To look back at the last ten years of comics in Canada, Sequential asked a special panel of critics and retailers to come up with a list of ten memorable comics. We were not necessarily looking for a “Best of List” but rather a list of important comics, overlooked comics, or just comics the panelists wanted to talk about, made by Canadians between 2010-2019. What we got were four very eclectic lists that we think illustrate the depth and breadth of the Canadian comics world.
Today’s contribution comes from Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, of Toronto’s Little Island Comics and The Beguiling.
- Jane, le renard & moi by Isabelle Arsenault and Fanny Britt (La Pastèque)
Arsenault’s and Britt’s graphic novel debut explores the fraught social world of middle school, the effects of bullying, and the power of literature to shape our point of view. An absolutely artful, very real, middle-grade book.
- Rapide blanc by Pascal Blanchet (La Pastèque)
Blanchet deploys a mid-century style to tell the story of the founding, flourishing, and eventual dissolution of a company town in a remote part of Québec. Though the visual mode is bold and clear, the narrative is subtle and rewards re-reading.
- Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Margaret K McElderry Books)
Carroll is a brilliant cartoonist and these five short horror pieces, several of which riff on traditional folktales, are a great showcase for her talents. This book is an absolute triumph.
- Awkward, Brave, and Crush (the Berrybrook Middle School books) by Svetlana Chmakova (JY)
These are among the most popular Canadian comics for kids, and for good reason. Chmakova’s dense pages dig deeply into the social and psychological tensions of middle-schoolers in a way that is accessible and entertaining. Perfect for kids, but these books pack quite a punch for adult readers as well, who will see their younger selves on every page.
- Jimmy et le bigfoot by Pascal Girard (La Pastèque)
Girard makes wonderfully cringe-worthy comics, and this story of an awkward coming-of-age in small-town Québec is perhaps the best example of that particular brand of delight.
- The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book by Gord Hill (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Pointed, political, and ever more relevant, Hill illuminates the connections between the many and varied acts of Indigenous resistance to occupation in the last five centuries. 500 Years of Resistance is definitely essential reading.
- Young Frances by Hartley Lin
This quarter-life-crisis story is fun and quirky and heavy: a perfect contemporary fiction set against the backdrop of lovingly drawn Toronto streetscapes.
- On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin (D&Q)
Obomsawin records the ways, the moments, the feelings by which various women came to first realize their queer desires: frank, charming, surprising, heartening, and resonant.
- This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki (Groundwood)
Perhaps the most acclaimed and most banned Canadian book of the last decade, this coming-of-age story follows two kids who are both eager and reluctant to enter the world of adulthood.
- Hungry Bottom Comics by Eric Kostiuk Williams
Great, contemporary, queer cartooning, slightly surreal, and in a dynamic and distinctive visual style that is dense and fun and gorgeous. I wish all comics were this juicy.