Graphic Novels: Top 14 of 2014

By Peter SM RSS Wed, January 7, 2015

It's new comics day across the United States today. Unfortunately, I am still catching up on my reading from last year! Yes, it was another year where a ton of great graphic novels were released! While the following list isn't necessarily a definitive list of THE best graphic novels of 2014, the following are fourteen really cool, fun, entertaining, and thought-provoking graphic novels I read and enjoyed last year and that also happen to be available from Free Library.

Hellboy The First 20 Years Hellboy: The First 20 Years
by Mike Mignola

Hard to believe that 2014 marked 20 years of Mike Mignola's lovably gruff demon Hellboy! The universe that Mignola has created is a mashing up of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe horror fiction, forgotten folklore, and pulp magazine storytelling, with the reanimated corpse of Jack Kirby drawing all the action in a haunted mansion up the hill from a graveyard. This book is a great primer for newcomers and a welcome walk back through the history of the character for fans.

Snowpiercer Vol 1
Snowpiercer Vol 2
Snowpiercer volumes 1 & 2
by Jacques Lob, Jean-Marc Rochette, & Benjamin Legrand

First published in 1982, Snowpiercer was re-released this year (in English, from the original French text) when the underground book came to prominence with a recent movie adaptation. The post-apocalyptic tale of a frozen Earth where survivors live on a perpetually traveling train, yet still separated by social hierarchy with the rich living in luxury at the front and the poor packed into the back, is one of stark storytelling and bleak visuals. A unique and powerful book about humanity and revolution.

Hip Hop Family Tree book 2: 1981 - 1983 Hip Hop Family Tree book 2: 1981 - 1983
by Ed Piskor and Charlie Ahearn

This second installment of illustrated Hip Hop history doesn't disappoint as Ed Piskor and Charlie Ahearn give the lowdown on RUN-DMC, Afrika Bambaataa’s "Planet Rock", Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s "The Message", the movie Wild Style, Beastie Boys, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Ice T, and early Public Enemy. I suggest you search through our online catalog before reading to build up your own companion Hip Hop soundtrack for a truly immersive experience!

Locke & Key Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega
by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

The sixth and final installment in Joe Hill's epic Lovecraftian horror and sci-fi series. The Locke children are in a literal life or death fight with Dodge to regain the Omega key and stop Keyhouse and the rest of the world from being destroyed. This final volume is full of possessed teens, multidimensional demons, scary shadows, a bloody body count, yet still some much-needed redemption is found by book's end, if not with long-lasting scars. The series may still live on. After a failed television pilot, Universal picked up the rights for a film adaptation, but fans are still waiting.

The Harlem Hellfighters The Harlem Hellfighters
by Max Brooks and Caanan White

World War Z scribe Max Brooks' newest book is an illustrated history lesson on an African American regimen of soldiers who fought in World War I, absent from history books until now. The 369th infantry regiment, named The Harlem Hellfighters by the opposition, spent the most amount of time in combat, were the most decorated soldiers, and never lost one of their own during the war. An action-packed and heart felt tale with stark illustrations. After you finish reading, take a listen to Max Brooks Author Event podcast from April 2014.

Saga Saga volume 3
by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples

A modern day space opera for the comic book reading set, Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples' multiple Eisner Award-winning Saga is sci-fi adventure and adult drama mixed with weird monsters and a race of royalty that have television sets for heads. In this 3rd volume and story arc, new parents Marko and Alana travel to an alien world to visit their hero, author D. Oswald Heist, while being pursued by multiple evil factions. Fiona Staples' artwork really brings this book to the forefront of illustrative storytelling.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
by Stephen Collins

If you are looking for a whimsical and sometimes silly story with minimalistic illustrations, this is the graphic novel for you. Dave lives on an island where everything is neat, tidy, and clean. All the houses and lawns are the same and all the citizens are clean shaven. One day Dave finds an errant hair ion his face which ultimately turns into a weird beard. An off-beat rhyming fable that comes off like a more melancholy and monochrome Dr. Seuss.

Seconds Seconds
by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Wouldn't it be great if you could get a second chance at something in life? That is the basic idea behind Scott Pilgrim series scribe Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds. Katie's life is on a downturn and she wants a do over, which ends up coming to her in the guise of set of instructions and "magic mushrooms". Just like that, everything is golden once again. Until of course Katie abuses the mushroom do-over and the consequences start to crash down on her. Silly tempered with just enough seriousness for an all together enjoying read.

Sugar Skull Sugar Skull
by Charles Burns

The third book in Charles Burns' recent trilogy of dread and nightmares comes to a haunting end in surrealistic color. The comic takes inspiration from the French comic strip stylings of Tintin, but veers into the more dreamlike qualities of another legendary comic strip, Little Nemo. Grotesque beings abound, both inhuman and human. Even though the story is very non-linear, I do suggest that you begin by reading the other two installments, X'ed Out and The Hive , before diving into this one.

The Wrenchies The Wrenchies
by Farel Dalrymple

Like a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy world X-Men, The Wrenchies are trying to save the world (and themselves) and not have to "grow up" in the process. Their enemy? The Shadowsmen. Our tragic hero? Hollis, an alienated boy who straddles the line between the real world and the magical world of The Wrenchies. But can he hold it together before both worlds implode?

The Graveyard Book volume 1
The Graveyard Book volume 2
The Graveyard Book volumes 1 & 2
by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Gaiman's Newbery Medal-winning novel gets the comic book adaptation here in these two volumes. Many artists yet one cohesive narrative tell the story of Nobody Owens, an orphan who escapes the brutal murder of his family and is adopted by the supernatural denizens of a graveyard. The Gothic overtones explore both the ghostly world and the outside world of the living and how Nobody must ultimately choose where he belongs, like metaphysical growing pains. A spooky, fun, and thought-provoking read all in one!

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe

The popular web comic xkcd has now been turned into a popular graphic novel, What If?. Monroe gives the reader crude yet hilarious illustrated answers to all of life's mysteries and may even solve a problem or two. Monroe's take on science, technology, language, and love will either have you laughing or crying (and maybe both at the same time). The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website.

The Shadow Hero The Shadow Hero
by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Ever hear of the superhero The Green Turtle? Nope, me neither, until Gene Luen Yang put the spotlight on this unsung hero in his newest book. Turns out The Green Turtle was a 1940s crime buster just like the other pulp heroes of the time, except that he was Asian-American. Amid publisher and creator infighting, the comic book was canceled and the hero became myth. Gene Luen Yang breathes new life into this forgotten crusader and creates a new origin story for him, helped by the super splash page art of Sonny Liew.

Andre the Giant Life and Legend Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
by Box Brown

Weighing in at 520 pounds and standing 7' 4" tall, professional wrestler Andre the Giant was literally larger than life. It's no surprise that someone finally told his story in the larger than life medium of comics. Box Brown's storytelling and illustrating talents are no small feat either, detailing in a charmingly cartoony style, Andre's childhood years, his storied wrestling career, his cult movie roles, his insatiable appetite for booze, and the many health problems he faced later in life. One of the best biographies I read in 2014 (or any year for that matter)!

Search our catalog for these titles and to find more great graphic novels from superheroes and comic strips to autobiographical and manga titles, just to name a few sub-genres.

What graphic novels did you read and enjoy in 2014?

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