Staff Picks 2012: Jade

Building Stories 
by Chris Ware

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. The innovative format? The impeccable line work? The complex storylines about crushing loneliness? Somehow that doesn't even come close. Ware's "book" in a box contains 14 different pieces- from a tiny pamphlet to a huge newspaper format- that recount the life of an apartment building and its inhabitants. Ware's craftsmanship, as storyteller and artist, are unlike anything else in the medium today, and this is quite the masterpiece.

The Voyeurs 
by Gabrielle Bell

In terms of storytelling, I think this book is tops for me this year. It probably would have made it to the number one spot if it wasn't for Chris Ware's ability to completely rethink the comics medium. I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Bell's coloration, but boy-oh-boy is she a skilled writer. Her eye for subtle detail is just magical.

Ed the Happy Clown
by Chester Brown

Before this re-edition of Ed the Happy Clown came out, I remember being extremely frustrated at the fact that I was too broke to purchase a used copy online (which was going for a mere fifty to eighty dollars!). Luckily, I was able to borrow a copy from a friend, and my-my-my is this book CRAZY. Just trying to describe it is a challenge, since I inevitably end up mentioning scenes of bloody violence, a whole lot of feces, and a talking penis with the head of a famous American president (I'm not saying which one, that's for you to find out).

You'll Never Know, Book Three: Soldier's Heart
by C. Tyler

C. Tyler is by far one of the most underrated comic artists of today. If you're a fan of classics like MAUS or FUN HOME, start reading this trilogy. The parallels are endless: the double narratives between child and father, the tension between remembering and forgetting, and the unspoken effects of trauma. In this final installment, Tyler is at the top of her game, producing lush watercolors that are sure to amaze, while simultaneously delving into one of the most poignant and complex stories of the year.

The Wrong Place
by Brecht Evens

As you can tell by my picks, I seem to have a weakness for comics with bright colors, so no big surprise here. I've praised Evens' work so many times on our blog that I'll keep it simple by saying this: so long as Brecht Evens is making comics, he'll make it in my top picks. Just open up any of his books and you'll see why.

By This Shall You Know Him 
by Jesse Jacobs

One of my favorite discoveries this year. Jesse Jacobs encapsulates everything that exciting about new comics: beautiful coloration, dark humor, and an incredible amount of imagination. A very trippy experience.

House of Psychotic Women 
by Kier-La Janisse

This book! An exploration of female neurosis in horror films? YES PLEASE. Not only is this book incredible to look at, it's also smart and very well written, mixing autobiography, theory, and film history impeccably.

Lose #4 
by Michael Deforge

In Lose 4 ("The Fashion Issue") Deforge outdoes himself again, creating some ultra-weird and twisted tales that are both funny and disturbing. Deforge has one of the most unique voices in comics today and he's also prolific, so check him out.

The Hive
by Charles Burns

Just as weird as part one (Xed Out) of Burn's psychedelic trilogy, and just as beautifully executed. To be honest, I'm still not sure what is going on in terms of the story, but knowing how masterful Burns is, I cannot wait for pieces to start falling into place. Watching such an intricate story unfold itself at this pace is both exciting and agonizing.

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist
by Alvin Buenaventura

I'm such a sucker for these huge books on cartoonists, probably because they almost invariably include rare or never-before-seen pieces. Chris Ware's essay "Who's Afraid of Daniel Clowes?" as well as Clowes' portrait of Bill Murray and his hand-painted color guides make this book worth picking up alone.

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