2018 has been a banner year for comics. Whether you like sharp, telling memoirs, unlikely superhero stories, or heartwarming romances, the best comics and graphics novels of 2018 has something for everyone. Here’s a closer look at 5 of our favorite graphic novels from this year's list. —Alison Walker
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Prince Sebastian is being forced into marriage by his family. Sebastian wants to ignore that part of his life entirely because, when the sun sets, he transforms into the magnetic Lady Crystallia, who takes Paris by storm in her dazzling dresses. Enter Frances, Sebastian’s friend and dressmaker, who lovingly creates the dazzling confections that Lady Crystallia dons each night. Can Frances become the designer she dreams of without revealing Sebastian’s secret? Wang creates a story that is lovingly told—brimming with heart and full of an abundance of dazzling frocks.
Vision by Tom King Gabriel Hernandez Walta
To call The Vision a superhero story, in this day of explosion-fueled, uber-dramatic crime fighters, is a bit of a misnomer. The Vision just wants to fit in, to be normal. Set in a sleepy suburb of Washington, DC, the story features the Vision along with his synthezoid wife, Virginia, and their twin teenagers, Vin and Viv. The Vision’s quest—to have a family and to strive for a very human existence—is constantly at odds with his place as an Avenger. Tom King’s superhero story is nuanced, quiet, and eminently re-readable.
Sleepless, Volume 1 by Sarah Vaughn and Leila del Duca
Sarah Vaughn and Leila del Duca’s comic Sleepless is one of the best fantasy romance stories in recent memory. It’s one of those comics that has a compelling story and equally masterful artistic style, which makes for an engrossing read. Poppy’s father, the king, died and has left her (and the kingdom) in political turmoil. Cyrenic, part of a guild of knights who take an oath to remain in a state of enchanted sleeplessness, guards Poppy from the threats that chase her. In amongst the political maneuverings, Poppy and Cyrenic realize their feelings towards one another, and it is this juxtaposition between the larger, political world and these quieter moments that create a complex and heady narrative in Sleepless.
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Everyone is talking about Hey, Kiddo, and, rightfully so. It’s the type of graphic memoir that refuses to let the reader maintain any distance from the narrative, carrying the reader along a vividly illustrated journey of growing up in the shadow of heroin addiction. Family mementos appear next to Krosoczka’s muted and evocative images, giving his story a sense of place and time—urging readers to understand the layered reality of writing about one’s self. Yes, this is a story of addiction, but it is also one about a young artist finding his footing amongst his own experiences and taking the reader along for the bumpy ride.
My Boyfriend Is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris
28-year-old Nora is done with boyfriends—they’re all horrible. At least until she meets “the bear,” an American black bear, who doesn’t seem to have all the hang-ups that men do. The bear likes cuddling and even installs shelving, but he has very bear-like tendencies as well, including digging through the trash. Plus, her friends think it’s pretty strange that Nora is suddenly dating beyond her own species. What’s a bear-loving girl to do? In My Boyfriend Is a Bear, Ribon and Farris create a story that is an unselfconscious romp through magical realism, with a millennial twist.
Alison Walker is the comics curator at Amazon Books—Amazon’s chain of brick-and-mortar bookstores.
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