Today is the final installment of a four part list of comics that challenged me in 2017. Here are links to the first part of the list, the second, and the third. The full list will be published shortly after this post goes live.
I’m Not Here by GG, published by Koyama Press
I wrote a review of I’m Not Here late last year, but I was impressed by GG’s cinematographic pacing, her beautiful illustration, and how this work luxuriates in the tiny moments between moments. As a commentary on the complex relationship structures of the 21st century, I’m Not Here takes complex, convoluted family dynamics and turns them into a compelling story. I’m Not Here was one of the best graphic novels I read in 2017.
Gouffre edited by Séverine Bascouert, Alexis Beauclair, Bettina Henni, and Sammy Stein, published by Lagon Revue
Gouffre is the only anthology on the list this year, and part of the challenge it represents is that what it’s trying to do. In terms of scope and aim, no anthology came close to its ambition. Even its low moments show a desire to change the way we think about comics and comics anthologies. Individualized slip covers, multiple printing processes, Gouffre is an experiment in printing as much as it is an anthology of abstract and formalist comics. And the comics were good – some, great.
Shiner by Nathan Cowdry, self-published
My review of Nathan Cowdry’s Shiner wasn’t overly positive; you can take a read at that link. But in terms of thematic context and the way that it uses a borrowed aesthetic to get at a larger point, I found very little like Shiner in 2017 (and really since I’ve been reading alt comics). This is a polarizing book – I’m certain there’s a group of people that will love what it achieves and how it works, and even I can admit that the book is successful on its own terms. Whether or not your like those terms is the question.
Yours by Margot Ferrick, published by 2dcloud
Margot Ferrick made it onto the list last year with Sec, which is included in the larger collection Yours, out from 2dcloud this year. Ferrick’s use of language and lettering is unique among cartoonists, and the emotional drive of this book, the keen edge of it was sometimes overwhelming. Watching the text balloon into almost uncontained multitudes, the repetition like racing heartbeats, this comic makes you feel out of breath just reading it. No comic has affected me the way that Yours has, and I doubt few ever will.
Alienation #1-3 by Inés Estrada, self-published
Estrada’s mini-comic series Alienation is one of the few comics this year that felt both like prophecy and a horror story. The anxiety of the digital age, the destruction of the planet, the internalization of outside influence, corporate dominance and intrusion into thought, all of it plays a big role in Alienation. I felt like Alienation was an eye-opening experience, because Estrada has done some thinking about what the future of humanity looks like, and even in its best version, it’s still pretty fucking dire. Sadly I’m not finished with the series (I’ve read the first three, and there are 6 issues available in print from Estrada’s website as well as fine distros like Spit and a Half), but it’s the top of the list of books I’ll be reading in 2018.
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