The world of comics is huge and ever expanding. All it takes is one look at Diamond’s weekly new-releases list to be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of books being published, and that doesn’t even include the sprawl of webcomics, self-published works, and publishers operating outside of the primary distribution model. The A.V. Club’s Comics Panel writers cover an extensive range of titles each week, and we’re covering the year’s best comics differently this year to highlight the vast assortment of options available to readers. Rather than a traditional list, each writer has chosen specific titles and larger trends that have made this year great for comics. From superhero revivals to major new works by established creators to rising stars carving out their place in the industry, the wide world of comics has been full of wonders this past year, and these are the titles that demand attention.
[…] The rerelease of Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay (Drawn & Quarterly) ushers the earliest work from the idiosyncratic and influential Ben Katchor back into print. Although Katchor’s strips, on subjects ranging from gentrification and “white flight” to modern sexual mores, may have been ahead of their time 25 years ago, the work on display here seems remarkably prescient in its deadpan focus on adult disappointment.
[…] While Brian Chippendale’s Puke Force (discussed elsewhere) might well be the graphic novel of the year, there’s no shortage of significant releases.
[…] Similarly unique, Brecht Evens’ Panther (Drawn & Quarterly) is a kaleidoscope and nightmarish retelling of Calvin & Hobbes, a reductive comparison despite being substantively accurate.
[…] Canadian author Michael DeForge similarly approaches a budding queerness with a metaphoric eye in his fantastical Big Kids (Drawn & Quarterly). In many ways a typical coming-of-age story, Big Kids materializes queerness—or more precisely, the fluid exploration of one’s budding sexuality—as a kind of physical change that innumerable people experience. Here they become trees, verdant beings whose bodies coalesce and interlock. Rendered with DeForge’s signature aesthetic—visually dense and strikingly composed, with thin lines and odd, almost grotesque, anatomies—Big Kids has the tenor of a Wes Anderson movie. Everything appears flat and ironic, but there is a misunderstood complex of emotions that characters simply cannot express.