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 Jenn Haines, owner of The Dragon chain of comic shops in Guelph and Milton, ON. Jenn is VP of ComicsPro, was a 2019 Eisner juror, and was just named to the Bleeding Cool “Top 100 Power List”.
Figuring out my top 10 books by Canadians this decade was ridiculously difficult! First off, who can remember all the books they read in a decade. Plus, Canadians are pretty darn good at comics, so honestly there are a ton to choose from! But there are certain books that leap to mind, showcasing the rich talent all across the country. Some of these feel pretty obvious, but maybe you’ll find something you didn’t know about before!
Perhaps no other cartoonist defined the decade better than Jeff Lemire, whose quantity of output this decade has only been exceeded by the quality of that output. From the collected Essex County to Family Tree, and everything in between, Jeff has blown audiences away time and again with his exceptional storytelling in a variety of genres. My favourite is Underwater Welder.
And there were several outstanding books with art by incredibly talented Canadians that deserve attention as well. Without exceptional art, these books wouldn’t be as successful as they are: Snowblind illustrated by Tyler Jenkins (Boom! Studios), Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles illustrated by Mike Feehan (DC Comics), Empress illustrated by Stuart Immonen (Image Comics), and Joyride illustrated by Marcus To (Boom! Studios).
With that being said, here are my top 10 Canadian books this decade:
Sheltered – Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas (Image Comics) – an extremely satisfying Lord of the Flies-style story, with the greatest issue #1 cliffhanger of all time.
Batgirl of Burnside – Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr (DC Comics) – a genius and needed update to the character with an amazing costume redesign by Cameron Stewart
When I Arrived at the Castle – Emily Carroll (Koyama Press) – Carroll has a truly unique voice in comics, creating visceral discomfort wrapped up in gorgeous art
Parker: Slayground – Darwyn Cooke (IDW Publishing) – my favourite of the series, showing off Darwyn’s talent and love of the source material
Isola – Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl (Image Comics) – this epic story brings long overdue attention to the immense talent of Karl Kerschl.
This One Summer – Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (:01 First Second) – the Tamakis were always ahead of the curve when it came to YA, and this book shows just how good they are at it
Bigfoot – Pascal Girard (Drawn & Quarterly) – Girard’s pace and dry humour makes his audience feel just as uncomfortable as his protagonist
Bera the One-Headed Troll – Eric Orchard (:01 First Second) – gorgeous art, personal themes, brilliant colouring make this a must-have book for all ages
Berrybrook Middle School – Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press) – Svetlana is the Raina Telgemeier of Canada
Three Thieves – Scott Chantler (Kids Can Press) – most overlooked kids series on the market, given how truly exceptional it is