Comic books have come a long way since "Action Comics 1" (Superman's inaugural hit) and "The Adventures of Tintin." Graphic novel styles vary aesthetically from retro to realistic, and thematically from mundane office life to Animal Farm-like descriptions of World War II.
Graphic novels are in the spotlight this year in particular, as a Gene Luen Yang's "Boxers & Saints," a visual exploration of Chinese history, has been nominated for a National Book Award in the Young People's literature category.
If you're not quite ready to commit to an entire graphic novel, however, an anthology may be the best means of exploring the genre. "The Best American Comics 2013" [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25.00] is a thorough selection, including steampunk-like drawings of bicycle crashes, sepia-toned watercolors of countryside farmers, and many more.
Below are 10 of the best comics published in America this year:
“Velocipede” by Kate Beaton. First published in Hark! A Vagrant. Copyright © 2012 by Kate Beaton. Reprinted by permission of Kate Beaton.
“Velocipede” by Kate Beaton pokes fun at a time when women on bicycles were seen as a public nuisance.
“Mirror,” excerpt from Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel. Copyright© by Alison Bechdel. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company.
“Mirror,” excerpt from Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel is a graphic memoir of Bechdel’s relationship with her mother as she pursues her dream of becoming an artist.
“Story Time” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. First published in Dark Horse Presents. Copyright © 2013 by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson.
“Story Time” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson tells the medieval tale of a warrior and his dog who fight men and creatures as part of a special force chosen by their king called, The Pack.
“Cody” by Gabrielle Bell. First published in Kramers Ergot. Copyright © 2013 by Gabrielle Bell. Reprinted by permission of Gabrielle Bell.
“Cody” by Gabrielle Bell is about a girl and her father getting to know each other and forming a bond while dealing with a murder.
“Nita Goes Home” by Eleanor Davis. First published in MOME 22. Copyright © 2011 by Eleanor Davis. Reprinted by permission of Eleanor Davis.
“Nita Goes Home” by Eleanor Davis tells the story of Nita, a woman who lives on a lush countryside farm. When she finds out that her father is sick, she returns to her childhood home in a city where people must wear suits outside to protect them from the harsh environment of urban life and where blueberries grown from the ground are an anomaly.
“A Killer’s Surprise,” excerpt from Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. Copyright © 2011 by Terry Moore. Reprinted by permission of Terry Moore.
“A Killer’s Surprise,” is an excerpt from the haunting Rachel Rising series by Terry Moore that follows Rachel, a woman who wakes up dead in a shallow grave and seeks to unravel the mystery of her death.
“Concrete Park (Chapter 1)” by Tony Puryear. First published in Dark Horse Presents. Copyright © 2011 by Tony Puryear. Reprinted by permission of Tony Puryear.
“Concrete Park (Chapter 1)” by Tony Puryear takes place on Earth in the near-future where the youth of the lower class have been sent to live in a desert planet to mine for resources. This chapter depicts “Scare City,” a city mired in violence and crime similar to present-day Rio de Janeiro or Cairo.
“Love Me Forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!,” by Jeremy Sorese. First published in Little Heart: A Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality. Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Sorese. Reprinted by permission of Jeremy Sorese.
“Love Me Forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!,” by Jeremy Sorese tells of Jeremy’s experience as a single gay man in a world where everyone seems to be getting married, even his divorced parents.
“Turn Back,” excerpt from Haunter by Sam Alden. First published in Studygroupcomics.com. Copyright © 2013 by Sam Alden. Reprinted by permission of Study Group Comics.
“Turn Back,” excerpt from Haunter by Sam Alden is a wordless comic that depicts a young hunter who stumbles upon a fortress, inside which he finds much more than he bargained for.
“Required Summer Reading,” by Grant Snider. First published in Incidentalcomics.com. Copyright © 2013 by Grant Snider. Reprinted by permission of Grant Snider.
“Required Summer Reading,” by Grant Snider is a humorous depiction of classic novels that are often part of summer reading curriculums and which perfectly describes an average summer of our youths.