I was planning on posting these genre-specific “best of 2018” lists WEEKS ago, but… alas, time has slipped away from me. Better late than never?
Today, let’s talk about my favorite GRAPHIC NOVEL & MANGA reads of 2018!
Note: These are not only 2018 releases, just books I READ in 2018!
All of these are books I gave 4.5+ stars in 2018. These are in no particular order!
1. Fence, Vol. 1 — C. S. Pacat (review)
I’m forever going to rave about everything C. S. Pacat writes, I think, so this is really not a surprising beginning to the list.
Fence is a YA contemporary graphic novel series about boys who fence. There’s drama, angst, and loads of queerness, and it’s super fun and has really gorgeous artwork.
2. Watersnakes — Tony Sandoval (review)
I feel like I almost never heard people talk about this when it released last year, and the reviews I did see were mostly mixed, so I’m gonna go ahead and address the fact that this graphic novel is not going to be a favorite of everyone’s (and that’s okay!). It’s a mix of Lovecraftian and bizarro horror with some very bizarre (but freaking GORGEOUS) artwork and creepy queer girls. It was perfectly on brand for me. 🤷♀️
3. Check, Please! Vol. 1 — Ngozi Ukazu (review)
If you haven’t read Check, Please!, you are literally robbing yourself of joy. Seriously. Thief of your own joy. It is one of the cutest, softest, gayest little things I’ve ever seen in my life and I would protect little Bitty at all costs. I didn’t even know a fluffy graphic novel could feel like a slow-burn until this, but wow?! I felt like I was waiting for this amazing payoff and I was SO PLEASED??
4. Fragments of Horror — Junji Ito (review)
Regrets: I have them. I read this and 3 other Junji Ito titles within the span of a month and forgot to review this one, so I don’t remember exactly which stories it holds (it’s kind of a collection of short bits), but I do remember that it was by far my favorite Junji Ito work and I REALLY recommend checking it out if you’re looking for an introduction to great horror manga! What does stick out in my memory is that the stories reminded me of urban legends, so if you like those, or creepypasta, I feel like this would be up your alley.
5. The Princess and the Dressmaker — Jen Wang (review)
Was 2018 the year I became obsessed with the softest, sweetest, gayest graphic novels I could find? You bet your butt it was!
I don’t even know what to say about this besides pointing out that it’s adorable, appropriate for all age ranges, has such a heartwarming message of self-acceptance and of supporting our loved ones in their sexuality and/or identity, and it made me cry THE happiest tears.
6. Pilu of the Woods — Mai K. Nguyen (review)
I know I’ve stressed multiple times that these “best of” lists are in no specific order, but I’m going to bend my own rule here and say that, if I were picking one specific favorite graphic novel of 2018, this would easily take home the gold medal. Pilu is about a young girl who gets in a fight with her sister and runs off to the woods, where she meets a forest spirit who helps her fight off the “monsters” her anger issues and grief have caused. I have never cried so hard at a graphic novel in my life because this story worked its way under my skin SO fast. The art is STUNNING and, even though it doesn’t come out until April, I pre-ordered a finished copy months ago AND have already placed it on my acquisitions list for my library branch. It’s THAT good.
7. The Tea Dragon Society — Katie O’Neill (review)
Funny story about this one: I received an eARC of it back in 2017, but my eARC file was corrupted and the publishers didn’t reply to my email asking for a different file download, so I just kind of let it go and figured I’d check it out eventually. And honestly, after finally getting it from the library and learning how AMAZING it was, I’m low key salty that I haven’t been able to be a loud AF stan for this book since it released?! 😭 It has the sweetest little dragon babies and so much diverse rep, including an incredible disabled POC character I adored to no end.
8. My Boyfriend is a Bear — Pamela Ribon (review)
Me when I first heard about this: “Wait. Her boyfriend’s not REALLY a bear… ha… that’d be weird…”
Me after reading it: “Who knew bears made such good boyfriends?”
Seriously, though. So cute. So funny. It sounds weird, I know, but it’s precious and I recommend it 100000%.
9. Colder, Vol. 1 — Paul Tobin (RTC)
I kept seeing this one on horror GN recommendation lists, and I was so intrigued by the gross and creepy AF cover, but it seems like it took me forever to find a branch in my library system that actually had a copy in stock (and nobody has Vol 2, so I’ll be buying it eventually). I’m so glad I finally got to read it, though, because it’s really creepy, and more than that, the level of creativity that goes into the settings and characters and just EVERYTHING in this story? Phenomenal.
10. Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1 — Natsuki Takaya (review)
This series is more of an honorary mention, because I usually refuse to put rereads in my “best of” lists… but I couldn’t help but include the Fruits Basket series. It was my first ever manga and anime love as a kid, and I’d been dying to get back into it, so last year, I finally started buying up these collector’s editions and rereading it. I also started my fifth or sixth rewatch of the show, and I have no regrets. I’m so pumped for the anime remake, but until then, I’ll be over here, falling in love with the Sohma family all over again. 💗🐀🐱🐕🐄🐍🐉 (← my faves 😍)
That’s it! Those were my 10 favorite romance reads of 2018.
What were yours?