Best Graphic Novels of 2016
I know, it’s completely ridiculous timing, but while continuing to import old posts into the new version of the site, I realized how much I enjoyed looking back at my yearly roundups, which I last did in 2013.
So here, for future reading, are my top ten graphic novel picks for 2016. Because ranking puts me into too many arguments with myself, they’re in alphabetical order by title.
- Brief Histories of Everyday Objects by Andy Warner — A fascinating collection of humorous historical stories about objects you never think to wonder about that turns into a meditation on invention and commercialization.
- Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier — The hardest choice for the list, not because of its quality — Raina always does a terrific artistic job — but because of the various ways it’s been attacked. Disability activists didn’t care for the angelic, inspiring little sister with cystic fibrosis. The book was accused of cultural appropriation for its use of the Day of the Dead, and skeptics and rationalists didn’t like that the spirits of the title were portrayed as real. The end result, though, is the kind of book kids need, one that explores the closeness and possibility of death without making it scary or paralyzing.
- Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green — Charming! Animals seek the right job, in a story that appeals to all ages by exploring the need to find an occupation that suits well.
- Mockingbird: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, and Ibrahim Moustafa — A fresh approach to a misused, long-running superhero supporting character that unfortunately didn’t last long as a series. But while it was out, with the best issues collected in this volume, it was fresh, funny, and smart.
- Mooncop by Tom Gauld — Science fiction is the genre of ideas, and often they’re big ones. This volume impresses more quietly by exploring the constancy of daily life in an unusual setting.
- The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks — Even when creating an adventure story with plenty of action, Faith blends in the bigger picture, with a well-developed fictional kingdom and plenty of conflicting claims, making for a nuanced fantasy escape.
- Science Comics: Coral Reefs by Maris Wicks — The first of the educational line, and still the best with its colorful fish and sensible messages about protecting our planet because it’s such a wonderful place, as Wicks shows us.
- Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley — A widely shared point of terror, planning a wedding, is given a new take by a skilled autobiographer, who blends the universal (rituals) with the unique (her own artistic touches).
- Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown — An unusual history becomes so much more than the story of a game, incorporating global politics and corporate machinations.
- A Treasury of 20th Century Murder: Black Dahlia by Rick Geary — A familiar story reveals new detail under Geary’s talented pen, leading to insights on why people seek fame in an attempt to compensate for a lack of love.
So, there it is, six months late, but if you haven’t read any of these terrific reads yet, you have some pleasure ahead of you.