There were a lot of great comics published in 2016. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:
March: Book Three by John Lewis
The National Book Award winning conclusion to Congressman John Lewis’ comics memoir (created with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell) is a visceral, unsentimental portrayal of the civil rights movement in the era of Jim Crow. Lewis’ focus on the strategic details of organizing and protesting bring moments of the movement to life and could serve as a modern blueprint for activist response to bigotry and institutionalized racism.
Irmina by Barbara Yelin
In the mid-1930s, Irmina moves to London and begins a romance with Howard, one of Oxford’s first black students. The romance is cut short when circumstances force Irmina to move home to Hitler’s Germany. Based on her grandmother’s letters and diaries, Yelin deftly raises questions about personal integrity, complicity, and attempts to stay neutral in the face of growing atrocities.
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden
Glidden is at the forefront of contemporary non-fiction comics. Here Glidden joins two journalists and an ex-marine on a trip investigating the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East. Rolling Blackouts presents a sort of meta-journalistic look at the way reality gets filtered through narrative.
Demon: Volume 1 by Jason Shiga
Jimmy Yee attempts suicide several times before realizing the startling reason why he can’t die. The plot unfolds at a breakneck pace and the book is absurdly violent and profane. However, Demon is full of Shiga’s signature puzzle logic storytelling, humor, and mind-bending twists.
Someone Please Have Sex With Me by Gina Wynbrandt
Wynbrandt’s comics are a pop culture heavy exploration of an unseen and undesired woman’s sexual autonomy in context of the sex obsessed male gaze. They are also really, really funny.
Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart
Absolutely heartbreaking comics memoir about the death of Hart’s two year old daughter. Rosalie Lightning is both a tribute to Rosalie’s short life and a devastating examination of the grief shared by Hart and his wife.
Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt
Hanawalt, also known as the production designer and producer for the animated tv series BoJack Horseman, offers a collection of short, often surreal, and hilarious comics. Hanawalt’s watercolors are especially striking and wonderful.
Turning Japanese by MariNaomi
MariNaomi (founder of the Cartoonists of Color Database) chronicles moments of her life both exciting and banal. As a 20-something in the mid-1990s, MariNoami worked in hostess bars in San Jose and Tokyo while attempting to connect with her Japanese heritage.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa
Ms. Marvel remains my favorite contemporary superhero comic. It’s funny, exciting, and genuinely touching to see teenage Kamala Khan struggle to balance family, friends, school, and saving the world. In this collection, Ms. Marvel battles big bad forces who have co-opted her image to push Jersey City’s gentrification.
The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry
No one portrays childhood and adolescence quite the way Lynda Barry has over her prolific career. The emotional honesty she brings to childhood moments of cruelty, indifference, confusion, and joy shows such a deep respect and understanding for her young characters. This updated and expanded collection of Barry’s long running alt-weekly strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek is a great starting point for readers new to Barry’s work and a solid reminder of her brilliance for those who have been reading her for years.
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing
A kid’s comic that reads like a cousin to classics such as Harriet the Spy and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Charles moves with his parents to the big city and soon finds himself trailing Monster Mediator Margo Maloo on a series of adventures. This book is so much fun. My kid insisted on reading it three times before I was allowed to have a look at it.
~ posted by Richard V.