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Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2018

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
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor
Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire
Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy

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
Young Frances by Hartley Lin
Nancy by Olivia Jaimes
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

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

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No Capes Required: Comics Embrace All Literary Genres!

When I was young, I loved comics. Whether it was the X-Men, Batman or Deadpool, I couldn’t get enough of the emersion and escapism that comics offered. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun branching out from the superhero comics of my youth, and my love and respect for the art form has only intensified.

It may come as a surprise that the world of comics has so much more to offer than spandex-clad muscle men and swooning damsels in distress. Luckily for us there are comics out there to suit just about every taste in literature: there are westerns, science fiction, fantasy and noir detective-style comics. And let’s not forget comics with romance, horror, or comics that have good endings and bad. Comics that are weird. Comics that are queer. Comics that are funny. Comics that are cute. And pretty much everything in between.

Here are 20 of my favorite “no cape” comics – some are stand-alone, many are part of a series – for those of you looking for some alternatives to Marvel and DC. If you haven’t picked up a comic in a while, one of these titles may be the perfect place to get reacquainted. If you think you “aren’t into comics” – I guarantee that at least one of these will change your mind.

 

Graphic novels for people looking for an alternative to superhero comics

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido
Daytripper / by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá ; with coloring by Dave Stewart ; lettering by Sean Konot
Duncan the wonder dog by Adam Hines
East of West. Volume 1 / Jonathan Hickman, writer ; Nick Dragotta, artist ; Frank Martin, colors ; Rus Wooton, letters
Fables: Legends in Exile written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina

 

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.34 stars

Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery and intrigue, digging up the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets during the 1950s Red Scare in the United States. Also available as an eComic.

 

Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.3 stars

Presents key moments in the life of Brás de Oliva Domingos, a Brazilian writer and sometime journalist, and the son of a prominent author, as if each episode would turn out to be the day in which he was about to die. Also available as an eComic.

 

Duncan the Wonder Dog written and illustrated by Adam Hines

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4 stars

What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different?

 

East of West written by Jonathan Hickman ; illustrated by Nick Dragotta

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.92 stars

This is the world. It is not the one we wanted, but it is the one we deserved. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life, lies in DEATH! Also available as an eComic.

 

Fables: Legends in Exile written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.98 stars

Who killed Rose Red? In Fabletown, where fairy tale legends live alongside regular New Yorkers, the question is all anyone can talk about. But only the Big Bad Wolf can actually solve the case – and, along with Rose’s sister Snow White, keep the Fabletown community from coming apart at the seams. Also available as an eComic.

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola
Joe the Barbarian" by Grant Morrison (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)
King City by Brandon Graham
Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
Monstress: Volume One - Awakening

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola  (Author/ Illustrator), Various (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.12 stars

When strangeness threatens to engulf the world, a strange man will come to save it. Sent to investigate a mystery with supernatural overtones, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins, and his link to the Nazi occultists who promised Hitler a final solution in the form of a demonic avatar. Also available as an eComic.

 

Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison  (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.77 stars

Joe is an imaginative young kid of 11 who happens to suffer from type 1 diabetes. Without supervision and insulin, he can easily slip into a delirious, dissociative state that presages coma and death. One fateful day, his condition causes him to believe he has entered a vivid fantasy world in which he is the lost savior — a fantastic land based on the layout and contents of his home.

 

King City by Brandon Graham (Author/ Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.99 stars

Joe is a catmaster, trained to use his cat as any tool or weapon. His best friend, Pete, falls in love with an alien he’s forced to sell into green slavery, while his ex, Anna, watches her Xombie War veteran boyfriend turn into the drug he’s addicted to. King City, an underbelly of a town run by spy gangs and dark dark magic with mystery down every alleyway.

 

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill  (Author),‎ Gabriel Rodriguez (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.16 stars

“Locke & Key” tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them, and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all! Also available as an eComic.

 

Monstress by Marjorie Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.97 stars

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art
deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Pretty Deadly: Volume one - The shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Tales from outer suburbia by Shaun Tan

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.19 stars

Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law
Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. Also available in Audio and eAudio.

 

Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Emma Rios (Artist), Jordie Bellair (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.82

As Sissy, a girl with a crow head-dress and two different colored eyes, and Fox, a blind old man, travel a fanciful Old West world, they are pursued by Death who seeks Sissy for reasons unknown. Also available as an eComic.

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.23

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults. Also available as an eComic.

 

Sandman by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Kieth (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.28 stars

After his seventy-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. Also available as an eComic.

 

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.33 stars

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says… These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan’s many fans will love.

 

Through the woods : stories by Emily Carroll
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way
WE3 : the deluxe edition by Grant Morrison
The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.91 stars

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to. Also available in eBook.

 

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way  (Author), Gabriel Ba (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.96 stars

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born to women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world.” Also available as an eComic.

 

We3 by Grant Morrison  (Author), Frank Quitely  (Illustrator)

Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely deliver the emotional journey of WE3 – three house pets weaponized for lethal combat by the government – as they search for “home” and ward off the shadowy agency that created them. Also available as an eComic.

 

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 3.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.28 stars

In a demented future where humanity is oppressed by the evil Shadowsmen, only a gang of ruthless and powerful children called the Wrenchies can hope to stand against them.

 

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Pia Guerra (Illustrator), Jose Marzan Jr. (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.11 stars

Yorick Brown and his pet male monkey learn just how valuable they are when they set out across the planet in search of one specific girl in the wake of a strange plague that has killed every man, boy, and mammal with a Y chromosome–except for them. Also available as an eComic.


Looking for your next great read?

Let us help you!

Tell us what you’ve enjoyed reading, watching or listening to, and our librarians will give you personalized recommendations.

No algorithms, cookies or data mining – just real experts in your community sharing their love of great books, music and movies with you. We call it Give 3 Get 3.

Get started today at

Toledolibrary.org/Give3Get!
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