The world of original graphic novels is a diverse landscape of wonderfully told stories. This world of titles showcased in 2018 that comics isn’t just the direct market – not by a long shot – and that the medium is filled with beautiful storytelling in other avenues. All ages of readers were graced with this bounty, take a look at some of our favourites from the year to see if there was any stellar storytelling that passed you by!
THE CARDBOARD KINGDOM
Chad Sell, Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Manuel Betancourt, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole, Barbara Perez Marquez – Knopf Books
This collection of short stories about an amazing group of kids is so phenomenal, I almost don’t know where to start. The Cardboard Kingdom captured my 33 year old attention just as much as my daughter’s 8 year old attention, and filled my heart with hope for the future – both for the world and for comics. That this story filled with diversity, joy and serious topics can exist and be executed so brilliantly is a strong blow in my mind to the regressive forces currently doing their damnedest to take comics back 20 (or more) years. Chad Sell’s fantastic artwork mixed with the charming writing of his co-conspirators has lead to one of the greatest achievements of this medium in 2018. You can check out my review HERE if you are looking for more gushing about the fabulous Cardboard Kingdom.
Sara Varon – First Second
Sweaterweather’s Sara Varon takes readers to South America with this charming tale of friendship and adventure. Varon’s easy-to-follow storytelling makes this collection accessible to early elementary readers, making it a great “gateway” comic for someone transitioning from picture books to longer form storytelling. Charming is the best way to put this story, which also has some education about the the rainforest, so DOUBLE WIN.
HEX VET: WITCHES IN TRAINING
Sam Davies – BOOM! Studios
Two veterinary witch apprentices have to take care of the shop while the boss has to leave. What could go wrong? Well, a lot can…but it’s really cute and ends well, so just enjoy the ride! Sam Davies’ writing is perfect for middle grade readers and the artwork here will make you smile for days.
Gustavo Borges, Cris Peter – BOOM! Studios
A beautiful tale of friendship that will tug at your heartstrings, Petals tells the wordless tale of woodland creatures who build an enviable bond over the course of this story. The artwork is evocative and powerful, cute and joyful, and hits like a hammer at points. Check out my full review of Petals HERE.
THE NAMELESS CITY: THE DIVIDED EARTH
Faith Erin Hicks, Jordie Bellaire – First Second
The conclusion of The Nameless City trilogy, The Divided Earth brings this brilliant story home in a strong way. Hicks is a gifted visual storyteller and writer and this entire trilogy is worth your time, without question. This is one of the best comics you’ll read this year, and if you’d like to know more about why, a full review is HERE.
DELILAH DIRK AND THE PILLARS OF HERCULES
Tony Cliff, Sarah Airriess, Jarad Greene, Beth Morrell, Amanda Scurti, Brian Cliff – First Second
If you don’t know Delilah Dirk, you should meet her. She’s the baddest adventurer in comics, the envy of Lara Croft and the very definition of an entertaining swashbuckler. Tony Cliff delivers a brilliant third tale in Delilah’s ongoing story with this volume, which had me locked in from start to finish. Check out my full review HERE.
BIRDING IS MY FAVORITE VIDEO GAME
Rosemary Mosco – Andrews McMeel Publishing
Birding is a collection of Rosemary Mosco’s brilliant comics focusing on birds, nature, ecology and they are flat out FUNNY. Mosco’s dry sense of humour will have you laughing and revisiting this collection often. More words (and some images) HERE.
SCARLETT HART: MONSTER HUNTER
Marcus Sedgwick, Thomas Taylor – First Second
Scarlett Hart is the Van Helsing you’ve always wanted to read: a spunky kid with heart, taking on monsters in a steampunk England. Sedgwick and Taylor have built what is best described as a “fun romp” with this story.
CHECK, PLEASE! BOOK ONE: #HOCKEY
Ngozi Ukazu – First Second
There’s a reason why Check, Please! is the most successful comic book Kickstarter in history. Ngozi Ukazu’s amazing tale of college life, hockey, vlogging and so much more is worth every ounce of praise heaped upon it, and it pleases me to no end to watch it take over and crush the book market. Contemporary YA novel readers will feel right at home in this story and will be clamouring for book two.
Youssef Daoudi – First Second
Jazz legend Thelonious Monk is the subject of Youssef Daoudi’s brilliant OGN. The experience that is jazz music is transferred to the silent medium that is the comic book page in a brilliant way as Daoudi chronicles Monk’s life and his unique friendship with Pannonica. I’m a jazz nerd, so I was all over this, but it isn’t told in a way that is exclusionary to non-jazz listeners by any stretch of the imagination.
WILD’S END: JOURNEY’S END
Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard – BOOM! Studios
The Wild’s End trilogy came to an end this year with Journey’s End from Abnett and Culbard. This War of the Worlds meets Wind In The Willows adventure is unique, entertaining, and heartbreaking…and I’m not sure what more you can ask for. Previously released as single issues, I loved BOOM!’s decision to go full OGN here, as it is the best way to tell this story, without question.
SUPER CHILL: A YEAR OF LIVING ANXIOUSLY
Adam Ellis – Andrews McMeel Publishing
Oh lord, how close to home some of these comics hit. Super Chill is the hilarious collection of Adam Ellis’ reflections on anxiety and everyday occurrences like booking haircuts. Who doesn’t hate booking a haircut? You’ll laugh, you’ll feel weird about how much you empathize and you’ll return often to this great collection.
…and this list is, by no means, everything. 2018 was a banner year for the graphic novel market and 2019 looks to be just as strong. As a happy reader, I say bring the thunder, comics!