Best of 2007

I was honored to be asked to participate in the Publishers Weekly Comics Week Critics’ Poll for the second time. Here are my choices for the best graphic novels of 2007, with commentary.

  1. Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang
  2. Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker
    These two books surprised me most this year. The first presented an up-to-date yet completely new take on forgotten superheroes, reassuring me that there were still imaginative things to be said with that tired old genre without resorting to sordid sex and excessive violence. Gorgeous art by someone with a solid grasp of all the necessary skills helps. The second came out of nowhere (at least for me, who hadn’t heard of it or the creators previously), tackling a Middle Eastern adventure in a modern, exciting way with distinctive, emotional characters and a thought-provoking take on a significant part of the world.
  3. Nothing Better by Tyler Page
    Everyone thinks they can do a story of college life, because it seems so simple, especially to the majority of the audience who’ve been through academia. That’s not the case, because realistic characters, and especially dialogue, are harder to do than you might think. Page gets it right. He even covers a subject most are afraid to tackle in depth, religious belief, with sensitivity and understanding through the story of two first-year roommates getting to know each other and themselves.
  4. Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
    Not as much a graphic novel as a happening, made up of bits and pieces of every kind of image and graphic design. An unusual blend of pictures and text that eschews the usual panel borders or page grids to immerse the reader in a phantasmagoric trip through Talbot’s mind and the history of this particular area of Northeast England. Nearly impossible to describe accurately, it must be experienced.
  5. Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
    A quiet exploration of family in the face of Tel Aviv terrorism told through deceptively simple styling. The most “novelistic” of the books on this list.
  6. Age of Bronze: Betrayal Part One by Eric Shanower
  7. A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary
    Both of these are just plain old good comic storytelling with juicy subjects. Age of Bronze retells the Trojan War with detailed, precise linework and emphasis on the people politics of the day. Victorian Murder is the historical equivalent of a tacky talk show, exploring what drives people to graphic crimes in long-ago times. This time, it’s a murderous family in frontier Kansas knocking off travelers in Geary’s distinctive thick-lined style.
  8. First in Space by James Vining
    An impressive debut that reminds us of the contributions animals have made to science through the story of the first chimpanzee in space.
  9. Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel
    The best of DC Comics’ Minx line, aimed at teenage girls, follows the same “young woman finding herself” formula, but it does it so well.
  10. The Annotated Northwest Passage by Scott Chantler
    This reissue collects the adventure series in a handsome hardcover with author’s notes. It covers the struggle over possession of a key fort on the Canadian wilderness frontier just before the Seven Years War. Chantler’s art combines the best of a simplified, cartoon-influenced style with historical research for the story of an old-fashioned hero.

And then there’s my favorite manga of 2007 or my best of 2006 list for comparison.


14 Responses to “Best of 2007”

  1. Blog@Newsarama » We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet Says:

    [...] Blogger/critic Johanna Draper Carlson lists her 10 best graphic novels, including Geary’s The Saga of the Bloody Benders, James [...]

  2. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Several months ago I commented (in person, not online) on how odd some of the “related” posts are and you asked for examples. I failed to do so and forgot your request–until now. Given that I see no mention of Jeff Parker in this Best of 2007 post (which I would put Jeff in my best of 2007 if I did one…), I’m wondering how “The Interman” counts as a related post?

    To comment on your actual post, I picked up Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality at the library today–partially motivated by your post. Also glad to see something from the Minx line made your top 10.

  3. Johanna Says:

    The “related posts” function is computer magic based on word importance and frequency. I’m just impressed it works well most of the time.

    Hope you enjoy Dr 13!

  4. Frank Byrns Says:

    I see that you really liked “First in Space” — did you get a chance to read “Laika” this year?

  5. Johanna Says:

    I did. It didn’t move me as much as I’d hoped. I’d still like to get back to it and review it sometime.

  6. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Jan. 7, 2008: Shorter Journalista 17 Says:

    [...] The best-of-2007 lists continue to roll in: Here’s Johanna Draper Carlson and the circle of critics from the A.V. Club. Elsewhere, Dick Hyacinth announces that he’ll [...]

  7. Ben Towle Says:

    It’s great to see some props for “First in Space.” It’s a great read, but seems to not have made the splash press-wise that the “Laika” with its similar topic did.

  8. Manga News Bites » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] comic end-of-year coverage, they ask several people to participate to create a combined result (including me). I don’t understand why they don’t do the same thing when it comes to manga. For that [...]

  9. Heart of Empire CD-Rom Sample » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] explores multimedia in a similar yet completely different (print) way and has been getting lots of good press. It would provide a good hook, “check out his earlier [...]

  10. Cziplee - Meeting your needs Says:

    [...] out her list here and you can read more about Re-Gifters [...]

  11. Mike Carey & Peter Gross » Re-Gifters Selected in CWR’s Best of 2007 Says:

    [...] That’s CWR for “Comics Worth Reading,” a long running all-things-comics-related site maintained by Johanna Draper Carlson. Carlson was asked to contribute her picks to Publisher’s Weekly Critic’s Poll (PWCW) and selected Mike’s Re-Gifters as a “top ten” novel for 2007. [...]

  12. Best Graphic Novels of 2009 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] comparison, here’s last year’s list and one from the year before. [...]

  13. PWCW Best of 2009 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Comics Week critics’ poll for its fourth year. (It started in 2006, and I’ve put in my list every year.) This time, I combined entries from my 2009 best manga and my 2009 best graphic novels [...]

  14. *Two Generals — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] has previously created some astounding historical fiction — Northwest Passage was one of my Best Graphic Novels of 2007 — but here, he expands into a real-life “graphic memoir”. Two Generals is based [...]




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