Over the past few years the comic book industry seems to have re-entered a golden age, at least in terms of quality. There is a comic or graphic novel for almost everybody, and many of them can be found on the shelves of your local Toledo Lucas County Public Library or in one of our many digital collections, like hoopla.
If you’re just getting into reading comics, or looking to read the cream of the crop, here are some of the best new comics and graphic novels from 2018.
Notable Comics and Graphic Novels from 2018
Print / Digital
Berlin by Jason Lutes
In this opus, Jason Lutes examines the intricacies of the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of pre-war Berlin. He shows us their wants and desires in a way that will make you realize that when it comes down to it, people just want to live their lives in the best way possible. Their stories are timely and Lutes demonstrates artistic mastery with a clean black and white art style that engrosses readers in the massiveness of a diverse and bustling city.
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
A woman disappears under mysterious circumstances, leading to an entanglement of characters who would have otherwise had no impact on one another.
In “Sabrina,” Nick Drnaso gives us a harrowing take on conjecture in our era of fake news. This is a personal story about how media can influence the behavior of people at an individual level. Our anxieties can become amplified and our views distorted by missing information.
X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor
Ed Piskor delivers a super-sized love letter to the X-Men in “Grand Design” and “Second Genesis.” Essentially, these two volumes are a crash-course in mutant history. From Namor the Sub-Mariner to the Phoenix Force, this is a great book for newcomers and seasoned comics readers alike.
Piskor accomplishes two things with “Grand Design.” He creates an entry point to the Marvel universe, so if you’re looking for a place to start reading superhero comics, this is the perfect point of departure.
Secondly, “Grand Design” makes sense of confusing lines of comic book continuity. Piskor accomplishes this in a way that stays true to major X-Men themes of oppression, justice, and finding your place in a world that does not always embrace diversity.
Gideon Falls Vol. 1: Black Barn by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
One benefit to reading comics is that you tend to get a sneak preview of what will be coming down the road as far as future TV shows are concerned. And you get just that in Jeff Lemire’s foray into horror, which is in development for a TV series.
TV is one thing, but what makes “Gideon Falls” one of the best comics of 2018? It creates a sense of unease and mystery, leaving you wanting more. It also poses a cryptic question, asking readers to ponder what exactly is the black barn, an ominous building that lingers over the multiple plot threads weaved in the series.
Most importantly, “Gideon Falls” is a horror comic that is serious without being too serious. There’s the perfect amount of fun to be had with this book, and fans of TV shows like “Lost,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Dark” will feel right at home.
Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy
What if Batman was the villain and the Joker was Gotham’s hero? That’s the premise of Sean Murphy’s “White Knight,” a book that takes a new spin on the Dark Knight.
Of course, the story is more complicated than that, but what we get on the surface is an homage to Batman’s history – the cars, the gadgets, the movies, the comics – Murphy ties all of it together in a story that is just as exciting as any other Caped Crusader adventure. This is an instant Batman classic that is sure to be remembered for years to come.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson
“All Summer Long” is the comic I wish I had when I was an eleven-year-old mired in the boredom of summer, waiting for the ice cream truck to roll through my neighborhood and for weekly runs to the video store so that I could rent a game for the Nintendo 64.
Alas, the mid-90s are two decades gone, but the riff on teen spirit is alive and well in Hope Larson’s “All Summer Long.” The book follows Bina, a pre-teen who finds herself home alone and without her best friend for most of the summer. Left to her own devices, she messes around on the guitar, discovers new music, and watches TV. But what ensues when she starts hanging out with an older girl is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale appropriate for all ages.
Young Frances by Hartley Lin
If you’re a young(ish) person trying to get by in the global economy, you’ll find a lot of familiar themes in “Young Frances” – work apathy, being late on the rent, constantly trying to figure out your professional life.
Frances, the titular character, is a clerk at a corporate law firm. She can’t sleep, but she works hard, keeps her head down, and is incredibly good at her job. The only problem is that she doesn’t quite know why she’s putting up with the long hours and office politics, especially when her friends are leading completely different lives that appear to be a bit more stress free.
“Young Frances” will speak to anybody who has had a job and felt a bit aimless in their career pursuits – which is probably all of us.
Nancy by Olivia Jaimes
This one isn’t a graphic novel, and you won’t find it on Library shelves or in one of our digital collections – you can find it online or in newspapers nationwide. However, Olivia Jaimes’ take on the comic strip “Nancy” is a revelation and any “Best of” list for 2018 would be remiss for excluding it.
Jaimes’ spin on “Nancy” is modern, hilarious, and speaks to the American pastime of staring at a screen all day. And in a not-so-strange twist, the most famous thing about the current run of “Nancy” isn’t the strip itself, but a single panel where Nancy uses a collection of millenial ephemera while saying “Sluggo is Lit.” This panel and three words have become a meme, forever (temporarily) ingrained in Internet culture.
If you really want to take a serious dive into comics, check out “How to Read Nancy” by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. It provides an excellent breakdown on how to read comics with the help of a single “Nancy” strip.
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Every kid doesn’t fit in at some point during their childhood and almost every kid wants to go away to summer camp. “Be Prepared” combines the awkward time of pre-adolescence with the summer rite of passage that is the mosquito-laden horror of sleep-away camp.
That’s where we find the protagonist of “Be Prepared.” Vera is a 9-year-old daughter of Russian immigrants who is looking for her station in life and when the opportunity to go away to camp presents itself, she begs her mother to send her off.
This middle-grade graphic novel will be right at home with kids and adults alike who have ever felt like they didn’t quite belong.
This is part of a series of blog posts highlighting some of the Best Books of the Year.
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Blog post originally posted by Franco V. on ToledoLibrary.org/blog/best-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2018