The Gosh! Best of 2017 - Adult

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2017 is rolling to its inevitable close, and as the scythe drops on another year it's time for us to reflect on the new graphic novels we enjoyed the most over the past 12 months. Yes, it's the Gosh staff's favourite picks for 2017, split into two handy lists for your convenience: Adult and Kids (which you can find here).

A few notes first:

  • We've only included books which are stand alone or the first volume in a series. There were plenty of brilliant continuing series carrying on this year, but we wanted to highlight things that you could pick up cold.
  • This covers us up to mid-November for releases. If the greatest book of the year comes out in the next 6 weeks, then our apologies!
  • We've not included any humour strip collections, just because we wanted to focus on narrative titles.
  • All the titles here are now available in-store, marked with a bright blue Gosh! Best of 2017 sticker, so keep an eye out!
  • All titles are also now available to order via our online store. Click on any title in the list below to be taken to its store page, or click here to see the whole adult range.
  • The kids list covers a range from small children to YA, so we've put a minimum age recommendation for each.
  • These are in no particular order other than alphabetical!

So, without any further ado, here are our adult faves!

 

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ANTI-GONE SC
Writer / Artist:
Connor Willumsen
Publisher: Koyama Press

Connor Willumsen's first complete graphic novel release is a surreal triumph. Having previously worked on such wide-ranging projects as Punisher MAX for Marvel, Criterion's editions of David Cronenberg's Scanners, and the serialised Treasure Island for Breakdown Press, a new work from this inspirational artist is very welcome. Following the young technophile couple Spyda and Lynxa through a post-climate disaster world (where commerce appears to be chugging along fine regardless), the book explores the minute dramas of their relationship, and their efforts to stave off tedium with cinema, drug taking and shopping, in an effortlessly humane and believable way, despite the setting. Illustrated with a virtuoso command of pose and movement, with imaginative and surreal flourishes throughout, Anti-Gone is one of the year's most impressive releases.

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THE ARTIST HC
Writer / Artist:
Anna Haifisch
Publisher: Breakdown Press

Leipzig-based artist Anna Haifisch’s idiosyncratic, episodic comic chronicles the experiences of a young artist in his formative years, satirising the exclusive, ephemeral and frequently absurd world of  fine art. Plagued by doubts and anxiety, the artist is confronted with constant setbacks punctuated by occasional, surprising glimpses of recognition. This occasionally depressing, always hilarious book is one of the best of the year.

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BAND FOR LIFE HC
Writer / Artist
: Anya Davidson
Publisher: Fantagraphics

In a version of Chicago a few degrees of reality away from our own, the members of noise band Guntit struggle to make music, make art, and just generally make it. Anya Davidson – herself a veteran of the noise scene as lead singer of Coughs – presents the band life with a verissimilitude rarely seen in fiction. Her vivid, almost psychedelic art is as colourful as her cast, whose lives are generally consumed with anything but music, but who ultimately are able to find fulfillment through the creative outlet of their band. Funny, touching and fascinating, all packaged in a beautiful hardcover edition.

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BLACK MONDAY MURDERS TP VOL 01
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Publisher: Image

Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker unveil a secret world of occult conspiracies and demonic influence lying at the heart of the global financial system in this intricately plotted horror from Image Comics. It’s a world that slowly begins to reveal its secrets to New York detective Theo Dumas as he investigates a murder that points to a power struggle between ancient houses. Hickman’s horror-noir is brought to life in a pitch perfect manner by Coker. It’s a world steeped in shadows and hard angles, just normal enough to be relatable, just sinister enough to let the horror seep through. An absolutely unique horror comic that unfolds with Hickman’s usual intelligence and assuredness.

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BOUNDLESS GN
Writer / Artist:
Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

A selection of Tamaki’s shorter pieces from the last few years, this is a remarkable array of work both in terms of visual style and the range of themes and concepts that are examined. Exploring ideas like the expectations placed on women and the struggles with identity and power that leads to, alongside broader points on language, culture and the various ways people are connected in human society, this is a rich mix of image and narrative from a cartoonist operating at the highest level.

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THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS WRONG HC
Writer / Artist:
Mimi Pond
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Prepare to plunge into the drug-fueled whirlwind of lost souls that occupy the Imperial Diner. You can’t help but get lost in the lives of these characters as author Mimi Pond transports us to the heart of 1970’s Oakland and introduces us to her colourful cast. Marge, our creatively repressed waitress narrator, painfully makes her way out of toxic relationships, and moves from lost drug-addled years to a path of creative fulfilment and self-worth. The book is a fictionalised version of Pond’s life, a creator whose impact in television and comics is greatly over-looked, including writing the first episode of The Simpsons, as well as stints on Pee Wee's Playhouse and Designing Women.

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THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE VOL 01
Writer / Artist: Nagabe
Publisher: Seven Seas

A dark fairy tale with nods to the Grimms and the work of Edward Gorey. The story, shrouded in mystery, follows a young girl in an abandoned village that has been ravaged by a mysterious disease. Her caretaker, called ‘Teacher’, is a birdlike monster that has been infected with the curse-like sickness. A special relationship develops between the two as they protect each other from the plague and from those wishing to obliterate all who are exposed to it. The mystery of our two leads and the mythos of their world is drip-fed to the readers by Nagabe, keeping you on the edge of your seat for the next volume. Accessible to manga veterans and curious newcomers alike.

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THE GOOD NEWS BIBLE SC
Writer / Artist:
Shaky Kane & Various
Publisher: Breakdown Press

Shaky Kane was one of the great unsung talents of the 90’s British comics scene, and nowhere was that virtuoso talent on display more than in the pages of the legendary Deadline magazine. Thankfully in the last decade Shaky has been viewed more and more in his proper place in the pantheon of creators of the time, and all of those mind-bending Deadline strips and illustrations are collected at last in this whacking great softcover edition. Filled with wry humour and political commentary, all delineated in his Kirby-esque style, the book engages the senses like few others!

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HOSTAGE HC
Writer / Artist:
Guy Delisle
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Better known for his autobiographical travelogues, Delisle’s latest work looks at a journey forced onto another person with his account of Christophe Andre’s abduction and detention while working for Doctors Without Borders in Chechnya. Despite his protagonist being trapped in a room for the majority of the book, Delisle makes great use of the form of comics to play with the idea of time and how we experience it, evoke a palpable sense of tension and tell a surprisingly expansive story by exploring how our own minds can comfort or betray us in times of peril.

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HOUSE OF PENANCE TP
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Dark Horse

What if Edgar Allan Poe had written a Western? House of Penance is a strange and macabre horror tale loosely based on the real life of the 19th century American heiress, Sarah Winchester. Through the use of horror tropes and imagery Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram build a darkly beautiful fictional story of a real woman, exploring ideas of grief and guilt, and how someone can be haunted by the ghosts of their past. House of Penance is an oppressive and haunting read that’s not for the faint of heart but is deeply rewarding. You’ll still be thinking on it for days after you finish reading.

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ICHI-F GN
Writer / ArtistKazuto Tatsuta
Publisher: Kodansha

Kazuto Tatsuta’s fascinating memoir of working as part of the clean-up crew on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the catastrophic events of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Shying away from sensationalist details, Tatsuta’s concern is with the day-to-day details of the job, and the lives that the clean-up workers lead. From the routine of suiting up, to recreation options, to the management of radiation exposure, it’s a compelling read from the front lines of one of the worst nuclear plant disasters in history.

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JAPANESE NOTEBOOKS HC
Writer / Artist:
Igort
Publisher: Chronicle Books

In the early 90’s, Italian artist Igort moved to Japan to work in the manga industry. This beautiful book is a travelogue of that time, an illustrated memoir of his immersion in Japanese culture and of Japanese culture’s reaction to him. It works as both a history of manga (told in an engaging manner that doesn’t require any previous interest in the subject), and a cultural study of a country through an outsider’s eyes. With a mix of delicate lines and lush colours, Igort brings his experiences to life in a style which blends European and Japanese influences with deceptive ease. A cinch of a gift for anyone with an interest in Japan!

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KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL 01
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image

Creative duo Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ oeuvre – Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, Fatale and The Fade Out - stands out for it’s sheer unfaltering quality, and Kill or Be Killed is no exception. A modern day crime drama built around the destructive life of our lead Dylan, as he lashes out at the broken world he sees around him through violent acts of vigilantism. The hook? Dylan claims these acts are the only way to save his life from being taken by a malevolent demon. Never knowing if what he is seeing is real or not is the constant mystery at the beating heart of this beast and the thing that will have you doubting your growing attachment to this troubled young man. A comic crime classic, from the masters of comic crime classics!

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MY BROTHER'S HUSBAND HC
Writer / Artist:
Gengoroh Tagame
Publisher: Pantheon

My Brother’s Husband is one of the most touching and heart warming stories I’ve ever come across. Yaichi is a single father bringing up his young daughter Kana in a small Japanese town. His estranged twin brother has recently passed away while living in Canada. He receives a surprise visit from his brother’s widow, Mike. Mike, in the throes of grief, wants to learn about his husband’s country and culture. For their part, Yaichi and Kana’s quiet life is turned upside down as they learn about the openly gay life his brother lived. The story follows the day-to-day struggle of overcoming cultural differences, and the changes they must all make. The book takes the reader through a fascinating cross-cultural education around gay stereotypes, Japanese taboos, and dealing with grief.

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MY FAVOURITE THINGS IS MONSTERS GN VOL 01
Writer / ArtistEmil Ferris
Publisher: Fantagraphics

An absolutely remarkable graphic novel, and one you’re likely to see on many end of year lists. Masquerading as the journal of a young girl in late 60’s Chicago (complete with ruled lines on every page), MFTIM is part murder-mystery, part outsider-memoir, part love letter to pulp horror magazines, and part holocaust remembrance. 10 year old Karen Reyes – depicting herself as a monster – investigates the murder of her upstairs neighbour, holocaust survivor Anka Silverberg. What unfolds is a moving, unexpectedly gripping tale that utlilises the medium in unique, exciting ways, and which concludes with a second volume in early 2018. 

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NICK CAVE: MERCY ON ME GN
Writer / Artist: Reinhard Kleist
Publisher: SelfMadeHero

No stranger to the biographies of troubled musicians (see his award-winning Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness), Reinhard Kleist’s chronicle of the life of singer/songwriter Cave is similarly unconventional in its approach. Mixing fact and fiction, Kleist’s narrative weaves the characters and stories of Cave’s (and the Bad Seeds’) songs through the story: we sit with the ill-fated occupier of The Mercy Seat; we drive to CERN; we go Where the Wild Roses Grow. It all works toward a dreamy and evocative experience, much like the titular subject, and also much like him it emphasizes romance and mood over literal truths. Don’t get hung up on that though: Kleist is a master storyteller, and the ride is as entertaining as all hell, described by Cave as “Closer to the truth than any biography, that’s for sure!”

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ONE MORE YEAR HC
Writer / Artist: Simon Hanselmann
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Hey kids, comics can be funny! Simon Hanselmann’s partly-borrowed cast of stoner screw-ups gets a third collection, and as ever it manages to elevate itself above the basic premise of gross-out humour and nasty antics. At the centre of it’s misanthropic soul lies a real heart (and probably a situation more familiar at some point in our lives than many of us would care to admit). Megg, Mogg, Owl and Werewolf Jones have a depth and pathos that many characters in far more “serious” works would struggle to find as they negotiate the ennui of their lives by way of drugs, booze and terrible behaviour.

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ROUGHNECK HC
Writer / Artist:
Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Gallery 13

Jeff Lemire returns to the kind of tale that put him on the map, set in a town that could almost make this a companion piece to his debut graphic novel Essex County. Derek is a disgraced ex-professional hockey player whose troubles with alcohol and violence have led him to a small town in the back end of nowhere, slinging hash at a local diner. When his long-estranged sister unexpectedly shows up, pregnant and hooked on opioids, the pair are forced to confront the traumas of their shared past that have brought them to their current situation. Lemire is always at his best with this kind of material (see also recent series Royal City), and his art is perfect at capturing the brutal environment our characters find themselves in, both physically and emotionally, given extra dimension by a watercolour palette that works to distinguish between present day and the flashbacks that punctuate the narrative. A powerful book that never succumbs to the kind of easy cliché that it could invite.

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SEVEN TO ETERNITY TP VOL 01
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opeña

Seven to Eternity reads like the love child of John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven and Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. A near-perfect mixture of frontier western adventure and ethereal supernatural fantasy elements. The art team of Jerome Opeña and Matt Hollingsworth capture that tone wonderfully as they craft a world that feels grim and grounded whilst simultaneously grandiose and fantastical, from evocative and atmospheric wastelands to the intricate architectural presentation of ancient and mythical civilisations. The duo’s emotive character work is the ideal accompaniment to writer Rick Remender’s honest, frank and emotionally raw cast of characters. Fallen in love with Saga? Desperate for the next volume of ODY-C? Then you need to read this. 

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SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL TP VOL 01
Writer:
Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Publisher: DC Comics (Young Animal)

DC Comics Young Animal imprint made a huge impact on the comics scene in 2017, but whilst Nick Derington and Gerard Way’s excellent Doom Patrol revamp was stealing headlines it was Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone who were stealing our hearts with Shade the Changing Girl. Centered around the complex lives of it’s cast of teenage characters, Shade writer Catellucci puts her years of experience writing YA fiction to use in her honest and forthright handling of the teen issues explored here. Never shying away from the truth of the matter, she manages to always keep the tone hopeful and positive. Equal parts teen drama, sci-fi adventure and superhero book Zarcone’s clean and bright illustrative art style creates the perfect balance for all of these elements. Shade is a most lovely and complex piece of young adult fiction. 

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SPINNING GN
Writer / Artist
: Tillie Walden
Publisher: SelfMadeHero

Tillie Walden has delivered an achingly beautiful coming-of-age story. Using the unique backdrop of competitive ice skating, she tells an autobiographical story of a her teenage years. While my knowledge of competitive skating barely extends beyond Michelle Kwan and Nancy and Tonya, her experiences – from her relationship with her parents, to understanding her sexuality – come across so strongly and are so relatable within this captivating setting that even a complete skating neophyte will feel right at home. It made me ache for teenage Tillie, remembering those moments of fighting with everyone’s expectations to figure out the life that is ours. The use of the skating microcosm and her poetic way with words make this 400 page book finish all too quickly. 

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STICKS ANGELICA, FOLK HERO HC
Writer / Artist: Michael DeForge
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Feeling very much like a companion piece to Ant Colony, DeForge’s darkly comic 2014 debut graphic novel, Sticks Angelica uses a similar narrative technique of presenting short strips that tell a remarkably broad story, ostensibly through a series of gags and skits but with palpable emotional force. Here, DeForge focuses the narrative onto the eponymous former Olympian, poet, scholar, sculptor, minister, activist, Governor General, entrepreneur, line cook, headmistress, Mountie, columnist, libertarian and cellist who has moved into the wilderness to escape from a family scandal, imposing her will on the animals and plants that surround her.

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TARANTULA HC
Writer
: Fabien Rangel Jr.
ArtistAlexis Ziritt

From the team behind indie smash hit Space Riders. Tarantula is a psychedelic pulpy grindhouse tale of the supernatural. This is a world filled with werewolves, vampires, dark magic and bad ass masked vigilantes. All of this is manifested on the page in Alexis Ziritt’s signature style, as he channels Jack Kirby through a heavy metal album cover filter. Writer Fabian Rangel Jr has taken the pulp iconography of the early 20th Century and twisted it with noir, EC horror and an over the top thrill ride of a plot hinged around demonic political corruption. Tarantula is an unrelenting delight of a read and perhaps the most fun you can have with a comic this year.

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UNCOMFORTABLY HAPPILY SC
Writer / Artist
: Yeon-Sik Hong
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

A mix of autobiographical domestic drama and unflinching self-excoriation told in an absolutely massive tome of a book by Korean creator Yeon-Sik Hong. Yeon-Sik and his fellow artist wife Sohmi are choked by the financial stresses and demands of life in Seoul, so move to a remote mountainside home to escape to a more natural, peaceful way of life. But the afflictions of character that torment Yeon-Sik – artistic frustration, apathy and envy – are not magically solved by the move, and life at the mercy of nature is not quite the salve that they expect it to be. A lovely book that speaks to the strength of the central couple’s relationship with each other, with their art, and with the environment around them.  

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VOICES IN THE DARK GN
Writer:
Marcel Beyer, Ulli Lust
Artist: Ulli Lust
Publisher: New York Review Comics

An adaptation of the novel The Karnau Tapes by Marcel Beyer, award-winning writer and artist Ulli Lust has crafted a powerful, unforgettable graphic novel. The story follows two characters: sound engineer Hermann Karnau, whose cold obsession with the qualities of the human voice lead him from recording Nazi rallies to experimentation in the concentration camps; and Helga, eldest daughter of Joeseph Goebbels, whose innocence of the world around her is starting to crack, but who wraps herself in fantasies to shield her younger siblings from the terrible truth. The two make a connection, and end up reunited during the final days in Hitler’s bunker, where a terrible fate awaits them both. Unsettling and challenging, with Lust’s muted colours setting a sombre tone which gives the material real punch.

 

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