Graphic novels grew up in the decade of the 2000s, maturing from an oddity to a staple of sequential art. The following are a selection of the best 10 graphic novels of the decade. I’ve limited the list to stories that first appeared in a graphic novel format, as opposed to collections of periodically released comic books. Next week, return for the top 10 periodical comics of the ’00s. 1. "Scott Pilgrim.” Five of a planned six volumes of this graphic novel series by Bryan O’Malley were released in the 2000s. Slacker twentysomething Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s evil ex-boyfriends to win her hand. A post-manga, arcade logic experience, "Scott Pilgrim” synthesized its influences into a catchy pop confection. 2. "Fun Home.” Alison Bechdel’s memoir of growing up and her father’s death is a moving autobiography. Comic strip writer-illustrator Bechdel examines her childhood with her father, who hid gay affairs from his town and his family for years. Bechdel’s story peels back layers through her diary entries of the time, mixed with her later perspective on events. Bechdel’s father died — in a possible suicide — just weeks after Bechdel came out to her family, and after her mother made her aware of her father’s affairs. It’s a complex portrait, not sugarcoating the father’s perfectionism or absence of affection, yet still honoring his love of literature and his children. 3. "Asterios Polyp.” David Mazzucchelli ("Batman: Year One”) returned to graphic novels in 2009 with a visually intriguing tale of an architect forced to change his world view. 4. "Blankets.” This nearly 600-page graphic novel recreates Thompson’s adolescence and first love with grace and beauty. Thompson examines his relationships with his brother, his parents, his faith and his art. While "Blankets” suffered a bit of a backlash after its huge popularity early in the decade, it remains moving and beautifully illustrated. 5. "Pride of Baghdad.” Brian K. Vaughan ("Y: The Last Man”) collaborated with Niko Henrichon on this graphic novel, inspired by the true tale of three lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Vaughan looks at the nature of freedom through these lions, which speak with each other and the other animals. While the anthropomorphized adventure may have some thinking "Lion King,” it has more in common with George Orwell’s "Animal Farm.” 6. "The Last of the Independents.” Influenced by guy movies such as "Unforgiven” and "Charley Varrick,” "Last of the Independents” features bank robber Cole Claudle, just one big score away from retirement. When that robbery is much bigger than expected, Claudle finds himself fighting the mob and trying to keep himself and his friends safe long enough to escape. 7. "Golem’s Mighty Swing.” Examining the 1920s through a Jewish baseball team, James Sturm addresses prejudice, history, baseball and America in a gem of a graphic novel. 8. "What It Is.” Part autobiography, part creative workbook, Lynda Barry’s "What It Is” features dazzling artwork with elements of collage throughout. 9. "Safe Area Goradze.” Joe Sacco’s nonfiction account of the war in Bosnia was among the best ever examples of graphic novel journalism. 10. "Top 10: The 49ers.” Alan Moore ("Watchmen”) teams with Gene Ha for this story, in which Moore tells the early history of Neopolis, the superhero city of his much-missed "Top Ten” series. Neopolis was created in the days after World War II to house the various "science heroes” who were no longer needed to fight the Nazi threat. The Neopolis Police Department must deal with superpowered entities who are no longer above the law.
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