In the previous three parts, I recommended my favorite SFF graphic novels that were published in 2015. Follow the links to read those five reviews (and also cover art and a sample page from each book).
First, I reviewed The Sculptor, which is my favorite SFF graphic novel of the year (disclosure, created by a friend). (In that same post, I also reviewed Beautiful Darkness, but it turns out that was published in 2014 oops oh well).
Then, I reviewed Curveball and Nimona. (Some people say Nimona isn’t eligible for a Hugo, but I think the book includes enough new material to qualify it.)
But those aren’t all the books I read! Books that were almost on my top five list.
The Abbadon. A surreal comic with amazing graphics – judged purely on a visual level, this is my favorite comic on the list – loosely based on the play “No Exit.” The first half would have been one of the best graphic novels of the year, but it fell apart in the second half. (CS: rape)
Bitch Planet Funny, violent and feminist comic set on a women’s prison planet. A violent, profane, and hilarious sci-fi feminist remake of “The Longest Yard.”
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. Silly and likable steampunk short stories, replete with historical footnotes. So much whimsy!
More notable sff graphic novels of 2015 (some of which I haven’t read yet):
Alex + Ada Volume 3. The love story – about a sentient robot and a human in a society that is determined to wipe all all sentient robots – comes to a conclusion with its third volume. I haven’t read it yet, but the first two volumes were likable and well-done without being extraordinary.
ApocalyptiGirl. A post-apocalyptic mystery; we follow main character Aria (and her cat) as she goes about her tasks in the ruins of the world, but we don’t understand what and why she’s doing until the end of the book. Enlivened by extraordinary cartooning, combining great drawing skills and a real sense of fun.
The Autumnlands, Vol. 1: Tooth and Claw. Well-thought-out sword-and-sorcery story, albeit a bit on the grim side, with anthropomorphic animals. Nice real-ish artwork.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant. In this pleasant coming-of-age kid’s book, a teenage girl has to pass a number of difficult tests to get taken on as Baba Yaga’s assistant. Pretty artwork by Emily Carroll.
Black River. I’m back and forth about including this deeply unpleasant book. It’s very well done as a piece of cartooning craft; the storytelling is clear, characters are laid out well, and the old-fashioned black-and-white cartooning was very enjoyable to look at. But the story – a post-Apocalypse story about a bunch of desperate survivors and the awful things other survivors do to them – felt ugly and pointless. His point, I think, was to do a story that conveyed total hopelessness; he succeeded. (CW: rape.)
The Divine. A fantasy story about American mercenaries traveling to a fictional Asian country to blow up a mountain, only to be opposed by a magical child army in service to a dragon. The story has major Orientalism issues, and is occasionally incoherent, but I appreciate how ambitious it was. The art (especially the colors) are exceptionally beautiful.
Fables Vol. 22: Farewell. The concluding volume of the long-running fantasy series. Four previous volumes of Fables have been nominated for Hugos.
Heart In A Box. A heartbroken young woman sells her heart to a mysterious dealer. After seller’s regret sets in she hits the road, tracking down pieces of her heart scattered across the country, inside various people’s chests. This book starts out with a super-violent scene that feels gratuitous, and it’s a shame, because the rest of the story was so much better.
The Multiversity. More high superhero weirdness from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I’m not sure that anyone without an extensive background in mainstream superhero comics would enjoy this exercise in superuniverse metaphysics. But I thought it was fun, and I can’t fault it for lacking ambition.
The Oven. In a distopian society, a young couple goes off the grid to try and have a baby. But there’s no getting away from other kinds of oppression. Neat use of orange spot color, too.
Private Eye. “The series is set in 2076, a time after “the cloud has burst”, revealing everyone’s secrets. As a result, there is no more Internet, and people are excessively guarded about their identity, to the point of appearing only masked in public.” I haven’t read this yet (it’s quite pricey), but I’ve heard good things.
The Sandman: Overture. The much-admired graphic novel series, which concluded in 1996, returns for a prequel story. It’s engaging and fey, as we expect from Sandman, and has shiny and stunning artwork by J H Williams, whose ability to render fluently in a myriad of styles is put to good use.
Usagi Yojimbo Volume 29: Two Hundred Jizo. Honestly, I haven’t read this one yet, but I will. Usagi rarely disappoints.
And some notable sff webcomics:
Honestly, I feel sort of guilty for not reading these (in many cases, I’m holding out for the book collection). It’s very Luddite, but I’m not as comfy reading webcomics as I am reading books, and since there isn’t enough time to read everything, I mainly read books. But my loss needn’t be your loss!
- Dicebox , by Jenn Manley Lee (disclosure, friend).
- Drive, by Dave Kellett.
- Family Man, by Dylan Meconis (disclosure, friend).
- Heliosphere, by Ben Jelter.
- Modest Medusa, by Jake Richmond (another friend).
- O Human Star, by Blue Delliquanti (had lunch with them once).
- Oglaf, by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne. Hilarious x-rated fantasy gag strip.
- Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Mulligan and Molly Ostertag.
- Vattu, by Evan Dahm.
Finally, I might as well mention that I had a new fantasy graphic novel come out in 2015: Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish.