#5: Flight vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Its hard to say one single thing about Flight, but let’s go with different. Because that’s what comes to mind with Flight its simply different. If you ever wanted to see the numerous, numerous ways comics or just visual media can be used to tell a story or just what it can do I highly recommend Flight. An anthology comic that showcases all that comics can do. Bold, beautiful, and with a wide range of artistic diversity, Flight is just phenomenal.
#4: Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Young man hasn’t gotten over break up with fiancée, so his grandmother gets him a robot to cheer him up, only it turns out that having a totally obedient slave who agrees with everything you say and does anything you want is super boring; so the young man breaks a very strict law and activities his robot’s sentience. Perhaps a more laconic way would be to say “slice of life robot thriller” as confusing as that sounds. There’s quite a bit of potential in Alex + Ada to be a generic robot revolution story, just sort of heavily focused on romance, but instead it doesn’t really care for that. Its mostly a light sci fi slice of life story about a guy trying to not be so lonely and a woman just taking her first steps into existence, basically. Its slow and beautiful and yes, does have a few thriller moments in there, but the focus is still on the relationships being developed. I can’t say I’ve really seen anything like it, and I consider that a high complement.
#3: Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag
This was one of the first comics I read this year, and when I read it I honestly thought it would end up at number one. It didn’t obviously, but its still really good. Its a superhero story to be sure, but its also a constant subversion, questioning the very idea of the superhero. It also probably creates a far more realistic world around superheroes than Marvel or DC manage to do. Then of course there’s the cast of characters which are terrific, generally. It can lean on the melodramatic at times, but its also so very refreshing and interesting.
#2: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi’s story is far from the normal one of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, born into a secular family and eventually being sent to Europe, but its certainly an interesting one. Persepolis is just phenomenal, a highly personal story about a major historical event, that includes some rather striking scenes. If you haven’t read it or at least seen the movie you’re definitely missing out. Simple yet complex, personal yet historical, Persepolis more than earned its place on the list.
Anything That Loves edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen: an anthology about the places between gay and straight. Personal, experimental, diverse, recommended.
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden: a personal journey of history and cultural identity. Not much more to say unless I turn this into a very long essay, which I’m not.
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff: Good, old fashioned, reality tossed out the window adventure stuff that’s a bucket and a half of fun.
She-Hulk by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, and Ron Wimberly: Sadly canceled early, part superhero story, part thriller, part courtroom drama, wholly charming and recommended.
Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M. Kutlukhan Perker: G. Willow Wilson’s first graphic novel is an adventure of strangers meeting in Cairo, and eventually teaming up to fight a crime lord and rescue a jinn. Also Egyptian folktales. Need I say more?
Black Widow Volume 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto: Amazing art and nice writing.
Nova Volume 2: Rookie Season by Zeb Wells and Paco Medina: a follow up that’s even better than the original.
#1: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Maus by Art Spiegelman
The hardest part about this was wither or not I should make #1 a tie. I did. Because there’s just no way I can choose between these two. On the one hand is Art Spiegelman’s famed graphic novel about the Holocaust, and his relationship with his dad and trying to understand each through the other, and all with cartoon mice. A highly personal, massively powerful story where mice say “I want to be treated like a human being”. Its powerful, moving, and personal.
On the other hand is Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her relationship with her dad as well as the discovery of her sexuality. Personal by its nature to be sure, but also relatable for how nonlinear it is. While Persepolis and Maus are sure to tell the personal side of grand historical events in order, Fun Home bounces around Bechdel’s life, with history happening on just the edges of it, as bits of news or something that the people living it are unaware of. In short, how most of us experience history. Add in Bechdel’s writing which is just as good as any prose novel, and her skill at combining words and art, and you have a classic.