Graphic Novel Recommendations Wanted

As some of you have already noticed, I am on a panel at Worldcon about science fiction and graphic novels. The contention, as Jeff Beeler put it, is that the new Hugo category is effectively for, “the best science fiction graphic novels that people who do not read graphic novels on a regular basis know about.” Paul Cornell has already waxed lyrical upon the subject. Now it is my turn. But I don’t read nearly as many comics and graphic novels as some of you. So I want your suggestions. What should we be nominating for the Best Graphic Novel Hugo next year?

Remember, the work has to either be first published in 2010 or, in the case of a serial work, the final issue has to be published in 2010.

15 thoughts on “Graphic Novel Recommendations Wanted

  1. Neither of these are out and out science fiction. More shades of the fantastic.

    However I immediately have to say ‘Air’ by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker Ended after twenty-four issues last week. Paul Cornell mentions it. Ambitious and flawed. Rushed because of its early cancellation by DC, but still an example of what comic speculative fiction can achieve.

    Demo Vol. 2 by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Six single issue stories about people with powers. Ran from January to June 2010. Will be collected in April 2011 into a trade paperback.

    Will probably be able to think of more after coffee in nine hours after sleep.


    1. Neither of these are out and out science fiction. More shades of the fantastic.

      No problem. Works need not be only “science fiction” (the definition of which is slippery anyway) — the Hugo Awards are for works of science fiction or fantasy. After all, I don’t think we can seriously call Girl Genius science fiction.

      1. Yes, yes, I was aware of that. But the way Cheryl framed the question forced me to add the rider.

        I’m waiting for DMZ, again by Brian Wood, to end in its entirety so that can be eligible. Unless the collections and sub-stories count. That’s the problem with ongoing comics: you can never decide when it starts or when it ends. 🙂

  2. I am being vain and recommending my own book. I’ve cut and pasted some reviews

    ‘Philippa Perry’s cute and clever graphic novel aims to be both an entertaining work of fiction and an introduction to psychotherapy…Perry’s form suits her mission, Junko Graat’s cheerful black and white sketches rendering the dreams, thoughts and alter egos that circulate around Pat’s sofa…It’s an appealing accessible read – perfect for a waiting room.’ – The Guardian

    ‘If you’ve got even a passing interest in psychotherapy you’ll want to read this graphic novel three times, at least.’ – Time Out

    ‘…set to capture the attention of the capital’s culture vultures.’ – Evening Standard

    ‘Funtastic: How therapy works with all the fun of a cartoon.’ – Oliver James is a clinical psychologist, author and broadcaster

    ‘Perry delivers that rarity: an edifying page-turner.’ – The Scotsman

    ‘…this funny and enjoyable book will become required reading for psychotherapy students and would benefit anyone with even a casual interest in psychotherapy. Those who are thinking of consulting a therapist might ‘dip their toe in’ here, as might any lover of graphic fiction who relishes evesdropping on the lives of others…’ – Paul Gravett, Graphic Medicine

    ‘I’ve read hundreds of books about therapy and this is among the best…it has a wicked sense of humour and a great sense of style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever considered therapy but been afraid to ask, for therapists who want to remind themselves why their profession matters and to anyone tempted to say that therapy is nonsense…” Alain de Botton, The Times

  3. I so far really like The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It’s an ongoing series, but I guess volumes 1 & 2 could be considered a storyline by themselves (either that or just the “Inside Man” storyline collected in volume 2. There’s a good inverview about the series on Comic book resources.

    The Chimpanzee Complex by Richard Marazano and Jean-Michel Ponzio is a really good science fiction graphic novel that came to a conclusion this year with volume 3. I quote Richard from the Forbidden Planet review because I think he nailed it:

    Every so often something comes along though that gets it absolutely right, does everything big Sci-Fi is meant to do – all the wonder, all the majesty of space, all the complex technical stuff, all the unanswered questions. And that’s exactly what The Chimpanzee Complex does. It’s Big, epic Sci-Fi done absolutely right.

  4. Now, recommendations. The problem is, I can never remember what was published which year, and I can buy books and not end up reading them for months or years afterwards. And I’m not sure what’s eligible or not. But, allowing for all that, the most enjoyable thing I’ve read in ages was Daren White and Eddie Campbell’s The Playright. I also have high hopes for Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, which I’ve only seen the first issue of, out of four. At the superhero end of things, I liked Kick Ass, which really did end up adding something new to the by-now tired trope of ‘Imagine if superheros were real.’ Mike Carey is doing something interesting in The Unwritten, the first volume of which came out this year, I believe. And another mention for the Moore dynasty: Leah Moore & John Reppion’s Alice in Wonderland is another addition to their growing number of meticulously well done adaptations of classic works. I keep suggesting things to them that they should tackle next (The Third Policeman, The Day of the Triffids, The Canterbury Tales…), but they wisely ignore me…

  5. I’ll second The Unwritten by Mike Carey from Vertigo. Other titles, Madame Xanadu from Vertigo comics. Sweet Tooth also from Vertigo by Jeff Lemire. Chew from Image comics, vol 2 out this year I believe.

    Ex- Machina just wrapped up with Issue 50, a great series from Brian K. Vaughan from Wildstorm.

    Northlanders from Brian Wood, which is a Viking comic. Which isn’t something I’ve ever said before! very unique book. Vol 3 trade came out not long ago.

    Absolutely agree with Paul Cornell on Echo by Terry Moore from Abstract Studios, a fantastic sci-fi adventure series. Also support Proof, a fantastic X-files type book.

    Atomic Robo deserves a mention as well, a fun and exciting series from Red 5 comics.

    No one has mentioned Rex Mundi yet, vol 6 came out Jan 2010, and I believe it’s the last trade in the series – from Dark Horse comics.

    Definitely worth adding Scalped to the list from Jason Aaron, at Vertigo.

    All I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure there are more.

  6. I’d like to point out that the category is not called Best Graphic Novel, it is called Best Graphic Story. This was to make sure as wide a range of works as possible is eligible. Graphic novels are eligible, but lots of other things are too: manga, bandes dessinées (European hardcover comics, Astérix may be the best known, but there’s lots of SF & fantasy published in that format), a one shot, 20 page comic is eligible, technically, a 4 panel cartoon is too (it tells a story in graphic form).

    In my opinion, an illustrated book like Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book (had it been published at the right time) where the text and images and inextricably linked. I suspect for this last example, the administrator would bow to the will of the voters if enough of them nominated something like it.

  7. Slightly surprised no one has mentioned Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour yet, which must be a good bet for next year. And I second Chew volume 2 (“International Flavor”), which isn’t quite as good as volume 1 but it’s still very good. It’s about Tony Chu, a detective who gets psychic impressions from everything he eats. It is darkly funny and inventive and occasionally disgusting, and the art is great.

  8. The last three volumes of Mushishi were published in an omnibus edition this year, and there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Ooku is worth keeping an eye on– volume 3 came out earlier this year, volume 4 was just released and volume 5 is coming out in December.

    For ongoing recommendations, ANN has a weekly manga review column that I’ve found a lot of interesting stuff through.

  9. Bryan Talbot’s “Grandville Mon Amour” is scheduled for December. Obviously it’s hard for people to recommend a book they haven’t read yet – but I cheated, I proofread it. It’s wonderful.

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