best of 2009

The Best Comics of 2009

New York’s Dan Kois picks his ten favorite comics and graphic novels of the year, including searing memoirs, nautical adventures, bordello-set mysteries, and an Afro-bedecked superhero with all the honeys on his side. Check out the slideshow for details, plus a list of runners-up.

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(Adhouse Books)A hilariously tacky parody of ‘70s comics styles and pop-culture tropes, featuring a loser from Milwaukee who’s transformed into the majestic Afrodisiac – beloved by honeys, and hated by the Man.
(NBM)Sexy and creepy in equal measure, this French import is set in a luxurious 1930s brothel, where the titular heroine solves a grisly series of murders while clinging to her last shreds of dignity.
(Fantagraphics)The searching first volume of Carol Tyler’s attempt to get her father – Staff Sergeant Charles William Tyler – to talk about his experiences in the European theater during World War II.
(Viz Media)A creepy mystery wrapped in a story of middle-aged ennui, as a failed rock musician reunites with his childhood friends to save the world.
(Norton)When David Small was fourteen, he discovered that he had cancer. Or, rather, he discovered that he’d had cancer for years, and his cruel, confused parents had refused to tell him. A shocking and sensitive memoir in pictures.
(Top Shelf)An old-time nautical adventure, complete with pirates, polar bears, sword fights, and annoying undergrads – plus the least awe-inspiring hero ever to save the day.
(Drawn + Quarterly)Embedded within this fascinating memoir of emotional and professional growth – by one of the great manga masters – is a thumbnail history of post-war Japan in all its messy glory.
(Image Comics)What appears at first to be a standard story of a sassy kid with a wild imagination turns darker, deeper, and immensely sadder in this surprising, fantastical collection.
(First Second)The moving true story of photographer Lefevre’s 1986 journey into Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders, dramatized by artist Guibert. Featuring Lefevre’s photographs and a keen sense of detail, this is a remarkable portrait of a war-torn nation which gets more and more relevant every day.
(Pantheon)The crowning achievement of a career spent creating everything from Marvel kung-fu comics to obscure, difficult art, Mazzucchelli’s long-awaited graphic novel – about a theoretical architect whose life is falling into chaos – is thrilling, funny, accessible, and beautiful to behold.Runners-up: A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld (Pantheon)Alec: “The Years Have Pants” by Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (DC)Driven by Lemons by Joshua Cotter (Adhouse)Johnny Hiro by Fred Chao (Adhouse)The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out by A. Koford (Abrams)The Muppet Show by Roger Langridge (Boom! Studios)My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud & Emile Bravo (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)Refresh Refresh by Danica NovgorodoffSayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei by Koji Kumeta (Del Rey)Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)
The Best Comics of 2009