A rundown of my favorite narrative sequential art from this past year (in no particular order):
1. Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt (series, Dark Horse)
Mindbending espionage weirdness and amazing, loose brushy/watercolor art. Packed with mystery and details you pick up on re-reading. This series leaves me begging for the next chapter. Lost meets James Bond… but much darker.
2. The Hive by Charles Burns (2nd vol of graphic novel series, Pantheon)
The master of surreal horror continues what he started with X’d Out, cool to see him doing color again. Funny, creepy, and absolutely incredible artwork, of course. Should be be adapted for David Lynch’s career comeback movie.
3. Sweet Tooth (series, Vertigo) / The Underwater Welder (graphic novel, Top Shelf) by Jeff Lemire
A double shot of my favorite comix canuck: his post-apoc survival series with human-animal hybrids is like crack to me, and the graphic novel showed his romantic side (with a heavy dose of Twilight Zone-ness, of course!)
4. Unterzakhn by Leela Corman (graphic novel, Schocken Books)
First I’ve heard of this artist: a heartbreaking immigrant family tale, rich with 1910s period detail. Swirly black and white art reminded me of the great French comix artist David B. (Epileptic).
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (series, Image)
I think Vaughan gets a little too cutesy with his humor, but his stories always do it for me. Perfect melding of scifi and fantasy, dare I say, like Star Wars? Staples’ art is snazzy and energetic.
6. The Making Of by Brecht Evens (graphic novel, Drawn & Quarterly)
A vigorous skewering of the contemporary art world, as well as a warm comedy about outcasts. This guy is a wizard of color. Every page is a painting!
7. Prophet (series, Image) / King City (collected miniseries, Image) / Multiple Warheads (miniseries, Image) by Brandon Graham
This dude exploded this year. Prophet is straight up Heavy Metal style scifi action with spectacular visuals from a slew of great artists like Simon Roy and Giannis Milonogiannis. Graham’s own clean, bouncy, cartoony art is perfect for his tongue-in-cheek futuristic urban hijinks in the other two titles.
8. Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli (collected miniseries, Fantagraphics)
A gorgeous, dream-like tale of interlocking lives in an apartment complex (and inside people’s heads) all drawn in luminous colored pencil. Yet another example of what european comix is all about.
9. Building Stories by Chris Ware (big box-o-multiple format comix, Pantheon)
Takes a while to digest this group of interrelated pieces. A tribute to comix in all it’s many forms: book, strip, broadsheet, hardback, floppy, etc. As usual for Ware: a masterpiece.
10. Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly (graphic novel, Vertigo)
A sideways look at Romeo & Juliet through Tybalt’s eyes. Playful Shakespeare-meets-hiphop language, very 80s/90s NYC feel to the setting, candy colored, graffiti influenced artwork… and sword fights!
bonus runner up:
Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter (collected strips, Fantagraphics)
Finally a collection of the indescribable punk-satire-scifi-art experiment strip that Panter has been doing since, like, the early 80s!!! Like Peanuts done by a robot on drugs.