The Best Comics of 2023

Wow, it’s been a really strong year for comics!

OK, so here’s the deal: I read a whole lot of comics, and the very few that are super duper awesome move to a special book-case where I can gaze upon them, lovingly, while vast majority move into some cupboard or other. And at the end of the year, I tell you what these special comics were? OK? Here we go.

In no particular order:

Escape from the Great American Novel by Drew Lerman (Radiator Comics)

Parc by Jul Gordon (2d cloud)

Danger and Other Unknown Risks by Ryan North & Erica Henderson (Penguin)

We’re All Just Fine by Ana Penyas (Fantagraphics)

Running Numbers by Frank Santoro

The Stoneware Jug by Stefan Lorenzutti/John Porcellino

Boat Life 1 by Tsuge Tadao (Floating World Comics)

Bloodlines by Rob Walton

Hvis det ikke brenner by Ronja R. S. Berge (Gyldendal)

Sunday by Olivier Schrauwen (Colorama)

Where Have You Been? by Ivana Filipovich (Toxic Ink)

It Hurts Until It Doesn’t by Kahil Kasir

The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell by Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)

Trigger Shot by Tal Brosh

Gordita: Built Like This by Daisy Ruiz (Black Josei Press)

Travel Diary by Scott Finch

New Pets by Jesse Jacobs (Hollow Press)

Social Fiction by Chantal Montellier (New York Review Comics)

Offshore Lightning by Saito Nazuna (Drawn & Quarterly)

You Are Not A Guest by Leela Corman (Fieldmouse Press)

Restless by Joseph Kai (Street Noise Books)

Roaming by Jillian Tamaki/Mariko Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

This Country by Navied Mahdavian (Princeton Architectural Press)

Are You Willing To Die For The Cause? by Chris Oliveros (Drawn & Quarterly)

Time Under Tension by M.S. Harkness (Fantagraphics)

Love and Rockets #14 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Fielder #2 by Kevin Huizenga

*phew* That was a lot of comics, but if you think I’ve gotten soft-hearted or something and just listed everything I’ve read, then prepare to be stunned! So… many… comics… (And I write more about each book in the “Comics Daze” articles…)

Uhm… any trends? Well, I thought that Fantagraphics had a suspiciously low number of books on this list, but there’s three, which isn’t too bad. It’s the same number as Drawn & Quarterly. But it’s somewhat striking how many different publishers there are these days — it’s not just one company pushing out one banger after another (like 2d cloud in 2016 or Picturebox in 2008), but instead it’s micro publishers with one book each (Fieldmouse, Radiator, Floating World, etc). I’m not sure what this means, though — is there even less money in comics these days? There’s only one book from a major book publisher (Penguin) on the list, for instance. On the other hand, I have read a huge number of comics from major book publishers this year — it’s just that they didn’t make My Special Bookcase. (To put it politely. There have been quite a few horrendous books from major publishers this year.)

I’m also a bit surprised at how my list skews towards heavily narrative works — I’m usually quite enthusiastic about more abstract comics, but almost none of them made it to the Special Bookcase. I guess perhaps more narrative works stick more in the mind?

Anyway, I’ve also read comics published before 2023 this year, and here’s the best of those:

Together & Apart by Andrew White (Fieldmouse Press)

In by Will McPhail (Hodder & Stoughton)

In His Time by Jason Novak (Fantagraphics)

A Frog In Fall (And Later On) by Linnea Sterte (Peow)

Parenthesis by Élodie Durand (Top Shelf)

True Friends by David Collier (Spare Parts Press)

Girls Steal by Ingrid Pierre

Baby Boom by Yokoyama Yuichi (Breakdown Press)

And that’s it! Best year for comics, ever.

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