1 My Favorite Is Monsters, Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics

CHILDHOOD is a recurring theme in some of our favourite graphic novels of 2017 and nowhere more so than in Emil Ferris’s darkly brilliant debut My Favorite Is Monsters. It’s a murder mystery, a coming-of-age story, a vision of the souring of the 1960s dream, a story that boldly mixes up horror comics and the Holocaust all drawn out on lined notepaper and told from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl who thinks she is a werewolf. A remarkable work.

2 Driving Short Distances, Joff Winterhart, Jonathan Cape

The Herald:

To paraphrase ourselves, “if Alan Bennett did graphic novels …” Joff Winterhart’s Odd Couple tale of an elderly salesman and his diffident twentysomething assistant is one of the sweetest, saddest pleasures of the year. Winterhart’s art is ugly beautiful; all nasal hair and untrimmed eyebrows. It’s a crafted book that is full of untidy but ultimately loveable humanity. Someone please give Stephen Frears a copy for Christmas. We want to see it made into a movie.

3 Boundless, Jillian Tamaki, Drawn & Quarterly

A young woman tries on a dress she couldn’t get into before and finds now can. She’s lost weight. Result! The only problem is she keeps losing weight, keeps getting smaller. And smaller. Meanwhile, in 1.Jenny a woman becomes obsessed with an online version of herself who seems to be living a much better life than she is. Jillian Tamaki’s strange short stories take on modern living, social media, cult TV and proper real-life cults. It’s a disorientating, at times disturbing vision of the modern world, drawn with care and grace.

4 Spinning, Tillie Walden, SelfMadeHero

The Herald:

Back to childhood. Tillie Walden’s graphic memoir of growing up in Texas takes in coming out, bullying, sexual harassment and ice skating. And it never reads like overheated melodrama. Walden, who, startlingly, is still only 21, offers a cool, deep-water take on her own life that respects the fact that often we are a mystery to ourselves.  

5 The Customer Is Always Wrong, Mimi Pond, Drawn & Quarterly

The Herald:

Mimi Pond’s latest graphic novel is loosely based on her own life as a waitress in 1970s America. It’s a chunky block of a book that takes on sex, drugs and minimum wage living. The result is feisty, funny and mildly horrifying. Pond’s art isn’t the slickest, but that just fits the grungy, working-class story all the better. Dirty realism revisited, this time with better jokes.

6 Haddon Hall, Nejib, SelfMadeHero

The Herald:

A little bit of Bowie. French-Tunisian graphic designer Nejib’s take on the Starman in the pre-Hunky Dory era is, he told Graphic Content back in February, “not a documentary, but a fiction.”

In short, it’s a dream take on a dreamy, hippy life. Here is Bowie before he was famous finding his way to the art that would make his name. It’s a snapshot of a time in his life before stardom took over and took him away from everyone.

It’s also a book about the end of the 1960s that comes steeped in a love of 1960s illustration styles. As such, it’s a handsome thing.

7 Her Bark and Her Bite, James Albon, Top Shelf

The Herald:

One of the year’s more overlooked treats, illustrator James Albon’s Her Bark and Her Bite is a brittle vision of Bohemian life rendered beautifully. It’s possibly the one comic strip we’d most like to live inside from this year. That said, we’re not sure we’d like the people we met. But then maybe we’d be too drunk to care.

8 Deserter’s Masquerade, Chloe Cruchaudet, Knockabout

It starts off as a story about a romance blighted by the First World War and then veers off down some very unexpected and very adult byways; byways that involves cross-dressing, sylvan orgies and legal drama. What you never lose sight of in all of this is that war is hell.

9 Good News Bible: The Complete Deadline Strips of Shaky Kane, Breakdown Press

Of all the revivals this year, Breakdown’s reprinting of Shaky Kane’s psychedelic Kirby-meets-Burroughs comic strips from the pages of Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon’s baggy-era magazine Deadline was the most heartening.

Kane’s mad mixtape of pop culture tropes – Elvis, UFOs, robots and religion – was always a spikier and darker take than that offered in Deadline’s other strips (most notably Tank Girl). And if anything Kane’s vision got darker as it went along. Nor was it ever too worried about narrative cohesion.

But what you tuned in for was the frantic, electrified riff on the ideas and imagery that were then in the air. That means this book is a form of time travel.

10 The Little Mermaid, Metraphrog, Papercutz

This take on the fairy tale is quite simply the most beautiful book Metaphrog have created so far. And that’s saying something.

11 Livestock, Hannah Berry, Jonathan Cape

Hannah Berry’s future fiction is The Thick of It for sci-fi conspiracy theorists. We love it because it is both furious and funny.

12 Fire!! The Zola Hurston Neale Story, Peter Bagge, Fantagraphics

Who could have predicted that Peter Bagge, creator of Neat Stuff and Hate, should turn to creating graphic memoirs of female pioneers in his later middle age? Not us, but we’re not complaining. His follow-up to Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, tells the story of the African-American anthropologist and writer in his typically rubbery, raucous style.

13 Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea, Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni and Dave Stewart, Dark Horse Books

This one-off story, which is precisely situated in the ongoing Hellboy story arc, stuck with us for the creepy brilliance of Gary Gianni’s art and the way it echoes and plays on our memories of all those William Hope Hodgson and Joseph Conrad sea yarns we read as kids. You can smell the salt air and the sense of despair as you turn its pages.

14 Dalston Monsterzz, Dilraj Mann, Nobrow

The Herald:

Club culture meets dystopian creature features in Dilraj Mann’s gorgeous cartooning. (It is also the best-smelling book on the list.)

15 Threads, Kate Evans, Verso

Comics as journalism, this account of life in the Jungle in Calais is often difficult to read because of the rawness of the stories Kate Evans is telling. Depressing but necessary. And suffused with enough humanity to offer a hint of hope.