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Liveright; Macmillan; First Second; Gallery 13; Drawn and Quarterly; Penguin Random House
2018 was another extremely strong year for the graphic form, from bracing novels to heartbreaking memoirs. Here we recognize our eight favorites.
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All the Answers, by Michael Kupperman
Kupperman’s searing graphic memoir takes readers back to the mid-20th century as he investigates the life of his father, Quiz Kid Joel Kupperman, and how it intersected with a major turning point in American media. We love this one for its imaginative historical sketchings, and its melancholy undertones.
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Simon & Schuster
Alone, by Chaboute
This title technically isn’t new, though 2018 did mark the first year it was available in English. Chaboute’s internationally best-selling French novel uses engrossing black-and-white illustrations for a masterful, darkly funny meditation on loneliness. It’s unforgettable.
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Drawn and Quarterly
Bad Friends, by Ancco
Stark, devastating, and intimate in equal measure. The Korean-born Ancco crafts an unsparing, gritty book looking at the legacy of abuse, leveling it with a memorable depiction of tight-knit friendships.
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Drawn and Quarterly
Berlin, by Jason Lutes
This one would be included for the sheer achievement: Decades in the making, Berlin marks Lutes’ exhaustive, fascinating, utterly immersive tome on life in the Weimar Republic, a collection of sorts that’s both an ingenious coffee-table book and a significant cultural contribution.
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Home After Dark, by David Small
Small’s intricate exploration of male adolescence and toxic masculinity is all in the details, offering a nuanced portrait of one young boy as he navigates a troubled home life, warped cultural expectations, and nasty bullies. Small executes his arc through raw, detailed facial expressions.
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On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden
One of the form’s most exciting talents, Walden again delivered with this epic, blue- and purple-washed saga of a young woman traveling through sci-fi wonders and terrors to reunite with her long-lost love. It’s a sweeping queer romance told in Walden’s signature style.
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Penguin Random House
Passing for Human, by Liana Finck
Instagram favorite Finck transferred her talents to a remarkable visual memoir, which with meta wryness moves in surprising directions, most poignantly tracing the life story of her weary mother and the aftermath of traumatic experiences.
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Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso
Drnaso’s Great American Novel in graphic form turned red-hot in July, when it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize — a first for the genre. It couldn’t be more deserved: Through probing images, the book unfurls a grand, prescient military conspiracy while, along the way, offering a bleak (and scathingly funny) depiction of the digital age.