A wide selection of top-notch graphic novels and nonfiction in every genre were available in 2022 from all companies. With the exception of manga, this year’s list features some of the best longform writing geared exclusively for adult audiences.
Kate Beaton’s book Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn & Quarterly).
Beaton’s moving and evocative memoir is set in the grim industrial wasteland of Canada’s oil sands in the middle of the 2000s. Through concise and potent cartooning, she skillfully combines her horrific emotional experience with the economic reality of her native country of Nova Scotia. A standard in the field.
Written by David Chisholm, “Enter the Blue” (Z2 Comics).
In Chisholm’s magical-realist trip through the history of jazz, the protagonist, a hesitant trumpet prodigy, follows Alice down the rabbit hole in quest of the music’s spirit.
Fans of both jazz and comics are in for a real treat with this story. Because it has beautiful illustrations, but also is captivating, inventive, and unpredictable.
Written by Jordan Crane, “Keeping Two” (Fantagraphics).
In the story a couple struggles through the depths of love, sorrow, loneliness, anxiety, and reconciliation. Crane’s clean, austere drawings take the reader into a complicated, multidimensional psychological minefield. Crane’s illustrations also include a minimalist aesthetic. An exceptional illustration of comics’ potential as a literary medium for evoking a staggering amount of emotional intensity.
Salamandre by I.N.J. Culbard (Berger Books/Dark Horse).
After the death of his father, an artistic young kid is visiting his family on the wrong side of a split country. He becomes entangled in the plotting and schemes of an authoritarian government.
The illustrations are exquisite, and the pacing is exactly right. The author may aim this book at young adults, but it rewards readers who have more life experience just as much.
Marjorie Liu and Sana Takada’s They Eat the Night, from The Night Eaters Volume 1 (Abrams Comic Arts).
With this incredible dark fantasy that blends the familial dynamics of a first-generation Chinese-American family with ominous creatures hiding in an overgrown, abandoned house, Liu and Takeda bid adieu to their regal Monstress series. The artwork of Takada is astounding. The first of a series that seems promising.