2024 has finally arrived. However, before diving head-first into the year, let’s look back at 2023. It has been another great year for comics – even if people have been claiming that the medium is dying. (Strangely, people have been claiming that for years.)
How To Love Comics doesn’t do yearly best-of lists. Instead, I’ve collated all the best-of lists I could find to offer readers a broad range of perspectives and opportunities for new discoveries. Different corners of the comic book world are covered – from mainstream superheroes, manga, webtoons, alternative comics, literary comics, European graphic novels, zines, webcomics, and heaps more. Perfect for discovering new stories you might’ve missed or to expand your reading horizons.
When you combine all these lists together, it can become a barometer for critical acclaim. However, it’s worth noting that these lists are the opinions of the contributors and could align with their tastes and reading habits. If you don’t find your favourite reads featured on these lists – or perhaps they’re underrepresented – it doesn’t mean that they’re specifically bad. There’s so much material out there that not everything can be included.
Let’s dive into it, shall we?
What did the comic book websites pick?
Below is a selection of lists from many of the comic book websites out there.
AIPT goes deep into 2023 by breaking up their picks by different categories. Some of these are the usual – such as best ongoing series, best artist, best writer – but there are a few leftfield ones too such as Gone Too Soon (Best Discontinued Series).
The hosts of the AIPT Podcast also detailed their picks for the year too.
As they do every year, CBR has done a top 100 list. Last year I commented that their list was overly proportioned with Marvel and DC titles. This year’s edition is far more balanced, with other corners of the comic book world better represented. I also found dedicated lists to Editor’s Picks and Image Comics.
I couldn’t find any list over at ComicBook.com. However, they awarded Immortal X-Men their Golden Issue Award for Best Ongoing Comic.
The site has published list for the best series, single issues, and graphic novels of the year. If you want to go even further, their look back at the year also offers lists for writers, artists, and colourists.
Various contributors highlighted their favourite comics of 2023.
The site has two lists, each focusing on a contributor’s favourite reads of 2023. Thee are heaps of recommendations in each.
Multiversity took a different approach this year when it came to covering 2023. Instead of a dedicated list, a number of contributors spent time discussing their favourites of the year. Writers include: Ramon Piña, Christopher Chiu-Tabet, Christopher Egan, Elias Rosner, Brian Salvatore, and Johnny Hall.
The site has recommended 25 comic book series from 2023. There’s a good mix of different genres and are accompanied by detailed justifications for why they’re on the list.
If that wasn’t enough, they also did a separate list of the top 10 manga of the year. This includes a fun selection of hits and smaller series, along with plenty of honourable mentions for those who want even more reading recommendations.
SKTCHD did their annual Awards, which highlighted some top comics through the lens of a variety of bespoke categories. The Off Panel podcast spotlighted even more great comics of 2023, with host David Harper and guest Brandon Burpee each counting down their top 20.
While some sites scaled down their coverage this year, The Beat went all-in with multiple lists. There was their annual list, which comprised of a broad range of different styles of stories, styles, and perspectives. But that wasn’t all, the site also highlighted the best manga, webtoons, horror comics, Marvel, and DC Comics.
That alternative-leaning publication has brought together 40+ contributors to highlight their favourite comics, graphic novels, webcomics, and zines of 2023.
What did the entertainment sites pick?
Below are the sites in the books, entertainment, and geek spaces that share their favourite comics/graphic novels as part of their end-of-year coverage.
One notable exclusion this year is Goodreads, who opted to remove the Graphic Novel category from their Choice Awards.
Booklist’s list is broken up into two sections – adults and younger readers – with a good selection for both groups.
IGN highlighted a selection of comics and manga from 2023, with Daredevil being their overall winner for the year.
Library Journal highlights eight graphic novels they recommend in 2023.
The Nerdist’s list breaks it up into different categories – Marvel, DC, and indie publishers – for 14 recommendations in total. The list may be a bit Marvel/DC heavy, but the inclusions from those publishers are a mix of the cream of the crop and some smaller titles.
Polygon offers an interesting list of comics that touches a number of different corners of the world of comics/graphic novels.
The long-running trade press highlights four graphic novels from the year you should check out. Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come podcast also summed up the year and discussed a number of books.
School Library Journal has curated two great lists for younger readers that covers wide range of genres and perspectives. One thing I appreciate about their lists is that they provide age recommendations so parents/guardians or those buying for kids can find stories that will appeal to a given age group.
I also found this list, rounding up 31 graphic novels for kids.
While it might not be expansive, one thing this list does do well is going into a lot of detail justifying why each selection was chosen.
The Mary Sue has highlighted 35 comics/graphic novels that cover a broad range of different categories, including Big 2 superhero, young adult, literary, and manga.
What did the news sites pick?
Some of the big news sites were also spotlighting the comics of 2023. These are the lists that I could find:
The Canadian public broadcaster highlights fur graphic novels by Canadian cartoonists.
The publication highlights five superhero titles.
Forbes has highlighted ten graphic novels for you to check out, with a broad range of stories that explore different perspectives on the world.
The publication highlights seven graphic novels from 2023.
The Guardian published two lists this year. The first one, published on 3rd December, is a bit of a disappointment. Six graphic novels were listed but two of those where new editions of older material – one being the 20h anniversary edition of Craig Thompson’s Blankets and the other being Krazy Kat, a strip that ran from 1913 to 1944. I’m a firm believer that a list like this shouldn’t include anniversary editions as the work is not representative of the year that the site is trying to represent.
The other list is much better. There were 14 selections, with only one anniversary edition. While there shouldn’t be a reprint of that nature in the list, it’s mad more palatable by the fact there are 13 other graphic novels recommended.
The New York Times highlighted six graphic novels in a list that leaned into the alternative side of the medium.
A small handful of graphic novels also made it onto their 100 Notable Books of 2023 list.
The Canadian news organisation highlights five graphic novels – each representing a different genre.
The Washington Post has a list of ten graphic novels that they thought were worthy.
What did others pick?
Finally, a collection of sites that don’t fit into the above categories.
The bookseller highlights ten very different graphic novels from 2023.
The London-based comic book shop is a bit of a tastemaker, highlighting a broad range of graphic novels that represent different publishers, perspectives, and genres. Just like previous years, there’s a list for adults and kids.
The NYPL’s selection committee read 550 titles in 2023. These were narrowed down to 30 graphic novels before settling on the ten linked above. You can also find their final selections for kids and teens too.
NPR offers up a list of 25 graphic novels, with a good mix of stories for adults and younger readers.
Marry Me a Little, a graphic memoir about same-sex marriage was included on Oprah Winfrey’s list of best books of 2023.
The bookseller has curated a list of fifteen graphic novels that represent several corners different corners of the comic book world.
An interesting mix of 2023 releases that covers a range of different styles of comics.
What were the standouts of 2023?
2022 had a clear standout when it came to being featured in lists. That was Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton. 2023 did have any clear “winner”, which probably shows how good comics/graphic novels were that year that there were so many options to choose from.
That being said, the following works cropped up regularly in lists.
- Monica by Daniel Clowes
- The Talk by Darrin Bell
- A Guest in the House by Emily Carroll
- Blood of the Virgin by Sammy Harkham
- Roaming by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
- Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed
- Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and others
- Immortal Thor by Al Ewing and Martin Coccolo
- Carmilla: The First Vampire by Amy Chu and Soo Lee
- Transformers by Daniel Warren Johnson
- Batcat by Meggie Ramm
What was my pick of the year?
My pick of 2023 would have to be The Hard Switch by Owen D. Pomery, published by Avery Hill Publishing. For those who haven’t read my review, it follows two women and an octopus in a galaxy where interplanetary travel is slowly being cut off due to the depletion of resources. Through this premise, the graphic novel explores displacement, human trafficking, and other themes through a science fiction lens. It’s also a fantastic-looking comic with rich colours, sweet isometric artwork, and a keen sense of scale.
I think it’s a graphic novel that has fallen under many people’s radar due to a December release (it was Kickstarted earlier in the year). However, I’m hoping plenty of people will discover it in 2024.
Have your say
What were your favourite comics/graphic novels of 2023? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook, X (formally Twitter), or Mastodon. You can also subscribe to the How To Love Comics newsletter.