Here are five comics I read this year which I enjoyed:
Taking Up Space by Adam Meuse
This minicomic juxtaposes the true stories of an art school project about how much literal space we take up, and of Adam’s brother’s suicide. The two stories would each be less compelling (if no less important) without the other. This short comic skillfully illustrates how much of our lives are spent trying to process the events we live though, or that we don’t.
Ben Passmore’s comics for The Nib
The Nib is a pretty good publication overall, and in particular I enjoy Ben Passmore’s comics. This year he had two long-form comics run at The Nib: Whose Free Speech? Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and Respectability Politics, and Fighting for a Better History. It seems as though when discussing matters of social and political importance, most people force everything into a false binary. Either that, or they pick a point right in the middle of the two most commonly espoused party lines and wonder why all the capitalists can’t just get along. Ben actually thinks about issues and presents them from his own point of view, which has not been purchased or predefined by anyone else. Plus, I love his cartooning and coloring. Visually speaking, he’s one of my favorite artists working.
You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis
This is a bicycle travel memoir in which Eleanor Davis devotes herself to not just to bicycling across the country, but to learning more about who she is, plus how she fits into this world, this life, this country at this particular time. I love her art. The people she draws are so bulky and strange, yet so elegantly perfect, not just in this beautiful and emotionally harrowing memoir, but in everything I’ve seen from her.
Kate Beaton’s Twitter Comics
Kate Beaton, of course, is the creator of Hark, a Vagrant! as well as many delightful comics about her family which she posts to twitter. In late 2017, she drew comics about her relationship with her sister Becky, who is pursuing treatment for cancer. Each comic went up with a link to a fundraiser to help fund the ongoing pursuit of a cancer-free life for Becky. Every few days during the period when she posted these, I would log into twitter and read the comics. I don’t think there was a single day when Kate’s love for her sister and her family didn’t shine through with such brilliance that I teared up. I’ve wondered how I would have reacted so strongly to these comics if I didn’t know the reason behind them, but this is a case where the art, the artist, and the intent are all so intertwined that I’ve come to the conclusion that wondering about such things is stupid, formalistic nonsense. (Direct link to fund)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
Did you think maybe I would be too cool for school? That I might not mention this book just because it’s on every almost every other comic list out there? Well, you were wrong, and in this one case, the world is right, and this comic is as great as can be. There’s no reason for me to tell you what this comic is, because the internet is full of My Favorite Thing is Monsters book reports. Go look them up if you need to. I will say that I met Emil Ferris briefly at SPX this year, and watched her interact with fans in a friendly and delighted way which seemed to me to be deeply rooted in kindness, which makes me happy for her for all the praise she has received for this book. I’m eagerly awaiting volume 2, and I’m hoping it gets done in time for its scheduled release date next year, but the first volume took a while. The fact is, I’ll wait as long as I need to.
Other comics I liked in 2017 (for series listed, some part of the series was published or republished in a new format in 2017):
Alack Sinner by José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo
Bad Machinery by John Allison
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Garage Island and Plaguers Int’l by Max Huffman
Giant Days by John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar
Kaijumax by Zander Cannon
Marathon Training 2017 by Jim Rugg
Master Keaton by Naoki Urasawa
Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran
Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian Deities by Hamish Steele
Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly
Super Itis by Richie Pope
Viewotron by Sam Sharpe & Peach S Goodrich
X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor