As another year comes to a close, I'm looking back on one of my favorite hobbies: reading comic books! Whether they were new stand-alone stories, retro reissue collections, original children's series, or new adventures with familiar faces, there was no shortage of comic-related reading material in 2018.
While not necessarily a "Top 10" (especially since I selected eighteen!) and definitely not in any order of greater or lesser importance, the following are just 18 really cool, fun, entertaining, and thought-provoking graphic novels I read and enjoyed in 2018—all available to check out from the Free Library's collections, in either physical or digital formats.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1955 written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson; illustrated by Shawn Martinbrough, Brian Churilla, and Paolo Rivera
It's no surprise that a Hellboy graphic novel makes my "best-of" list again this year. How could he not when this collection features Big Red investigating Kaiju monsters in the south pacific, battling giant turtles and winged creatures, and discovering a haunted flame in the swamps of Florida?! As long as Mike Mignola keeps cranking out these weird and wonderful stories and continues to get top talent artists to illustrate them, I'll be anxiously awaiting the next adventure to read!
Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown
Box Brown has really found a niche in his graphic novel biographies—minimalistic color palettes, personalized storytelling, and candidly funny illustrations. This time he sets out to tell the life story of the enigma that was Andy Kaufman. Was he a comedic con man, trying to pull one over on us? Was he a method actor lost in his own world? Was he a perpetually innocent child living in the body of a middle-aged man? I'd say he was all of and none of these things, but that shouldn't get in the way of an entertaining yarn, which is exactly what this graphic novel delivers.
Clue written by Paul Allor; illustrated by Nelson Daniel
A very meta and 4th-wall breaking take on the story of the board game Clue, even more-so than the movie. This entertaining whodunit with MacGuffins and double and triple crosses galore will have you page-turning to the very end to find out who's the real killer and what exactly are their mysterious motives.
Animus by Antoine J. D. Revoy
A manga-influenced comic set in a haunting environment under the guise of a children's ghost story or urban legend. The residents of a quiet Japanese neighborhood slowly come to realize that paranormal forces are at play in the most unlikely of places: a local playground. Two friends, a young boy and girl, resolve to exorcise the evil that inhabits it, through the help of another masked lost soul who is caught between the present and the afterlife.
Jughead: The Hunger Vol. 1 written by Frank Tieri; illustrated by Michael Walsh, Pat Kennedy, and Tim Kennedy
In the continuing reimagining of the Archie-verse from light-hearted to horror-filled, Jughead finds out his true family roots when the full moon rises! Betty becomes a surrogate Van Helsing character here, and there are more blood-filled pages and four-color screams to fill a high school yearbook with! Will Archie and the rest of the gang survive the impending carnage? I already can't wait to read Volume 2!
Mega Robo Bros by Neil Cameron
Alex and Freddy are just like any other brothers... except they are super powerful robots! They fight dinosaurs, an animatronic history exhibition come to life, and even save travelers from a subway derailment (reminiscent of a certain scene from Spider-Man 2). This collection is full of diverse characters featuring great art with lots of color and action. I can't wait for the further and future adventures of these Mega Robo Bros!
Head Lopper Vol. 2: Crimson Tower by Andrew MacLean
Take parts Hellboy, Adventure Time, Dungeons & Dragons, and Groo, throw them all into a boiling pot watched over by a witch, and you've got one crazy adventurer named Head Lopper! In this 2nd installment, his quest takes him to the mysterious Crimson Tower, full of treacherous traps, perplexing puzzles, and morbid monsters. Highly recommended!
Quantum Teens Are Go written by Magdalene Visaggio; illustrated by Eryk Donovan and Claudia Aguirre
Cyberpunk meets teenage angst that goes on an adventure through time using crazy tech. This is smart and fun sci-fi that is inclusive and diverse in its characterization and world-building, definitely not the same 'ol last-white-guy-standing-against-some-been-there-done-that-dystopian-foe. The cool artwork also keeps pace with the accelerated action. Black Mask Studios is one of the best true indie comic book publishers around right now!
The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman
Best-of collection of Gaiman's non-Sandman related work for DC, including the never-before-reprinted graphic novel Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, his Metamorpho comic strip featured in Wednesday Comics serial collection, and the classic Batman tale "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" Also includes forewords, afterwords, recollections, and sketches.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
Profiles of the lives of fearless females who inspired others and contributed to the greater good. From the more well-known like dancer and entertainer Josephine Baker, teenage musical savant sisters The Shaggs, and actress and influential inventor Hedy Lamarr, to the more obscure like animal whisperer Temple Grandin, crime miniaturist Frances Glessner Lee, and first trans woman to have sex reassignment surgery, Christine Jorgensen. These are just a few of the 29 women featured in this entertaining and informative collection.
Your Black Friend and Other Strangers by Ben Passmore
A collection of culturally charged comics by cartoonist Ben Passmore that tackle the topics of race, gentrification, social abnormalities, and the uncomfortable pauses that permeate our everyday lives. You can view the Eisner Award-nominated and Ignatz Award-winning title comic story fully animated on YouTube.
All The Answers by Michael Kupperman
This haunting black and white graphic memoir, from Eisner Award-winning writer and artist Michael Kupperman, traces the life of his reclusive father—the once-world-famous Joel Kupperman, Quiz Kid (young geniuses with ability to perform complex math problems in their head). With his father slipping into the depths of dementia, Michael tries to reconnect with his father and discover the real man and his life behind the manufactured celebrity myth. A sadly poignant father-son saga and coming of age story all rolled into one.
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson
This collections spans the history of powerful, compelling, entertaining, and heroic female comic book characters. Costumed crime busters like Miss Fury, super-spies like Tiffany Sinn, sci-fi pioneers like Gale Allen, and even kid troublemakers like Little Lulu are all included here. The pages of this massive tome are filled with vintage art, publication details, a decade-by-decade survey of industry trends and women's roles in comics, and spotlights on iconic favs like Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel. A must-read for those in the know or those who just want to learn more about these great characters!
Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight written by Jeremy Lambert; illustrated by Chris Fenoglio
The kid-friendly horror series that defined the YA Lit scene of the 90s jumps from books and television into comics with all-new original stories! Two siblings are stuck at their grandmother's for the summer and bored out of their minds. They find an old bookstore and what awaits them inside certainly is anything but boring! Will they live to tell the tale of being transported to Horrorland by the evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy? Turn the page... if you dare!
Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented written by Tanya Lee Stone; illustrated by Steven Salerno
The 2nd graphic novel on my list this year that's based on a board game is about the creator of Monopoly, Lizzie Magie. Her attention turned to landlord-tenant relationships and the rising financial inequality of the late 1800s, so she created a game about it. Ironically, her creative and innovative new game would later be ripped off by Charles Darrow and The Parker Brothers, who went on to make fortunes. A tale as cautionary and informative as the game itself. There is also a great bonus section with trivia and Monopoly Math, which makes an excellent STEM resource for younger readers!
Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter written by Marcus Sedgwick; illustrated by Thomas Taylor
Acclaimed YA author Marcus Sedgwick teams up with Thomas Taylor (illustrator of the original edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) to tell the exciting adventures of Scarlett Hart, an orphaned daughter of two legendary monster hunters. Whether it's creepy mummies or a horrid hound, Scarlett won’t back down, and with the help of her loyal butler and a lot of monster-mashing gadgets, she’s on the case!
Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
Sarah Andersen's anxiety-ridden, sarcastic scribbles on life, love, and lunacy return in this newest cartoony collection. Don't drink or eat anything while reading, or you'll have liquid shooting out of your nose or be choking on your food, as you laugh out loud, page after page!
Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips
The title pretty much says it all! From Poland to Iceland, Japan to Germany, these ten fairytales from across the globe re-told as comics are a visual treat for all ages.
Search our catalog for these titles and to find more great graphic novels from superheroes and comic strips to autobiographical and manga titles as well. You can also find thousands of digital comic books and graphic novel collections from all the major and indie publishers over at Hoopla—all for free with no waits or hold lists, just click and read! (note: limit of 4 borrows per month.)
What were some of your favorite comic books and graphic novels that you read in 2018? Tell us in the comments!
Know of a great graphic novel or comics collection we need to acquire? Let us know!
See ya in the funny pages in 2019!