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.
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.