Before you say it let me. This list is wrong. Let’s be honest all lists are wrong because the process is one of the most subjective things you do no matter how hard you try to remain objective. So I am sure there will be comics that I am missing, ones you think are too high, too low, or ones you believe do not belong.
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, 2017, and 2018 as well) If something didn’t make the list that you think should or something is higher or lower than it should 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 the 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 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 2019 due qualify.
Also based on the feedback from last year I added descriptions for each book based on what was solicited. Anyways, enough about the rules and regulations lets get onto the countdown…
100. Punks Not Dead: London Calling
Writer: David Barnett
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Publisher: Black Crown
Description: Introduction by best-selling author Ian Rankin! Teenage Fergie and his invisible sidekick, the ghost of a punk rocker named Sid, head to London to find Fergie’s absent father, while the Department of Extra-Usual Affairs, led by the irascible Dorothy Culpepper, and Fergie’s mum Julie face demons from hell-both personal and literal. Fergie and Sid have arrived in London… and a whole pile of trouble. All Fergie has to go on in the search for his father is an old photograph and some snippets of information that suggest “Billy” was involved in the music business in the Eighties and Nineties. Tracking down old contacts, Fergie and Sid find themselves getting mired in a shadowy undercurrent of the occult and whispers of entities not from our world. Meanwhile, back in Preston, Julie forms an unlikely alliance with Natalie as they try to find the missing Fergie.
Why It Made the List: When reading Punks Not Dead: London Calling I anticipate each page turn to see what Martin Simmonds will do with his page layouts. He is breaking all the rules when it comes to paneling as often he will remove it altogether to use the design of the scene itself to move the reader’s eye from one moment to the next. One of my favorite images was in issue three and included massive zoom in to a face so these giant eyes took up nearly the entire panel. Then in silhouette, a crowd is woven underneath to represent the presence that was felt within that moment. My favorite types of artists are those that continuously find ways to surprise me with each issue hey draw. With his work on this series, Martin Simmonds has turned into one of those types of artists for me.
Writer/Artist: Kate Lacour
Description: What if lactating snakes gestated inside fetuses? What if factory-farmed pigs were bred as giant, insentient cubes? What if the human spine generated methamphetamine capsules? These single-page sequential images illustrate these and many other marvelous, hideous, enigmatic physiological mysteries. Each comics sequence is stitched together (pun intended) by a narrative thread that forms a strange and mesmerizing voyage through the body
Why It Made the List: This is a collection of insane yet massively creative images that bend the notion of what we consider storytelling. The type of book you will equally want to look away and be captivated by. There is a wry sense of humor diminishes any concern of this being pretentious. I am not sure if coffee table books are still a thing but this would make a great choice for that honor. Seeing people’s reactions will give you a great insight into who they are as people and how open or closed-minded they may be.
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: The epic conclusion! Having barely survived their confrontation with the unstoppable Zaj?cek the Cremator, who remains determined to leave their $#!t in ruins, Jerry and Leo are off-camera and off-the-grid. But where to go now that Leo’s stolen pretty much everything he ever wanted? Only one item remains: the Action Joe action figure Leo lost as a kid. An epic showdown in the desert ensues, and a surprising hero rises!
Why It Made the List: Friendo is a modernization of the original themes of Wizard of Oz to reflect our current materialistic culture driven by hyper-capitalism. This is the type of book that will reward you on rereads due to the complexity of the narrative and unexpected structure. Prior to this I never read anything by Alex Paknadel but now after this and the current Incursion comic he has entered my list of must-read writers. Martin Simmonds excels at storytelling as well. He brings a strong sense of humor to this book as well and it looks like nothing else on the shelves.
99. Mars Attacks
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Description: Spencer hasn’t finished a dang thing in his life. So when he goes to visit his dad to see if maybe he can borrow some money, the last thing on his mind is global survival. Now Spencer and his father are on the run, trying to avoid being spaceray’d by a bunch of destruction happy Martians, heck bent on zapping them dead! Writer Kyle Starks (Rick and Morty, Rock Candy Mountain) and artist Chris Schweizer (The Creeps, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) bring you the face melting experience of a lifetime with Mars Attacks for the first time at Dynamite!
Why It Made the List: Kudos to Dynamite for putting some interesting choices for comic creators on a number of their titles this year. With Mars Attacks Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer put together and emotionally impacting father in son story based on a property that became famous for making goofy and graphic trading cards. You can forget how simple character development can go such a long way. There are plenty of goofs and laughs to be had like monstrous mayhem in the background while our character slowly walk to their destination, but when this series ended there is a real sense of accomplishment. It may be the best thing to ever happen to the Mars Attacks franchise.
96. Superman Smashes The Klan
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis’ Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman!
Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) presents his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan.
Why It Made the List: There is so much about Superman Smashes the Klan that I adore. From the format that is akin to combining the smaller manga style with the traditional American format. Adapting a classic Superman audio drama and staying true to that time makes you realize why Superman was the perfect type of hero for that day, and also shows how he can appeal to a younger audience today as well. DC tried to put a lot of focus on appealing to a younger market this year and this was one of the best examples because it felt fresh and traditional at the same time.
95.The Way of the House Husband
Writer/Artist: Kousuke Oono
Publisher: VLZ Media
Description: He the fiercest member of the yakuza, a man who left countless underworld legends in his wake. They called him “the Immortal Dragon.” But one day he walked away from it all to travel another path—the path of the househusband! The curtain rises on this cozy yakuza comedy!
Why It Made the List: When you look over this list you will see there are not a long of manga titles simply because I do not read that much of it. However, in order to feel like I am doing this list justice, I will try titles to see if they will click with me and this certainly did. Humor is so hard to translate but I guess the tough guy being domesticated works no matter the language. Imagine the Manga version of Mr. Nanny but not awful mostly because it doesn’t make a convoluted plot for its premise. The art is to the level you would expect for a normal story it simply never takes itself too seriously.
Writer/Artist: Jeff McComsey
Publisher: Dead Reckoning
Description: In SMEDLEY we follow legendary Marine Corps General Smedley Darlington Butler through several periods in his life exploring conflicts and moments in American and Marine Corps history that are often overlooked. Events ranging from The Philippine-American War, The Boxer Rebellion, The Banana Wars in South America, and finally World War are explored through Smedley’s personal recollection.
Why It Made the List: This covers the life of one of the most decorated soldiers in US History. Considering that I was ready for a puff piece that glorifies the horrors of war but instead Smedley Butler is shown to be a calming force amongst utter chaos. He was an unassuming figure that accomplished great feats in service for his fellow man. The cost was paid and shown as the wounds earned are more than physical.
It also makes you realize the sad constant state of war. How there are so many that our history glosses over despite the bodies left. Since this story is through his perspective you are not given an unbiased look into this combat but even his viewpoint is not without criticism of what he and his fellow soldiers are forced to undergo
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: Wonder Comics
Description: When a fight between Superman and Mongul crashes into a small northwestern town, a local teenager named Naomi starts looking into what happened the last time a super-being visited her hometown—and how that visit might tie into her own origins as an adopted child. But Naomi’s seemingly harmless curiosity exposes more than her family’s startling secrets—it attracts the attention of forces that could threaten the Earth itself!
Why It Made the List: It did not take long for Brian Michael Bendis to try to create a new slate of characters for DC, which is something they honestly need. David F. Walker clearly has his fingerprints all over this series as well as he and Bendis’s style work well together. This is the type of book that can appeal to an audience that most DC books do not. It has a more traditional Young Adult approach especially with so much focus on family and the relationships of these new characters. Also, this was the coming-out party for artist Jamal Campbell. He put together some of the best-looking pages DC put out this year.
Writer: Michael Moreci, Gary Dauberman
Artist: Zak Hartong
Description: Here in the heartland of the U.S. of A., the world has ended! But worry not, because the mall still stands. And within the walls of this consumeristic mecca lies a new world order: box store tribes and name brand gangs, all vying for limited space and resources. So, actually…you can worry! Especially for poor Andre Reed, who-after the assassination of a tribal leader-has to navigate the mad haven to prove his innocence, and prevent the end of the world, again!
Why It Made the List: The way I would describe Mall it is as if you took the characters from something like the cult classic film The Warriors and placed them in a post-apocalyptic setting where they all have to reside within a mall, and things go as well as you would expect. How can you not enjoy a book that delves into Shakespearian politics with characters who look like they come from the kingdom of Foot Locker? Despite the insanity, it still manners a measured tone to stop it from ever feeling cartoonish.
91. Pumpkin Heads
Writer: Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks
Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Description: Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years…
Why It Made the List: What a quaint fall story about the last night working at a Pumpkin Patch and two friends taking an unexpected but long-awaited adventure. It is as if Richard Linklater made a YA comic. I would be all for this being the start of the Before trilogy of comics. A story about how admiration for what we don’t have can lead us to oversee what we do. There is something so pure and pleasant about two friends bonding over the delightful tackiness that consumes fall festivals. As someone who enjoys a good fall festival himself, I could fully relate to that aspect. Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks’s styles compliment each other well as if their own personal friendship bleeds through the actual book. It is a book you can easily get comfortable with on a cool autumn eve.
90. Spencer & Locke 2
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Description: Continuing the Ringo Award-nominated series, volume 2 pits burned-out Detective Locke and his imaginary panther Spencer against their deadliest foe yet: Roach Riley, a scarred former soldier transformed into an acolyte of violence and terror. Outgunned and outmatched, can Spencer and Locke overcome their inner demons to stop this madman’s rampage? Or will their partnership become the latest casualty on Roach’s hit list?
Why It Made the List: When your book has people fighting Nazis and evil snowmen how could I resist putting it on this list? Clearly, that is not something I can ignore as someone who enjoys comics that are willing to just go for it. Also, love all the ways this series has found to incorporate different comic strips into its pages from Dilbert to cameos from a character clearly inspired by Dick Tracey. This is the right way to handle parody where you are not mocking what came before but poking fun in a respectful way. Not that everything is a complete joke mind you. In fact, things get dark early and often. It has this consistent dichotomy going which falls perfectly in line with the premise of the book.
89. The Lone Ranger
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Description: The advent of barbed wire is creating havoc in the Texas panhandle. A corrupted state senator conspires with dirty ranchers to make land unnavigable for open rangers and native tribes, passing new laws allowing cattlemen to kill anyone caught cutting the wire. Good people are getting hurt, and The Lone Ranger must act. But to truly stop this rampant villainy, he’ll need to go all the way to the top, and rely on an old friend for help…
Why It Made the List: This is the type of book where you can tell everyone involved has a lot of pride in their role. Each task is done with the utmost care leading to a book filled with ambition and thought. If you simply want your straightforward Lone Ranger tale about taking out the mischievous bad guys it is there to be had. When you look underneath that you can see there that it has so much more to offer. Artist Bob Q deserves a great deal of credit as well with the work he is done for the series. With what he is doing with this book along with James Bond: Origin he is primed to be a big breakout creator. His page layouts never feel overstuffed. They move from scene to scene with ease. He also has a great knack for knowing where exactly to put the camera. It also included one of my favorite new characters of the year with the villain Connor. No creative nickname or badass epithet. Just a general first name that gives you little information about who you are about to deal with. Perhaps because no name could do it justice. He is like a more flamboyant Sherlock Holmes with a keen desire for human flesh. He works as a walking allegory for the idyllic way we romanticize the past. On the surface, he is the prim and proper gentlemanly figure but underneath he is a man of brutality born from tragedy and a life of taking advantage of the less fortunate.
88. Long Road to Liquor City
Writer: Macon Blari
Artist: Joe Flood
Publisher: Oni Press
Description: From filmmaker Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore) and artist Joe Flood (Science Comics) comes a Great Depression-era adventure comedy about love, friendship, and the pursuit of happiness.
As jaunty hobos Jed and Thanny crisscross the country in search of the fabled Liquor City, they are pursued relentlessly by fearsome rail yard sergeant Ronan O’Feathers, who wrongly blames them for his wife’s death. With the law on their tail and a succession of colorful characters along the way, the only constant is the absurdity and mayhem they leave in their wake on the Long Road to Liquor City.
Why It Made the List: As a major fan of Macon Blair’s film work, I was looking forward to what he would do writing comics. It helps when you have a strong cartoonist like Joe Flood who does a wonderful job here especially with his character designs and animation. Love the dedication to the language of the time and the colorful hobo lingo. It is like a redneck version of Shakespeare. The sense of humor is brash and almost out of time but it all works within the concept of the story. Love the silliness from top to bottom.
87. No Guns Life
Writer/Artist: Tasuku Karasuma
Publisher: VLZ Media
Description: When a fellow Extended showed up in Inui’s office—on the run from the Security Bureau with a kidnapped child in tow and asking for help—Inui should have just thrown the guy out. But Inui’s loyalty to a brother Extended makes him take the job. Keeping the child safe won’t be easy, since everyone seems to want to grab him, from street punks to the megacorporation Berühren, who have sent out a special agent that knows exactly how to deal with the Extended…
Why It Made the List: I was not sure what to make of this going in. Was it meant to be satirical or straightforward? Ended up being this neo-noir peppered with ludicrous yet seriously treated science fiction concepts. It ultimately works because despite all the noise the story is basic. The classic past his prime and down on his luck private eye, who is actually a good guy despite his tough exterior. He is a tough nut to crack but can be broken for the right reason. There is a bit more to it that but its clean execution makes the craziness a bit easier to digest. I was actually surprised by how much I liked it when your main character is a walking gun. It was like watching muppets doing Shakespeare and the meshing of the silly with the seriousness all balanced out to a zen-like quality.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Mack
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Based on a true story, the intelligence community figures out that the traveling band of social misfits who make comic books are an exact match to the profiles of candidates recruited for intelligence and counterintelligence gathering. A well-known comics creator is recruited by the agency to live a double life as a spy. And convention season is upon us.
Why It Made the List: With each issue of this series I was more and more amazed by the versatility of David Mack’s artistic style. He was balancing so much from a comic within a comic, within another comic to the general storytelling feats of an everyday comic creator turned spy. A ludicrous premise that also kind of makes sense. One wonders if Brian Michael Bendis came up with the idea after spending an afternoon with former C.I.A. agent and current DC writer Tom King, or at least maybe he gave him some pointers. Ultimately though despite the out-there concept this is a book about celebrating comics and their creators by demonstrating how much you can do with the medium. Even those that are not standard fans of Bendis’s work may even find themselves enjoying this series. He takes a major backseat to let David Mack put his stamp on the entire series.
85. Bury the Lede
Writer: Gaby Dunn
Artist: Claire Roe
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: Twenty-one-year-old Madison T. Jackson is already the star of the Emerson College student newspaper when she nabs a coveted night internship at Boston’s premiere newspaper, The Boston Lede. The job’s simple: do whatever the senior reporters tell you to do, from fetching coffee to getting a quote from a grieving parent. It’s grueling work, so when the murder of a prominent Boston businessman comes up on the police scanner, Madison races to the scene of the grisly crime. There, Madison meets the woman who will change her life forever: prominent socialite Dahlia Kennedy, who is covered in gore and being arrested for the murder of her family. The newspapers put everyone they can in front of her with no results until, with nothing to lose, Madison gets a chance – and unexpectedly barrels headfirst into danger she never anticipated.
Why It Made the List: I am a sucker for a classic investigator reporter story and this gave me plenty to enjoy. It sticks to the young reporter over her head trying to prove herself concept well and the mystery it was following was compelling throughout and the answers it gave more than satisfied. The art was strong and settled in the modern pulp feel. Madison T. Jackson seems like a character that can continue beyond this to even more stories and adventures.
84. Black Badge
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: The Black Badges are a top-secret branch of boy scouts, tasked with covert missions that no adult could ever undertake. But little do they know, their troop is not alone… sent to a private island off the north shore of Oahu, the team must battle against other elite scouts in a grueling, dangerous competition that will test their skills like never before, all the while investigating the disappearance of their former friend. The Eisner Award-nominated creative team behind Grass Kings reunites for Black Badge Volume Two, as New York Times bestseller Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and illustrators Tyler Jenkins (Peter Panzerfaust) and Hilary Jenkins filter a sobering tale of societal decay through the eyes of the children tasked with cleaning up the mess
Why It Made the List: Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins make one heck of a creative team. Not too long about they worked on the criminally underappreciated Grass Kings series, and now their series Black Badge has also come to an end. Hilary Jenkins colors bring a very different atmosphere to this series. In how she is able to utilize specific tones within flashback sequences to differentiate them from the present day, which causes those moments to really pop and come to life. Considering how many flashbacks occurred with the series that detail was extremely important. For a series that centers on a group of kids it enters into some dark territory such as the dangerous depths these special ops boy scouts traveled. Like a good war story, it is about the lasting damage these types of conflicts can have especially on those who inherit the misdeeds of others. This just makes that line more direct.
83. Snow, Glass, Apples
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Colleen Doran
Publisher: Dark Horse
Description: A chilling fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairy tale by bestselling creators Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran.
A not-so-evil queen is terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel this creature and save her kingdom from a world where happy endings aren’t so happily ever after.
Why It Made the List: If you ever read Neil Gaiman before and could imagine what he would do with a classic fairy tale like Snow White this will give you exactly that. A story built on an elegant imagination that does not shy away from the sexual implications of the story. Neil Gaiman’s name may be the headliner but Colleen Doran is very much the one with the most control over this book. Her work is beautiful with layouts that breathe life into the entire canvas as if each page was designed to be its own mural to be studied.
82. Silver Surfer: Black
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Tradd Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: Spinning out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, almost the entire galaxy’s defenders have been blown through a black hole, including the Silver Surfer! But the story doesn’t end there… In order to fight back the oblivion, Surfer will have to fight to save his own soul and not lose himself to the void. Follow the Sentinel of the Spaceways on a journey that will change him forever!
Why It Made the List: Marvel has been making a lot of interesting art choices for some of their most recent mini-series. For example, putting Juan Ferreyra on Killmonger and Travel Foreman on Black Cat as their styles are very much their own. The same can be said for Tradd Moore and his work on Silver Surfer: Black. Donny Cates designed a setup where the Surfer was placed in a world where the normal laws of physics did not apply and Tradd Moore was given great freedom in putting everything together. Some fantastic page layouts were his imagination and ingenuity lead to creative storytelling. In the spirit of Jack Kirby, he did the one thing all artists should by making each page exciting. You have no idea what the next page turn will lead to causing your attention to be glued. It may not have the detail or look most are used to but if you can be open to what Moore is doing there is a lot to appreciate. Comics are better when chances like this are made especially when done by major publishers.
81. The River at Night
Writer/Artist: Kevin Huizenga
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: In The River at Night, Kevin Huizenga delves deep into consciousness. What begins as a simple, distracted conversation between husband and wife, Glenn and Wendy Ganges—him reading a library book and her working on her computer—becomes an exploration of being and the passage of time. As they head to bed, Wendy exhausted by a fussy editor and Glenn energized by his reading and no small amount of caffeine, the story begins to fracture.
Why It Made the List: If you ever laid in bed at night with your mind racing or got lost in a daydream this will give you plenty to relate to as it unfolds like a stream of consciousness and examines about nearly everything you can imagine. It leads to a surprising read and even dips its toe in playing with the comic book format. There may not be massive depth to the exploration but the sheer randomness makes it work, and to call it random is somewhat of a disservice as there is clearly a plan throughout. If you like books that play with the basic foundations we have become accustomed to like time and place this book has a lot to dissect and experience. You can simply enjoy the ride or jump in further to partake in the craziness.
80. Bad Gateway
Writer/Artist: Simon Hanselmann
Description: Owl is gone, Werewolf Jones has moved in, and everything as Meg and Mogg know it begins to fall apart. Hanselmann’s comic premise of his previous graphic novels — eternally stoned, slacker roommates — stretches at the seams as his characters reflect the psychological toll that their years of unsustainable, determined insouciance and self-medication has inflicted.
Why It Made the List: Its abrasive sense of humor and aggressive desire to soak in the taboo along with the odd link to genre reminded me of Aqua Team Hunger Force. The way it embraces the obscene including drugs, sex, and everything in between may turn some heads There are times, especially in the final third, where the substance behind the shock shows itself. Saying there is heart may be taking things a tad too far but perhaps within the disgust, there is a level of sentimentality.
79. Manor Black
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Description: Roman Black is the moribund patriarch of a family of powerful sorcerers. As his wicked and corrupt children fight over who will take the reins of Manor Black and representative of the black arts, Roman adopts a young mage who he gifts his powers to with the hope that someone good will take his place against the evil forces out to bring down his family and legacy.
Why It Made the List: Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook previously teamed together for one of the best horror comics of this decade with Harrow County so them joining forces once again brings with it a level of anticipation. Bunn and Cook’s styles work together well due to their near timeless styles where stories feel like they could be taking place today or generations ago. Manor Black is a different story compared to Harrow County but how it builds a similar mysterious world and atmosphere is very much the same. Crook’s art has this texture element to it as well. As if the characters were hand-modeled out of clay to represent this world.
78. I Know What I Am: The True Story of Artemisia Gentileschi
Writer/Artist: Gina Siciliano
Description: In 17th century Rome, where women are expected to be chaste and yet are viewed as prey by powerful men, the extraordinary painter Artemisia Gentileschi fends off constant sexual advances as she works to become one of the greatest painters of her generation. Frustrated by the hypocritical social mores of her day, Gentileschi releases her anguish through her paintings and, against all odds, becomes a groundbreaking artist. Meticulously rendered in ballpoint pen, this gripping graphic biography serves as an art history lesson and a coming-of-age story. Resonant in the #MeToo era, I Know What I Am highlights a fierce artist who stood up to a shameful social status quo.
Why It Made the List: As someone who was forced to take Art History in college, I wish more of my readings were like this and I also wonder why this story is not talked about more. For her first graphic novel, Gina Siciliano put together one impressive work full of information. The pages are staged in a way to make this book feel like a relic of the Reasinnance itself. On the downside, it does read a bit dry and more technical than my personal taste but as a sheer piece of art and history, it has a lot to offer.
77. The Goon
Writer: Eric Powell, Thomas Sniegoski
Artist: Eric Powell, Brett Parson, Rachael Cohen (Colorist)
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
Description: The next era in the legacy of The Goon starts here! This all new series marks The Goon’s return to Albatross Funnybooks and is just in time to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the book. Eric Powell takes the series to its humor-based roots as Goon & Franky return from strange adventures abroad to find a horde of unsavory characters have filled the void left in his absence from Lonely Street.
Why It Made the List: I was extremely late to the world of The Goon, but luckily with this latest series, a brand new jumping-on point has been created. Even going as far as introducing brand new villains that tie into some of the greatest fictional characters ever created. As someone who enjoys Old School Hollywood especially the Universal Monster era, there is so much to love with Eric Powell’s art style, although to simply associate it with just does it a disservice as he brings his own originally to this as well. For a character to last as long as Goon it is a small miracle, and not only last but still be welcoming to a new generation of readers is nearly unheard of in today’s world. So if you were like me and late to the party this year’s new start is a highly recommended jumping on point.
Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: The Fearscape is a world beyond our own, populated by manifestations of our worst fears. Once per generation, The Muse travels to Earth, discovers our greatest Storyteller, and takes them with her to the Fearscape to battle these fear-creatures on our behalf. All has been well for eons, until The Muse encounters Henry Henry-a plagiarist with delusions of literary grandeur. Mistaking him for our greatest Storyteller, she ushers him into the Fearscape. Doom follows.
Why It Made the List: Never have I read a comic or anything for that matter that actively insults me as a reader and my response is to do nothing but enjoy it. The use of the meta-narrative appeared dried out of originality by this point, yet Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti found a way to tell a compelling story about the need to tell compelling stories while commenting on that compelling story as well as providing commentary to the reader’s reactions to its own deconstruction of the literary design it was fabricating. Got that? Good. Me either…fully. Yet somehow it still all works. Somehow it is able to be at the peak of convoluted storytelling while being directly straightforward. Considering all this I do not doubt my enjoyment will only increase on each reread as you catch more and more that may have been missed on a first go through.