Batman’s Bookcase asked me for comic book recommendations, and there aren’t ever enough characters to contain all my feelings. Here’s an attempt.
Linked book titles lead to full reviews on DoomRocket.
As yet uncollected limited series and ongoing titles I’m reading right now that you should be, too.
THE NEW WORLD
Alesš Kot, Tradd Moore, Heather Moore, Clayton Cowles, Tom Muller. Image Comics. An unlikely, exuberant story of star-crossed lovers in the age of destruction and television. The art captures the sweetness of love and youth without sparing the details.
Ann Nocenti, David Aja. Berger Books. A cynical and sharp-edged study of End of Days. What is truth? How much telephone is too much? Who wants to fuck an alien? Stylized and striking and dangerously intelligent.
Ulises Fariñas, Erick Freitas, Melody Often. Dark Horse Comics. Dense, cartoonish tale of super soldier monster defense told post-Rapture on the brink of ego death. Fariñas and Freitas’ last collaboration, Cloudia and Rex, was another simple-on-the-surface, hard-to-plumb-depths series I highly recommend.
Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk, Aditya Bidikar. Image Comics. High fantasy in vaguely sci fi trappings, the kind that would make Ursula K Le Guin proud. A beautiful comic, a pleasure to read. Lady becomes tiger. Guide becomes lost. The plot thickens.
Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa Del Rey, Clayton Cowles. Image Comics. Monster town is going to rip the patriarchy to shreds if a million mistakes doesn’t burn it to its foundation instead. Gut wrenching in how it imbues the reader with power, with sorrow. There’s a lot of good horror comics these days but this one is consistently the best of them.
Voraciously devouring these semi-annual trades as soon as they’re translated.
Inio Asano, John Werry, Annaliese Christman. Viz Signature. The alien invasion happened, never happened, promises death but doesn’t deliver, and everyone’s got to keep on living. A little melancholy, a lot of weird, some high school friends hang out. Love and Rockets fans take note.
DELICIOUS IN DUNGEON
Ryoko Kui, Taylor Engel, Abigail Blackman. Yen Press. Cooking, nutrition, and science as an adventuring party eats its way through a sunken city searching for siblings. Fun, fascinating, hugely nerdy, with lively personalities and strong character development.
Single volume mostly OGNs of note.
IN REAL LIFE
Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang. Square Fish. A young adult uses online gaming to feel like a stronger woman, ends up doing that and uncovering unfair labor practices on the other side of the world (and friendship). Punk as fuck. Beautiful, beautiful book. Jen Wang put out a new work, The Prince and the Dressmaker this year (IRL is a new printing of a book from 2014), that is also heartfelt and gorgeous but IRL gets the rec spot because it makes me tear up consistently.
Eleanor Davis. Fantagraphics Books. What could be mistaken for a lark ends up being a book that will shake the pillars of any creative person’s world. Not why does art get made? but why do people who make art make art? and while it might not give you a direct answer, there is a truth in it that I can’t describe. Enlightenment indecipherable.
LAND OF THE SONS
Gipi, Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics Books. Post-apocalypse brothers go from Gummo to the coliseum of suffering. A quiet, forlorn book about scratching identity out of nothing, choosing to fight against boredom, morons, and death, and just how terrible neighbors can be.
Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky, Edward Gauvin, Deron Bennett. Archaia. A young lady who doesn’t fit in to her magical world ends up using her misfit strength to try to save the land of exiles. Wizard fights, botany, cool vintage fashion and settings that are populated with bubbling, delightful people, animals, and monsters.
Vera Brosgol, Alec Longstreth. First Second Books. A poor nerd goes to camp to try to fit in with the kids her age. Instead, she grows up. Drama, adventure, self-discovery, gross bathrooms, counselors. Utterly endearing.
ON A SUNBEAM
Tillie Walden. First Second Books. Epic, elevating, authentic space adventure identity comics. A C-student finds work and a surrogate family repairing abandoned cosmic buildings. She remembers her first real romance back in school. Slowly, despite the odds, all paths lead to one road. This book grabbed me by the heart and threw me around a little bit. Definitely on my books of the year list, a strong contender for BOTY.
Grim Wilkins. Image Comics. A lady with a demon in her leg goes on a jungle adventure in near silence. Throws out the rulebook on how to write a comic. Swashbuckling, oracles, partners, legends, what would be a simple story drawn elegantly is something more due to the total lack of words.
Some stuff from recently that does it for me enough to merit mentioning.
One of my favorite comics creators. Artists. Beauty, a fairy tale. Beautiful Darkness, a nightmare parable. Miss Don’t Touch Me, a tragedy. Satania, a journey. Childlike wonder telling stories so very for adults.
I read the Hayao Miyazaki manga this year and it turned my world upside down. Suddenly I realized that this was the only novel for grown-ups he’s ever done and every Studio Ghibli movie was an all-ages short story. Not to say one is better than the other, but one is more than the other. Definition of epic.
Another European illustrator I adore. Koma is a dense lesson in humanity. The Smell of Starving Boys is a Western dream sequence. Expressive control is his style. Mature themes for mature minds.
She is the queen. Mirror is her (and Hwei Lim’s) watercolor tribute-to-slash-better-than space opera high fantasy talking animal manga. The Asteroid of Dr. Moreau? More than that. She also shepherded a ton of expressive, creative books into being as an editor of the anthology Island, including the aforementioned Mirenda, and Ancestor, one of the best works of near future science fiction of our time.
JOHN PAUL LEON
Our David Mazzucchelli. Everything this guy draws is beautiful. Winter Men might be his strongest work, but recently DC has been putting him to work spinning straw into gold and, in the case of Mother Panic, golder into goldest.