Os­cars of Comics 10 graphic books that de­serve ku­dos

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Michael Cavna the North,” Dis­patches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq,” Peanuts: Vol. 25 (1999 to 2000)”; col­lected strips of

A new comics-awards sea­son is upon us. Fri­day was the sub­mis­sion and nom­i­na­tion dead­line for the Eis­ners (aka “the Os­cars of comics”).

We are hop­ing vot­ers con­sid­ered this hand­ful of el­i­gi­ble graphic nov­els and other se­quen­tial-art books from last year — some of which might have been over­looked in the shadow of top su­per­hero books and blue-rib­bon pow­er­houses like “March: Book Three.”

1. “Moon­cop,” by Tom Gauld

Re­straint is ev­ery­thing in this Bri­tish car­toon­ist’s dryly spell­bind­ing tale of a space of­fi­cer who can’t get home. The monochro­matic tones and dead­pan lan­guage blend bril­liantly for max­i­mum im­pact when the jokes land.

2. “An­gel Cat­bird (Vol. 1),” by Mar­garet At­wood and Johnny Christ­mas

The ac­claimed nov­el­ist bril­liantly turns to one of her first lit­er­ary loves — comics — with her tit­u­lar sci-fi su­per­hero: a man who gains large wings and fe­line in­stincts. The scenes are en­gag­ing, the lan­guage is play­ful and the ref­er­ences read like a well-steeped ode to ad­ven­ture comics.

3. “Pa­tience,” by Daniel Clowes

Clowes ex­am­ines fa­mil­iar ter­rain — par­tic­u­larly when re­flect­ing on in­ad­e­qua­cies as hus­band and par­ent — but places these is­sues within a sur­real, sci-fi time cap­sule of a story, as a man tra­verses the years to try to stop his wife’s killer. Is ev­er­last­ing love durable enough to sur­vive psy­che­delic time travel? Clowes’s hero is not with­out hope.

4. “Ros­alie Light­ning,” by Tom Hart

This is a par­ent’s mem­oir at its most poignant and heart­break­ing. If this mas­ter­work does not move you, then you’re all but stone. When a fa­ther gazes at his lost child’s draw­ings, the story be­comes a pro­foundly raw re­frac­tion of emo­tional art.

5. “Ni­co­las,” by Pas­cal Gi­rard

Is it pos­si­ble for the grief mem­oir to feel oddly leav­ened by the art? This Cana­dian car­toon­ist bril­liantly boils down sib­ling loss to de­cep­tively poignant line draw­ings that are as play­ful as child­hood — but their cu­mu­la­tive force is strong. And then the af­ter­word – ren­dered with a Roz Chast-like loose­ness — has the hon­est depth of a di­ary. 6. “How to Sur­vive in

by Luke Healy Healy is a mas­ter of stitch­ing to­gether nar­ra­tive threads like a dou­ble helix of twinned re­al­i­ties. “North” blends real-life Arc­tic jour­neys with mod­ern midlife per­ils. The warm- and cool-col­ored pal­ettes draw us in to these hyp­not­i­cally grid­ded pages, till we’re plunged deep into the sense of emo­tional chill­i­ness, hop­ing for a hon­est thaw.

7. “The Best Amer­i­can Comics 2016,” edited by Roz Chast and Bill Kar­talopou­los

Rec­om­mend­ing a “best of ” book can seem sim­i­lar to how awards shows them­selves get nom­i­nated for awards (hello, Em­mys). But the cu­ra­to­rial eclec­ti­cism here is worth cel­e­brat­ing, rang­ing from Lynda Barry’s funky “con­fes­sional” tales to Richard McGuire’s paint­ing-like pan­els.

8. “Rolling Black­outs: by Sarah Glid­den In the spirit of comic­sjour­nal­ism great Joe Sacco, Sarah Glid­den trav­els to hot spots to doc­u­ment — through pen and wa­ter­color brush – how bat­tles af­fect the civil­ians who aim to stay and en­dure. With a keen ear, Glid­den bears wit­ness.

9. “Epic Big Nate,” by Lin­coln Peirce

What’s even bet­ter than a big ol’ col­lec­tion of “Big Nate” comics? Why, a thought­ful sil­ver-an­niver­sary trea­sury that in­cludes Lin­coln Peirce’s own witty and in­sight­ful asides in the mar­gins. This book helps chart the care­ful evo­lu­tion of the pop­u­lar strip.

10. “The Com­plete Charles M. Schulz (in­tro­duc­tion by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama)

This Fan­ta­graph­ics un­der­tak­ing rep­re­sents a deeply wor­thy mis­sion — gath­er­ing all the “Peanuts” strips in one hard-bound se­ries for the first time — and this look at Schulz’s last years is a nec­es­sary prism for ap­pre­ci­at­ing the fea­ture’s fin­ish anew.

“The Com­plete Peanuts: Vol. 25 (1999 to 2000).”

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