I haven’t counted, but I’d estimate I read at least 200 graphic novels this year. I’m sure many people read far more than that, so don’t be too impressed with my numbers. Also there were many graphic novels published this year that I didn’t get to read, books that might have been on my Top 10 of 2014 had I read them. Still, I read a lot of good ones, too many to narrow down to just ten, so I decided to post a Runners-Up list, books that didn’t quite make my Top 10, but certainly deserve mention. I hope you find something of interest in this Runners-Up list. (All books are in alphabetical order by title.)
Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla (Archie Comics Publications)
If you’ve been living on another planet and aren’t aware of the phenomena of Afterlife with Archie, you really must pick up the first story arc, Escape from Riverdale. Just know that this isn’t your father’s Archie Comics. I reviewed this title earlier this year for The Comics Alternative. You can read that review here.
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend – Box Brown (First Second)
I have a confession to make: I used to watch wrestling. Yeah, that kind of wrestling: Hulk Hogan, Junk Yard Dog, Skandor Akbar, Doctor X, all those guys. And Andre the Giant. I even saw him live when I was a kid, watching him polish off ten guys at once. So when I heard that First Second was going to publish Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown, I knew I had to read and review it. You can read the rest of that review here.
Ant Colony – Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)
Ant Colony is an amazingly weird book that somehow becomes less weird the more you read it. DeForge is a Canadian artist responsible for many of the designs for the animated TV show Adventure Time, which makes a lot of sense after seeing his work in Ant Colony. If you think of Ant Colony as sort of an Adventure Time for adults – except a lot darker with ants and spiders – you’ll probably enjoy it. I know I did.
Baby Bjornstrand – Renée French (Koyama Press)
From Koyama Press: “Baby Bjornstrand tells the tale of Mickey, Marcel and Cyril and their misadventures with an undeniably adorable, and mysteriously menacing monster. A wasteland becomes fertile ground for fantasy as the book’s graphite grotesqueries are brought to life by French’s adroit hand; her elegant shading seemingly wringing her wondrous worlds out of the page itself.”
It was a pleasure to meet French at this years SPX and to read her book, one I read several times, enjoying it more with each read. Derek and I reviewed Baby Bjornstrand last month on The Comics Alternative Podcast. Hope you’ll give it a listen and check out the book.
Basewood – Alec Longstreth (Phase Seven Comics)
Basewood is one of those quiet books that could easily slip past the attention of most people, but I hope that doesn’t happen. A man awakens in the woods with no memory of who or where he is. He meets an old hermit who lives in a treehouse with his dog, both of whom constantly watch the skies for a deadly dragon. This is a wonderful book with gorgeous black-and-white art that deserves a wide readership.
The Chair’s Hiatus – Matthew Bogart (Matthew Bogart)
One of the best graphic novels from the SXSW 2014 Starter Pack from ComiXology earlier this year, The Chairs’ Hiatus is nothing fancy or flashy, just a simple story (yet not simplistic) about a band, relationships, trust and forgiveness. Well worth seeking out digitally or in print.
In the Dark: A Horror Anthology – Rachel Deering, editor (IDW)
You don’t often see anthologies in many Year’s Best lists, but Deering has assembled an incredible line-up of creators for one of the best horror books of 2014. You can read my full review at The Comics Alternative.
Kinski – Gabriel Hardman (Image)
One of the year’s biggest surprises came in the form of a black lab puppy. Soon to be reviewed at The Comics Alternative.
This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
Your level of enjoyment of This One Summer will largely depend upon your age and expectations. This is labeled (in our library, at least) as a YA book. I think a small segment of the YA audience might enjoy it and relate to it, but it’s greatest appeal seems to be for adults. This is a very quiet, reflective book that will likely resonate with adult readers, while many YA readers might react with “Nothing much really happens.” If for no other reason, you should pick up this title for the wonderful art, filled with shades of blue and purple, which complement the story perfectly. Derek Royal wrote a great review of this book here.
The Undertaking of Lily Chen – Danica Novgorodoff (First Second)
Comedy, horror, mystery and more all come together in this gorgeously illustrated book, which I reviewed earlier this year.