Josh’s Favorite Graphic Novels of 2022!
I’ll always remember 2022 as the year my first full-length graphic novel was published! It’s José and the Pirate Captain Toledano, a swashbuckling adventure story about Jewish pirates that’s also a coming-of-age tale about finding oneself and connecting to one’s past. You can check it out here!
As much fun as I had, finally creating a graphic novel of my own, I also had SO MUCH FUN this year reading so many amazing new graphic novels! Here are some of my favorites:
Reckless: The Ghost in You and Reckless: Follow Me Down (by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips) — The unstoppable team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips published two new installments of their Reckless graphic novel series this year, and I loved them both so much! The series tells noir mystery/crime stories set in Los Angeles in the eighties. These are absolutely perfect pieces of pulp entertainment. The Ghost in You shines a well-deserved spotlight on Ethan’s side-kick Anna, who gets swept up in a mystery surrounding a haunted house in Hollywood, while Follow Me Down tells us what Ethan was doing at the same time, trying to track down a missing woman in the days after the 1989 earthquake. (Click here to find the first Reckless story and away you go!)
Catwoman: Lonely City (by Cliff Chiang) — It’s ten years after the death of Batman, and Selina Kyle has just been released after a decade in prison. Returning to a Gotham City transformed by a militaristic police force (that replaced the costumed superheroes of yore), Selina endeavors to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. But a promise she made to a dying Bruce Wayne, and her sense that things are not right in her city, draws her back into one last adventure. This gorgeous noir-ish adventure story is fun and moving and I love it so much! The great Cliff Chiang has never been better. (Click here to find book one and go from there!)
Friday (by Ed Brubaker and Marcos Martin) — Friday Fitzhugh grew up in a small New England town, solving crimes and mysteries with her brilliant best friend Lancelot Jones (an Encyclopedia Brown-type character). But time passed and Friday went to college. When she returns to her hometown on break, she finds that everything has changed. And yet, she cannot avoid being sucked into one more mystery. This story is amazing; so clever and so gripping. I am out of my mind with anticipation for the next installment!! Mr. Brubaker, as always, has crafted a deliriously entertaining noir mystery, and Marcos Martin’s beautiful artwork dazzles me with its simple brilliance. I grew up reading the Encyclopedia Brown books, and this salute to those types of characters and stories filled me with joy. (Click here to find book one and here to find book two.)
Wonder Woman: Historia (by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Phil Jimenez, Gena Ha, and Nicola Scott) — This gorgeously illustrated retelling of the origin of the Amazons (from whom Wonder Woman would spring) is staggering in its complexity and originality. Ms. DeConnick has crafted a fascinating, richly-researched reimagining of the mythology behind Wonder Woman, and each page illustrated by Mr. Jimenez, Gene Ha, and Nicola Scott is more gloriously illustrated than the next. (Click here to find book one and go from there.)
Little Monarchs (by Jonathan Case) — It’s fifty years after something wiped out all mammals on Earth, and the now-lethal sunlight makes it impossible for human beings to go outside during the day. Elvie is a smart ten year old girl, traveling with a scientist named Flora. Flora has discovered that something in the wings of Monarch butterflies might hold the key to protecting people during the day, and is trying desperately to turn her vision of a cure into reality. This gorgeous and moving all-ages graphic novel is extraordinary, with a fascinating story and beautiful artwork. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale, but it’s surprisingly upbeat and life-affirming. I loved it, and so did my kids. (Click here to find it.)
Sleeping While Standing (by Taki Soma) — This autobiographical graphic novel contains a series of short stories that allow us to follow Ms. Soma through some of the key moments in her life. It’s a deeply personal look at one woman’s struggles. (Click here to find it.)
Fantastic Four: Full Circle (by Alex Ross) — Master artist Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come) brilliantly revisits a classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Fantastic Four story from the sixties. This sequel-slash-reinvention is both timeless and also gloriously drenched in nineteen-sixties cool. The characterizations are perfect, and Mr. Ross’ bold, almost fluorescent artwork is staggering. This is what I want a Fantastic Four movie to be like!! (Click here to find it.)
Here now are some amazing older graphic novels that I read this year!
Asterios Polyp (by David Mazzucchelli) — Mr. Mazzucchelli beautifully illustrated the seminal Batman: Year One story, written by Frank Miller, but he’s done precious little comic book work in the decades since then. And so it was an enormous pleasure to read this magnum opus of a graphic novel, a riveting character study of a lonely pompous jerk of an architect with a very strange name. Beautifully written, stunningly illustrated, endlessly original; this book is amazing. (Click here to find it.)
The Sculptor (by Scott McCloud) — Here’s another beautiful magnum opus. Scott McCloud is the brilliant author of Understanding Comics (and its several wonderful sequels). Here in this heartbreaking tale, he explores the character of David, a young man driven to create art that matters. Will he trade life and love in that pursuit? I absolutely adored this; I think anyone who struggles to create art will too. (Click here to find it.)
Black Hole (by Charles Burns) –– In a small American town, high school kids start contracting a sexually-transmitted disease that transforms them into monsters. This disturbing and compelling story is beautifully illustrated in hauntingly start black-and-white. This is “indie comics” at its best. It’s adult and mature in the best possible way; it’s a compelling character study, an intriguing piece of speculative fiction, and an unsettling metaphor for growing up and discovering sexuality. There are no easy answers nor simple happy endings to be found here. (Click here to find it.)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters (by Emil Ferris) — This beast (literally! It’s huge!) of a graphic novel is strikingly original. Drawn in the style of someone doodling on lined notebook paper, this deceptively layered story is a powerful coming-of-age story that’s also a loving salute to monster stories and everyone and everything odd and weird in the world. I was pleasantly shocked to uncover the Jewish content at its core; I found that aspect of the story to be incredibly moving. I really hope Ms. Ferris is able to complete the much-delayed second part before too much longer. (Click here to find it.)
I hope you’ll join me back here tomorrow for my favorite comic book series of 2022! Thanks for reading!!
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