50. Blood on the Tracks
Writer/Artist: Shuzo Oshimi
Description: From the creator who brought you notable works such as The Flowers of Evil, Happiness, and Inside Mari, comes a new suspense drama centering on the theme of a toxic parent. Dive into this latest thriller by master storyteller, Shuzo Oshimi.
Why it Made the List: When I think about this book literal goosebumps begin to form on my body. This is easily one of the creepiest books on the shelves right now. Shuzo Oshimi showcases the toxic energy of a parent who has lost grip with reality and loves their child in all the wrong ways. Taking the idea of being your child’s protector to dangerous degrees. The imagery sets the mood with a lot of closeups that make you feel uncomfortable throughout. If you are looking for a horror story that knows how to keep you on edge this is your read. Although you may need to take a shower or two after finishing each volume.
Writer/Artist: Terry Moore
Publisher: Abstract Studio
Description: When Zoe’s friend falls victim to a female serial killer, Zoe vows to find the killer before the police and deliver her own razor-edged justice. But the clever assassin proves to be very hard to find as Zoe follows the trail of bodies and the few clues left behind. Using her own unique set of skills, Zoe eventually closes in on the killer until they come face to face for the final kill. Who will walk away? Find out in Terry Moore’s newest suspense thriller featuring the irrepressible Zoe from Rachel Rising! Available in softcover and hardcover editions.
Why it Made the List: There are not many people left that make books the way Terry Moore does. He does everything from creator the comic to publishing it as well. That freedom is part of what has made his books so special. Whatever allows books like Serial to exist I am all for. What I love most about Terry Moore comics is how they have zero dependence on genre tropes. Yes, this is him basically taking on the concept of a serial killer but he does it in his own unique way. Just great storytelling top to bottom.
48. Lore Olympus
Writer/Artist: Rachel Smythe
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Description: Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.
Why it Made the List: Webtoons is another massive part of the comic book world this is in my blindspot so I was excited when one of the most popular series was getting a physical release. Quickly into reading this I could understand why so many would get glued to this story. Meshing some of the oldest lore in human history with modern issues and relationships.I was also very much impressed with Rachel Smythe’s art style. The cartooning and color choice is key to making that world as vibrant and alive as it is in each page.
47. The Girl from the Sea
Writer/Artist: Molly Knox Ostertag
Description: Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.
Why it Made the List: If you ever wanted a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid you now have it with The Girl in the Sea. To be honest there’s not much in common with that classic outside of a mermaid falling in love with a land dweller. The story follows 15-year-old Morgan who is at a very pivotal point in her life. Her mother recently divorce, her bother is a pain, and she worries her friends will reject her if they learn she likes girls. Then one night she is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl who may also be a mermaid. You have secrets upon secrets all of which represent that time in our lives where we struggle with being who we want to be vs who we are expected to be. The best YA books are those that approach complex and challenging topics on a level kids can relate to and understand without talking down to them and this is exactly what this time. At the same time, it tells a heck of a story about finding your first love and realizing running away from your problems will not solve them.
46. The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Description: The world’s most unlikable action star has been found dead, and his previous TV sidekicks are looking to solve the mystery. But how can you catch a murderer when almost everyone hates the victim? Now, these sidekicks are going to learn what it means to be the stars of the show-that is, if any of them survive the STUNTMAN WAR!
Why it Made the List: When Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer work together magic happens. Their recent run on Mars Attacks was so much better than it had any business being, and this year they came together for this series. The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton had their normal style and sense of humor and also worked as this love letter to old-school Hollywood. It comes from a similar world of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with a very different tone. This is a comic book that loves being a comic book.
45. The Parakeet
Translator: Hannah Chute
Publisher: Graphic Mundi
Description: Bastien is eight years old, and his mother is ill. She often has what his father and grandparents call “episodes.” She screams and fights, scratches and spits, and has to be carted away to specialized clinics for frequent treatments. Bastien doesn’t like it when she goes, because when she comes home, she isn’t the same. She has no feelings, no desires, and not much interest in him. According to the doctors, Bastien’s mother suffers from “bipolar disorder with schizophrenic tendencies,” but he prefers to imagine her as a comic-book heroine, like Jean Grey, who may become Dark Phoenix and explode in a superhuman fury at any moment.
Why it Made the List: As a parent with two kids I often wonder how much of the world they really understand. A comic like The Parakeet provides some context as the creator looks back at his life as he tries to understand the mental disorder his mother suffered from. It is a heartbreaking experience especially when he gets those moments of reprieve that remind him of who his man can truly be. You may be wondering where the title comes from and it is something that will not make sense until you fully read it. Now looking back just that title gives me this bittersweet feeling.
44. Zig Zag
Writer/Artist: Will Sweeney
Description: This one-shot glossy blast of sci-fi psychedelia could only come from the mind of British artist Will Sweeney (Kramers Ergot). Zig Zag depicts the evolution of The Mindseye Trooper, a mechanical secret agent piloted by an imp spawned from an extraterrestrial fungus. From embryonic zombie to powerful hero, The Trooper must infiltrate an alternate dimension in which a brutal tyrant has terrorized the inhabitants and dispensed psychoactive justice. The serrated path of the Trooper has many twists and turns but eventually comes full circle.
Why it Made the List: If I were to list my top single issues of the year this would have made it near the top as well. Not fully sure if this would count as a single issue or trade because who knows what the rules are anymore. At the end of the day, this was a great comic that was weird in the best ways. The color design in this was a feast for your eyes. Even if you did not understand a thing the sheer beauty of the page was reason enough for it to make the list.
43. The Nice House on the Lake
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Everyone who was invited to the house knows Walter—well, they know him a little, anyway. Some met him in childhood; some met him months ago. And Walter’s always been a little…off. But after the hardest year of their lives, nobody was going to turn down Walter’s invitation to an astonishingly beautiful house in the woods, overlooking an enormous sylvan lake. It’s beautiful, it’s opulent, it’s private—so a week of putting up with Walter’s weird little schemes and nicknames in exchange for the vacation of a lifetime? Why not? All of them were at that moment in their lives when they could feel themselves pulling away from their other friends; wouldn’t a chance to reconnect be…nice? With Something Is Killing The Children and The Department of Truth, James Tynion IV has changed the face of horror in modern comics—now get ready for his most ambitious story yet, alongside his Detective Comics partner Álvaro Martínez Bueno!
Why it Made the List: The Nice House on the Lake had one of my favorite opening issues for any series this year, but the downside for that is I never felt it hit that high again…at least thus far. I have enjoyed the series as a whole. I just think the central mystery is becoming less and less compelling the more answers that we get, but the dilemma within the characters has remained interesting throughout. I am a bit sad this will be going on break for the foreseeable future because there are still a bunch of questions I am hoping to see get answered.
42. Thirsty Mermaids
Writer/Artist: Kat Leyh
Publisher: Gallery 13
Description: Fresh out of shipwreck wine, three tipsy mermaids—Pearl, Tooth, and Eez—hit on the idea of magically masquerading as humans and sneaking onto land to indulge in much more drinking and a whole lot of fun right in the heart of a local seaside tourist trap. But the good times abruptly end the next morning when, through the haze of killer hangovers, the trio realizes they never actually learned how to break the spell, and are now stuck on land for the foreseeable future. Which means everything from: enlisting the aid of their I-know-we-just-met-but-can-we-crash-with-you bartender friend, struggling to make sense of the human world around them, to even trying to get jobs with zero skill sets . . . all while attempting to somehow return to the sea and making the most of their current situation with tenacity and camaraderie (especially if someone else is buying).
Why it Made the List: After her work on Lumberjanes, Snapdragon, and now Thirsty Mermaids it is clear Kat Leyh has a knack for creating whimsical comics with the right touch of fantasy in a way of tackling some vital issues. Thirsty Mermaids is a story of Mermaids who make their way to land for a night of drinking and fun. Quickly though they realize returning to their homeworld will not be as easy. This is a literal fish out of water story as these mermaids attempt to make a new life in this strange world. Packed with humor these characters are endearing from the get-go but it is Eez’s story that is the most compelling. Not only is she dealing with the weight of trying to get everyone back to their original form, but she clearly has some other internal struggles as well. The message here is clear but never in way that overtakes the actual story. Acceptance and understanding often requires one to step out from the world they know to see life through the perspective of others. This is that idea wrapped into tale about Mermaids who are not afraid of a good time. A win all around.
41. Spy x Family
Writer/Artist: Tatsuya Endo
Description: Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!
Why it Made the List: This was a book that basically said, “Yea, we are just going for it!”. Spys, Assassins, a kid orphan with telepathic powers? Yep, to all of that. Either you go with it or you don’t because it is going full speed to get this concept established. A spy is forced to start a family is basically a sitcom concept and it doesn’t shy away from that. There is always a sense of humor that is clearly winking at the audience. It leads to a fun light read. I love when books are not afraid to be what they are even if it will turn some heads. Plus this year they added a dog! What is good gets even better.
40. Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest
Writer/Artist: Nate Powell
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts
Description: In seven interwoven comics essays, author and graphic novelist Nate Powell addresses living in an era of what he calls “necessary protest.” Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest is Powell’s reflection on witnessing the collapse of discourse in real time while drawing the award-winning trilogy March, written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, this generation’s preeminent historical account of nonviolent revolution in the civil rights movement. Powell highlights both the danger of normalized paramilitary presence symbols in consumer pop culture, and the roles we play individually as we interact with our communities, families, and society at large
Why it Made the List: This was a hard book to read because of how close it hit home. This was Nate Powell reflecting on what it has meant to be a parent these last four to five years and I related to every single word of it. I was impressed how this was a comic clearly in response to the last American President yet it never even said his name, and that was the right choice At the end of the idea the issues and problems this was dedicated to addressing are bigger than anyone person. To limit it to simply a direct reaction to a single individual would minimize the importance of what it had to say.
39. Catwoman: Lonely City
Writer/Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Ten years ago, the massacre known as Fools’ Night claimed the lives of Batman, The Joker, Nightwing, and Commissioner Gordon…and sent Selina Kyle, the Catwoman, to prison. A decade later, Gotham has grown up—it’s put away costumed heroism and villainy as childish things. The new Gotham is cleaner, safer…and a lot less free, under the watchful eye of Mayor Harvey Dent and his Batcops. It’s into this new city that Selina Kyle returns, a changed woman…with her mind on that one last big score: the secrets hidden inside the Batcave! She doesn’t need the money—she just needs to know…who is “Orpheus?”
Why it Made the List: As I am writing this list I have only read the first issue of this series. If the issues that come after areas nearly good as this I could see this deserving a much higher spot than it currently sits. (One of the many challenges of ranking comics) Cliff Chiang tapped into a new dimension of this book. The art, story, and general idea are exactly what I hope for in a Black Label book. When you see an artist have the freedom to tell the story they want and execute that idea to near perfection. Easily up there as one of the best thing DC has put out through the Black Label line.
38. For Justice: The Serge & Beate Klarsfeld Story
Writer: Serge Klarsfeld, Beate Klarsfeld, Pascal Bresson
Artist: Sylvain Dorange
Description: The remarkable true story of a mild-mannered French husband and wife who become the world’s most revered pair of Nazi hunters. For more than five decades, Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have devoted their lives to seeking justice for the victims and survivors of the evils wrought upon humanity by the Holocaust. Over the years, they have received numerous national awards for their lifetime of work hunting down Nazi war criminals and forcing Europe to face the horrors of its past. For Justice: The Serge and Beate Klarsfeld Story is the tale of their relentless crusade for justice and their emergence as a voice for the voiceless.
Why it Made the List: We all know the horrors of WWII and the evil deeds that were done under Nazi control. What we do not talk about is how a lot of Nazis went unpunished for a very long time. For Justice: The Serge & Beate Klarsfeld Story tells the story of what it took to change all that as an everyday couple made it their mission to bring these War criminals to justice. It goes to show sometimes slapping a facist in the face is the best way to seek the justice the world deserves.
37. Catalogue Baby
Writer: Myriam Steinberg
Publisher: Page Two Books
Description: A deeply moving tragicomic graphic memoir about a single woman’s efforts to conceive in her forties. A few months after Myriam Steinberg turned forty, she decided she couldn’t wait any longer to become a mother. She made the difficult decision to begin the process of conceiving a child without a partner. With her family and friends to support her, she picked a sperm donor and was on her way.But Myriam’s journey was far from straightforward. She experienced the soaring highs and devastating lows of becoming pregnant and then losing her babies. She grappled with the best decision to make when choosing donors or opting for a medical procedure. She experienced first-hand the silences, loneliness, and taboos that come with experiences of fetal loss. Unafraid to publicize her experiences, though, she found that, in return, friends and strangers alike started sharing their own fertility stories with her. Although the lack of understanding and language around fetal loss and grief often made it very hard to navigate everyday life, she nonetheless found solace in the community around her who rallied to support her through her journey.
Why it Made the List: Myriam Steinberg made one simple but massive choice. She was going to be a mom even if she had to do it herself. That journey is depicted in her graphic memoir Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of Infertility. As the title would suggest this was not a one-step simple process. Beyond just the material cost Myriam struggle emotionally and physically as her desire to become a mother hit wall after wall. Even with the advancements in technology, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the human body and Steinberg made the choice to catalog her massive ups and downs. In the novel, she asks the question of why knowing someone else suffered similarly to you would make you feel better. I do not think there is any single answer to that question. As a male reading this my eyes were opened to a connection I could never fully understand and also what it would feel like to then lose that connection. Sometimes knowing someone made it through is empowering, and sometimes it can be deflating when you feel your struggle is only your own.
36. The Autumnal
Writer: Daniel Kraus
Artist: Chris Shehan
Description: Her estranged mother’s death brings Kat Somerville back to Comfort Notch, New Hampshire, a home town she can barely remember. As she and her daughter Sybil try to settle into a new life, Kat discovers that sometimes home is best forgotten. Following the death of her estranged mother, Kat Somerville and her daughter, Sybil, flee a difficult life in Chicago for the quaint–and possibly pernicious–town of Comfort Notch, New Hampshire. From NY Times best-selling author, Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water, Trollhunters, The Living Dead), and rising star Chris Shehan, comes a haunting vision of America’s prettiest autumn.
Why it Made the List: The Autumnal #4 is still an issue I cannot get out of my head. One of the mos disturbing reads of the entire year. Rarely does a single issue stick with me like that, but took place in that book cannot be forgotten. Crazy when much of that was exposition that allowed the final issues to come together with a shocking conclusion. One of my favorite horror books Vault has published.
35. 1000 Storms
Writer/Artist: Tony Sandoval
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Description: Lisa is a lonely girl who enjoys wandering nature and collecting odd bones and pebbles. The other kids think she’s kinda weird and avoid her. When one day she discovers a tree that allows passage to a parallel world, she finds herself being accused of witchcraft…
Why it Made the List: One of the benefits of doing these lists is trying new comics just to see if they are any good. One thing I noticed quickly was how consistently good the books of Magnetic Press would be. Whoever was in charge of picking their books to translate and publish had a good eye for quality. In 1000 Storms Tony Sandoval did some work. This story had a girl going through different dimensions and to demonstrate that his style would change widely to the point I had to keep checking to verify it was just him. The story also spoke to that dilemma of helping people that maybe do not deserve your help. Those that would shun you but then would come calling in need. Found how it explored that dilemma quite fascinating.
34. The Incredible Nellie Bly: Journalist, Investigator, Feminist, and Philanthropist
Writer: Luciana Cimino
Artist: Sergio Algozzino
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts
Description: Born in 1864, Nellie Bly was a woman who did not allow herself to be defined by the time she lived in, she rewrote the narrative and made her own way.
Luciana Cimino’s meticulously researched graphic-novel biography tells Bly’s story through Miriam, a fictionalized female student at the Columbia School of Journalism in 1921. While interviewing the famous journalist, Miriam learns not only about Bly’s more sensational adventures, but also about her focus on self-reliance from an early age, the scathing letter to the editor that jump-started her career as a newspaper columnist, and her dedication to the empowerment of women. In fact, in 1884, Bly was one of the few journalists who interviewed Belva Ann Lockwood, who was the first woman candidate for a presidential election—a contest that was ultimately won by Grover Cleveland—and Bly predicted correctly that women would not get the vote until 1920.
Why it Made the List: When you put incredible in your title you are setting a rather high bar for yourself. It helps when you have such a fascinating topic in the life of Nellie Bly. This avoids the normal biography cliche through the use of its framing device. You have this fictionalized college student doing an interview so there is this personal touch beyond just all the information. Also considering the subject matter I was impressed how they were able to present this story in a way that would be suitable for middle school grades as well.
33. The Swamp Thing
Writer: Ram V.
Artist: Mike Perkins
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: A new Swamp Thing is born! Unable to control his transformation into the monstrous Swamp Thing, Levi Kamei is thrust into the harsh, unforgiving mystery of grisly murders committed by a supernatural desert legend.
Why it Made the List: I have been waiting for a Swamp Thing run that is as good as this. One that is able to evolve to a concept beyond what we have seen time and time again. From when this series began during Future State it was apparent to me we were in for something special. Mike Perkins came up with some ingenious designs throughout this run. Pages that looked like they were taken from academic sources were designed to dissect the anatomy of humanity, and in a way that is exactly what this series was doing. Exploring that contentious relationship between humanity and nature with a compelling tale. Without spoiling anything this again speaks to the need for imperfections. How failures can drive evolution and without them growth is impossible. This was not a Swamp Thing run about man vs nature or nature vs man. This was a story about the fundamental struggle of acceptance.
32. Shadow Life
Writer: Hiromi Goto
Artist: Ann Xu
Publisher: First Second
Description: When Kumiko’s well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it’s not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence—Death’s shadow.
Why it Made the List: There are not many comics where the main protagonist is a 76-year-old widow but maybe after Shadowlife that will change. The story is about Kumiko who is trying to forge her own path despite her daughter’s best wishes. She abandons the assisted living home they set up for her to get her own apartment without telling anyone. She does find living alone a bit of a challenge especially with death slowly sneaking up on her and in this case that is literal as these shadow monsters appear determined to bring her to the afterlife. They are in for a surprise as she more grit than she knows what to do with along with a powerful vacuum that she is not afraid to use. The metaphor for accepting one’s mortality is clearly there and we see Kumiko live life knowing she has more years behind her than in front. It feels very similar to something like a Hayao Miyazaki in the light touch it uses for the fantasy elements and just lets you experience life with these characters. Like a mixture of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. If you enjoy either you will vibe with this
31. Deadly Class
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wesley Craig
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: “SAVE YOUR GENERATION,” Part One-Critically acclaimed bestseller DEADLY CLASS returns in the apathy of the slacker era. Join MARCUS in 1991 where he lives in a bathtub, delivers pizza, and hides from the bite of reality. Haunted by his past and unable to change his ways, he self-medicates with drugs, sex, and music snobbery. But his past is never too far behind him.
Why it Made the List: I feel like Deadly Class is a type of series that gets overlooked with these end-of-year lists. A book that has been around for seven years now can get lost when everyone focuses on the cool new thing. Seven years not this remains one of my favorite comics ever written, and this year this book did something I did not think would work. It flash-forwards a number of years to complete this story. Often that does not work and things just feel rushed to a specific conclusion. Instead, it gave the series new life. It helped that Wes Craig did some of his best work in the book thus far, and the coloring in this was some of my favorite of the year. Issue number forty-six is still one of the best looking single issues of the year in my opinion.
30. Shadow Doctor
Writer: Peter Calloway
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Description: Years in the making, this is the true story of writer Peter Calloway’s grandfather, Nathaniel Calloway, a Black man who graduated from medical school in the early 1930s. Unable to get work at any Chicago hospital (because he was Black) and unable to secure a loan from a bank to start his own practice (because he was Black), Nathaniel turned to the only other source of money in Prohibition-era Chicago: the Mafia, run by none other than Al Capone.
Why it Made the List: I usually try to stay away from saying I would love to see a comic as a TV show or movie, because I feel it is a backhanded compliment. I love this story so much I would like to see other people do it. However, I am changing my stance on this series. As many people as possible need to know this story. Being a good story does not automatically equal being a good comic. This was of course both. You have solid staging as this is being told through a conversation between Peter Calloway’s father and his grandfather. So you are able to move throughout time and focus on the most important elements.
29. Bitter Root
Writer: Chuck Brown, David F. Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: It is 1925, a great evil has invaded the world, and the monster-hunting Sangerye family is about to discover that they do not have what it takes to protect themselves, let alone humanity. The only way the Sangeryes can ever hope to defeat the sinister forces ravaging the world is if they each face their own internal demons…but some will not survive. The Eisner and Ringo-award winning team return for the epic showdown that will determine the fate of one family, and the world.
Why it Made the List: I have to assume that Sanford Greene is having the time of his life with this comic. He is taking the 1920’s Harlem setting and this massive influx of mythological beings and making this comic his own. This is the type of book that should make him into a massive star. I am amazed at how this book has refused to slow down. Despite the frantic pace, it has been able to juggle a cavalcade of characters in a very short time. It is simply unlike any other comic out currently, while there is plenty of other science fiction and fantasy stories none have this mixture of place, personality, and story. Issue fifteen maybe my favorite issue of the series thus far in how well it brought this epic to a close. This series could end there and I would be fully satisfied, but I of course hope it is just the beginning because i do not want to see this book come to an end.
Writer: Robert Recchioni
Artist: Mauro Uzzeo
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Description: Sandra is a young mother still adjusting to the responsibilities of parenthood after a life filled with bad decisions. The most responsible decision she has made is to drive the safest car ever built, the Monolith, to protect her infant son, David, from her own accident-prone nature. During a trek across the desert to visit her husband in LA, they are stopped in the middle of the night by a collision with a deer. Checking on the damage, she accidentally locks herself out of the car, with David trapped inside. Now, isolated from civilization, she must save her son from a car designed to be an indestructible vault on wheels. The sun is rising, heating the car’s interior, and time is running out!
Why it Made the List: I am a huge advocate that people make too much about the importance of the plot. I am sure many would like the concept of this comic and comment, “There’s no plot!”. It is just about a mother trying to save her child from the inside of a hot car. How that story is told is what makes it work. A finely tuned thriller inside a story of self-discovery. One where a woman who has lived a damaged life fights a literal battle for survival. The type of story where there is not a wasted moment.
Writer/Artist: Élodie Durand
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Description: Julie is barely out of her teens when a tumor begins pressing on her brain, ushering in a new world of seizures, memory gaps, and loss of self. Suddenly, the sentence of her normal life has been interrupted by the opening of a parenthesis that may never close. Based on the real experiences of cartoonist Élodie Durand, Parenthesis is a gripping testament of struggle, fragility, acceptance, and transformation which was deservedly awarded the Revelation Prize of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
Why it Made the List: How do you live life when you cannot even trust your own brain? That is the question and life explored in the Graphic Memoir Parenthesis by Elodie Durand. Due to tumor-related epilepsy, she finds herself lost in her own lifetime and time again. She will begin to have seizures unexpectedly at any time. Her memory is unreliable as she will lose track of conversations that she is directly in. Minutes, hours, days, months often all feel the same. It is a heartbreaking scene and she uses the medium of the graphic novel to represent that fear and frustration. If you judge art by the level of openness the creator has with the piece they are making this will provide you all the insight you need. Durand leaves herself on the page as she represents what could not be expressed with words. Yet within this impossible situation is a level of determination to not allow the impossible to defeat you. You see those around her rally around her for support and Elodie working tirelessly for a life others would consider status quo. It’s a powerful piece that I am grateful for reading as a reminder of the fragility of our life but the power we have to protect it.
Writer / Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ MEDIA
Description: A deadly typhoon, a mysterious creature and a girl who won’t quit. In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path. In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom—and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye. When Asa’s mother goes into labor yet again, Asa runs off to find a doctor. But no one bats an eye when she doesn’t return—not even as a storm approaches Nagoya. Forgotten yet again, Asa runs into a burglar and tries to stop him on her own, a decision that leads to an unlikely alliance.
Why it Made the List: I would describe Asadora as a slow burn not because of a methodical pace, but because it is a story that slowly reveals it is a type of genre story. At first it seems like this could be a true life account of surviving a natural disaster in 1959, but bit by bit some more fantastical elements begin to show themselves. I adore the characters in this, especially that of Asa, who is a ball of fire. Not often a friendship starts with kidnapping but there is a first for everything.