Here are the results of a request for Top 5 lists – mini-comics, comicbooks, graphic novels, and webcomics that were read and enjoyed this year, from us and friends of Short Run. Not all these comics were made in 2017, and all lists are in random order. We hope you check out these books as you do your holiday shopping (for others, or yourself)!
Generally I only go for straight humor comics, but every once in a while there is an artist like Clowes or Burns that blows me away. This book is a surrealist horror import from Portugal, with some mind blowing panels that you can admire for hours.
Maybe because I know Tom, I’m in on the joke that he’s not as big of a raging asshole as he presents himself in his comics. The comedy in this one is so over the top that you can’t help but bust a gut laughing.
The adventures of millennial hipster Wendy as she tries to find love and conquer the art scene. I’m almost 40 and I learned a bunch of new hipster words when I read this comedy.
This autobiography of Noah Van Sciver’s cringe-worthy first date as a 14 year old Mormon skater kid, is really honest and hilarious. There is a scene where he tells us about how he was so poor that he slept on a bunk-bed made out of loose planks that would chronically fall off and hit his sleeping brother in the face that made me lose it.
Nick may now be my favorite comic artist ever after reading this. He can take a gag comic strip and spin it into a 50 page book of pure genius. This one is probably his best about a CEO that decides that his employees are losing productivity because they are ALLOWED to poop at work. So he institutes a no pooping policy, hires temps to make sure his employees are following the rules, and just before things really start to get crazy, they install a quick change diaper station to keep it going.
2. Boundless by Jillian Tamaki – A collection of fantastic (both in quality and subject) short stories, Tamaki’s skills as a cartoonist shines through every one. Dark, surreal, funny; if you are fan of TV show Black Mirror, check this out.
3. Stages of Rot by Linnea Sterte – A giant flying whale beast dies and falls to the earth, and attracts a host of Nausicaa-esque creatures. Each chapter gives a peek at various societies that rise and fall around the corpse of this enormous animal, often focusing on their biological aspects.
4. My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame – Yaichi, a single dad and his daughter Kana are visited by Mike Flanagan, a Canadian who married Yaichi’s estranged twin brother Ryōji, who has recently died. What follows is a sweet, heartwarming story as Yaichi begins to confront his own old, close-minded attitudes.
5. After Laughter by Jonathan Djob Nkondo – After following Nkondo’s work for a few years, I was overjoyed to get this zine from Short Box. His weighty forms and smooth yet simple panel layouts feel like you are watching an animated short.
1. Wendy’s Revenge by Walter K Scott – Totally devoured this within a couple hours and immediately ordered the first book in the series! I think we can all relate to Wendy and her art struggles…
2. Cold Cube #3 – Literally every page in this volume is STUNNING. Cold Cube knocks it out of the park again.
3. Horror High School Volume 4, Bummer Summer by Lauren Armstrong – Lauren worked on this super hard all summer, and it looks amazing! Really cool to see her funny/touching/weird/cool/Dorito style translated to risograph printing.
4. Mundane Magic by Andrew Lamb Schultz – Everything Andrew makes is mesmerizing. I love their work, and I’m so stoked that these lovely pieces have been compiled into book form!
5. Fante Bukowski 2 by Noah Van Sciver – So hilarious, and the book design is mind-blowingly on-point. And like Fante says, truly there is no crying in zine-making!
I decided to do my top 5 books by artists outside of the US since I gathered so many from other places this year and I wanted to include a range of minis and thick books of varying kinds.
This book uses the format of a children’s book I used to have that mesmerized me. The drawings are red, but when you scan over them with a red piece of clear plastic (provided!) they reveal that there are drawings hidden underneath that pop into focus, transforming an icecream cone into a turd, a nun into a mermaid, and a member of Kiss into a sad mime.
This isn’t exactly comics reportage, it’s more like a peek into the sketchbook of a reporter. The gorgeous drawings (that often look like they were made with liquid eyeliner) are drawn on the spot giving you the sense that you are a fly on the wall for the documented conversation. The stories feel as personal as they are political, offering an intimate look at human rights issues in contemporary Russia.
3. Histoire décolorée by Amandine Meyer
Amandine paints a psychedelic world where most of the stories center around childhood shenanigans gone wrong. One explains the world well–a small cherubic character pees on a seed which immediately grows to be human size and takes a bite out of one of the children from which a gory cornucopia of alien plant matter gushes turning the child into a baroque fountain. Note: almost no characters have faces.
Flora is one of those confident, expressive dry brush painters I always wanted to be. The sketchbooks she produced during a residency in Cu Chi transport you there with slice of life drawings that capture the smells, taste, light, and temperature of Vietnam offering a perfect vacation from Seattle’s dreary weather.
This sweet lil’ risograph book is the sillysutra. It’s a collection of delightfully illustrated vignettes including a woman frolicking through a field of oddly unthreatening dicks and a scene where women slap each other’s asses with their hair.
After following her work on Twitter, I met Shing Yin Khor at Short Run this year. Small Stories is a collection of intimate and slightly monstrous watercolor minis—all my favorite things!
Adapting one of Octavia Butler’s more straightforward works into a graphic novel, John Jennings and Damian Duffy invite more people to explore the complex questions posed in her work with Kindred.
The Most Costly Journey by Vermont Folklife Center demonstrates comics’ utility in addressing real word issues. A series of comics for Latinx migrant workers, it “mitigates loneliness, isolation, and despair” by sharing stories of those who came before.
The colors were the first thing to hit me in the 1st part of Anders Nilsen’s 6-part series, Tongues. Then the characters; their dialogue. Then the story; the panels…
Lee Lai’s comics feel instantly relatable; this is how real people deal with their shit. That the people she depicts tend to be QTPOC makes it feel like she’s drawing directly for/to me.
A beautiful, honest story about the vibrant matriarch of the family trying to fight off diminishing memory and her relationship to her children and grandchildren, who want to preserve her and their shared traditions forever.
Through this sparse, wasted bird/insect character, a universe of emotion is expressed. Almost any artist could read this book and relate deeply to the struggle to be prolific when you are inherently lazy, and just how damn hard every is, from talking to people, to walking down the street.
3. Perfect Discipline and Unbending Loyalty by Tommi Parrish (Perfectly Acceptable Press)
This gorgeous book expertly Risograph printed, with stapled-in mini’s and other flourishes, needs to be owned, not borrowed, you’re going to spend some time with this one. Parrish took the time to draw every knot in a chainlink fence, the least you can do is look at this book! Aesthetics aside, it’s a good read as well, capturing parent-child conversations with right amount of love and pain most of us can recognize.
4. Paul Joins The Scouts by Michael Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
This book will really knock you out. Like almost no other, Rabagliati takes you on an unexpected journey, especially with this ‘Paul’ book (please read & collect all the others too!). Similar to the storytelling style of Lynda Barry, Rabagliati recalls how kids really talk and think.
5. Cold Cube #3
I have to agree with Elaine on this one – the Cold Cube editors have really sniffed out some great writers and artists for their 3rd epic anthology. This is another book that will be by your bedside, because there’s a lot to look at and read. I especially loved the comics by Taylor Dow and Marie Hausauer and my friend Mita Mahato’s cut paper whale scenes look completely transformed by the delicate tones of Risograph.