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December 7, 2012

Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012

These are the six graphic novels I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path this year.

All links go to the authors' contributions to the Book Notes series or the book's page at Amazon. I have reposted my original review below each book where applicable.

What was your favorite graphic novel of 2012?

Building Stories by Chris Ware

Not only the graphic novel of the year, possibly the book of 2012.

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Chopsticks is a breathtaking YA novel, a groundbreaking exercise in visual storytelling. The book tells its tales through illustrations and photos, while the app and online components add videos and music. Both the printed and digital offerings serve up an extremely intimate peek at two young people's relationship.

Goliath by Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld's graphic novel Goliath is a spare, stripped-down telling of the classic Bible story from the giant's perspective. Gauld leverages the power of comics with many captionless panels to perfectly pace this story, one that turns from a heralding tale of victory to epic tragedy when told from another point of view.

Jinchalo by Matthew Forsythe

Matthew Forsythe's graphic novel Jinchalo features only a handful of words on its 120 pages, but its pen-and-ink drawings evoke the spirit of their Korean folk tale roots with a vibrance that leaps off the page. Simple for a toddler to read, engaging for an adult, this is as much delightful storytelling as whimsical exercise for the imagination.

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap

Keshni Kashyap's graphic novel Tina's Mouth is aptly subtitled "An Existential Comic Diary." Written in the form of a school-assigned diary written to philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, the book follows a sophomore in high school through the ups and downs typical of the teenage years, but with the additional conflict that comes with being the progeny of immigrants to this country. Kashyap's Tina is relatable yet unique, a protagonist who grabs the attention of both teen and adult readers.

The book is more illustrated novel than graphic novel, and Mari Araki's simple yet elegant illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Kashyap's prose.

Tina's Mouth is the rare book I didn't want to end, and is a graphic novel I have tirelessly recommended to friends and family of all ages.

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

Originally serialized at The Jewish Daily Forward, Leela Corman's graphic novel Unterzakhn follows the lives of two sisters, Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City's Lower East Side. Set in the early 1900s, Corman captures both her characters and the era elegantly and expressively with her pen and ink artwork, and the sisters' story is captivating, informative, and moving as they move along their divergent paths.

also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2012" book lists

Largehearted Boy favorite graphic novels of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite graphic novels of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite graphic novels of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite graphic novels of 2008
Largehearted Boy favorite graphic novels of 2007

Largehearted Boy favorite nonfiction of 2012
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2012
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2012

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks book reviews