We asked past contributors from Entropy’s The New Comics to give us their comic book favorites of 2016.
Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam & Other Stories
Simultaneously horrific and made me cry with laughter, but has to be kept on top of the fridge in case the children confuse it with the other Meg and Mog.
Amazingly simple, mostly using just 4 vertical panels, and inexplicably dark.
Threads. The Calais cartoon.
webcomic (Penguin Random House, forthcoming)
An important record of our times.
Enter The Kann
A hyper-sexed NSFW adventure set in a crazy world of cocks and demons. Oh, and it’s in Spanish. Masters of the Universe meets… crazy shit.
The Spider King
John Vann and Simone D’Armini
Head Lopper: The Island or A Plague of Beasts
This was easily one of my favorite comics of 2016. I’m a sucker for a sword and sandals yarn, and this book delivers that in spades. The art is a fascinating blend of Adventure Time and Mike Mignola. The two styles, combined with Andrew MacLean’s storytelling, create a very unique artistic tone that is really different than anything I have seen on the stands this year.
Grant Morrison & Dan Mora
No one but Grant Morrison could pull off an action-fantasy-adventure Santa Claus origin story and make it work so well. The art from Dan Mora is fantastic, and he draws one of the coolest renditions of Krampus ever.
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye
Jon Rivera, Gerard Way & Michael Avon Oeming
DC’s Young Animal
I love comics that embrace being a comic. This book revels in the Silver Age, with a spelunking hero that has met subterranean races, built incredible machines, and has inexplicably had an eye replaced with a cybernetic one. There are fungus monsters, evil corporate bosses, and some wonderful character moments in the first two issues.
Sir Afred No. 3
So goddamn pitch perfect. I read Hensley’s Wally Gropius years ago and loved the nihilistic anticomedic punchlines. Some of those stories pulled the air right from the room. His artwork continues to impress in this craftfully executed ode to Hitchcock. The colors are large bright blocks cradled within lovingly rendered lines of whipsmart precision. The gags are tight and obviously written with love for the legacy of Mr. Hitchcock.
Drawn & Quarterly
The premise for Big Kids is a simple coming-of-age story, but DeForge doesn’t disappoint on the complex balance of funny/weird/serious/sad that is familiar to his work. The way he hits multiple tonal and emotional registers (often simultaneously) is what makes his work feel real even though he’s telling the narrative through characters that are trees and art that’s neon-bright and acid-trippy.
St. Martin’s Press
Few books (perhaps no other book?) I’ve read pack the emotional punch of Rosalie Lightning. I put it down halfway through reading because the narrative is so emotionally overwhelming, but I immediately picked it back up, captivated by the rawness of the art and story.
Some Other Animal’s Meat
Carroll does horror so well—the characters feel real, the setting believable, familiar. But she avoids easy answers or tying her stories into a neat bow. This short comic falls right in line with her other work: visually innovative (her work is seriously crafted to perfection—I could scroll through her comics for hours) and a narrative that avoids explanation.
Heavy Metal Magazine
Enzo Garza and Gutt Ghost find that sweet spot between creepy and endearing, a place often aspired to but rarely achieved with such natural ease. The cute/gross combo makes you smile, the art, color choices and economy of dialogue make you appreciate a pro at work. Fun, fresh and different, this is what new and future comics should strive to be. My hidden gem of 2016, don’t sleep on it, it’s pure.
Joe Keatinge & Nick Barber
Ringside smashes together two of my favorite worlds to form an awesome tag team (pun). Professional wrestling and comics join forces here with pulpy, cinematic narrative and clean, clear illustration. The real world stories behind the story of pro wrestling is what most fascinates me, so a new comic with that setting as a background was a must have. The respect and admiration the creative team shows to the source material is palpable. The book exceeds expectations and spins a tale that is far more than just big dudes and body slams. Living cartoon characters brought to life in comic book form, art imitating life imitating art. Meta, or something. Whatever, just get it. It’s awesome.
The Collapsing Woman
The Collapsing Woman is a collection of 23 drawings by the super skilled Heather Benjamin. Brought together in a DIY zine/sketch book, it is eclectic, provocative and unapologetically independent. Pulling from several different visual reference points, Heather’s work feels vintage, exotic, current and crafted, all separately and somehow all at once. I picked it up and simply could not put it down twice. If you’re looking for something to challenge your sequential brain and invite inspection, track down a copy. Your mom might be disappointed, but you won’t.
After Nothing Comes
Collecting six zines published by Aidan Koch between 2008 and 2014, After Nothing Comes charts the evolution of one of contemporary comics’ most evocative stylists. The stories are fragmented, not only by their ruler’s-edge griddedness but by the manner in which Koch’s characters are often only half-rendered, focusing our attention in idiosyncratic ways. It’s a marvelously physical reading experience, wherein looking at a page means, oddly, a belated awareness that you’ve been holding your breath—it’s that beautiful.
Eleanor Davis is perhaps the most versatile, talented cartoonist I’m aware of, and Libby’s Dad is as beautiful and poignant as anything she’s done. Lushly drawn with colored pencils, Davis’s brief story feels both empathetic and dulling: a mix that perfectly depicts the confusion of adolescence.
Don’t Come in Here
Patrick Kyle’s bonkers-weird linework and character design have always felt to me like the cartooning analog to vaporwave. And in Don’t Come in Here, Kyle channels that joyfully perverse energy into a startlingly affecting vision of isolation and anxiety that reads like Kafka chopped and screwed. Definitely Kyle’s best book to date.
Drawn & Quarterly
This one’s like if The Cat in the Hat was retold by David Lynch. Add to that Brecht Evens’ boundlessly innovative cartooning and you’ve got one gorgeously disturbing book. Highly recommended.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet
Ta-Nahesi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze
Looking over my reading for 2016, I realized that the comics that stood out for me were almost exclusively superhero comics—perhaps as a reflection of the fact that I needed escapism more than usual. But among these, I firmly believe Black Panther was the most important comic, of any stripe, to come out this year. Not satisfied with making an aesthetically beautiful and complex afrofuturist piece, Coates and Stelfreeze are doing something that is also defiantly feminist, pro-queer, anti-militaristic and, if it’s possible, a superhero comic that seeks to undermine the patriarchal nature of storytelling itself. Black Panther is dense and somewhat unforgiving, but good lord is it necessary.
A Walk in Eden
Drawn & Quarterly
This gets billed as a “coloring book,” no doubt to capitalize on the huge market for adult coloring books as art therapy in recent years (yet another weird little marker of our dark strange times). Whether or not you want to color over Nilsen’s gorgeous line drawings, fans of the surrealist naturalism and existential quandary in his epic graphic novel Big Questions will find almost a companion piece in A Walk In Eden. On the customary “look and find” checklist at the back of book, one of the items the reader is urged to look for is “God.” These days, this doesn’t seem too far off the mark.
The New Comics will be back in 2017 with more interviews and new work from emerging creators in the fields of sequential art, graphic narrative, and the funnypages. Keep sending your stories, drawings, and other oddities to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.