Here’s our staff highlights for 2013 in list form — all the titles, creators, programs, conferences, and library shenanigans that made our year, comics-wise!
I really enjoyed Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks (First Second). It’s one of those books I keep recommending as a read alike for a lot of other titles. That is usually the sign of a good solid book that will remain popular for a while.
I’m also glad that Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff (First Second) is getting the recognition it’s deserved for so long, now that it’s in wider release.
And I’m glad that I found a cute little local comic shop that is female friendly and has a great staff (as well as a great name): Parker, Banner, Kent, and Wayne in Cornelius, NC. Technically I think I found them last year, but this is the year I’ve really been made to feel a part of the store. Thanks guys and I promise I’ll come to Thursday gaming one of these days.
The other thing that made me happy this year was how much glorious attention Gene Yang’s books Boxers and Saints received. Any book that is shortlisted for the National Book Awards is going to be talked about, but the discussions that sprang up around Boxers and Saints were smart, impassioned, and not always contributed to by the usual comics reporters. Any book that can get “the normals” talking about comics is good. That the book in question was also fantastically written and illustrated is magic.
I also adored Delilah Dirk and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong!! I felt like 2013 was pretty spectacular for graphic novels. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdakis and Relish: My Life in the Kitchen were two more of my favorites, but there were quite a few that I enjoyed. Thanks to you fabulous folks for steering me toward so many good ones!
I made major changes in how our graphic novel collections are organized in the library – the teen collection was divided into Manga and Everything Else and the juvenile collection was integrated back into the general fiction collection (almost – we’re still relabeling!).
And yes, lots of great graphic novels this year – Delilah Dirk, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Relish, Hilda, it’s like someone said “hmmm, what kind of graphic novels does Jennifer like? LET’S MAKE THOSE.”
Also, Meeting Faith Erin Hicks made me super happy. I am not at all a
fan-type person, but for that brief moment, I was totally a fan.
My Riddler book display is the thing that made me happy this year :]
Next to Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Hime, Kill La Kill is the greatest anime I’ve seen all year. It’s kind of hard to describe and is one of those shows you simply have to watch and buckle up as it takes you on a wonderfully odd and hilarious journey.
Marvel has made me really happy this year. They’ve been putting out good comics and they’ve been socially conscious. And they’re continuing to take risks. When two of their female led books (Journey Into Mystery and Fearless Defenders) failed they didn’t back off and say “Well women don’t sell comics”. They’ve doubled down and early next year are putting out four new female led books (Black Widow, She-Hulk, Elektra and Ms. Marvel). It’s really just wonderful to see. Plus most of their comics tend to be really interesting and well written.
The best thing in comics this year for me was the Grand Opening Festival at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum! It’s so neat to have a dedicated research center for comics and cartoons here in the U.S.!
I was tickled pink by the anime series, The Devil is a Part Timer! It reminded me how enjoyable a simple comedy series could be given the right elements. I was also happy to see that the now completed webcomic, Darwin Carmichael is going to hell will be appearing in print due to a very successful Kickstarter campaign.
I think what made me happiest this year was Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, and the accompanying #CarolCorps. I love the online fandom that’s sprung up around Carol, and I love how much Kelly Sue has embraced it. Like, my library teens and I made hand turkeys of “Books We’re Thankful For” for a bulletin board, and I Instagrammed my Captain Marvel turkey, and Kelly Sue retweeted it. Aww!
I’m also excited for the way the #CarolCorps has embraced the news of the upcoming Muslim Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan! (Kamala may be what makes me happy in 2014 :))
Psycho Pass, my absolute favorite anime, is getting a premium edition (in March) that has the entire first season, soundtrack, and other goodies!!!
Also, this year more anime titles have been getting licensed to stream on at least one legal website (Hulu, FUNimation, Daisuki.net, Crunchyroll to name a few)… even a selection of manga can be viewed without need to download or own a copy now through Crunchyroll’s manga subscription service. It’s just awesome to see that there’s much more available for fans in a legal form lately, and sometimes even easier to get than illegal versions. Also, licensing means you can get physical copies without the crazy overseas shipping costs. Supporting your favorite creators is a wonderful feeling and the increased availability now makes it great to be a fan!
The anime Beyond the Boundary has made me happy this year! It has everything I enjoy in an anime: an enigmatic story with heart, humor, and engaging characters. It also has excellent animation and voice acting. The only thing that makes me unhappy about this anime is that it was only 12 episodes. The creators did a fantastic job and I wish I could see more of these characters and their world!
I just finished The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. It was amazing. The characters were all intriguing, entertaining, and fully developed. They learned and matured over time and grew in their relationships with each other. Since it is a comedy, most of the time, the viewer is in stitches, but there are also episodes that have one in tears. A major factor in this anime is teens working hard to succeed, but it is not about them instantly realizing that success. They work hard and they fail and they fail again and they keep working hard. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
I am beyond joy with the positive reception the graphic novel Jane, the Fox & Me is getting universally — a Canadian title from a mainstream press (not a comic book publisher) that was translated from the original French and stars, along with Jane Austen, the city of Montreal. I am also very pleased with the well deserved reception for Fiona Staples and her work on Saga (love Saga too).
I love that once again Lone Wolf and Cub, by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kokima, is back in print! Dark Horse is re-releasing these in huge omnibus editions. And it’s easy to see why so many graphic novelists list this as an inspiration. Soooo historical and cinematic!
One of my library teens just turned me into a manga character, so there’s that.
I participated in the Gender Through Comic Books SuperMooc this year and really loved it. I read a ton of comics that were out of my usual range and enjoyed the author interviews and interactions with other comics fans. It was amazing to see the various transitions female characters like Ms./Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman have gone through with different creators and time periods, but also what “masculinity” has meant for some really iconic characters.
If I have to pick one thing, that’s it!
I’m going to second Marcela’s happy – I really had so much fun in Christy Blanch’s Gender Through Comic Books SuperMooc! I was really proud of myself that I read Superman (Mark Waid’s Birthright and Action #1), and I liked it! But, also the discussions I had with people and the critical thinking, all of it awesome. Plus, I got to see all my favorite creators talk about gender and comics – Brian K. Vaughan, Gail Simone, and Scott Snyder…squeee!!!
I think I’ve seen Image, Boom!, Dark Horse, and other previously second banana companies put out more high-quality content this year than ever previously. (Actually, in the near future, I can see Marvel focusing on Hollywood and DC further draining itself in an effort to keep up with the Disneys.) Anyway, there’s more creative diversity available on the New Shelf at my local comics shop and that makes me happy.
DC’s online offerings made me happy this year, particularly Li’l Gotham, Batman ’66, and Superman Adventures. All three series delivered weekly 99-cent goodies throughout the year to my Comixology account, and were shining examples of DC’s potential if they only had the nerve to lighten up and loosen their artistic restrictions. There’s a saying about how we need darkness in order to appreciate the light – well, in DC’s case, every little shimmer feels like a blessing. As DC’s online publishing is centered in California and DC is shifting its headquarters there from New York, I hope that the two houses will learn from each other.
I was so excited to find a Japanese/English addition of the Doraemon manga at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in New York City. At this point, I don’t think you can buy it from B&N, Amazon, etc. It’s such an adorable, classic series. I was so excited to find that I could buy and read it! I’m also very tempted to buy a copy for our Children’s room and add it to our collection.
Interlibrary Loan has made me exceedingly happy this year! I’ve used it to delve into classic (and often, sadly, out of print) shojo and European titles (Yasuko Aoike’s ridiculous From Eroica with Love, Hugo Pratt’s adventure-filled Corto Maltese, Enki Bilal’s bizarre Nikopol Trilogy, and many more) that I’ve been missing out on. Old-school squee!
While it’s a happy/sad sort of thing, I think Locke and Key was one of the best comics experiences I’ve had from start to finish since Y: the Last Man. I am sad it’s over, but I thought he stuck the landing on that one.
Thor: God of Thunder was the other book that made me happy all year.
I think that in a general way, manga and other comics/graphic novels are getting better translations (I can’t back that with numbers or anything, just a feeling I get from reading them) than they used to, and that makes me happy. I’m not sure if they get edited, though, content-wise.
I am also thankful for Inoue Takehiko’s Real.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl made me really happy this year! Its sense of humor is totally my style, and I’d been on this really disappointing streak of graphic novels that just weren’t doing it for me — but this was the perfect title to break that streak.
There are a couple of trends in particular that I’ve noticed this year that have made me a very happy comics reader.
The first one is the quality of the collected editions and omnibus editions that the major publishers have released this year. The Disney and EC collections from Fantagraphics, for example, have allowed readers to sink their teeth into work by creators like Carl Barks and Jack Davis without having to spend either fortunes or time tracking down back issues. I’ve also really enjoyed the books DC has been collecting in one package like the Animal Man Omnibus, and Marshall Law.
The other trend I’ve enjoyed are all the non-fiction graphic novels that are cropping up with more regularity. Translating difficult and/or confusing conceptual ideas through the medium of comics can really aid in understanding the material (at least for me). I’ve always been drawn to creators like Larry Gonick, and I hope publishers keep expanding their offering of graphic non-fiction.
I was thrilled to see Drew Morrison at C2E2 this year. I love his original illustrations of Meeso and he is himself as strange and lovely as his artwork.
It’s made me particularly happy this year to discover all kinds of diversity happening in webcomics (many of which are transitioning to print), including GBLTQ titles like Blue Delliquanti’s O Human Star (right), M. K. Weaver’s The Less than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal, Alex Woolfson’s Artifice, and Suzana Harcum & Owen White’s Tripping Over You.
I’ve been a fan of John Allison’s cheeky mystery series Bad Machinery for a good while, and I was so very happy to be able to finally add his work to my library shelves. Plus, he creates amazing fanart (Riker: Best at Space!)
I’m especially thankful for the ladies out there raising all of the questions and concerns about women in comics, including (and I can in no way list all the smart contributors to these discussions) Brigid Alverson (especially at Robot 6 and on twitter), Heidi MacDonald (at The Comics Beat and on twitter), Laura Hudson (over at Wired and on twitter), Faith Erin Hicks (at her tumblr and on twitter), Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass (the tumblr and twitter.) All the thoughtful but fierce commentary has been awesome to be behold.