With the year winding down, it’s time to compile my “Best of the Year” lists, which is becoming an annual tradition. I’ll start with the best comic books I read in 2018. They weren’t necessarily published in 2018 (though some were).
The thing I love about comic books is they contain dialogue and visuals without tedious descriptions, which can sometimes drag a story while reading. In a novel you must describe the scene, but in a comic you can just show an image which is worth a thousand words. They’re similar to movies in that respect, except comics are not limited by budgetary constraints, and can therefore be more speculative and creative.
The term “graphic novel” is really fitting because comic books can have all the depth of a novel, including internal monologues. All you’re really doing is replacing long descriptions of characters, settings, and action and replacing that with images. And of course, not all comic books are about superheroes. They can explore just as serious subject matter as novels.
1. Saga, Vol. 8 & 9 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga continues to be my favorite on-going series right now. It’s a modern take on the space opera with a nice combination of action, comedy, and drama.
2. Royal City by Jeff Lemire
Royal City is a family drama set in an old factory town, which doesn’t sound all that exciting, but trust me, it’s good.
3. Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
4. Descender, Vol. 5 & 6 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
Another one of my favorite on-going series, set in the future during a war between humans and robots. Vol. 6 is a sort of conclusion to the series, while also setting up a new series called “Ascender.”
5. Essex County by Jeff Lemire
My third selection by Jeff Lemire, who might be the best comic book writer working today—or at least my favorite. This book especially shows how literary the comic book form can be. Essex County follows multiple generations of a family in a small Canadian town.
6. Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Another literary comic book by twin brothers from Brazil, about love, loss, and life.
7. If It’s Not Funny It’s Art by Demetri Martin
This isn’t exactly a comic book, but a collection of comical drawings by one of my favorite stand-up comedians.
8. The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by Grant Snider
This is a non-fiction book featuring short comics about creativity. I would recommend it for writers, artists, or creatives of any kind.
9. Fables by Bill Willingham
This is a really fun series: a new spin on old fairy tales, with the same characters but set in the modern day. Plus, it’s a noir murder mystery (one of my favorite genres).
10. Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 & 4 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
This series is about a young guy who sees a demon figure that forces him to kill bad people (a la Dexter). The running mystery is: is the demon real or only in his head? I like how this series concluded, though like Descender, it sets up a new series (or new story with other characters within the same world).
- Paper Girls, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
- Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles, #3) by Sarah Andersen
- Peepland by Christa Faust, Gary Phillips, and Andrea Camerini
- Dept. H by Matt Kindt
- Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini by Cynthia von Buhler
- Ivar, Timewalker by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, and Robert Gill
- Victor LaValle’s Destroyer by Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
- Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller, Mort Castle, Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Kelly Link, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Audrey Niffenegger, Ray Bradbury, Jay Bonansinga, David Morrell, Thomas F. Monteleone, Lee Martin, Dan Chaon, John McNally, Joe Meno, Robert R. McCammon, Ramsey Campbell, John Maclay, Gary A. Braunbeck, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Charles Yu, Julia Keller, Bayo Ojikutu