The Best Graphic Literature Of 2016 – Forbes

Patience, a tour-de-force from graphic novel master Daniel Clowes, is one of this year's best works. Image via Fantagraphics.

Patience, a tour-de-force from graphic novel master Daniel Clowes, is one of this year’s best works. Image via Fantagraphics.

The term “graphic novel” may have reached the limits of its usefulness, but whatever you want to call this year’s crop of new, longform comics, they are impressive in their achievement and ambition. There are award-winning memoirs from important historical figures, lush works of fantasy, profound stories that blend words and pictures to achieve remarkable emotional impact, personal explorations of political and cultural issues, and more conventional entertainment that push the boundaries of genre in lively and exciting ways.

Here’s a list of my ten favorites from a thick stack of contenders, listed alphabetically by title.

Angel Catbird, Margaret Atwood and Johnnie Christmas (Dark Horse Comics). Internationally-renowned novelist Margaret Atwood toys with the conventions of pulp adventure stories and superhero comics as if they were a big ball of yarn in this delightful original graphic novel, drawn by Johnnie Christmas with colors by Tamra Bonvillain.

The Fix Volume 1. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber (Image Comics). Two hapless corrupt cops match wits with the most relentless sleuth on the force, a beagle (yes, a dog) named Pretzels, in the breakout hit series from Image. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber deliver spit-out-your-coffee hilarity on every page, with deadpan wit and sight gags that reward careful scrutiny. Donald Westlake would be proud. This trade collects the first four issue arc.

March Book 3. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW Publishing): Final volume of John Lewis’s National Book Award-winning memoir of his days in the Civil Rights movement, focusing on the push for voter rights for African Americans in the mid-1960s, framed by Lewis’s current-day role as a Congressman working alongside President Obama. Andrew Aydin adapts the story, drawn with understated excellence by Nate Powell.

Monstress, by Margaret Liu, art by Sana Takeda. Via Image Comics.

Monstress, by Margaret Liu, art by Sana Takeda. Via Image Comics.

Monstress Volume 1. Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Image Comics). Sana Takeda produces some of the most gorgeous artwork of the year, illustrating Marjorie Liu’s rich alternate-world steampunk fantasy featuring a teenage heroine with mysterious powers caught in a web of political intrigue. The dense, multilayered story and rich, Manga-influenced artwork make this a satisfying read for any fantasy/sci-fi fan. This trade collects the first six issue story arc, but you’ll want to keep reading.

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