As we near the end of this long, hard slog of a year, there is one bright spot that should at least keep us occupied a ways into 2017: the ever-expanding complement of lists bringing together the year’s best comics. Every year, more and more media outlets are taking notice of the format’s incredible diversity of content, style, and age group, with the result that comics and graphic novels increasingly shed the stigmas of the past and are recognized right alongside other great literature.
Below, dive in to all the best-of-2016 lists that we’ve found, including a few books that have already featured on these pages!
The list from Publishers Weekly includes Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, which we first covered last year when Singapore’s government-funded National Arts Council withdrew a publishing grant due to the book’s coverage of some unsavory aspects of the nation-state’s 20th century history. Nevertheless, the graphic novel quickly sold out in Asia and is now an international hit, also appearing on best-of lists from NPR, Mental Floss, A.V. Club, and the Washington Post.
NPR’s list was one of several to include March: Book Three by John Lewis, Anthony Aydin, and Nate Powell. Just last month, the third and final installment of Congressman Lewis’ Civil Rights memoir made history as the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award! Powell’s art from the book also graced the cover of CBLDF’s Banned Books Week Handbook for 2016. In addition to NPR, March: Book Three also appeared on best-of lists from Publishers Weekly, Amazon, Mental Floss, the Washington Post, Paste, Vulture, A.V. Club, and Goodreads.
The year-end list compiled by Mental Floss’ Rich Barrett, who also provides regular features on the most interesting comics of the week or month, includes the graphic memoir What is Obscenity? by Japanese artist Rokudenashiko. She was arrested last year for distributing 3D plans of her own genitals online as part of a crowdfunding campaign to build a full-size vagina-shaped kayak. Barrett describes the memoir about her brief time in jail as “funny, engaging, and eye-opening.”
Rounding out the list of lists are these other collections from across the Web:
- Amazon’s Best Graphic Novels – 2016
- Our 10 Favorite Comics of 2016 [Slate Book Review]
- Best graphic novels of 2016 [Washington Post]
- The 25 Best Comics of 2016 [Paste]
- The 10 Best Comic Books of 2016 [Vulture]
- Best Graphic Novels & Comics [Goodreads Choice Awards]
- The best comics of 2016 [A.V. Club]
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.