Every year Comicbook Resources compiles a list of the top 100 books of the year as voted on by their writers. You'll get to read some of my reviews (if they're voted on by enough other writers) as the list is published over the next few days, but meanwhile here is my own complete list of my favorite books I read over the last year.
(Note: Observant readers will notice that I voted for two different books for #6. This is a mistake I made and I suppose I'm keeping it because they're both marvelous books and I refuse to choose between them or let anything go from my list. We'll just have to accept that my list goes to eleven this year.)
1. The Shadow Heroby Gene Yang and Sonny LieuInspiring, funny, engaging, and heartbreaking, this is the kind of superhero that comic books were made for. The metaphor of the awkward teenage superhero wannabe provides us with insight into an entirely new world. Yang and Lieu have re-crafted a classic and elevated the original material beyond anything we could have imagined.
2. Alex + Ada - Volume 1by Jonathan Luna and Sarah VaughnWorking with writer Sarah Vaughn, Jonathan Luna’s cool art examines human/A.I. inequality. What begins as a cute science fiction book which the potential to explore the weird reality of living with a compliant artificial human has become a scathing indictment of inequality in our society.
3. Fatima - The Blood Spinnersby Gilbert HernandezIf you have to read a strong-woman-hunts-zombies book, this is the best one you could possibly read. Gilbert Hernandez has created another hilarious genre exploration, with all of the energy and power of his previous works. Bringing his perfect lines to even the most outrageous scenarios, the simple beauty of the art is perfectly complimented by the wildly incentive story.
4. Street Angelby Brian Maruca and Jim RuggRugg’s gorgeous sense of movement and mood create a fun journey for Maruca's deeply troubled girl. Part fantasy-filled violence, part heartbreaking neglect, this is a story told in a variety of styles. Somehow Rugg does this while fitting in a visual commentary on the greats of the independent comic book medium. (It has been pointed out that this collection is a reprint from 2005. Yep, it is. I'm still okay with calling it one of my favorites of 2014 as well. This edition is pretty nifty.)
5. Hip Hop Family Tree 1975 - 1983 Box Setby Ed PiskorWhether you were there when it was happening or not, this is a book which will unfold a rich universe of music history and all the knock-on effects of it too. With the warmth and immediacy only a true fan could impart, Piskor tells the ongoing history of Hip Hop in these loving crafted volumes.
6. Moonhead and the Music Machineby Andrew RaeA strange, beautiful book about a boy with a moon for a head, either metaphorically or literally, it really doesn’t matter) and his high school experiences of making music. Rae’s funny, colorful book belies the complex inner journey of Joey Moonhead as he learns about life.
6. Neurocomicby Dr. Matteo Farinella and Dr. Hana RôsWritten by two neuroscientists, this book uses a journey through the human brain to show us all its wonders. We follow the protagonist meeting various strange characters inhabiting the world of the mind, learning something from each of them. Engagingly trippy, in the best way possible.
7. The Rattlerby Jason McNamara and Greg HinkleMcNamara’s bleak sense of humor meets Hinkle’s wildly stylized characters in this tension-filled race to a horror-filled conclusion no one wants to reach. Despite every inner warning that things can’t get any worse, you just can’t put it down.
8. Oafanthology #1 - A Collection of Wuvable Oaf Drawings & Storiesby Ed Luce and friendsPacked with diverse stories by a slew of artists and writers, often working with Wuvable Oaf creator, Ed Luce, this is pure fun. Although geared very much towards an adult audience, the sexual tension in Wuvable Oaf stories is all in service to the most adorably ridiculous humor. A special mention has to go out to Tom Neely for drawing us a picture of Henry Rollins happily sprawling on top of Wuvable Oaf’s fuzzy chest.
9. Maddy Kettle: The Adventures of the Thimblewitchby Eric OrchardThis impressively layered story offers something for all ages, as it maps out the path of a little girl trying to save her parents from a witch. The thin veneer of fairy tale logic weaves a world of horrors reminiscent of the original stories of the brothers Grimm, but it is fear which drives the evil in this story. Orchard’s chaotically detailed drawings bring Maddy to life as she learns the power of compassion and care.
10. Munchiesby Katie LonguaOne woman's psychedelic journey into a (literally) all-consuming hunger. Funny, adorable, and a little bit ominous. The use of simple pink duotone coloring on the purple line work raises the status of this little comic book to a visceral print experience. Sparsely written, this is a quick trip to a world-altering-insanity which is too cute to be a bad thing.