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The 30 Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2022

Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2022

As the comic book industry continues to grow into new publishing and distribution models, it’s also continuing to diversify in the best way. And in 2022, readers were privy to hundreds of new-release titles ranging from double-sized anniversary one-shots to full-length graphic memoirs, from publishers including the Big Two (DC and Marvel Comics) and plenty of indies, as well as self-published works.

Choosing a final “best of” list from the comics and graphic novels published in 2022—which includes works published in a collected format for the first time this year, even if single issues began releasing earlier—is a tall order, and one we were happy to tackle as we close out the year.

The Mary Sue’s list of the best comics and graphic novels of 2022 represents a wide range of genres and focuses solely on the works we believe should be on your bookshelf ASAP—if they aren’t already. The comics on this list are available either in print, digitally, or both.

30. The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special

The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special #1
(DC)

In 1992, Superman faced the gargantuan villain Doomsday and he died—no, really. Superman’s death changed the comics landscape forever. For the 30th anniversary of this seminal event, DC released The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special featuring a reprint of the original material and several brand new stories from the creators who worked on it: Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding; Roger Stern and Butch Guice; Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove; and Jerry Ordway and Tom Grummett.

Whether you know the story of how Superman died in 1992 or you don’t, this deluxe, 80-page one-shot special is a must-read. There’s an element of nostalgia to be sure, especially when you consider how frequently legacy superheroes die in contemporary comics. (In fact, Superman and the rest of the Justice League died this year.)

However, The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special isn’t just a nostalgia-fest: It also examines Superman’s death from multiple perspectives not included in the original story, in addition to seeing how Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and their son Jon Kent handle this particularly dark period in the former’s superhero life.

29. Cryptid Club

Cryptid Club
(Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Sarah Andersen’s iconic cartooning style comes to life once more in Cryptid Club, which is as simultaneously spooky and adorable as it sounds. There are hints of humor familiar to readers of her ongoing autobiographical webcomic Sarah’s Scribbles, as well as a touch of the occult seen in her monstrous love story, Fangs.

With Cryptid Club, Andersen asks the important question: What do cryptids do when no one is around? She features classic mythological creatures like Bigfoot and Mothman, as well as more modern cryptids like Slender Man. And true to her usual style, Andersen uses these stories to spotlight human fears, phobias, and anxieties, normalizing them through humor.

28. Hollow

Hollow
(Boom! Studios)

You may know the story of the Headless Horseman and the tiny Massachusetts town of Sleepy Hollow through the lens of Ichabod Crane, a supernatural-obsessed school teacher who’s been depicted across a wide variety of media since Washington Irving created him more than 200 years ago. Written by Lumberjanes co-creator Shannon Watters and debut author Branden Boyer-White, illustrated by Berenice Nelle, colored by Kaitlyn Musto, Kieran Quigley, and Gonçalo Lopes, and lettered by Jim Campbell, Hollow puts a contemporary queer twist on this classic source material.

Instead of following Ichabod, Hollow follows skeptical teenager Isabel “Izzy” Crane as she befriends Vicky Van Tassel (and forms a pretty serious crush) and Croc Byun after her family moves to Sleepy Hollow. When the trio realize they’re being haunted by the Headless Horseman and that there’s a curse on the Van Tassel line, they have until Halloween to break it.

Hollow takes iconic material and breathes new life into it with younger characters, a modern setting, and a queer love story to boot, making it a must for any 2022 reading list.

27. Hulkling & Wiccan #1

Hulkling & Wiccan #1
(Marvel Comics)

Billy Kaplan, a.k.a. Wiccan, and Teddy Altman, a.k.a. Hulkling, are newly wed and utterly in love—but their lives are changing as rapidly as ever, and that leaves plenty of room for doubt to creep in. This sets up the premise of Hulkling & Wiccan #1, written by Josh Trujillo, drawn by Jodi Nishijima, colored by Matt Milla, and lettered by Ariana Maher. Originally released as a four-part Infinity Comics series on the Marvel Unlimited app, the entire story was released as a one-shot in June, and it’s worth diving in.

Thanks to the ever-meddling Agatha Harkness and Wiccan’s own latent abilities, his doubts about whether or not his marriage will continue down the road to a happy ending result in the creation of an alternate timeline where both Billy and Teddy are with different people. Although this may seem like a break-up story on the surface, it’s actually a beautifully crafted, slow-burn romance that celebrates all the best parts of this fan-favorite couple.

26. The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton
(Image Comics)

In classic Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer style, The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton—collected in a single volume earlier this year—presents an action-packed punch (or a dozen) that’s overflowing with humor. When the world’s most unlikable action star is found dead, his former TV sidekicks try to solve his murder. The problem is, basically everyone is a suspect because they all hated him that much. And in case that isn’t enough drama, they also have to contend with a Stuntman War.

Individually, Starks and Schweizer are incredibly talented creators who are naturally funny and great at giving audiences what they never knew they wanted. Together, they’re a hilarious creative force with great timing and perfect execution, as seen in The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton.

25. Look Again: A Memoir

Look Again: A Memoir
(Street Noise Books)

Cartoonist Elizabeth A. Trembley’s Look Again: A Memoir delivers on its title in spades. Much like Liana Finck’s Passing for Human, this graphic novel examines the creator’s life as a creation myth of sorts, but it also explicitly deals with trauma and how surviving it can completely alter the mind and memory. When one recalls a traumatic event, how do they really know what’s true? How do they retain that or convey it?

Look Again examines the same event in six different ways, each one triggered by a different revelation at a seemingly unrelated point in Trembley’s life. And with each variation, Trembley and the reader discover something new together. While it isn’t necessarily possible to piece the entire event together by the time you reach the back cover, this unflinching examination of trauma and the fragmentation it leaves behind is well worth the investment.

24. Young Men in Love

Young Men in Love
(A Wave Blue World)

Edited by Joe Glass and Matt Miner, Young Men in Love: A Queer Romance Anthology is a truly vibrant collection of comics about men who love men. The book features 20 short stories by a variety of comics creators including Anthony Oliveira, Sina Grace, Tate Brombal, Terry Blas, Ned Barnett, and more, and each one is unique.

Whether you’d like to read a new take on Peter Pan, a love story between a human and a ghost, a story about sentient lightbulbs, or queer takes on pirates or superheroes, there’s a little something for everyone in Young Men in Love. Collectively, these stories create the same glowing warmth as series like Heartstopper, and there’s a magical quality to seeing them all together that can’t quite be put into words.

23. Forest Hills Bootleg Society

Forest Hills Bootleg Society
(Simon & Schuster)

In the pre-streaming era, bootlegging VHS tapes and, later, DVDs was the only way some people could get their hands on titles they were desperate to see—including anime that wasn’t widely distributed in the U.S. yet. Dave Baker and Nicole Goux’s Forest Hills Bootleg Society follows best friends Brooke, Kelly, Maggie, and Melissa in the year 2005 as they buy bootleg anime DVDs from a guy at the local gas station in their sleepy, faithful little town.

Unfortunately, they don’t get exactly what they pay for—instead, they’re now the shared owners of an adult film called “Super Love XL” that’s been egregiously mislabeled. It would scandalize any of the townspeople, let alone the teachers at their super conservative Christian school. So, obviously, the solution is to copy the DVD and sell it to local boys for $20 each so the girls can get matching jackets and earn some social clout.

It’s a half-baked plan at best, which the characters in Forest Hills Bootleg Society quickly discover as it begins to disintegrate. At the same time, their close-knit group dynamic also starts to fall apart in what is one of the best queer coming-of-age friendship stories to hit shelves this year. Come for the unique flavor of 2005, stay for the complex characters and relationships.

22. Space Trash

Space Trash
(Oni Press)

No matter how far-flung the future may seem, one thing will probably always be true: Teenagers will make messes when they’re bored. In Space Trash Volume 1, the first installment in cartoonist Jenn Woodall’s new sci-fi graphic novel series, the year is 2115. Earth has been abandoned and mankind has colonized space. And at a broken-down high school on the moon for underprivileged youth, best friends Stab, Yuki, and Una discover a secret that could change everything—but their tight bonds may dissolve along the way.

Space Trash is a brightly colored, bold tour-de-force of lovable characters, perfectly-timed dialogue, and space-faring, slice-of-life teen drama with high enough stakes to pull you in and keep you hooked.

21. Thieves

Thieves
(Nobrow)

French cartoonist Lucie Bryon’s Thieves is a delightfully queer tale set during the main character Ella’s senior year in high school. She attends a party at a huge mansion and wakes up the next morning with no memory of the night before, surrounded by a nest of stolen trinkets. It’s mysterious, to be sure, but Ella’s mind is elsewhere: She can’t stop thinking about her crush, Madeleine.

Ella soon discovers these lines of thought aren’t as disparate as she initially believes. Madeleine lives at that mansion, which makes Ella’s sudden magpie-like tendencies especially awkward. As the two teens get to know each other, readers are taken on a charming, emotional ride that is somewhat reminiscent of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me—with decidedly more reverse-larceny and less blatant toxicity.

20. The Never Ending Party

The Never Ending Party #1
(comiXology Originals)

Dionysus may be the party god of the Greek pantheon, but he’s still a god—and gods wreak more havoc and destruction upon mortals than many are willing to admit. In the five-part comiXology Originals series The Never Ending Party, co-written by Joe Corallo and Rachel Pollack, drawn by Eva Cabrera, colored by Cabrera and Cons Oroza, and lettered by Zakk Saam and Micah Meyers, a group of LGBTQIA+ partiers decide to summon the god for the best night of their lives.

But when Dionysus arrives, what was meant to be a fun night quickly turns into one of absolute terror. And 25 years later, those who survived have mostly moved on—though that doesn’t prevent them from being drawn back in when the past returns, literally, and forces the characters to examine their past and present through the lenses of ecstasy and grief.

The Never Ending Party marks Pollack’s return to serialized comics after 25 years away, in what is both a stark examination of hubris and loss, as well as a fantastical romp through a queer party scene as the whole world falls under Dionysus’s spell. Come for the incredible writing, stay for the evocative art, and be ready for a wildly emotional time.

19. The Nice House on the Lake

The Nice House on the Lake Volume 1
(DC Black Label)

The world is about to end and a group of loosely connected friends all receive an invitation from Walter—the most mysterious of their number—to spend a relaxing vacation at a private, swanky lake house. Hours after arriving, they discover their homes, loved ones, and lives have quite literally gone up in flames—leaving them trapped here, with just this group of people, in what seems to be the only untouched spot on the planet. This is how the story begins in The Nice House on the Lake, written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Álvaro Martínez Bueno, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by AndWorld Design.

The Nice House on the Lake is decidedly a horror story wherein the characters’ trust is tested, their mettle is challenged, and their desires are forced to shift against the impossibility of the entire world being destroyed while they gossip and drink. This is a post-apocalyptic story where the apocalypse isn’t really the point, but a decidedly Sartre-esque exploration of humanity and its flaws. This series is currently ongoing, with new issues released monthly.

18. It Took Luke: Overworked & Underpaid

It Took Luke: Overworked & Underpaid
(Oni Press)

Capitalism is the biggest, nastiest monster of all in the horror graphic novel It Took Luke: Overworked and Underpaid, which was reprinted by Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group this year after its initial 2020 publication through Kickstarter. Co-created by writer Mark Bouchard and artist Bayleigh Underwood, with letters by Micah Meyers, It Took Luke isn’t really about the titular character at all, but instead centers on the psychological torment faced by his senior co-worker, Sal—an accomplished monster-killer whose life is being ripped apart by their need to make money and survive.

Sal wants to make it through just one more shift, but then their newest co-worker, the titular Luke, is kidnapped by the monster they’ve been sent to kill. Combined with Sal’s post-concussion hallucinations from an earlier job, it’s a particularly rough day at the office. At this point, they’re just hoping not to have to report any additional casualties.

It Took Luke is a gory, smartly written, beautifully illustrated satire that centers its non-binary protagonist and elucidates all the worst parts of the capitalist grind, all while ramping up the tension at every corner.

17. Iranian Love Stories

Iranian Love Stories
(Graphic Mundi)

The Mary Sue Books Editor Alyssa Shotwell has written about Iranian Love Stories multiple times this year, and for good reason. The French graphic novel is written by a pair of journalists working under the pseudonym Jane Deuxard, with art by Deloupy. It collects a series of interviews with Iranian people between 20-30 years of age speaking on love, freedom, and politics (both in Iran and outside of it). Deuxard use a pseudonym in order to protect the identities of their interview subjects, who put themselves and their families at risk by even agreeing to speak for the book.

Iranian Love Stories runs the gamut of opinions as expressed by its subjects, and it’s a nuanced and stunning look at how they view their own identities and authority, both familial and governmental. The interviewees in this book were teenagers during the Green Movement in 2009 (often referred to as the Persian Spring in western media), and their experiences color their current opinions significantly. This is a gorgeous nonfiction read that stands out both for its unique format and its subject matter.

16. Fantastic Four: Full Circle

Fantastic Four: Full Circle
(Abrams ComicArts)

Alex Ross is one of the most celebrated writers and artists in comics and his work has informed the scene for decades. Perhaps best known for co-creating the Marvels with writer Kurt Busiek and writing the DC storyline Kingdom Come, Ross’s work has been featured on covers, interiors, and more. With Fantastic Four: Full Circle, he’s tackling both writing and art for the first time in what can only be called an instant classic.

Fantastic Four: Full Circle remixes a 1960s storyline by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, as the members of Marvel’s First Family are forced to visit the Negative Zone—a parallel universe made of anti-matter—to stop a swarm of parasites from wiping out all of humanity. This is a stand-alone story that can be enjoyed by anyone, whether they’re a superhero aficionado or simply an appreciator of Ross’s bold, colorful art.

15. The Flash

The Flash 2022 Annual #1
(DC)

Wally West has really been through the wringer in recent years at DC, but in the ongoing series The Flash, writer Jeremy Adams has given him (and readers) a much-needed break from all the horror to focus on Wally and the Flash Family, which includes his wife Linda and their twins, Iris and Jai. Heading into 2023, Linda has newly developed speedster powers and she’s pregnant, which means the West family is growing once again—even as the Flash Family faces its most deadly villain yet.

But that’s next year. This year, Adams and artist Fernando Pasarin created a truly enjoyable superhero comic with great emotional stakes, exciting character choices, and several jumping-on points for new readers and those who may have fallen off the series and want to come back. It’s often hard to find an ongoing superhero story that’s as friendly to newcomers as it is to years-long fans, so hats off to Adams and Pasarin for managing it. This series is currently ongoing, with new issues released twice-monthly starting in January 2023.

14. Earthdivers

Earthdivers #1
(IDW Publishing)

In 2022, IDW Publishing launched a new line of original comics including Earthdivers, written by Native American horror and sci-fi author Stephen Graham Jones, drawn by Davide Gianfelice, colored by Joana Lafuente, and lettered by Steve Wands. The whole line is worth checking out, but Earthdivers stands out because of its incredible premise and (so far) fantastic execution.

In Earthdivers #1, readers meet Tad of the Lakota people, who leaves the near future (2112) to time-travel to 1492 and kill Christopher Columbus. The goal is to not just assassinate the colonizer, but to stop the United States of America from forming at all. If he’s successful, then his wife, Sosh of the Iñupiat people, and their two companions—Emily of the Seminole tribe and Yellow Kidney, who, like Jones, is Blackfeet— will see changes in the world in 2112.

Time-travel stories can feel formulaic at best and overdone at worst, but Earthdivers is neither—perhaps because it approaches things from a morally complicated, fantasy-justice position that both lauds Tad for what he’s planning to do and forces him to fully consider the ramifications of his plan once it’s underway. This series is currently ongoing, with new issues released monthly.

13. Immortal X-Men

Immortal X-Men Volume 1
(Marvel Comics)

The honeymoon phase on Krakoa—the mutant nation established by Professor Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira X—is over. And in Immortal X-Men, written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Lucas Werneck, colored by David Curiel, and lettered by Clayton Cowles, the island’s mysterious ruling force, the Quiet Council, is firmly in the spotlight. Each issue focuses on a different member of the Quiet Council and explores their individual machinations as well as their attempts to prevent coming doom for them and the rest of mutant-kind.

Truthfully, there hasn’t been an X-book quite so expertly woven since writer Jonathan Hickman relaunched Marvel Comics’ X-Men line in 2019 with House of X/Powers of X. Gillen and Werneck are at the top of their game in Immortal X-Men, and each issue is as illuminating as it is captivating and entertaining. This series is currently ongoing, with new issues released monthly.

12. Know Your Station #1

Know Your Station #1
(Boom! Studios)

Know Your Station #1 is easily the best first issue to hit shelves in 2022. Written by Sarah Gailey, drawn by Liana Kangas, colored by Rebecca Nalty, and lettered by Cardinal Rae, Know Your Station introduces a world in which the wealthiest people on Earth have abandoned its ravaged shores for space, leaving behind anyone who can’t afford a first-class ticket to a brand new colony in the stars. The series follows Elise, an Avulsion Corporation employee who gets involved in a murder investigation where the kills don’t follow a pattern—except that the victims are all in the despised one percent.

In the debut issue, the creative team immediately throws readers into the murder mystery alongside Elise, while also pointing out exactly why accumulated wealth is so corruptive and horrible. We aren’t meant to feel bad for these murder victims or the ones they leave behind, but we are made to feel incredibly curious about who’s hunting them, and why it’s happening at this particular moment in time. This series is currently ongoing, with new issues released monthly.

11. Always Never

Always Never
(Europe Comics)

Small city mayor Ana and bookstore owner/physicist/traveler Zeno, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have been able to make their romance work across the years and miles that frequently separated them. But they have, and now in Always Never, written by Spanish cartoonist Jordi Lafebre and illustrated by Lafebre and Clémence Sapin, the pair are finally retiring and revisiting their love story in reverse.

Imagine if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind depicted a healthy relationship where the characters stayed together, mixed with the general ambiance and slow-burn quality of The Notebook, and you’ll end up somewhere near Always Never. There’s an ethereal quality to the art and storytelling in this graphic novel that makes it all feel especially magical, even in the hard-to-get-through moments.

10. Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure

Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure
(Graphix)

In the tradition of queer and trans graphic memoirs that explore key moments in the authors’ histories, cartoonist Lewis Hancox presents Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure, in which he narrates the messy, funny, and painful life of his pre-transition teenage self, and tries to guide that young person toward the future he now occupies. The only problem is that his teenage self won’t listen. Who’s surprised?

Welcome to St. Hell is a winding exploration of identity, growth, and trauma as Hancox revisits his adolescence through the lens of adulthood. Hancox is unafraid to fully engage with the past even when it’s incredibly painful, which makes each page more potently evocative than the last.

9. Talk to My Back

Talk to My Back
(Drawn & Quarterly)

In this new translation by Ryan Holmberg, one of groundbreaking Japanese cartoonist Murasaki Yamada’s most seminal works finds a new audience 40 years after its serialized publication. Talk to My Back, originally published in Garo magazine between 1981 and 1984, follows housewife Chiharu as she navigates changing relationships with her two daughters and her husband, whose loyalty to their marriage is dependent on her fulfillment of what he sees as her wifely duties.

Talk to My Back comments on the failed promise of the nuclear family and the dissolution of middle-class suburban dreams in early 1980s Japan. Yamada was the first Japanese cartoonist to use alt-manga as a means of critically examining domesticity and womanhood, and it continues to make an impact on the medium to this day. This is a must-read, plain and simple.

8. The Liminal Zone

The Liminal Zone
(VIZ Media)

This year saw the return of Junji Ito and his particularly potent brand of nightmares with The Liminal Zone, a collection of four new stories exploring some of Japan’s most famous mythos. In one, a couple disembarks a train in a small town and immediately encounters a “weeping woman” who changes them forever. In another, a couple visits the infamous suicide forest Aokigahara, where their plan to die together is interrupted by an otherworldly discovery.

Like any of Ito’s works, The Liminal Zone is not for the faint of heart, but is a masterclass in horror storytelling and artistry.

7. Frizzy

Frizzy
(First Second)

In Frizzy, author Claribel A. Ortega and artist Rose Bousamra introduce Marlene, a middle-schooler who just wants to read, hang out with her best friend Camila, and maybe get some advice from her super cool Tía Ruby. But Marlene’s mother, Paola, says Marlene needs to focus on school and start becoming who she’ll be as an adult—which in her eyes means taking Marlene to the salon every weekend to have her curls straightened into a look that’s more “presentable.”

Marlene hates these trips to the salon, and decides to end them by simply embracing her natural curls. There’s no reason she can see that makes her curls any less presentable or beautiful than anyone else’s hair, mostly because she doesn’t fully understand the history of discrimination and anti-Blackness at play. As she begins to learn more, she becomes even more determined to embrace her curls in a coming-of-age story that beautifully tackles complex topics without over-simplifying things or infantilizing its target audience of young readers.

6. Squire

Squire
(‎Quill Tree Books)

Squire is a fantasy book in which there is no magic, but its absence is hardly noticeable once you enter its rich and beautiful world. Co-created by writer Nadia Shammas and artist Sara Alfageeh, with colors by Alfageeh, Lynette Wong, and Mara Jayne Carpenter, Squire follows a young Arab girl named Aiza who dreams of becoming a Knight—the highest military honor in the Bayt-Sajji Empire. This is how she can free herself from the rigid structure of her life, and so she enlists in the squire training program as the first step toward her destiny.

However, the training program isn’t what Aiza expected, and she soon discovers that the story she and the rest of her people have been fed by the Empire isn’t exactly true. Her confidence shaken, Aiza must figure out what’s best for her and make a life-determining choice: Stay loyal to her own heritage, or become fully loyal to the Empire.

Squire is a gorgeously woven story that’s steeped in actual Arab and Middle Eastern history, though it’s not an exact history. The story pulls influence from several major and celebrated properties from the last few decades, and demonstrates why the best fantasy tales are so steeped in real-world issues.

5. Wash Day Diaries

Wash Day Diaries
(Chronicle Books)

Originally published as a slice-of-life mini comic inspired by writer Jamila Rowser’s wash day ritual, Wash Day Diaries is a full-length graphic novel written by Rowser and illustrated by Robyn Smith that focuses on four best friends—Cookie, Davene, Kim, and Tanisha—across five connected short stories. Each one follows the group through their daily lives in the Bronx, with particular focus on their individual and shared experiences with Black hair care.

Each story is seen through the window of individualized hair routines, which don’t just include the actual acts of washing, conditioning, and nourishing the hair itself. Kim, Tanisha, Cookie, and Davene gossip, heal family rifts, share self-care tips, and more, and each story in Wash Day Diaries presents a different color palette and mood to guide readers through its stunning writing and art.

4. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
(Drawn & Quarterly)

Kate Beaton’s latest work, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, is massive both in physical size (the hardcover is a whopping 436 pages) and in the scope of its storytelling. The autobiographical work explores Beaton’s time working in the oil sands of Alberta in the early aughts before she became a cartoonist, and it is as brutally critical of the oil industry and Canadian government as it is heartbreakingly honest and, at times, incredibly funny.

Even if you aren’t familiar with Beaton’s seminal work in Hark! A Vagrant, which has become an internet staple in the last 15 years, Ducks will show you how brilliant she is as a cartoonist and storyteller.

This is her first full-length graphic narrative, and it deftly explores the cultural norm of chasing hard and dangerous, but well-paid work in times of financial need; the persistent problem of sexual harassment and assault in male-dominated industries where there is no recourse for victims; the exploitation of land and people for a finite fossil fuel; the difficulty of staying true to who you are when you can’t remember who you wanted to be; and the trauma of simply surviving, among other topics not so easily broken down into bullet points here. This is a hard read in more ways than one, but it’s also a necessary one.

3. Sensory: Life on the Spectrum – An Autistic Comics Anthology

Sensory: Life on the Spectrum
(Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Single-handedly coordinated and edited by Bex Ollerton, Sensory: Life on the Spectrum – An Autistic Comics Anthology presents a collection of short comics from 30 autistic creators exploring their experiences moving through a world that mostly misunderstands, ignores, and/or actively perpetuates harm against them. In addition to pre-diagnosis tips and how-to guides for explaining autism to someone not on the spectrum, Sensory also has personal stories, ideas for self-soothing, and more.

This comics anthology is part toolkit, part reflection, part information hub, and part self-sooth master document. Ollerton has created something special and important in Sensory, and it deserves a major spotlight.

2. The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night

The Night Eaters Book 1: She Eats the Night
(Abrams ComicArts)

Monstress co-creators Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have created yet another masterpiece with The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night, the first book in a fantasy-horror graphic novel trilogy that explores generational trauma and family legacy through the lens of two kids just trying to keep their restaurant open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese American twins Milly and Billy want to pursue their dreams without disappointing their parents, Ipo and Keon, who are in town for their annual visit.

But that quickly falls by the wayside when Ipo enlists her adult children to help clean up the obviously haunted house across the street. This single act reveals dark family secrets that neither twin is prepared to learn, and that’s only the beginning of the truly, terrifyingly weird information their parents have been hiding.

The Night Eaters is a vivacious, dramatic, layered tale with tons to uncover, and She Eats the Night only begins to unravel this fictional family’s (probably overdue) self-reckoning. And yet, they continue to cultivate hope in the face of repeat horrors, which is a superpower many only dream of.

1. The Many Deaths of Laila Starr

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr
(Boom! Studios)

Although The Many Deaths of Laila Starr was serialized in 2021, the collected trade paperback was released in February 2022, which luckily means that it qualifies for this list—and it couldn’t land anywhere but in the number one spot.

Written by Ram V, illustrated by Filipe Andrade, and lettered by AndWorld Design, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr takes place as humanity is on the cusp of discovering immortality. That means Death will be out of a job, and as such, she’s cast down to Earth to live as a mortal in the body of the titular character. Mortality is a struggle, and Laila/Death isn’t having it, so she decides to find and kill the creator of immortality before he can invent it, which will hopefully solve her problems … or will it?

This magical realist tale is a deft exploration of grief, humanity, and how we choose to live a finite existence, whether or not we’re given the opportunity to do otherwise. The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is visually arresting and narratively breathtaking—a masterclass from the entire creative team that significantly raises the standards for fantasy.

(featured image: Oni Press; Boom! Studios; Graphic Mundi; DC; comiXology Originals; IDW Publishing; Abrams ComicArts; Street Noise Books; Drawn & Quarterly; VIZ Media; Simon & Schuster; Chronicle Books; Andrews McMeel Publishing; Quill Tree Books; First Second; Nobrow; Graphix; Marvel Comics; Europe Comics / The Mary Sue)

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Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and streamer whose work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.