New in 2017! Graphic Novel Friday will host Best Comics and Graphic Novels of the Month exclusively on the Amazon Book Review. We’re kicking off with our favorite publications from January (and one great book that released at the end of 2016 but slipped through the cracks here at GNF HQ). Activate flight rings!
Love is Love by Various: After the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, publishers DC Comics and IDW Publishing joined forces with curator Marc Andreyko to form this anthology of stories told in tribute, mourning, and support of the victims, survivors, and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. The result is a collection of over 200 contributors from both in and outside comics, including J.K. Rowling, Jim Lee, Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, Grant Morrison, Patton Oswalt, Gail Simone, and many others. It’s rare to see such a collaboration between publishers and an outpouring of creativity from such high-profile names, all of whom donated their respective pieces.
We Told You So: Comics as Art by Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean: Legendary independent comics publisher Fantagraphics has been elevating the public’s perception of comics for 40 years. Their take-no-prisoners approach to comics critique and tireless publication strategy brought luminaries like Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns to a greater, mainstream readership. In 640 pages of oral history featuring all-new interviews from those inside and outside Fantagraphics, fans will find plenty to cheer and cringe at, given that Spurgeon and Dean left their rose-tinted lenses at home. It's all here, even gripes from ex-employees. Fantagraphics’ renowned production values are on display, with full-color pages, photographs, artwork, and esoterica.
House of Penance by Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram: If you want blood, you got it! Those who dare enter the haunted Winchester House better come loaded for ghosts and all manner of macabre. Artist Ian Bertram (with Dave Stewart on colors) soaks the pages in horror but avoids the gratuitous with a scythe's precision, while Tomasi carves a tale of absolution with all the trimmings of sin. It's ghastly good.
Clean Room Vol. 2: Exile by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt: Cult leader Astrid Mueller falls victim to an attack, and it’s to Gail Simone’s credit that any reader should see the scheming, elitist Mueller as a “victim.” Furthermore, Simone shows little apprehension in answering some of the questions raised in the previous volume, making this the rare supernatural mystery where the creators planned ahead—and it’s all to the reader’s benefit. You should be reading this book!
Star Wars: Han Solo by Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks: The creative team alone makes this worthwhile, with Liu writing one of the best books published at Image Comics (Monstress, which was our top pick for Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2016), and Brooks being a top cover artist who too rarely does interiors. Add one of the most beloved science fiction and fantasy characters of all time, set this original story between the two best Star Wars films, plus a hunt for a traitor within the Rebellion set against the backdrop of a space race, and you get nerd-heaven.
Feel free to post your favorite reads of January-ish in the comments below. See you next month for the best in February.