2020 saw DC leave Diamond, the direct market shut down for months, and the world fall into disarray with publishing dates pushed back due to the global pandemic. But the year was also filled with brilliant comics. Whether you love superheroes, scary stories, magical fantasy, or emotionally driven semi-autobiographical cartooning, there’s something for you in this roundup of the best comics that 2020 had to offer.
A Magical Year for All Ages
Trung Le Nguyen has long been one of our favorite artists, so we were delighted to read their debut graphic novel
Johnson and Wright prove that they’re a creative dream team with the delightful
If you’re looking for fun frolics and astonishing art, then you’ve got it. Two of the best cartoonists in the business team up for this fantasy tale about—you guessed it—a wizard and a magic potion. The artwork here is so intricate and dense, you could spend weeks poring over the pages after you finish reading. And we did! Buy it here.
Continuing her reign as queen of contemporary slice of life comics, Ukazu released the second volume of her beloved queer hockey and baking romance comic
Seeing as Volumes 5 and 6 of this stunning series came out this year (and Volume 7 is dropping on December 29), we’re shouting it out again.
This gorgeous coming-of-age graphic novel is a sun-drenched story about a struggling girls’ basketball team and the lives of the young women in it. Leong’s lively, inventive art will draw you in, and her deft character work will keep you hooked. Reading this book feels like basking in a sunset with your best friend on the edge of adulthood. Buy it here.
Incredible Indie Comics
Collaboration is at the heart of what makes comics great, but
Adrian Tomine’s long-awaited new comic didn’t disappoint. This hilarious, moving, and raw autobiographical collection centers on the pursuit of being an artist. It’s painfully relatable to anyone who makes comics or art of any kind. Tomine’s easy line work and smart humor is on display here. This is probably our favorite work that the cartoonist has released yet. Buy it here.
This is the first time Williams has been on our list but likely won’t be the last. This incredible fan comic just led to her first official Marvel work: a Monica Rambeau story for
Curated, edited, and kickstarted by the incredible Taneka Stotts, this anthology is one of the most exciting collections of comics that you’ll ever read. The all-ages, LGBTQ+-friendly book collects gorgeous stories about the Earth from some of comics’ best and brightest creators of color. This is the kind of vital, progressive, and boundary-pushing work we love to celebrate. Buy it here.
This was kickstarted last year but physical books were sent out in January, so it’s just sneaking in. And thank goodness it has! Multi-award winning cartoonist Valero-O’Connell is one of comics’ most luminous stars and this three-story collection is a perfect showcase of why. Supernatural, sci-fi, and mythology intertwine in this lovely oversized book that we couldn’t get enough of. Buy it here.
This gorgeous yet gritty sci-fi epic comes from the mind of the awesome Johnnie Christmas. Teaming up with Jack T. Cole, the pair craft a crime comic like no other. Tilde is framed for crimes she never committed, all due to her mother’s dark, dangerous secret. Cole creates a sprawling world you want to lose yourself in and Christmas spins a yarn that will keep you turning the pages. Buy it here.
We can’t express just how much we love this ’70s-set LA horror-noir. Dracula is back and that’s not good for many people except for Quincy Harker, a crime scene photographer who is suddenly very, very busy. But an unexpected allegiance with the Brides of Dracula might end up putting him in grave danger. Henderson and de Campi are a team to be reckoned with. Buy it here.
Supremely Great Superhero Stories
Hal Jordan has never been more interesting than he is in this completely wild and wonderful series from the minds of Sharp and Morrison. Whether you’re an old school Green Lantern fan or just want to enjoy a deep dive into deep space, this is a perfect read. We can’t sing this book’s praises enough. Buy it here.
The expansive lore of Green Lantern has often been strangely samey. But this Young Animal miniseries changes all of that. Not only does the series introduce a new radical Black Lantern in Jo Mullein but it truly takes advantage of the imagination and unlimited possibilities of what a Green Lantern can be in this dazzling Afrofuturist-tinged sci-fi murder mystery. Buy it here.
In case you didn’t notice, we’ve been big fans of DC’s work this year. Especially their groundbreaking YA titles, like this queer coming of age story centered around Aqualad. Maroh brings a light touch to the lovely art, while Sanchez’s story lures you in. Jake Hyde is a fan fave character and it’s great to see him get such a beautiful, thoughtful coming out story. Buy it here.
Cass Cain has been a fan fave Bat-family character for two decades but has rarely gotten her due. That all changes with this brilliant comic that puts Cass back in the spotlight. Goux and Kuhn are a killer team who made something that feels completely inventive yet utterly familiar as a Bat-story. Just a total smash. We want more! Buy it here.
It’s been a long time since we read a really, really funny superhero comic. Luckily,
Barbara Gordon has gone by many names: Babs, Batgirl, Amy Beddoes, and, of course, Oracle. This YA graphic novel centers on the latter, with the young heroine solving a mystery at the nefarious Arkham Center for Independence. Chilling, creepy, and enigmatic, this is a great read. And Nijkamp is the first disabled writer to tell an Oracle story, which makes it even better. Buy it here.
Sure, it was just one issue, but it’s easily the best Storm story we’ve gotten in decades. Ayala is a superhero comic superstar and this is just more proof. Storm heads to Wakanda to retrieve a sword known as Skybreaker as part of the wider
Super Cool Comics to Read Online
Cartoonist Chan Chau created what was probably my favorite superhero comic of the year with this utterly charming black and white Superman/Batman fan comic. Reimagining the relationship between The World’s Finest, Clark is a cartoonist at
Reinventing a beloved cartoon strip isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that award-winning cartoonist Steenz has done with aplomb. The daily strip centers on the life of Heart and her buddies as they traverse school, homework, family, and each other. Steenz’s gorgeous redesigns and sweet humor make this the kind of comic that warms your heart every day you read. Read it here.
Bianca Xunise at
You’ve likely seen some of Xunise’s radical comics before. She’s behind some of the most shared strips on the internet. But this year she broke new ground as the first Black cartoonist in the nationally syndicated strip
Although there have only been two digital issues so far, this is one of the most exciting comics this year. Sweater is a killer cartoonist with a cute and creepy illustration style that perfectly fits this atmospheric story about a pregnant couple who return home to a town that may or may not exist. Don’t let the pastel hues and gorge character work lull you into a false sense of security. Read it here.
If you haven’t been reading Olivia Jaimes’ current run on the iconic
Junji Ito is THE name in horror comics and this gorgeous reprint of his 2005 story is a perfect example why.
There’s a simple reason Rumiko is on our list twice this year: she’s one of the best cartoonists to ever live. She’s also behind some of your favorite anime and manga. This long-awaited reprint is the first in her cult horror story Mermaid Saga—based on real Japanese folklore about the flesh of the mythical creatures—is nothing short of spectacular. Buy it here.
Last but by no means least is this slice of life comedy comic. A brilliant example of Rumiko’s saucy sense of humor and stunning character work, this follows a young woman who takes over a boarding house. The eccentric crew will keep you engrossed, and every hilarious and heartfelt page showcases why Rumiko is such a beloved mangaka. Buy it here.