2018 was another extremely strong year for the graphic form, from bracing novels to heartbreaking memoirs. Here we recognize our eight favorites.
All the Answers, by Michael Kupperman
Kupperman’s searing graphic memoir takes readers back to the mid-20th century as he investigates the life of his father, Quiz Kid Joel Kupperman, and how it intersected with a major turning point in American media. We love this one for its imaginative historical sketchings, and its melancholy undertones.
Alone, by Chaboute
This title technically isn’t new, though 2018 did mark the first year it was available in English. Chaboute’s internationally best-selling French novel uses engrossing black-and-white illustrations for a masterful, darkly funny meditation on loneliness. It’s unforgettable.
Bad Friends, by Ancco
Stark, devastating, and intimate in equal measure. The Korean-born Ancco crafts an unsparing, gritty book looking at the legacy of abuse, leveling it with a memorable depiction of tight-knit friendships.
Berlin, by Jason Lutes
This one would be included for the sheer achievement: Decades in the making, Berlin marks Lutes’ exhaustive, fascinating, utterly immersive tome on life in the Weimar Republic, a collection of sorts that’s both an ingenious coffee-table book and a significant cultural contribution.
Home After Dark, by David Small
Small’s intricate exploration of male adolescence and toxic masculinity is all in the details, offering a nuanced portrait of one young boy as he navigates a troubled home life, warped cultural expectations, and nasty bullies. Small executes his arc through raw, detailed facial expressions.
On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden
One of the form’s most exciting talents, Walden again delivered with this epic, blue- and purple-washed saga of a young woman traveling through sci-fi wonders and terrors to reunite with her long-lost love. It’s a sweeping queer romance told in Walden’s signature style.
Passing for Human, by Liana Finck
Instagram favorite Finck transferred her talents to a remarkable visual memoir, which with meta wryness moves in surprising directions, most poignantly tracing the life story of her weary mother and the aftermath of traumatic experiences.
Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso
Drnaso’s Great American Novel in graphic form turned red-hot in July, when it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize — a first for the genre. It couldn’t be more deserved: Through probing images, the book unfurls a grand, prescient military conspiracy while, along the way, offering a bleak (and scathingly funny) depiction of the digital age.