The Herald lists six D+Q books under 2018's Best

“Graphic Content: Our choice of the best graphic novels of the year” / The Herald Scotland / Teddy Jamieson / December 14, 2018

IN THE end, Nick Drnaso didn't win the Man Booker Prize. Indeed, his graphic novel Sabrina (Granta, £16.99/Drawn & Quarterly) didn't even make it to the short list. But the fact that it was named in the long list back in July was enough. A sign that the form's cultural reach doesn't start and end with Marvel movie adaptations. The graphic novel had been welcomed into the literary establishment. Another step up the ladder in terms of critical acceptance. And another reason why this has been another good year for cartoonists.

There were some - myself included - who weren't sure that Sabrina belonged on the Booker long list, but more because of form than content. Told in a clean, clear, style, Drnaso's potent, pitiless vision of grief, the corrosive effect of social media and the rise of the digital alt-right is one of the most incisive visions of the Trump era we've yet had. It feels very of the moment, while never losing a sense of novelistic space, depth and mystery.

You could argue that the best of this year's graphic novels revolved around one or other of those two approaches.

Reading Jason Lutes's epic graphic novel Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly), which has taken its creator more than 20 years to finish, it's difficult to ignore the contemporary resonances in its account of life in the German capital between the First and Second World Wars.

There is a danger, though, that in doing so we reduce the work to a series of a sub-editor's bullet points. Both books are much more than that. Once it finds its feet, Lutes's Berlin is a sprawling yet adroitly marshalled vision of political, social and cultural life in the city. Laid out in crisp, black and white, Lutes follows his huge cast of characters – journalists and Jewish businessmen, cabaret singers and Communists, lesbians and Nazis – through the streets and years. The result is immersive.
Aminder Dhaliwal's vision of a post-male world in her graphic novel Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly, £14.99) would make for a fine double bill with Walden's vision of the future. Dhaliwal's work is both disturbed and intrigued by the idea of a world without men. It is also slyly comic; a smart sitcom pinned to the page.

Graphic Content's Top 20 graphic novels of 2018 (NB: there are probably lots of good ones we haven't included simply because we haven't had a chance to read them yet. Apologies to all the creators we've missed out as a result. And that includes you, Posy Simmonds).

19 Red Winter, Anneli Furmark, Drawn & Quarterly

Set in a commune in 1970s Sweden, Red Winter, Anneli Furmark's graphic novel of an affair between a married mother and a young communist describes another world where politics vies with love. A cold snap of a book.

9 Woman World, Aminder Dhaliwal, Drawn & Quarterly

Smart feminist comedy in comic book form. Dhaliwal is one to watch.

8 S*** is Real, Aisha Franz, Drawn & Quarterly

The German cartoonist's graphic novel about heartbreak and depression is slyly surrealist and in danger of being overlooked.

6 From Lone Mountain, John Porcellino, Drawn & Quarterly

John Porcellino's diary accounts of his life are proof that comic strips can also be poetry.

5 Berlin, Jason Lutes, Drawn & Quarterly

More than 20 years in the making it was worth the wait. Lutes's brick of a book is an epic piece of work that never loses sight of its humanity amidst the spectacle.

4 Sabrina, Nick Drnaso, Granta/Drawn & Quarterly

Zadie Smith calls it a masterpiece on the cover. It's possible that she's right.

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