Best Comics of 2017

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It’s getting to be that time of year again… the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the best-of-year book lists are popping up all over the place.  I love best-of-year lists, but they also give me major FOMO — I start thinking to myself, “OMG.  I’ve only read one of the books on this list.  WTF was I doing this year?  Did I even read ANYTHING?”  I’m preparing myself early this year.  I’m going to take a deep breath, reread Linda Holmes’ outstanding essay, The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going to Miss Almost Everything, and try to panic a little less than previous years.  I’m also going to remind myself that I did, in fact, read a lot of books published this year — who cares if they aren’t the ones that make the New York Times or NPR or National Book Award lists?  So, without further ado, here’s my first top 10 list for 2017 — my favorite comics published this year (and they’re all stand-alones or Vol. 1’s so you can pick them up without worry):

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
By Emil Ferris
Filled with B-horror movie and pulp monster iconography, the diary of ten-year-old Karen Reyes records her investigation into the murder of her upstairs neighbor Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor. Absolutely my favorite book of the year — jaw dropping illustrations and a plot that’ll keep you turning the pages.
You & A Bike & A Road
By Eleanor Davis
In 2016, acclaimed cartoonist and illustrator Eleanor Davis documented her cross-country bike tour as it happened. The immediacy of Davis’ comics journal makes for an incredible chronicle of human experience on the most efficient and humane form of human transportation. 2017 was my year of rediscovering my love of biking and this book definitely helped me on that journey.
Boundless
By Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki brings her combined characteristic realism and humor to her first collection of short stories. Boundless explores the lives of women and how the expectations of others influence their real and virtual selves. Jillian Tamaki is one of my favorite comics creators working today and this collection of short stories is by equal turns lovely, weird, and thought provoking.
Brave
By Svetlana Chmakova
In Jenson’s daydreams he is the biggest hero there ever was, in real life he is targeted by bullies and struggles in math class, and the pressure of middle school only keeps growing. Technically, this is a sequel to Awkward, but you don’t need to have read the first book to dive right in. Chmakova depicts middle school with heart-wrenching accuracy.
Hostage
By Guy Delisle
Recounts, in graphic novel format, the harrowing story of Christophe Andre, an administer with Doctors without Borders who was kidnapped and held by armed men while working in the Caucasus region. You’d think that a visual depiction of the mind-numbingly repetitive days being held captive wouldn’t make for a compelling read, but it really does. Guy Delisle does a great job depicting the claustrophobic tension Andre experienced.
Poppies of Iraq
By Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim
The author shares memories of her middle class childhood to create a family portrait that explores loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile. I love a good graphic memoir and Findakly’s recollections of growing up in Iraq definitely fit the bill.
Uncomfortably Happily
By Yeon-Sik Hong
Cartoonist Yeon-Sik Hong explores his move with his wife to a small house atop a rural mountain, replacing the high-rent hubbub of Seoul with the quiet murmur of the country. With their dog, cats, and chickens by their side, the simple life and isolation they so desperately craved proves to present new anxieties. Yeon-Sik Hong’s avoidance of deadlines gave me second-hand anxiety, but his struggle to find a fulfilling life in the modern world definitely hit close to home.
Real Friends
By Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others. Major elementary and middle school flashbacks.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop: Anchor Points
By Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero
Kate Bishop has moved to LA with her bows and arrows to open up her own P.I. business–even if she is unlicensed–to solve crimes. This new Kate Bishop arc scratches some of the same “badass ladies getting shit done… plus jokes!” itch that the (sadly discontinued) Mockingbird series did.
Shade, The Changing Girl: Earth Girl Made Easy
By Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone
Stealing the madness coat of poet Rac Shade, Loma travels across the galaxy to take up residence in the body of Earth girl Megan Boyer, where she is forced to navigate the consequences of a life she didn’t live. I knew nothing about the history of Rac Shade or the madness coat, but loved this trippy, psychedelic story nonetheless.

Until next time, find the stories that make you stronger. #WorkOutNerdOut
Karen

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