Let’s get this out of the way right now. This list is wrong. Although I try to be as objective as possible when putting it together there is no way to make it completely void of my subjective opinion. So why do this? For one I enjoy doing it as it pushes me to read comics I would not normally read. The biggest reason is that my favorite thing is to recommend comics and this allows me to do just that. Lastly, I hope it shows just how varied comics can be and the amazing content there is each year. (If interested you can check out the lists for 2016 and 2017 as well) If something didn’t make the list that you think should or something is higher or lower than it should be feel free to comment below. I try to read as much as possible but a book you loved could have missed the list simply because I didn’t get a chance to read it.
The other part of this is the criteria used to create this list. Comics provide a unique challenge in end of year list creation due to the many different formats they are released. You have straight graphic novels that are self-contained stories, ongoing monthly titles, one shot, mini-series, webcomics, and so many more. To make things simple I included them all in this list. Some may argue rating a graphic novel against an ongoing is like comparing a TV show to a movie, and that is partially true. However, separating them out is also problematic. Do books like Nameless City belong with the ongoing’s because they are released in volume format or with the self-contained graphic novels? Do mini-series belong with monthly ongoings even though their story is complete? So to make things simple I made one giant list. Here is the criteria I did use when creating this list:
- For limited series at least 50% of the comic needed to be released in 2018.
- For ongoing titles at least 2 issues had to be released this year. This is really just a personal choice. Previously I limited it to three issues but with the main purpose of recommending books thought if a book can impact me enough in two issues its worthy to put on the list so people can jump on early.
- Foreign language books that were first released in English in 2018 due qualify.
100. The Lone Ranger
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
When Mark Russell’s name is on a comic there is a reason to get excited. I have never cared much about The Lone Ranger, but that is gradually changing. Mark Russell is the best comic book writer today at adding pointed social commentary into his comics and that fact remains with this series. Also, Bob Q is a revelation. His storytelling ability is amazing for someone so early in their career as a comic artist. Big things are head for him.
99. The Battle of Churubusco: American Rebels in the Mexican-American War
By: Andrea Ferraris
The Battle of Churubusco: American Rebels in the Mexican-American War takes a look at a part of US history that does not get talked about nearly enough. Andrea Ferraris looks into the idea of loyalty and what could drive some to fight for or against their own interests. The story is visually driven even in the way the lettering is presented leading to a narrative that moves quickly without losing its punch.
By: Nick Thorburn
Penguins is a wordless series of cartoon vignettes that are clever, well staged, and emotionally engaging. It was as a ‘How To’ on how to utilize sequential art to tell an affecting story. One of the most unique comic experiences of the year.
97. Rome West
Writer: Brian Wood, Justin Giampaoli
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Rome West acts as of ‘What If’ of actual history seeing how the world would change if a Roman armada settled in North America long before Columbus. Told in a series of short stories that skip throughout time allows it to have a massive scope that spans centuries. If you enjoyed pass work from Brian Wood like his Rebels series this has a very similar tone an execution.
96. We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust
Writers: Neal Adams, Rafael Medoff, Craig Yoe
Produced By: Clizia Gussoni
Publisher: Yoe Books
Some may consider this a cheat as this is a collection of past work, but considering its content it is worth mention. Also, it includes an introduction and afterword by Stan Lee that is worth the price of the book. Considering his recent passing reading his words about the importance of comics and how they approached social issues reminds you that there was a man behind the stan lead persona. The book itself contains a number of classic comic book issues about the Holocaust and includes commentaries by some of their prestigious creators. For comic book historians or those who want to learn more about the ways comics approached complex issues it is a great read. Featured creators include Neal Adams, Gene Colan, Jack Davis, Gil Kane, Chris Claremont and more.
95. Punk Rock Taco
Created By: Adam Wallenta and Makana Wallenta
Publisher: AWE Publishing
Growing up in the 90’s I remember all the different random combinations of nouns and adjectives to create the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Punk Taco may be just as random as some as Biker Mikes From Mars but it is much more thought out and more fun. Coming from a literal father and son team it has all the wild imagination of a child and properly executed of a seasoned writer. As a father myself, I have enjoyed reading this colorful space adventure about Punk Rock Taco and his karate fighting action to my son. Also its positive message and fantastic world make it the ideal first comic for kids or you can just enjoy it as an adult.
94. Trench Dogs
Writer/Artist: Ian Densford
Publisher: Dead Reckoning
Trench Dogs depicts to absolute horrors of World War I. Similar to the infamous Maus it too uses anamorphic animals as a tool to showcase one of humanity’s most brutal times. Using extremely limited dialog Ian Densford allows for his imagery to do most of the talking. Densford indicated he conceived the comic as a long, continuous camera pan from front to front and beyond. By the end, one can plainly see why they called this the War to End all Wars.
Writer/Artist: Ho Che Anderson
Ho Che Anderson’s Godhead is a story about a multinational corporation that creates a machine that is capable of communicating with God. It is hard to determine what is stronger Anderson’s stoic painted pages or his ability to ask the big question and provide deeply satisfying answers. He looks at the fallacy of man and the selfish pride that can drive us to absolute chaos. There is a steady coldness that feeds into this eerily engaging atmosphere. It is not without emotion though, and even makes time for some impacting thrills. One of the most unique books to come out this year.
Writer/Artist: Edmond Baudoin
Translator: Matt Madden
Publisher: New York Review Comics
Edmond Baudoin is a celebrated and respect figure in European comics and now his work is being translated for English speaking audiences. Piero is a story of two young brothers growing up in their own world. Due to one having whooping cough they spend much of their early childhood away from other children. Knowing nothing else they escape into their own world and using their knack for drawing as a way to express their imagination. Piero tells this story with the insight of a man who lived but the wonderment of a child. Hopefully, this is the first of many Edmond Baudoin works set to be adapted.
91. Black Badge
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tyler Jenkins
It was a sad day Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkin’s fantastic Grass Kings series ended, however knowing they were returning for Black Badge lessened that blow. Black Badge shares a similar aesthetic but has a much different story. Black Badge refers to a top-secret, elite branch of boy scouts tasked by the government to take on covert missions. It is like Stand By Me by way of Apocalypse Now. Why it is more all-ages friendly than Grass Kings there are serious stakes at play here. Hilary Jenkins’s colors offer a slight adjustment to Jenkins typical art style as it allows for more definition.
90. Come Again
Writer/Artist: Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf
Nate Powell’s follow up to his work on the award-winning March Trilogy. Come Again my not have the social and historical clout as that series, however, it does have Powell’s knack for capturing emotional truth of a specific time and place. Come Again is a story about aging hippies living in “intentional community” high in the Ozarks. Families who believe their distance from normal society leads to a more pure existence, but the secrets they hold will lead to their eventual downfall.
89. What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to Her Daughter
Writer: Suzy Hopkins
Artist: Hallie Bateman
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
There was once that rule where you were never supposed to talk about politics or religion. With the onset of social media that has gone out the window. The one topic though that we still do not talk about as a society is that of death, which is odd because it is literally the one thing everyone shares. Chances are if you read this you know someone close to you that has passed away, and unless you are a Highlander you too will die one day. Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman’s What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to Her Daughter is a personal letter to Hopkin’s daughter about what to do when she passes. Although it has a personal flavor all of it is relatable in some way. It is the type of book the defines what it means to be bittersweet. Most importantly it is a book that can make you feel better in working through personal loss as well as facing your own mortality.
Writer: Megan Smallwood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
You have to credit Archie as a publisher for finding new ways to approach their classic characters. Vampironica was the latest twist to come from their recent horror books. They enlisted some fantastic talent with this version by enlisting both Megan and Greg Smallwood. For those concerned that the vampire genre has long been overdone do not worry as Vampironica does for vampires what Afterlife with Archie did with zombies.
87. Superman Isn’t Jewish…But I am Kinda
Writer/Artist: Jimmy Bemon
By the title, you may think this is a comic about the history of Superman and how he started as a creation by Jewish immigrants and morphed into a universal Christ allegory. That is not the case as this is a story about Jimmy Bemon and what life can be like when the culture you share is outside the expected norm. How you would want to hide a part of you that you once considered a superpower once the fear of rejection sets in. I never thought I would find a story that has a circumcision as a major plot point this compelling.
Writer/Artist: Lisa Maas
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
How does one move forward? Whether it be from the death of a loved one or a messy breakup? Lisa Maas looks at that very question. It is an affirming LGBTQ graphic novel about two women trying to move past what was to look at what is. Starting over is never easy especially when much of you just wants to give up. Lisa Maas approaches that very fact with a story about the awkwardness of love and our need for deep intimacy.
85. The Comic Book Story of Baseball
Writer: Alex Irvine
Artist: Tomm Coker, C.P. Smith
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Yes, not all comic books have to be works of fiction. The Comic Book Story of Baseball is basically akin to the documentary version of a comic book. One that tells the story of America’s favorite past time including what it is considered just that. It is formal without ever feeling dry or boring. Even if you are the type of person who falls asleep at the very thought of watching a baseball game you may still enjoy how well this book is presented. Alex Irvine does not try to romanticize the topic rather approach it in a more rational manner. A lesser writer would have slapped the ‘This is the Real Story’ atop this book. This is a creative time with a little more class than that.
84. The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Sara DuVall, Little Corvus
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
We take so much for granted today. How often do we cross a bridge and thank those that literally put their life of the line to make our transportation easier? Well, The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York does that by recounting the feat of constructing one New York City’s most notorious landmarks. It is a testament to the power of will as all great feats come at some form of cost. An inspiring tale that adds a intimacy to this tale of a man trying to live out the passionate dreams and designs of his father. It is the type of book and story that makes you realize humans are capable of achieving greatness.
83. Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
Written By: Ari Folman (adapter), Anne Frank (Original text)
Artist: David Polonsky
Publisher: Pantheon Books
When you choose to adapt something as momentous important as Anne Frank’s Diary there has to be a good reason. Ari Folman and David Polonsky did the original piece justice by never trying to overtake what was already there. It was a respectful adapt that provides even deeper context to one of the darkest times in human history. This is the type of graphic novel that could be taught in Middle schools so children around the globe can hear Anne’s story.
Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Publisher: Image Comics
The world of horror comics is flooded at this moment and time and with some recent releases by high profile creators books like Infidel can quickly become lost. For me what separates this series from other horror books is how strong the story is without the horror elements. You could just as easily edit some pages out to make it a compelling drama about a family attempting to live together despite their differences that have hit their boiling point due to recent events that they are still recovering from. Aaron Campbell can also craft some eerie imagery. Creating images of ghostly beings that would make any sane person’s skin crawl.
81. Multiple Man
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Recently Matthew Rosenberg was announced as the next writer to take on the Uncanny X-Men. No doubt that was due to the success of this miniseries. Multiple Man is a series that dives headfirst into the insanity of the X-Men. From time travel to ultimate dimensions. It has the dedication to the complexity of a movie like Primer and the fun of Back to the Future. When you take a person who can make multiple copies of himself and add in time travel the possibilities are endless, and this series proved that.