Graphic Novel Friday: The Best Comics of 2017

Alex Carr on December 01, 2017
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Best_comics_of_2017.jpgTo me, my comics fans! 2017 was a banner year for the medium, and our editors assembled to forge a list that covers the best in illustrated fiction and non-fiction, with 20 graphic novels spanning memoirs, family dramas, superheroes (both hopeful and downtrodden), pets, and subjects that defy classification.

Below is a quick snapshot of three highlights, but please see our Best of the Year store for the full list.

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Congratulations to Katie Green, as her debut memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow, is the editors’ pick for our 2017 Best in Comics and Graphic Novels. A harrowing study of a life gripped by eating disorders, Green’s story reveals itself as a narrative greater than one of abuse. Instead, this is the story of a life recaptured. Editor Adrian Liang had this to say last month when she celebrated it as a Best of the Month selection for October: “A vast number of thoughtful books about mental illness and eating disorders already exist, so it seems almost impossible that a new story could add anything more to the genus. But Katie Green does exactly that with her astonishing graphic memoir that reveals through every delicate squiggle the long-lingering anguish people in recovery live through while friends and family assume that everything is now A-OK…Artist and storyteller Green exposes buried-deep emotions through the slope of a shoulder or the slightly-too-big distance between her characters in a way that can’t be mimicked through words.”

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Another startling debut, Emil Ferris’ graphic novel arrives in the form of a fictional diary—complete with faux notebook pages upon which she illustrates incredible land and mindscapes--detailing a murder mystery in the life of young Karen Reyes. Set in Chicago during the 1960s, Karen’s story is one of family and where reality and fantasy embrace. As she investigates the death of her upstairs neighbor, Karen uncovers truths about her own brother, mother, and the tenuous truths we cling to in order to cope with everyday madness. But Karen’s focus tends to wander, as she is fascinated with monster movies and pulp horror magazines, inserting creatures into the margins and, with loving detail by Ferris, as centerpieces into her journal (Karen portrays herself as an adorably fanged werewolf). It’s a singular vision, startling in its vision, form, and effortless humor. My favorite thing is also monsters.

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If any superhero ruled 2017, it’s Wonder Woman. Breaking box office records and becoming a rallying symbol in and outside of the genre, Wonder Woman stepped off of Themiscyra Island and into the zeitgeist. With 75 years of backstory to sift through, DC Comics offers fans new and old an easy entry point into her adventures with an origin story written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Nicola Scott. The result feels a lot like her cinematic debut: full of action and charm. Here, Wonder Woman is hero with brains and brawn, discovering her powers as well as the modern world. Steve Trevor and Ares are both here, and although it is confusingly subtitled with a “Volume 2,” this can be read as a stand-alone adventure to complement the film, by Hera!

--Alex


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