Comics get (unfairly) pigeonholed a lot. Which is a shame, because they cover such incredibly diverse topics. From hockey to racism, heartbreak to goblins, memoirs to shipwrecks, here are the ten best comics that came across our desks in 2014.
Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, Volume 1 by Joel Christian Gill (Fulcrum Publishing)
Gill’s book fills a definite void in America’s painfully white history books, but on top of that, it’s just a really good read. History truly comes to life under Gill’s skillful hand.
Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea by Oliver McTavish-Wisden, Amancy Nahuelpan, Shannon Campbell, Lucy Bellwood, Kathleen Gros, Pakom Patarawulipom, Christine Viver, Paul Gill, Jordan Stasuk, Sam Logan, Gabriel Frizzera, Bevan Thomas, Reetta Linjama, Christine Eberle, Cameron Morris, Nina Matsumoto, Jonathon Dalton, Colin Upton, Kate Ebensteiner, Kevin Forbes, Kris Sayer, Seth Rutledge, Edison Yan, Ksenia Kozhevnikova, Brinny Longlois, Kevin Wilson, Kinson Yung, Angela Melick, and Jeffrey Ellis (Cloudscape Comics)
This gorgeous collection of twenty-five sea-based comics has something for everyone: pirates, selkies, aliens, talking fish, lighthouse tenders, and sea monsters.
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (Zest Books)
Tomboy is a coming-of-age story anyone can relate to and a great big middle finger to society’s gender roles.
The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro, Illustrated by Marica Inoue and Andres Mossa (Animal Media Group)
An unlikely friendship between likable, emotionally rendered hockey-playing characters illumines the conflicts of loyalty in this graphic novel.
Citizen 13660 by Miné Okubo (University of Washington Press)
This oft-overlooked portion of American history is brought poignantly to life by Okubo’s expressive ink drawings and accompanying text.
Cat Dad, King of the Goblins by Britt Wilson (Koyama Press)
Why do I love this comic so? Female POC main characters. An insanely creative story line. Very accurate cat behavior. Brilliant color dichotomies. Generally completely hilarious.
Get Over It by Corinne Mucha (Secret Acres)
Heartbreak sucks. Corinne Mucha’s Get Over It is probably as close to a cure as we’re going to get.
Dragon’s Breath and Other True Tales by MariNaomi (Uncivilized Books)
MariNaomi cuts to the quick with an emotionally resonant comics collection that offers variety and a comforting voice.
Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
Blue-haired Hilda is back in a fabulously imaginative new adventure where she meets the Nisse, tries to earn her first Sparrow Badge, and figures out just what’s up with the giant black dog stalking around Trolberg.
Kurt Cobain: When I Was an Alien by Danilo Deninotti and Toni Bruno (One Peace Books)
An unhappy teen tries to figure out where he belongs in the world and forms a band. Sound familiar? Yeah, well, in this one, the band is Nirvana, the unhappy teen is Kurt Cobain, oh, and did we mention it’s a rocking graphic novel and aliens feature prominently?
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews, where she blogs about comics and graphic novels. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon