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Best Comics of 2005


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by Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald and Douglas Wolk -- Publishers Weekly, 11/7/2005

Sales of comics and graphic novels in 2005 continued to show strong growth across all comics categories, led once again by the surging popularity of manga. Superhero action comics, driven by movies like Sin City and Fantastic Four, and even art comics, often reviewed by major mainstream publications, all showed sales growth. The year also marked the launch of Tokyopop’s ambitious original English language manga program; and the news that Stephen King, Jonathan Lethem and other prominent prose authors are enthusiastically signing on to write their own graphic novels. 2005 was a very good year indeed for book format comics.

Epileptic by David B. (Pantheon)
A memoir of the author's family's desperate, often bizarre attempts to find a cure for his brother's epilepsy and a melancholic documentary on B.'s hallucinatory imagination.

 
Ex-Machina: The First Hundred Days by Brian Vaughan and Tony Harris (DC/Vertigo)
Mitchell Hundred, a civil engineer for New York City, mysteriously becomes a superhero with the power to talk to machines until the government forces him to stop. Abandoning his secret identity he gets elected Mayor of New York City and faces the usual problems—controversial art at the Brooklyn Museum, a crippling blizzard and a serial killer—with surprising plausibility and literary panache.
 
The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
An Algerian Sephardic rabbi and his talking cat offer a charming series of impertinent questions about Jewish Law and the intersection of Jewish, French and Arab culture in the 1930s.
 
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press)
X-man, Archie comics and manga meet videogames, Kung-fu and Alt-rock bands in this imaginative comic story about slacker boy Scott, his hipster-chick girlfriend Ramona and her Seven Evil Ex-boyfriends.
 
Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface by Shirow Masamune (Dark Horse)
Set in a super-technological future Japan and using virtually every manga convention, this brilliant sequel is an extended and serious meditation on the melding of android technology, human personality and the spiritual "ghost" or life force at the core of existence.
 
WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo)
A bioengineering experiment to create super-assasins out of a cat, a dog and rabbit goes awry and the cyber-animals escape resulting in a brutal killing spree in a science fiction tragedy about the treatment of animals and its ultimate cost to our sense of humanity.
 
Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
1970s teen alienation is combined with the looming danger of an epidemic in a visually stunning horror story about a sexually transmitted disease that literally turns its victims into monsters forced to the outskirts of society.
 

King by Ho Che Anderson (Fantagraphics)
Using novelistic techniques, impressive research, a dazzling array of graphic styles and an acute ear for dialogue, Anderson recreates the life of Martin Luther King, bringing both the man and the civil rights movement thrillingly to life.

 
MBQ vol. 1 by Felipe Smith (Tokyopop)
A debut OEL manga chronicling the lives of a multi-ethnic cast—from an ambitious comics artist and a brutal drug dealer to a Karaoke bar clerk and a rookie cop—in a hilarious and smart portrait of contemporary urban Los Angeles.

 
The Genshiken vol. 1 by Kio Shimoku (Del Rey)
A college student ashamed of his love of manga, anime and videogames joins a college club called the Genshiken—shorthand for the Society of the Study of Modern Visual Culture—a motley group of otaku (crazy fans) losers in this delightfully naturalistic manga about the nature of otaku culture.

 
Gemma Bovery by Posey Simmonds (Pantheon)
A clever, beautifully illustrated satirical work that uses an inventive combination of panels and text to reimagine Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary through the lives of a contemporary couple who move from London to a rural town in Normandy, France.

 
Teenagers from Mars by Rick Spears and Rob G. (Gigantic Graphic Novels)
Bored teens discover life, love and the power of rebellion in this funny, inventive tale. Would-be cartoonist Macon meets his punk dream girl and they take on censors trying to close the local comics shop.

 
Why Are You Doing This by Jason (Fantagraphics)
A Hitchcock-esque tale of murder and a wrong man on the run turns into a story about love and wasted opportunities. Jason’s understated funny animal art is remarkably subtle and expressive.

 
Yotsuba&! by Akira Toriyama (ADV Manga)
Gentle humor and a zest for life infuse this charming comedy about a little girl who might be an alien whose insatiable curiosity keeps her adapted father and his friends on the go.

 

Walt and Skeezix : Book One by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)
When a confirmed bachelor takes in an infant, the innate adaptability of human nature is explored with humor and whimsy in reprint of the classic comic strip Gasoline Alley.

 
Salamander Dream by Hope Larsen (AdHouse Books)
The journey from childhood to adulthood is explored through the possibly imaginary story of one young girl’s friendship with a magical salamander.

 
Tricked by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
Six characters who are missing something in their lives are set on a crash course in this dense story that follows the ordinary mistakes in judgement that everyone makes.

 
Night Fisher by R. Kikuo Johnson (Fantagraphics)
This debut graphic novel introduces a formidable new talent in Johnson, with this atmospheric tale of a drifting high school boy growing up in Hawaii.
 
Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova (Tokyopop)
A classic love triangle unfolds at an anime convention in this sprightly debut that explores convention culture and the romantic confusion of youth.

 
Astonishing X-Men Volume 1: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
When a possible cure for the mutant gene is found, the X-men must fight an alien menace and deal with their own ambivalence over their mutations. Sharp writing and epic art combine to show how much fun a superhero story can be.

 
Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Marucca (Slave Labor Graphics)
A 13-year-old homeless girl is actually the legendary crime fighter Street Angel. Jesse Sanchez’s adventures are both outrageous – time traveling pirates and 70s gangsters are just a few of her foes – and dramatic.

 

 

 

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