It's that time of year again, when I single out what I feel are the best graphic novels I've read that were published in the last year. I read a lot of them, and these are the ones that have stayed with me most. Enjoy!
My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Set in 1968 Chicago, this book is a coming of age tale/murder mystery/holocaust survivor story/appreciation of classical art that prominently features monsters from the movies and popular culture. It's gorgeous, has more layers than an onion, and will pop your eyes out with its artwork. It's a masterpiece of a book, and an instant classic. People will be talking about it for decades, and I cannot recommend you read it enough.
The Best We Could Do
This multi-generational account of an immigrant family from Vietnam is a heartfelt and enlightening look at the effects of war on a people, the hardships that many refugees endure, and the complicated ways families operate. It's a beautiful and very human book that I feel contains an important story for contemporary times.
The Abominable Mr. Seabrook
Watching the title character destroy himself with alcohol is painful to observe, but his life is fascinating and exceptional. This meticulously researched account of a proto-Gonzo journalist who dined with cannibals, observed voodoo rituals, and roamed the Arabian Desert with Bedouins is well-detailed, beautiful, utterly engrossing, and devastating.
Favorite Coming-of-Age Story
Tillie Walden's account of her childhood/adolescence hiding the fact that she is gay while being a competitive ice skater is beautiful, understated, gut-wrenching, and memorable. I feel this book would be very popular with YA readers, but it will resonate with older readers as well.
Favorite Music Book
California Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas
Artist Pénélope Bagieu is a genius. This biography of Mama Cass is exquisitely drawn, not to mention that it contains beautiful and seemingly effortless storytelling. Not just for fans of classic rock or folk music, this book speaks to anyone with a dream of changing their life circumstances.
Favorite True Crime GN
The Hunting Accident
This book about turbulent relationships between fathers and sons hinges on an incredible true story that involves a robbery, mob connections, poetry, prison, an infamous murderer, a shotgun blast to the face, and a trip through hell. The artwork is appropriately dark and phantasmagorical, and the story will leave you breathless.
Favorite New Series
Rock Candy Mountain
As I have stated repeatedly in the past, I am totally in the can for anything Kyle Starks publishes. This comic is his first ongoing series, and it features hobos, trains, fist-fights, and the devil himself. Go read it if you like fast-paced action and intrigue as well as witty and funny dialogue.
All the entries in this series have been pure gold. Full of jokes, magic, sports, and intrigue, these comics are fun, fascinating, and exceptionally beautiful to boot. The latest entry features the most compelling rounds of mini-golf ever put to paper, and I cannot wait for the final volume in the series coming next year.
Favorite Book for Younger Readers
This memoir of childhood is an intimate and moving depiction of elementary school friendships. It is full of relatable moments and surprisingly complex characters and has much to offer any reader, girls and boys included.
Favorite Nonfiction Book
Dogs: From Predator to Protector
The latest in the Science Comics series is simply fantastic. A book that covers all kind of ground, from genetics to heredity to breeding to the history of domesticating animals. It's a rare fun and funny book that is chock full of information. Plus, Rudy the narrator is adorable.
Favorite Adapted Webcomic
These books (4 in all) are also easily the most depraved books of the
year, but they are ingenious, funny, and compelling. This account of the
machinations of a maniacal killer over a period of centuries as he
tries to avoid capture while also foiling a plot to take over the world
is beautifully plotted and paced. And gross. It will offend you and make
you squirm, I guarantee. Not for kids.
Favorite Book About Mythology
Giving Demon a run for its money in terms of gross-out factor, Pantheon is exceptional in that it is colorful, hilarious, raunchy, irreverent, and apparently extremely faithful in retelling myths from Ancient Egypt. You will never look at salad the same after reading this book. I know I don't. Also not for kids.
Well, that's my list. Happy New Year!