I’m working on a big year-in-review wrap-up post, but it’s going pretty slowly… and meanwhile, I was thinking about all the terrific graphic novels I read in 2015, so let’s go with that for a topic, shall we?
In 2015, I read 22 graphic novels. Not too shabby! Some were stand-alones, some were volumes in ongoing series, and some were complete trilogies that I read all in one gulp.
(Note: The synopses quoted here are all from Goodreads. These are all books that I read in 2015, but they weren’t necessarily published in 2015. For those I’ve previously reviewed, the review links are included.)
For me, the best of the best in 2015 include:
A beautiful and eerie collection of graphic stories, which I know I’ll want to read again and again:
Discover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time.
Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.
Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut.
A totally fun, girl-power positive adventure:
What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings her skills in character design and sharp, charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, superhero battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world. (review)
I absolutely adored the Good Neighbors trilogy by Holly Black, featuring gorgeous illustrations and a tightly woven plot about an ordinary young woman with a connection to the world of faerie:
Rue Silver’s mother has disappeared . . . and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it’s not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn’t kill her mother — instead, he broke a promise to Rue’s faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue’s mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her — and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world. (review)
In 2015, we said good-bye to a truly astounding, rich graphic novel series — one of my absolute favorites — Fables. While the series has had some ups and downs over its run, overall, I consider it a masterpiece.
It’s the final trade paperback volume of FABLES! No, wait – it’s FABLES #150, the grand finale of the best-selling, award-winning comic book series! And it’s also an original graphic novel in the tradition of 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL! Yes, it’s all this and more! Join us for 150 – that’s, right, 150! – pages of new stories starring your favorite Fables, all from the mind of Bill Willingham. It all starts with an 80-page lead story illustrated by series regulars Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, plus stories illustrated by Mark Schultz, Gene Ha, Neal Adams, Andrew Pepoy and many more!
Don’t miss the final bows for Boy Blue, Stinky, Lake and more in this once-in-a-lifetime issue that also features a foldout cover by Nimit Malavia that opens into a four-panel mural! It’s even got metallic ink!
But before we get too teary-eyed over the end of Fables… look, it’s a prequel! The Wolf Among Us is the first volume in a new prequel series, and it’s quite good fun. Bonus for me: It revolves around my favorite Fables character, Bigby Wolf!
Even before the first issue of Fables , there were stories to be told, shadowy avenues to explore, and lives hanging in the balance! Bigby Wolf has seen plenty in his time as Sheriff of Fabletown…but nothing can prepare him for this…
It all starts with a simple domestic disturbance. But when Bigby learns that his old nemesis, the Woodsman who has an axe to grind, is part of the scene, things go downhill fast. And how will Bigby and Snow White keep their heads long enough to crack the case when they get caught up in a grisly murder mystery?
Another ongoing series which I adore is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This interplanetary story of love and war has amazing characters, complicated plots, and Lying Cat!
Multiple storylines collide in this cosmos-spanning new volume. While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies. Collects Saga #25-30.
The Alex + Ada trilogy is a must-read. A love story and a meditation on what it means to be human, Alex + Ada tells a terrific, touching tale over a three-book arc. The trilogy is quick to read, but will stay with you for a long time afterward. (review)
The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot. Alex takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. As Alex and Ada spend more time together, they become closer. But as restrictions tighten on artificial intelligence, Ada feels unsure about her place in the world, and Alex questions being with an android.
And finally, my most recently read graphic novel, about a girl who wants to be a sidekick, the supervillain she supports, and their archnemesis, golden boy Sir Goldenloin. Except nobody here is quite what they seem, and as it turns out, even supervillains have a moral code. Nimona is funny and sweet and surprising. Check it out!
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
Have you read any great graphic novels this year? Please share your recommendations! I’m always on the lookout for new and different worlds to explore.