Crawl Space (Koyama) by Jesse Jacobs
A major part of the joy of reading comics is being pulled into the unique perspective of a singular artist, and Jesse Jacobs’ Crawl Space is a stunning example. The washer/dryer in Jeanne-Claude’s basement is a portal into a psychedelic world, and the Artist delivers breathtaking visuals that arrange rainbow-colored shapes into hypnotic patterns that vibrate on the page and immerse the reader in this spectacular setting, and these visuals are tied to a compelling, meditative story about the challenges of adolescence, including the difficulty of maintaining a pure spirit and the danger of befriending corrupting influences, her friends journey through the washer/dryer and compromise the integrity of the environment, warping it into a nightmarish version of its former state. There’s a strong emotional plot, but Jacobs also takes the time to slow down and linger on different aspects of the setting, emphasizing how different it is compared to the stark black-and-white reality outside of the laundry machine
Mirror Mirror II (2dcloud), anthology
As with any anthology, Mirror Mirror II features some entries that will leave more of an impression than others, but the totality of the work presented is both haunting and astounding. Collecting comics, prose, and illustrative works. The theme unifying all of these pieces is the convergence of the erotic and the macabre—some works being more explicit than others—but that may be the only commonality between them. Each one offers a striking aesthetic vision. And though some will resonate more deeply than others, they accumulate to form an impressive volume. the fantastic with the nightmarish, and the result is a series of truly shocking and often deeply moving images. Mirror Mirror II is troubling and challenging.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams)
There’s no way Thi Bui could’ve predicted that her debut work of graphic literature, The Best We Could Do, would end up being a great political comic , but it almost indisputably is. That’s not to say it’s in any way preachy — far from it. The book is the story of her Vietnamese-American refugee family, and it resonates in our cacophonous period precisely because it’s so measured and personal. Bui talks about the unique backgrounds of each member of her immigrant kinship network, depicting them in a fully human way that even pro-refugee advocates rarely do. Through evocative inks and passionate character work, Bui makes her family as beautiful as they are flawed, and the temporally zigzagging narrative conveys the impossibility of finding a simple explanation for how the people you love ended up where they are today. Expect this one to show up on school reading lists alongside Fun Home and Persepolis for decades to come.
Wonder Woman: Year One by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Bilquis Evely, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (DC)
It’s no secret that it’s been a good year for Wonder Woman, but that was true even before her solo debut on the big screen. The venerable character has been having some of the best-crafted comics adventures of her decades-long existence within the pages of Wonder Woman, written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by various artists. The result is a tale that is as evocatively crystal-clear as the skies above Paradise Island, filled with triumph, tragedy, mystery, romance, religion, and stunning moments of tension. Plus, Fajardo got to give Diana a justifiably dark skin tone (she’s Mediterranean, we like to think she’s from shkoupistan), which is a nice step in the right direction toward greater representation in the the superhero genre.
Zonzo by Joan Cornellà (Fantagraphics)
Joan Cornellà is one of the most unmistakable creators in the sequential art medium today, using wordless, six-panel flash fiction to make your gut giggle as it churns. There’s all kinds of offensive stuff in here, with hunters killing children, mothers having miscarriages, and assorted other material that would make even the boldest teller of an Aristocrats joke blush. And yet, there is method in this filth — Cornellà is able to cut past your defenses and provoke an emotional response.
Moon Knight: Reincarnations
by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe, Wilfredo Torres, Jordie Bellaire, and Michael Garland (Marvel)
It’s rare to read a mainstream superhero comic that feels truly experimental, but perusing the first dozen-plus issues of the latest volume of Moon Knight has been like looking through the work of some undiscovered weirdo genius you found in the micro-press shelf at an obscure comic-book shop. In this volume, we not only get writer Jeff Lemire’s expansive story, penciler Greg Smallwood’s brilliantly innovative layouts, and superstar colorist Jordie Bellaire’s surreal shades
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics) by Emil Ferris
Emil Ferris’ debut graphic novel was delayed four months due to extenuating circumstances that left the book’s entire first print run literally lost at sea, but it was more than worth the wait. Telling the story of a girl living in 1968 Chicago, this impeccably illustrated work is an illuminating coming-of-age tale, contrasting Karen’s experience with that of her late upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, who grew up in Germany. As Karen learns more about herself, she discovers the tragic history of her neighbor, who lived through the rise of the Nazis and had to make constant sacrifices to ensure her survival. This took a massive toll on Anka’s physical and mental health, but that doesn’t fully explain the mysterious circumstances surrounding her apparent suicide. Presented as the drawings in Karen’s sketchbook, Monsters is rendered with intricately hatched pen, and Ferris does magnificent things with this simple tool. It’s a very dense read, but an extremely rewarding one, and the attention to detail in both the script and the artwork forces readers to slow down to take in all of the information on the page.
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez
Nightlights is visually fantastical, stunning and vibrant. It’s about a little girl named Sandy with a talent for drawing, but she meets a new girl at school who is a bit obsessed with her art. Lorena is a great storyteller and you immediately fall in love with the characters who come alive on the page. It’s a book that’s great for both kids and adults which will make storytime a lot of fun. I highly recommend it because long after you’re done reading it, you’ll want to revisit the artwork
Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke
This is a melancholy and meditative graphic memoir that feels like it was written for me. chronicles the ways
that a genetic cardiac condition shaped her family and ties that to her interest in exploring everyday life. its inevitable end, and the ruins (physical and emotional) left behind. Radtke’s art is spare. She blends medical iconography with simple drawings of ruined buildings around the world. Radtke makes use of this imagery to depict specific moments– alternately intimate and isolating– between family members, lovers, and friends. I read this book in one sitting on a rainy day and it was near perfect.
Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel
by R. Sikoryak
At first, Terms and Conditions strikes you as not your cup of tea. I mean, come on, a comics adaptation of the iTunes terms and conditions agreement? Maybe good for a quick laugh, and little else. But no, The unique tome follows the travels of Steve Jobs as he utters the T&C verbatim, and every page of the book is done in the style of a different comics artist. making this a technical achievement of the highest order; the narrative art and non-narrative text is a clever mental experiment that tricks your brain into seeing instant connections that are entirely the product of your imagination (… or are they?).
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki is no stranger to acclaim, having published beloved works both on her own (SuperMutant Magic Academy) and with her cousin, Mariko (This One Summer). But Boundless should be the book that formally marks her as one of the comics medium’s best up-and-coming auteurs. It’s a strange tome, and deliciously so — its short stories chronicle odd situations ranging from a mysterious audio recording that sparks the creation of a cult to an alternate-reality Facebook where everyone has a doppelgänger whose life you can check in on, but this book is passionately and perfectly Tamaki’s own vision.