Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Favorite Graphic Novels from the Past Year!

I read a lot of comics and books over the course of a year, and here is a list of my favorites from 2016. More detailed reviews of each can be found by clicking individual title links.

 Best Overall

Rosalie Lightning

This story about how a couple deals with the death of their toddler is not just beautifully told, the way it is communicated in this book is a master class in what comics can do. A masterpiece.

Best Biography

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

This faux biography/real history of Singapore is technically excellent and also full of emotion and excellent story telling. The range of comics pastiches, from strips to sketches to comic books to academic commentary is fantastically impressive. Another masterpiece.

Best Younger Ages Book

Bera The One-Headed Troll

This tale of a troll defending a human baby against a witch, evil mermaids, and other evil critters introduced me to my favorite fictional character of 2016. I LOVE BERA, and I wish she was real. No lie.

Best Science Fiction Book

Nod Away

Brilliant in terms of story, art and how it presents personal relationships, this book does what the best science fiction does: makes us examine our present, explore our technology, and ponder what our future might be. It's the start of what should be an epic series of seven books.

Best Humor Book


Also a strong contender for best sci-fi book, this graphic novel portrays the surprisingly boring and mundane life of the last cop on the moon. It's full of subtle jokes and personality. And of course, donuts figure strongly in the plot.

Best All Ages Book

Night Air

Plus Man is kind of a jerk, but I still found myself rooting for him and his robot companion as he grifted, played fast and loose with gamblers, and tried to find rare minerals in a haunted castle full of shady characters. A fun and funny action tale to suit all ages, without insulting anyone's intelligence.

Best Illustrated

How To Talk To Girls at Parties

Neil Gaiman is no slouch, and I do enjoy the plot of this book, but the artwork by brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba is clearly the high point here. I typically love their work in black and white, but in color it is otherworldly.

Best All Ages Nonfiction Book (AKA, The Nathan Hale Award)

 Alamo All-Stars

I have very high expectations for every book Nathan Hale makes in this series, and he constantly has blown my mind by moving in unexpected directions, keeping things fresh, and innovating how nonfiction storytelling is done via comics. If you love comics, his stuff is required reading.

Best Nonfiction Book for Older Folks

Tetris: The Games People Play

This tale about the addictive video game is a powerful commentary on the intersections of  imagination, politics, commerce, and humanity. So complex and well told.

Favorite Series

Fantasy Sports

The first volume of this series was hilarious and fun, and the second might be less so but it more than makes up for it with its depth of characterization and narrative flourishes that make this fictional world much more realized. I cannot wait for the next entry!

Best Autobiographical Work

Something New

After reading this warm and personal account of dating, families, and marriage, I felt like I was at the wedding and that I know these people. It is quirky, fun, and excellent commentary on contemporary life and relationships. Lucy Knisley is one of the best comics creators in the business.

Best Superhero Book


Recasting the complicated backstory and continuity of a familiar superhero as a telenovela makes for a very interesting, probing, and compelling story. I have read a lot of superhero stories in my day, but I love how this one reinterprets and comments on the genre.

Best Monster Book for Adults

 KaijuMax: Season 1

If you ever wondered how life was like in the prison that is Monster Island, this is the book for you. It features an impressive amount of world-building in terms of its characters, situations, slang, and mythography. Zander Cannon is also a genius comics maker, and this is another in a long line of excellent comics by him.

Best Monster Book for Children

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo

This collection of webcomics about a boy who calls upon a seasoned pro to investigate the monster in his closet contains some of the most fun and suspenseful yarns I read this year. I love the fictional world created here, and elementary-school-aged-me would have adored this book.

Best Graphic Novel That Should Immediately Be Adapted as an Action Movie

Kill Them All

I will admit it. I am a Kyle Starks super-fan. I will buy any comic he makes, sight unseen. This well-plotted, fun action adventure features a bunch of assassins, cops, super-criminals, and martial arts. It. Is. Awesome.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading my list/blog! Happy New Year!


  1. Thank you for the listing! I'm going to try The Alamo

    1. You're welcome!

      All of the books in the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series are great. The World War I one is particularly spectacular.

  2. Too many great books, too little time!