Word Balloons: Best graphic novels of ’09 are innovators

by Matthew Price Published: December 11, 2009
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The explosion in quality graphic novels continued in 2009. This longer format continues to innovate; any one of these 10 graphic novels might have been the best of the year 10 years ago.

This week, Word Balloons will look at the best graphic-novel format comics released for the first time in the United States in 2009; next week, we’ll look at the best periodical comic-book releases.

1. "Asterios Polyp”: David Mazzuchelli moved from literate superhero crowd-pleasers ("Batman: Year One,” "Daredevil: Born Again”) to more personal independent work ("Rubber Blanket”) and adaptations ("City of Glass”). Now, Mazzuchelli has released perhaps his finest work, a tale of an architect forced to change his world view. Asterios is a "paper architect,” creating brilliant constructions that can never be built. His hubris leads to his fall in a book that can be seen as an updated Greek tragedy.

Each character in the novel has his or her own particular illustrative style and color scheme; Mazzuchelli is using color to convey ideas in a way not attempted by most graphic novelists. The book is all about style, design and visual language, and Mazzuchelli is moving the discussion of all of these forward with "Asterios Polyp.”

2. "George Sprott (1894-1975) ”: Cartoonist Seth is a master of creating nostalgic longings, often for things that didn’t really exist. His examination of the (fictional) life of Canadian broadcaster George Sprott does so, even while exploring the many not-so-great legacies of his title character.

3. "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge”: Nonfiction comics writer/artist Josh Neufeld follows the lives of six Hurricane Katrina survivors before, during and after the storm.

4. "Parker: The Hunter”: Darwyn Cooke ("The New Frontier”) adapts the first of Donald Westlake’s "Parker” novels, which he wrote under the name Richard Stark.


by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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Read more about comics on Price’s blog.

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