While this year may not have been anyone’s favorite, 2020 did provide me with new graphic novels to read. Below are some of the ones I liked most. Note that while all of these were ones I read in 2020, they may have been published earlier.
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Superman Smashes the Klan (DC Comics)
Written by Gene Luen Yang; art by Gurihiru
A graphic novel adaption of the 1940s Superman radio show storyline where the Man of Tomorrow fights a pastiche of, well, the Klan.
This story is specifically set in 1946, though unlike the actual mid-40s Golden Age comics, this Superman hasn’t learned to fly yet. We also get appearances (some slightly changed up) from other Superman canon characters, including Inspector Henderson (who’s African-American here) and Atom Man. Atom Man’s another radio show villain, though eventually appeared in comics in the 70s/80s as an Earth-2 Superman foe.
I particularly liked the book’s message of appreciating the positive aspects of one’s heritage, even if you’re Kryptonian.
Teen Titans: Raven and Teen Titans: Beast Boy (DC Comics)
Written by Kami Garcia; art by Gabriel Picolo
A pair of graphic novels about the popular Teen Titans heroes, here given new backstories. They’re also some of DC’s top-selling book channel graphic novels this year.
You Brought Me the Ocean (DC Comics)
Written by Alex Sanchez; art by Julie Maroh
The current version of Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) gets his own graphic novel. Here, he’s a kid living in the (real-life) town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and pondering A) colleges, B) his mysterious “birthmarks” and C) his growing interest in another boy.
Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW)
Written by: Ian Flynn; art by Tracy Yardley, Jack Lawrence, Adam Bryce Thomas, Evan Stanley, Jen Hernandez
IDW recently took over the “Sonic the Hedgehog” license from longtime publisher Archie. So far, they’ve done a decent job with entertaining stories about the world’s fastest hedgehog. The IDW Sonic book’s been successful enough to even create a few popular spin-off characters (who got their own one-shot), Tangle and Whisper.
That said, the main storyline of the series to date—the heroes fighting the spread of a dangerous and contagious virus—might be a bit on the nose for 2020.
I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation (Boom! Studios)
Written and art by Natalie Nourigat
This graphic novel’s literally about what its title says. The book’s author moved from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles to work in the animation industry. Nourigat covers the obstacles she faced in doing so (networking, work environment, adjusting to southern California, etc.). She also offers some advice for those also looking to enter the animation field.
Be Gay, Do Comics (IDW)
Written and art by: various
An anthology of LGBTQ-oriented webcomics that were largely created for The Nib, a left-leaning political cartoon website.
The Avant-Guards: Down to the Wire (Boom! Studios)
Written by Carly Usdin; art by Noah Hayes
The third volume of this Boom! Studios series about a group of mostly-Black players in a secondary women’s college basketball league. Some of this series’ best parts are seeing the punny names of the schools and teams our heroes face off against. There’s also a diversity of body types and same-sex romance.
Mooncakes (Oni Press)
Written by Suzanne Walker; art by Wendy Xu
“Mooncakes” revolves around a teenage witch named Nova (not Sabrina) who’s learning about using her powers. She lives with her grandmothers in a small New England town and helps them run their magical bookshop. Nova eventually runs across Tam, a childhood friend (and werewolf) she hasn’t seen in years. Along with growing romantic feelings between Nova and Tam, there’s also a growing magical problem in their town.