
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
This may be the most impressive entry of Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales yet, which is saying something because I LOVE the other books in this series. Its account of World War I is simultaneously informative, interesting, engaging, gruesome, and excellently presented. I am in awe of Hale's artwork and storytelling, and these might just be the best social studies texts I have ever read.

Best Art:
A gallery sized book full of colorful and beautiful illustrations. The wordless story follows a naked woman and a naked dog as they adventure in a primordial, teeming world. The narrative has a mythic, almost parable kind of quality. Some of the most powerful storytelling I read this year.

Best Superhero Book:
The Shadow Hero
Yang is a perennial presence on my best-of lists. I don't know how he keeps making such excellent books, but I am extremely glad he does. Here he teams up with artist Sonny Liew to tell an exceptional origin story of the first Chinese-American superhero. This book combines superhero comics, biography, family drama, and mythology in unique and gripping ways.

Best Mystery/Thriller:

Jules Feiffer tells and draws a noir story complete with a drunken PI, boxing scenes, Hollywood intrigue, and multiple murders. How could I not love this book?

Best All Ages Book:
Julia's House for Lost Creatures
Truly a book for all ages. I love its beautiful pictures, with its depictions of fantastic creatures like gnomes, trolls, dragons, and fairies. I also loved seeing them dance and jam out to records as well as do household chores. This book is a charmer that should appeal to lots of readers.

Best Sci-Fi Book:
Black Science, Volume 1: How to Fall Forever
An extremely well plotted piece of hard science fiction. It follows the exploits of a family and associates led by an egomaniacal and brilliant father as they travel across hostile dimensions, with little hope of ever returning home. The complicated relationships and character machinations make for excellent intrigue and suspense.

Best Book Starring a Witch, an Owl, and a Cat as Roommates Hooked on Drugs:
The artwork is beautiful. The situations are funny, until they are not. The characters seem comical, but they are really depressed and sort of hate each other. There is a lot of cruelty, bickering, and haziness in this book, but the characters come off as so realistic you feel bad for them. I know I may not seem to be doing it justice with this description, but this book is much more complex and moving than it seems. Definitely not for kids.

Thanks for reading my blog, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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