It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for top ten lists! It was a bad year, but it was a good year for comics. It took me forever to whittle down my list of favorites, but below you can find my top ten (in no particular order) comics/graphic novels/manga that were released in 2020 and plenty of honorable mentions!
Pulp – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips
What a year it was for the Brubaker/Phillips team. Criminal concluded, we got Pulp, and the newly released Reckless (which I have yet to read but probably would have made this list). Pulp comes in somewhere between an over-sized one-shot and a full-blown OGN. Brubaker and Phillips tell the story of a writer for the old western pulps in the lead up to World War 2. It’s a self-contained Criminal-style story and some of the best work in their storied careers.
The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures – Noelle Stevenson
Noelle Stevenson, author of Nimona, co-creator of Lumberjanes, and showrunner of She-Ra, released this collection of mini-comics and diary entries that span the course of most of the last decade. It was interesting and touching to see Stevenson work through her struggles to find herself and see herself become an incredibly successful person. The Fire Never Goes Out was a heartening collection.
Drifting Dragons – Taku Kuwabara
Drifting Dragons by Taku Kuwabara continues to be one of my favorite running manga and it feels like it’s flying a bit under the radar. The art is absolutely stellar and whimsical and the themes touch on the relationship between man and nature in a way that seems meaningful. Volumes 6 through 8 came out this year, so it’s not too late to jump on board!
Dawn of X – Jonathan Hickman, et al.
Okay so this might be cheating a bit. Rather than pick out one series from Marvel’s relaunched line of X-Men books under the guiding of Jonathan Hickman, I’m just picking all of them! There’s an incredibly talented cast of writers and artists pumping out some of the best X-Men books in a long time as part of the initiative. I’m not sure any one series consistently blows me away, but I think they’re all good to very good and that’s a pretty big feat for such a wide range of books.
Hellboy and the BPRD – Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, various artists
Hellboy was a book that was a book that really got impacted by COVID delays. Nonetheless, there were 4 mostly contained issues released featuring art from Zach Howard, Adam Hughes, and Tiernen Trevallion and that’s enough to get it on my top 10 list. At this point, your probably either into Hellboy or your not, but I’m strongly in the former category.
Pretty Deadly vol. 3 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
After a long layoff, Pretty Deadly finally returned this year and it was well worth the wait. In what might have been my favorite entry in the series to this point, the creative team managed to craft something beautiful. The writing is superb, a mythos about Death woven into 1930’s Hollywood. The artwork from Rios (with Jordie Bellaire on colors) is truly stunning. There is more Pretty Deadly promised for the future and my only hope is that the wait isn’t so long next time!
Go to Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons from the Fog of New Parenthood – Lucy Knisley
Go to Sleep (I Miss You) finds the very talented memoir comics author Lucy Knisley documenting the newest journey in her life…parenthood! I love Knisley’s ability to document life and Go to Sleep is no exception. The comics here are less structured than her previous works. The book is made up of mostly one-off cartoons and diary strips that come together to represent an endearing portrait of the early stages of parenthood.
Runaways – Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, Andres Genolet
I’m not sure there’s a better fit between creators and character in current superhero comics than the team doing Runaways. Rowell’s foray into comics has been a blast. She writes the Runaways better than anyone has since Brian K Vaughan (and sometimes even better) and is one of the few who has been able to properly capture teen angst in the pages of a superhero comic the last few decades. Not to leave out Andres Genolet (and some work by Kris Anka) on art which is a perfect match with Rowell’s writing and the characters here. I hope it never ends!
CITY – Keiichi Arawi
Another under-the-radar manga pick, CITY is absolutely one of the funniest comics going, manga or not. Volumes seven through nine were release this year and it still has yet to lose it’s funny edge. Keiichi Arawi’s series are usually getting ready to end by this point in their life cycle, so I’m holding on to every remaining bit of CITY that we get.
Green Lantern: Earth One, vol. 2 – Gabriel Hardman, Gorinna Bechko, and Jordan Boyd
This is the second volume in the Green Lantern: Earth One series from DC. Hardman and Bechko’s hard sci-fi take on the Green Lantern story is absolutely fantastic. It’s my favorite of the Earth One line and I’d encourage anyone with a tendency towards science fiction to give it a read, whether you’re a fan of Green Lantern or not.
Because I had such a hard time narrowing it down….
|Steeple||John Allison, Sarah Stern, Jim Campbell|
|Bitter Root, vol. 2||David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene, Sofie Dodgson|
|Wonder Woman: Dead Earth||Daniel Warren Johnson|
|East of West, vol. 10||Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta|
|Shadow of the Batgirl||Sarah Kuhn, Nicole Goux|
|Paying the Land||Joe Sacco|
|November, vol. 2-3||Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier|
|Ascender, Vol. 2||Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen|
What were some of your favorite comics from 2020?