Canada.com's Holiday Guide lists Charles Burns and Tom Gauld among top graphic novelists

“Five graphic novel picks from 2012” / VANCOUVER SUN / SHAWN CONNER / December 17, 2012

Every year a greater variety, not to mention number, of graphic novels appears on bookstore shelves, or what’s left of them. This year was particularly busy in the illustrated memoir field, led by Alison Bechdel. Her graphic novel Are You My Mother?, which followed 2006’s acclaimed Fun Home, was one of the more talked-about books of 2012. By far, though, the graphic novel that generated the most chatter was Chris Ware’s Building Stories, a book-in-a-box that is as solid a demarcation between the past and future of the medium as was the first issue of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix (regarded by many as the first underground) in 1968. Building Stories isn’t included in this list – it’s covered elsewhere in the paper – but here are five books we think demonstrate, in different ways, the potential of the medium.

Goliath (Drawn and Quarterly) – Readers of the New York Times Sunday Magazine may recognize Tom Gauld’s work; the Scottish cartoonist’s repurposed stick figures accompany the weekly Riff column. Actually, Gauld’s work isn’t quite as simple as “repurposed stick figures” makes it sound, and he imbues this retelling of the David and Goliath story with pathos and a lasting, sweet melancholy. (96 pps, hardcover, $19.95)

The Hive (Pantheon) – Charles Burns is the standard-bearer of creepy horror in modern comics. The Hive, the second in a proposed trilogy, turns romance comics clichés inside out in a story fuelled by nightmare logic, fantastically rendered in Burnsian black-and-white. (56 pps, hardcover, $25.95)

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