In a year full of hate, there’s a lot of love in the world of comics. Romance is a shared theme among many of this year’s best comics: There’s heartwarming queer love in books like Aquicorn Cove, Heartstoppers, and On A Sunbeam; Tolkien-infused marital drama in the pages of Coda; a futuristic Romeo & Julietreimagining in The New World; and even interspecies affection in My Boyfriend Is A Bear. Oni Press has an especially strong 2018 with three titles on our list, all created by women. In the world of superheroes, two Marvel titles go back to basics with exceptional results, and Jack Kirby’s New Gods get a modern update perfect for these anxious, unsettling times. Books like Sabrina directly tackled this tumultuous political moment, while The Seeds imagined where the world’s current destructive path would lead. From masters of the form to rising stars making a name for themselves, this year’s best comics showcased remarkable talents dedicated to pushing the medium forward.
Sabrina (Drawn & Quarterly)
The internet is a terrifying thing. Nick Drnaso’s graphic novel looks at how online conspiracy theorists weaponize opinions, advancing their agendas without any consideration for the truth or how their actions destroy the lives of others. Sabrina is the first graphic novel to be longlisted for the Man Booker prize, gaining mainstream recognition for its devastating depiction of how a 24-hour news cycle and online attacks grind away at three people connected by personal tragedy. Drnaso’s stark, sterile art style heightens the alienation felt by these grieving people as their pain is written off as performance, and a 24-panel grid sets a claustrophobic tone that traps the reader in the characters’ misery. It’s a tough read, but one that says a lot about our current cultural climate of fear-mongering that turns innocent people into political pawns. [Oliver Sava]