60. Hyper-Capitalism: The Modern Economy, Its Values, and how to Change Them
Writer: Larry Gonick, Tim Kasser
Artist: Larry Gonick
Publisher: The New Press
In Hyper-Capitalism, cartoonist Larry Gonick and psychologist Tim Kasser provide an in-depth and entertaining look at capitalism how it works and how it has grown into its own monster. Even if you are the type of person who cares little about economics or politics this breaks things down in a way that anyone can get something out of it. Showing that comics can provide a unique tool to tackle some of the more complicated aspects of today in a way that makes it approachable for everyone.
59. Luisa: Now and Then
By: Carole Maurel & Mariko Tamaki
Imagine if your past self-showed up on your doorstep? How would you react? What would your past self-think about the person you became? How could the power of foresight change key moments in your past? Luisa: Now and Then looks into those exact questions with its tale of self-discovery. Carole Maurel’s uses beautiful watercolors to represent the scenic streets of Paris to add to the stories affecting whimsy.
58. Resident Alien: An Alien in New York
Writer: Peter Hogan
Artist: Steve Parkhouse
Publisher: Dark Horse
Resident Alien is such an unsung series and this year it continues to be such a delight. Perhaps it is because Peter Hogan has more of a subdued approach with his storytelling this time around with the change of setting the series has even more life. For those unaware, it is about an alien who has crashed on Earth and is trying to live a normal life as a doctor hoping no one finds out that he is not actually human. Oh, and he enjoys solving mysteries. This mystery is extra special as he may finally have a way to communicate with his homeworld.
Writer/Artist: Erin Nations
Publisher: Top Shelf
In Gumballs Erin Nations recounts his life and what it was liking growing up in a body that felt foreign to you. Sure there are elements of drama but Erin’s hilarious wit is the biggest strength of the series. This is best shown with a number of fake personal ads depicting extremely detailed depictions of the type of people you probably have dealt with one way or another. Nations story is his own but still serves as a great way to peak into an experience outside of your own.
56. The Many Deaths of Scott Koblish
Writer/Artist: Scott Koblish
Publisher: Chronicle Books
How long can you make one joke last? Answer: For an entire book. A well-executed premise that never overstays its welcome. Scott Koblish draws a series of wordless cartoons of himself being killed in different ways. The further it goes along the more and more surreal it becomes. Is there a grander point to this exercise? Possibly, ultimately though what is impressive is his ability to continue to surprise even when you already know the punchline to each joke.
55. Bingo Love
Writer: Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge
Artist: Jenn St. Onge
Publisher: Image Comics
There is no expiration date on love nor does it have to dimish with age. Bingo Love is a story of love lost and found years after. Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray found something special when they were in high school with one another but were forced to split by their families due to their belief homosexuality was wrong and should not be permitted. Now in their golden years, they have found each other again, but is it right to act on their feelings knowing they already have their own families. It is a sweet story full of heart and the messiness of love.
54. Old Man Hawkeye
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Old Man Hawkeye should not work at all. Coming from a first-time comic book writer and the concept sounds like a blatant cash grab trying to milk everything from a past popular storyline. However, not only does it work it may be one of the rare prequels that surpasses the original. Ethan Sacks’s scripting is impressive and you would never guess he is new to comics. He never overwrites and puts a lot of trust in Marco Checchetto and it is easy to see why. Checchetto detail is next level and this is the type of book that should make him into a superstar.
53. X-O Manowar
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Juan José Ryp, Trevor Hairsine
This year Matt Kindt’s run on X-O Manowar entered a new stage this past year Aric returned back to Earth to confront what caused him to run off planet in the first place. Also with Kindt writing the Valiant summer event this year he took some time to delve into Aric’s past as a Visigoth. It is a past that separates Aric not only from other Valiant characters but superheroes in general. Kindt is not the first name I would think of to write a character like X-O, but he has been writing one of the best runs ever for the character.
52. Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden
Writer/Artists: Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo is a character that stayed on my list of shame for far too long. ‘The Hidden’ miniseries allowed the perfect opportunity to jump into this series blindly. This is not a reboot or anything of that nature as it does continue Usagi ‘s story that has been building for years, however, you did not need the background to understand what was going on. There is plenty of samurai action in this murder mystery, but what makes this mini-series especially intriguing is how it delves into the impact of Christianity in imperial Japan
51. Your Black Friend and Other Strangers
Writer/Artist: Ben Passmore
Publisher: Silver Sprocket
Your Black Friend and Other Strangers is a collection of short stories that approach issues of race and outdated social norms with a fresh and bold voice touches upon the serious to the more inane while showing how both lead to the other. Sharp and hilarious throughout it is the type of reading that will make you reflect on your own actions and the odd choices we make based on nothing but race.
50. Kabul Disco
Writer/Artist: Nicolas Wild
Nicolas Wild is a French cartoonist who took a job with a level of danger not usually associated with the art form. This series covers his adventures in the heart of Afghanistan in 2005 as the Allies are attempting to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. How better to do that than with cartoons? Considering the subject matter, one might think this is this dramatic tale of a cartoonist turn spy in the midsts of danger. Yes, there are more dramatic and dangerous moments there is more of a satirical take on what happened to Nicolas at that time. It is a fascinating story and piece of history.
49. Incognegro: Renaissance
Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Warren Pleece
Publisher: Berger Books
Then years ago Mat Johnson wrote the first Incognegro series for Vertigo comics. With Karen Berger moving from Vertigo to her own imprint with Dark Horse she brought some past friends with her. Incognegro: Renaissance is a prequel series to that original as reporter Zane Pinchback goes ”incognegro’ for the first time where he uses his light appearance to pass as a white man to get to places other black reporters are not permitted. The Harlem Renaissance provides so much for a storyteller it is surprising it is not used more often. Johnson uses that past as a window to the present.
48. These Savage Shores
Writer: Ram V.
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Vault Comics as a publisher had an amazing year in 2018 as they put one some of their best content yet. One of their best series was that of These Savage Shores. One of the basic properties that make Vault Comics feel special is that with each series there is nothing else quite like it in all of comics. With These Savage Shores, you have a horror story taking place in the New World during the 18th century. It is presented with the sophistication of an Academy Award-winning period piece alongside haunting gothic horror imagery. When cultures clash more than just traditions get challenged. Those hidden secrets that lay within the darkness are also forced to confront one another to determine who is truly the dominant force.
47. Mandela the General
Writer: John Carlin
Artist: Oriol Malet
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Anytime you have a story that centers on Nelson Mandela you have plenty of gravitas to tap into. What can be lost in Mandela’s story is just how close the country came to anarchy. Mandela the General adds that context as it shows the waters he needed to navigate to maintain peace. The imagery in this book is powerful. The coloring, in particular, is laid out with such precision each pigment feels like an emotional statement. Considering how race is the driving force of the turmoil covered the choice to depict everyone in black and white speaks volume.
46. Her Infernal Descent
Writer: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Kyle Charles
When reading Her Infernal Descent it took me some time to fully get into it. It is rather dense with ideas and themes that a first time read only allows you to pick up on so much. The story follows a woman who literally travels through hell in an attempt to help some of her recently deceased family members. Throughout her journey, she runs into some famous literary and historical figures who use her as a sounding board to discover how relevant their work is to the present day. That is a gutsy move to include heavy hitters in the literary world like that. You have to have a lot of faith in your writing to think you can properly represent people like Edgar Allen Poe and his craft. There is more here than a book report cameo fest. There is still a lot left to find out, but so far we see the lengths a mother would go to in an attempt to get her family back. It is one of those universal concepts that has such a large amount of reliability you do not need to bog it down with a tremendous amount of backstory. This drops you into it and lets you find your way. As a reader you need to catch up quick and when you do it is worth it.
45. Woman World
Writer/Artist: Aminder Dhaliwal
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Woman World looks at what a future would be like if men went extinct. It is more of a humorous look at current pop culture than a stern analysis of social norms. I never thought I would laugh at loud at Paul Blart: Mall Cop but this proved me wrong. Aminder Dhaliwal has a sneaky way of making a point. Where you laughing at another who of her well time jokes then a few pages later the bigger point she was trying to make sinks in.
44. James Bond: The Body
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Antonio Fuso, Luca Casalanguida, Eoin Marron, Hayden Sherman, Rapha Lobosco
Dynamite has done a fantastic job with all their different James Bond books. As a fan of the franchise they have representing the character well. Alex Kot’s take on the character is easily the most original of them all. He literally breaks Bond down to his essential elements with each installment. From the body to the mind to the heart 007 each of Bonds specific traits gets its own issue. It may be a gimmick, but it is a gimmick that works.
43. My Boyfriend is a Bear
Writer: Pamela Ribon
Artist: Cat Farris
Publisher: Oni Press
When you read the title of Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris’s My Boyfriend is a Bear you may think it is the name of a bad SNL Sketch. What is the most surprising about this book is that it is not as surreal as the title would make you think. Sure it is not realistic but there is an earnest attempt to make this insane relationship work. Not that it is void of humor. There are plenty of laughs to be had. It’s heart is what makes it special.
42. Deadly Class
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
End of year lists tend to be dominated by newer series. I get it as the shiny new toys tend to be the ones that are the most fun to talk about. Still, that should not diminish those series that are great years in and years out. This year had one of the best issues of the series yet as Wes Craig and Rick Remender made a love letter to Frank Miller and his past work. With the upcoming TV series, there is no time better than now to jump back to the world of Deadly Class.
41. Doomsday Clock
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
How do you follow a masterpiece? Some would argue the best way is by creating something new rather than rehashing the great work of others, which is why many disagreed with the idea of DC returning to the world of the Watchmen yet again with Doomsday Clock. That sentiment is understandable, however arguing that point now is moot as there is no stopping this series. What Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have done is simultaneously created a sequel to Watchmen while using it to comment on how it has indirectly impacted the work of superhero comics. Brad Anderson’s colors have been the linchpin to this entire book thus far. He constructed a palette that is reminiscent of John Higgins’s iconic look without being too overtly derivative.