The Best Graphic Novels of 2022 list is now here. It’s late (again this year) because I was reading as many Graphic Novels from last year as possible (and, not to brag, but I think I got a pretty good number knocked out). The end result is before you now, featuring a wide range of publishers, including Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, First Second, DC Comics, and more.
Watchmen is an American comic book maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. It was published monthly by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987 before being collected in a single-volume edition in 1987. Watchmen originated from a story proposal Moore submitted to DC featuring superhero characters that the company had acquired from Charlton Comics. As Moore’s proposed story would have left many of the characters unusable for future stories, managing editor Dick Giordano convinced Moore to create original characters instead.
A madcap romantic adventure, Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron has appeared in several Julia Quinn novels and enthralled some of her most beloved characters. Now, this delicious tale of love and peril is available for everyone to enjoy in this wonderfully unconventional graphic novel.
Born into a happy family that is tragically ravaged by smallpox, Miss Priscilla Butterworth uses her wits to survive a series of outlandish trials. Cruelly separated from her beloved mother and grandmother, the young girl is sent to live with a callous aunt who forces her to work for her keep. Eventually, the clever and tenderhearted Miss Butterworth makes her escape… a daring journey into the unknown that unexpectedly leads her to the “mad” baron and a lifetime of love.
Delightfully illustrated by Violet Charles, and told in Julia Quinn’s playful voice, Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron is a high-spirited nineteenth-century romp that will entertain and enchant modern readers.
Graphic novels can do anything – and if there’s an example that shows this better than any other, it’s SAGA. One of the best sci-fi graphic novels around, it’s a massively successful and hugely addictive ongoing multi-volume epic from writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples.
The story mixes science fiction and fantasy together to create a strange, intergalactic storybook world in which two soldiers from opposing sides of a never-ending war fall in love, have a baby, and go on the run. It’s a simple hook for a lively tale that’s packed full of dizzying plot twists, memorable set-pieces, endearing characters, and wildly imaginative creations, from grumpy cyclops novelists to TV-headed robot aristocrats, to the iconic and unforgettable Lying Cat.
SAGA is also extremely adult, featuring eye-opening levels of gore, swearing, sex, and violence that somehow never feels gratuitous, and never overrides the touchingly human tale at the story’s core.
Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf is a graphic novel published by titan Comics, written by Jody Houser, with art by Roberta Ingranata, colors by Warnia K. Sahadewa, and letters by Richard Starkings. The Eighth and Eleventh Doctor and dragged into a war and a paradox involving two Rose Tylers. One of them has been in a parallel universe for years, whilst the other grew into the ruler of her own empire.
The plot is one born out of multiple stories that have come before it, four to be exact. Every main character involved comes from another tale, whether it be from the show or another comic. This interlaces histories and flashbacks to create conflict. These backstories aren’t known in their entirety, nor is it important to know before opening the first page, as much of it is quickly caught up. The plot moves quickly but there is a lot of time spent building up the meeting between the Doctors and the two Roses, splitting them into pairs before they meet on Empress Rose’s planet. This wait keeps us guessing and allows for one excellent meeting between characters.
In King of Spies, Britain’s greatest secret agent faces his deadliest enemy yet – his own mortality. Diagnosed with a brain tumor and six months to live, the retired Sir Roland King looks around at the world he’s saved so many times and feels he can’t leave us in such a mess. There’s greed and corruption at every level, untouchable despots he was forbidden to go near, and a system he just doesn’t believe in anymore. He wants to use his remaining time to make a difference with his particular set of skills and repair the damage he did in his private life at the same time. The most dangerous man in the world has gone rogue and he knows where all the bodies are buried. Now it’s time to go after the real monsters.
Mother Noise opens with Cindy, twenty years into recovery after a heroin addiction, grappling with how to tell her nine-year-old son about her past. She wants him to learn this history from her, not anyone else; but she worries about the effect this truth may have on him. Told in essays and graphic narrative shorts, Mother Noise is a stunning memoir that delves deep into our responsibilities as parents while celebrating the moments of grace and generosity that mark a true friendship—in this case, her benefactor and champion through the years, David Sedaris.
This is a powerful memoir about addiction, motherhood, and Cindy’s ongoing effort to reconcile the two. Are we required to share with our children the painful details of our past, or do we owe them protection from the harsh truth of who we were before?
With dark humor and brutal, clear-eyed honesty, Mother Noise brilliantly captures and gorgeously renders our desire to look hopefully forward—while acknowledging the darkness of the past.
Fans of dark fantasy can be divided into two groups – those who’ve already read The Sandman, and those who really need to. A massive, ten-volume series (with dozens of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs), Neil Gaiman’s tale of dreams and nightmares is a mature epic that melds a dizzying number of genres together into a dark, unpredictable ride.
The Sandman is the story of Morpheus, the god-like entity who rules over the realm where all dreams happen, but Gaiman’s exploration of mythology, madness, and fate also finds room for dozens of tangents and intriguing one-off tales. The result is a lyrical, weird, and occasionally shocking experience that’s often just as much a surreal mood piece as it is a compulsive story.