This year’s top 10 graphic novels, reviewed in Booklist from March 15, 2016, through June 2017, include a biography of a cannibal, a
wry collection of short comics, and a surprisingly thought-provoking
take on a classic, farcical cartoon, plus plenty more. —Sarah Hunter
The Abominable Mr. Seabrook. By Joe Ollmann. Illus. by the author. 2017. Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95 (9781770462670).
Ollmann’s blocky artwork is well suited to this fascinating biography of William Seabrook, “writer, explorer, alcoholic, sadist, cannibal.” Thoroughly
researched, masterfully executed.
The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984–1985. By Riad Sattouf.
Illus. by the author. Tr. by Sam Taylor. 2016. Holt/Metropolitan, $26 (9781627793513).
Sattouf’s continuation of his memoir depicts his Syrian childhood under an oppressive
regime, and his cartoonish, detached style makes the grim events both easier to bear and
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. By Sonny Liew. Illus. by the author. 2016. Pantheon,
With virtuosity, Liew recounts the life of a famed Singapore comics artist . . . except
Charlie Chan Hock Chye is completely fictional. This tour de force pastiche is an utter triumph of storytelling and artistic skill.
The Best We Could Do. By Thi Bui. Illus. by the author. 2017. Abrams ComicArts, $24.95
This stunning memoir reconstructs Bui’s family history, from troubles in Vietnam to the
family members’ differently troubled lives as refugees in the U.S. Gorgeous, evocative art
cultivates vast depths of feeling.
Boundless. By Jillian Tamaki. Illus. by the author. 2017. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95
Tamaki’s collection of short comics examines the strange, familiar corners of human
nature with wry humor and affection. A variety of art styles adds to this versatile anthology’s ample appeal.
Everything Is Teeth. By Evie Wyld. Illus. by Joe Sumner. 2016. Pantheon, $24.95
This coming-of-age story traces Wyld’s childhood obsession with sharks and anxieties
about growing up, which become palpable in the artwork: next to Sumner’s cartoonish
figures, realistic, often-gory sharks loom menacingly.
The Flintstones, v. 1. By Mark Russell. Illus. by Steve Pugh. 2017. DC Comics, $16.99
Surprisingly emotionally resonant, this reimagining of the classic Flintstones cartoon
abandons flat figures for realistic character designs and balances slapstick laughs with
melancholic, existential concerns.
Imagine Wanting Only This. By Kristen Radtke. Illus. by the author. 2017. Pantheon,
Radtke’s debut cartwheels through her experiences of ruin and decay, from cities destroyed by time or disaster to bodies ravaged by congenital heart defects. Crisp, grayscale
images add visual lyricism to this cerebral memoir.
My Brother’s Husband, v. 1. By Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by the author. Tr. by Anne Ishii.
2017. Pantheon, $24.95 (9781101871515).
Japanese Yuichi is dismayed when his brother’s widower, Mike, who’s out and open to
questions, visits him in Japan and befriends his daughter. This manga’s sensitive exploration of grief, cultural difference, and homophobia hits all the right notes.
Patience. By Daniel Clowes. Illus. by the author. 2016. Fantagraphics, $29.99
When Jack’s pregnant girlfriend, Patience, is murdered, he travels back in time to find
her killer. More than a sci-fi romp, this poignant story of mourning and destructive obsession is a captivating marriage of text, image, and design.
TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS
so abundant in his early life, is lost in direct
proportion to gains in power as he becomes
increasingly dissatisfied with his lot. It is not
until Wang Lung nears the end of his life that
he remembers the simple times of his youth,
when the earth provided him with everything
he needed. Drawing from Buck’s original text,
Bertozzi combines portions of narrative and dialogue and stark black-and-white illustrations.
The sequential artwork is straightforward, illustrating rather than illuminating the text, but
the pen-and-ink drawings are done in a loose,
painterly style that echoes the darkness of the
story line. Best for general adult collections,
especially where graphic adaptations of classics
are popular. —Summer Hayes
Her Bark and Her Bite.
By James Albon. Illus. by the author.
2017. 80p. Top Shelf, paper, $9.99 (9781603094078).
Rebecca is new to the city and renting a
dusty attic room from her cousin, who doesn’t
even allow her to work on her paintings there
for fear of too much mess. It wouldn’t take
much to charm Rebecca into a happier situation, but popular playboy Victor pulls out all
the stops anyway, introducing her to all his artist friends, who worship him. Rebecca moves
in, and they’re giddily in love. Soon, though,
Rebecca shows her work with some success,
while she grows annoyed by the projects Victor’s always inventing yet never pursuing, and
begins to see through some of his so-called
fabulous friends. When Rebecca’s least favorite member of the Victor fan club gifts him
with a deranged-looking pug, the end is nigh.
Albon illustrates his story with a freedom that
feels right, using many different page formats
and a bright, vibrating, colored-pencil style in
a limited palette. This clever debut is a satisfying send-up of the insiders-only nature of arts
communities, with a visual style that stands
out from the pack. —Annie Bostrom
John Stanley: Giving Life to Little
By Bill Schelly. Illus. by John Stanley.
2017. 184p. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (9781606999905).
Comic-book creators in the early years of
the industry generally toiled in anonymity,
ity, created her supporting cast, and wrote and
laid out the stories that remain much-loved
to this day. His name did not appear on the
strip, and the reclusive Stanley had no interest in promoting his work. It was only long
after he’d abandoned the feature that fans
learned his identity and his achievement be-