Comics of the Decade

Hello! Here are 45 comics that came out from 2010 to 2019 that I remember and reread. They’re my favorites. If you like some of them, you might like others. It’s a lot of comics!

They’re grouped in roughly alphabetical order by “author,” but since authorship in comics can get hard to assign, I’ve fudged some of them. Sometimes I group multiple works by a single artist into one entry.

Lastly, lots of these books can be purchased directly from the artist or small publisher. If you find a single thing on this list that you like, I’d ask you to purchase it or throw the artist some money if you’re able. I’ve included links when they’re available from the artist, publisher, or small distributor. If there’s no link, it means you can order it from your local bookstore.

Some of my biases: I don’t read a ton of comics on the computer since I’ve found my recall isn’t great afterward, so most of the webcomics on this list were read in print. And I didn’t get into manga until later in life, so I’m still reading a bunch of older/foundational stuff. I’d love to be reading more contemporary manga; maybe next decade! And I’m pretty burnt out on monthly stuff after working at a comic store for years and reading pretty much everything we got into the store every week.

Black Bolt (2017-2018) by Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward

A sci-fi superhero comic with meditations on incarceration and its place in empire. Trippy visuals and genuine emotion. The question of redemption.blackbolt.jpg

Otso (mini kuš! #10) by Mari Ahokoivu

The first appearance of Latvian publisher kuš! on the list. I thought it was out of print, but it looks like you can still buy it! I’ll never understand how they can ship internationally for so cheap. Check out her work on her website to get a sense of her lush, careful brushwork.


Pinky & Pepper Forever (2018) by Ivy Atoms

One of the most realistic depictions of the accidental damage people do to the ones they love, especially when they’re young (and especially, in this case, at an art college). Amazing use of multimedia and some good BDSM content. Buy it from the publisher here.


Lewis & Clark (2011) , Rubber Necker #5-6 (2013-2015), Persimmon Cup (2014) and Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey (2014) by Nick Bertozzi

Clear cartooning, excellent lettering, fun formal exercises. Bertozzi seems like such a flexible and able cartoonist to the point where I’m just always thinking, “I hope he’s doing okay in life.”


Out of Hollow Water (2013) and Grease Bats (2019) by Archie Bongiovanni

Out of Hollow Water is greasy vellum body horror. Grease Bats is a queer slice-of-life internet comic strip. They’re both equally amazing? You can check out Grease Bats for free on Autostraddle and support Bongiovanni on Patreon.


Rudy (2014) by Mark Connery

My understanding is that Connery makes Rudy comics and just, like, leaves them around Toronto? Like, they’re just ephemeral objects crying to be made. So I feel very lucky that there’s a collection of them. Rudy’s ever-changing and surreal world feels like the inheritor of Krazy Kat by way of Garfield. Buy it from the publisher here.


Fütchi Perf (2015) by Kevin Czap

It’s a sherbet-colored mixtape of postcapitalist queer utopia. Whoa! Buy the nice reissue here; as of this writing, it’s half off!


How to be Happy (2014), Fuck Wizards (2014), BDSM (Frontier #11) (2016), and Libby’s Dad (2016) by Eleanor Davis

What a list of comics, huh? And Davis put out even more stuff this decade—three full-length graphic novels. I don’t want to be, like, “I like her older stuff better.” I think I just like her short stories more than her longer work, so that’s what I’m including. The style shifting across these works is humbling and amazing—loose pencil drawing in one story, strong blocks of color in another; teen drama and then sci-fi dystopia and then joyful erotic combat.


Pretty Deadly (2014-2016) by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios & Jordie Bellaire

A set of enjoyably opaque genre adventures twisted with ominous magical forces. DeConnick, Rios, and Bellaire are true co-storytellers, and I don’t think I’d enjoy this book nearly as much (if at all) if any of them were replaced.


Mighty Star and the Castle of the Cancatervater (2015) and Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters (2018) by A. Degen

Like the tales of a tarot deck from a silent parallel dimension come to life. Aspects of the Gilded Age, ’70s psychosexual dramas, and ray gun sci-fi come together seamlessly. Degen leaves spacious room for reader interpretation (or projection).


O, Human Star (2015-present) by Blue Delliquanti

Robot duplicates in a near-future/alternate future Minneapolis exploring the links and tensions between transhumanism, capitalism, gender, and sexuality. Beautiful fluid, clear cartooning and an excellent use of a limited color palette. Read it for free online!


An Exorcism (2017) and Birthday (mini kuš! #35) (2018) by Theo Ellsworth

Ellsworth has created his own genre, a kind of mystical self-help where the reader is invited to journey through the comic as a worksheet or a game. It’s more William Blake than Brené Brown, though, with an almost obsessive amount of linework and an intensely personal set of symbols and tools. You can get them both from Copacetic Comics Company.


Gaylord Phoenix (2010) by Edie Fake

Loving, intimate, angry. The juxtaposition of the flowing art with the stamp-like lettering creates an amazing disconnect. You can get the book here.


Yours (2017) by Margot Ferrick

Ferrick breaks down the boundaries between word and image to create an unrelentingly sinuous rhythm. It’s surely difficult to read if you’re used to straightforward narratives. Read a bunch of Ferrick’s work on Vice and then buy the book from the publisher.


Sex Fantasy (2017) and Structures 67-78 (2019) by Sophia Foster-Dimino and Swim Thru Fire (2015) by Annie Mok & Sophia Foster-Dimino

I love Foster-Dimino’s work so much. There’s nothing critical about my engagement with it; I just love looking at it. It can be clear, soft, stoic, coy, and so many other things. Please please please read Swim Thru Fire in the link above. It’s a beautiful story of trauma and how it’s stored in the body.


Ski Mask Jerry #2-3 (2018-2019) by C. Haack

Super dense slice-of-life with elements of strangeness, such as a protagonist who always wears a ski mask. Like Grease Bats mentioned above, it’s mostly a queer slice-of-life comic, but it’s told from a single character’s point of view. ALSO it’s printed at a huge size with beautiful risograph colors. Get ’em here.


Coyote Doggirl (2018) by Lisa Hanawalt

Did you like Tuca & Bertie (RIP)? Then you’ll love Coyote Doggirl! It’s so funny. Constantly. And there are moments of drama and heartwarming reconciliation and cathartic vengeance. It’s a goofy furry western dramady, I guess? Read an excerpt on Hanawalt’s site.


Gloriana (2012), The River at Night (2019) and various minis by Kevin Huizenga

Ostensibly a comic about a dude thinkin’ about stuff, especially considering how Huizenga came up in comics and his contemporaries, these books are…not that. Or they are, but not in the way I expected. These books are about iterative thought, infinite self-reflection, how the self is generated, digital/private/public spaces…and it’s all couched in playful formalism.


Gorgeous (2016) by Cathy G. Johnson

A slim but dense tome about privilege and fate. Also a story about teens trying to take control of their lives in various ways. The narrative didn’t take the shape I expected, but I was pleased by how it went; it resonated.


Sea Urchin (2015) and Bug Boys (2015) by Laura Knetzger

Sea Urchin is a short, smart book about mental illness and how it affects daily life. Bug Boys is a long, fun book about friendship! Despite their differences, both have a core of care and empathy that shines through. Buy Sea Urchin here and look for a new edition of Bug Boys from Penguin Random House in 2020.


Frontier #12 (2016) by Kelly Kwang

Part of Youth in Decline’s ongoing series of artist spotlight comics. Learn about the Space Youth Cadets via an incredible mix of narrative cartooning, illustration, and photography drawing from cyberpunk, videogames, and social media interfaces. Buy it here.


I Will Bite You! and Other Stories (2011) and Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller (2018) by Joseph Lambert

Intricate drawings that still manage to feel human and spontaneous. And Annie Sullivan has some excellent examples of formal rendering of touch-based sensing.


Snarked (2011-2012) and Popeye (2012-2013) by Roger Langridge

Some of the strictly funniest comics I’ve ever read, like seeing a classic comedian at the top of their game (classic as in well-trained in classical ideas of joke construction, timing, etc; not classic as in misogynistic, racist, and so on).

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True Swamp v1-2 (2012, 2017) by Jon Lewis

There’s a genre of comics that I really like that are sort of surreal worldbuilding? I’m thinking of Larry Marder’s Beanworld, Jesse Moynihan’s The Forming, and the abovementioned Rudy by Mark Connery. True Swamp is another one, a self-contained ecology filled with strange, swamp-inspired beings. The first volume is a little rougher but has a lot of zinester naivete to it. The second volume is tighter, with jazz-inspired layout and lettering.



Secure Connect (2016) and Lara Croft was My Family (2017) by Carta Monir

These two examples of Monir’s work use digital interactions (forums, videogames) to explore how people hide themselves, open up, and relate. They’re beautifully printed and emotionally dense. She also does amazing work as a printer/publisher and an activist; you can buy books from her Diskette Press here.


Well Come (2015) by Erik Nebel

A whole book of silent, three-panel strips about mutability, fission, and fusion told with bold, flat colors. While Nebel’s strips often deal with the potential horror that comes from change, the book ultimately left me with a feeling of peace and even excitement about my own changes (age, gender, community, friendship). Get it here.


Girl Town (2018) by Carolyn Nowak

The book so nice I bought it thrice! I love Nowak’s work, so I bought the short Diana’s Electric Tongue in two separate printings, and when it came bundled with Nowak’s other short stories, I bought it on release day. She melds genres (sci-fi, horror, slice-of-life) with a tight focus on character and humanity.


Perfect Hair (2016) and The Lie and How We Told It (2018) by Tommi Parrish

I just love these chonky figures! And how Parrish blends painting, black-and-white cartooning. Get Perfect Hair here.


Your Black Friend and Other Strangers (2018) by Ben Passmore and BTTM FDRS (2019) by Ezra Claytan Daniels & Ben Passmore

Your Black Friend showed Passmore’s range in short story making: autobio, journalistic, political, and dystopian. BTTM FDRS has him applying that range to a much longer story, and he doesn’t falter. His line work, expressions, and pacing are great, and the colors! Creepy gentrification horror in disturbing day-glo.


The Pervert (2018) by Remy Boydell & Michelle Perez

Simply the best autobio I’ve ever read. It’s composed of nearly discrete/separate narrative chunks, but each one bears the weight of the previous snapshots, even when there’s no direct throughline. Most of it’s aggressively intimate, following the main character’s point of view, but when it branches out, it does so with unflinching honesty. Plus there’s hot furry action.THEPERVERT.60.jpg

The Hospital Suite (2014) and From Lone Mountain (2018) by John Porcellino

These books are the culmination of someone’s constant and devoted work for decades. The Hospital Suite, in particular, is an amazing act of vulnerability, of ripping one’s self open when things already feel hopeless.


Usagi Yojimbo (all decade) by Stan Sakai

Born in the ’80s boom of black-and-white anthropomorphic battle animals, Usagi Yojimbo has outgrown and outlasted pretty much all of them. Sakai uses his samurai animals to tell stories of Edo-period Japan. But these aren’t just tales of battle; Sakai’s wandering samurai visits artists and soy sauce makers, participates in tea ceremonies, and helps solve mysteries. At this point, Sakai is telling a twilight story, focusing on the end of the period and the end of a wandering life. Usagi is an iterative story, and we see the changes in him as he spirals through the same places, meeting the same people, while he grows older and wiser.


Never Forgets (2014) and Fashion Forecasts (2018) by Yumi Sakugawa

I love Sakugawa’s imagination, her careful forms, her mournful and hopeful fables and multidisciplinary fashion shows. Get Fashion Forecasts here.


Exits (2016) by Daryl Seitchik

A beautiful reflection on the self and how it’s defined by the people around us, our own expectations, and ideas of beauty and aesthetic. I’m getting weepy just thinking about it.


Houses of the Holy (2015) by Caitlin Skaalrud

A somber slow-burn about the difficult journeys one must take because of trauma and healing. As of this writing, it’s literally only $6 from the publisher.


Curveball (2015) by Jeremy Sorese

Sherbet-smothered sci-fi dripping with queerness. Sorese’s figure work is beyond compare, and the paintings he posts to his Twitter show that he’s only getting better.


Sacred Heart (2015) and Egg Cream #1 (2019) by Liz Suburbia

Sacred Hearts is a rough & tumble teen dystopia that manages a perfect and thought-provoking twist ending. Like, it needed no sequel. Then Egg Cream came along with a perfect sequel (that’s also a prequel) along with a bunch of great shorts. Suburbia’s linework is deceptively simple; she manages to get so much expression and texture out of so little. Get Egg Cream here.


Marco Polo: Dangers and Visions (2017) by Marco Tabilio

This book hits me in a few of my week points: 1) maps, 2) unreliable narrators, 3) couched narratives, and 4) historical biographies. I read The Travels of Marco Polo in high school (maybe after reading the Sandman issue about him?), and I’ve been curious about him ever since. The cartooning is great, bringing together the traditions of illuminated manuscripts and American comic strips.


Sound of Snow Falling (2017) by Maggie Umber

A wordless, fully painted “biography” of great horned owls. It’s wonderfully slow, like watching a plant grow and bloom in front of you, preserving all the wonder and tragedy of the natural world. Get it from the publisher here.


On a Sunbeam (2018) by Tillie Walden

Walden released a bunch of good comics this decade, but On a Sunbeam seems to combine the best part of them all: immaculate drafting, powerful emotional content, careful colors, and a tight narrative.


Remember This? (mini kuš! #29) (2016) and Help Yourself (2016) by Disa Wallander

I’m just in love with Wallander’s highly cartooned drawings over photographs. There’s a poetic simplicity to her panel rhythm and scripting. Help Yourself, in particular, was beautifully printed by Perfectly Acceptable Press (but is now out of print). But have no fear! Wallander’s first long book, Becoming Horses, is coming out in 2020. Get it at bookstores or comic shops!


Prince of Cats (2012) by Ronald Wimberly

Rhythmic in both text and image, with beautiful flat colors and expressive anatomy. It’s taking-off point is Shakespeare in New York in the 1980s, but it’s more than that.


Crow Cillers (pretty much all decade) and Strawberry Milkshake (2017) by Cate Wurtz

I’m always surprised that I don’t see more people talking about Cate Wurtz. Her drawings are like old JPEGs smeared over pirated AVI screenshots. Tense, funny, unsettling, humane—they’re precursors to Stranger Things and better than Stranger Things, interested in our relationships with media from the past without being a slave to it. Crow Cillers season 1 is pay-what-you-want here.


Someone Please Have Sex With Me (2016) by Gina Wynbrandt

Just some horny and bizarre shit. Printed in aggressive pink, the art has a photoreference feel that fits the main character’s stilted and awkward approach to romance and lust. Which I mean in a good way! Get it from the publisher here.


Witchlight (2016) by Jessi Zabarsky

GAY WITCH ROMANCE [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]. Zabarsky’s linework is beautiful and delicate, and her design (of character, world, and page) are excellent.


Theo Ellsworth

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

On the surface, Ellsworth’s comics are surreal fantasy, full of monsters and machines like some sort of woodcut Richard Scarry. But they’re more: they’re intensely personal self-help books and vehicles for interdimensional, inner-brain travel. Ellsworth visualizes his anxieties and his dreams and uses his comics to transmute and make peace with the bad things in his brain. And the reader is invited to watch and learn and, in the end, use the same magic on their own problems.


From Birthday.

Nick Bertozzi

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

Cartoonist and educator Bertozzi does all sorts of work: surreal ecology, fantastical histories, historical biography, and more. His figure work is clear and fluid, his lettering is impeccable, and despite pushing some formal boundaries, his books are always easy to read; it’s obvious that puts a lot of thought into each page. I’m always surprised that more people aren’t talking about his work. Maybe it’s because of the breadth of genres in his work?

It also seems like a lot of his work is unfairly branded as young adult. Which is not to say that YA is bad or any way lesser; I just feel that people who might be looking for the kind of books Bertozzi makes might not look in the YA section.

Take Lewis & Clark, for instance. It’s a well-researched look at the famed explorers, but more than that, it’s a sympathetic and stark look at bipolar disorder: how it can drive people to amazing heights, how it drops them off the edge, and how people from other places and times define and struggle with mental illness.

Young adults can and should read books like this, but that’s not because it’s a young adult topic; it’s because young adults deal with the same things adults do.



[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

Most of these entries are about a single cartoonist; some are about formats or publishers. This is the only one that’s about a character. That’s because he’s the greatest character of the comic book genre, Herbie Popnecker.

He’s a “little fat nothing” who attracts lovers without even trying; however, his only care is lollipops. His speech pattern inspired Watchmen‘s Rorschach, and he spends time hanging out with Dracula and Fidel Castro. And his short comic existence owes itself to two people, Richard Hughes and Ogden Whitney. Hughes supplied the scripts—terse, non-sequiteur, madcap—while Whitney played the “straight man,” rendering everything in a plain, almost bland style. Did they work together on the plots? Or was this just another job for Whitney? Whatever the case, it’s the perfect comic for today’s meme culture.


William Messner-Loebs

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

For many cartoonists, self-published or small press work is a stepping stone. For whatever reason (financial security, fame, love), they have their eyes on bigger things. In the last decade or two, “bigger things” has included movie deals and publishers like Scholastic, but in the ’80s and ’90s, the goal many cartoonists worked toward was publication by Marvel and DC. (This is a very collapsed view of things, so please forgive the cutting of corners.)

Messner-Loebs was a writer-artist who made a strange historical fiction comic called Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistair. His drawings are energetic and bulbous, and Journey is evocatively lonely at times. But when Messner-Loebs went to DC to work on Flash and Wonder Woman, it was merely fine; just journeyman superhero work.

Luckily, Messner-Loebs went back to doing his own thing, often with Sam Kieth. They worked together on Epicurus the Sage, a hedonistic treatise on myths and philosophy, and The Maxx, perhaps most well-remembered from MTV’s Liquid Television.

I don’t mean to moralize here, especially when it comes to strangers’ life choices, and I don’t want to wax romantic about work made by struggling artists. I just want to take a moment to admire the strange works that crop up in the corners of comics history.


Tiny Comics

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

I already wrote about big comics, but I’m in no way size-ist. Where oversize comics can zoom out or shatter time, minicomics provide a sense of intimacy and allow images to own the confines of a page. Their minimal length often forces a cartoonist to leave out any chaff or bloat, focusing on the moments most important to the limited size of the narrative.

Also, they’re really easy to make! Here’s a video, and here’s a longer explanation by cartoonist & educator Jessica Abel. If someone’s interested in starting to make comics but can’t figure out where to start, making a couple minicomics is always a great catalyst.


Jeremy Sorese

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

Sorese’s Curveball is a neon sherbet future where people love as they please. It’s one of the frankest looks at nonbinary and genderqueer relationships I’ve seen in a comic. That same measured eye is brought to technology; Curveball is a story about how tech brings us together, makes us lonely, and everything in between.


Also, Sorese writes Steven Universe comics! Which is a perfect fit since it’s a show about queer romance and friendship and vulnerability.

In the library:
Steven Universe

Larry Marder

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

I saw ads for Marder’s Beanworld long before I ever read it. It was one of those amazing, meditative obsession I think most kids have; it sparked dozens of what-ifs and hows as I tried to fill in the blanks and figure out what this comic could be about.


And in Beanworld‘s case, it’s one of the few things that lived up to (or even surpassed) what I imagined it would be. Although it starts as a hazy allegory opposed to big business, it quickly abandons any connection to the real world. The majority of Beanworld is a closed and fantastical ecology and a meditation on art, responsibility, and community. It’s strange and conceptual and loving.

Carla Speed McNeil

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

McNeil’s career is almost entirely defined by a single work: Finder. Since 1996, Finder has been self-published, become a webcomic, and been printed in great, thick library editions by Dark Horse. It’s excellent science fiction, picking at ideas of gender and class that big-budget sci-fi has always been afraid of. And despite its density of world-building, it’s a rollicking tale with action, romance, and humor. But what I really love is McNeil’s lettering.


From Finder: Talisman

From placement to texture to size and shape, McNeil is constantly flexing muscles that other cartoonists are willing to let lay unexercised.

Walt Simonson

[Originally written as part of a comic library blog/fundraiser.]

For all my indie comic navel-gazing, I still love a well-told superhero story: if someone (and it’s usually just a single someone, not a team) can take their time to tell me about hope, power, responsibility, and morality writ large without resorting to a physical fight or a fist-clenching theater of self-destruction, I’m there. And hey, that’s Walt Simonson.

Coming out of a studio that he shared with Howard Chaykin and Frank Miller, Simonson seems somehow free of the bombast that accompanies the other two. He seems to revel in a tale well-told; he pulls the trigger on plots instead of holding mysteries and plot twists over readers’ heads.

Compared to most mainstream American superhero books, Simonson’s work is almost strangely seamless. He doesn’t seem like an artist who’s trying to write or a writer who’s learning to draw; he’s a storyteller, and the pacing of the art, placement of the dialogue (often with cohort John Workman), and structure of the plot are all inextricable from each other. For an example of this, see Orion‘s 5 x 5 mythic structure (somewhat hindered by the way it’s printed in the omnibus) and Thor‘s self-contained meandering as a hero learns of himself.

And I’ll forever be impressed by his bold (in superhero comics) adoption of shapes and vectors, realism be damned. If the Image Comics founders had stolen Simonson’s storytelling chops along with his “lots of lines” approach, the ’90s would’ve been a lot different.* His work stealthily prepared my brain for more abstract work, such as Margot Ferrick’s Sec (see below).


Walt Simonson, from Orion #8.


From Margot Ferrick’s Sec.

* No offense meant to the Image founders. Thanks to Sarah Horrocks, I’m a fervent Rob Liefeld apologist.