Michael Kupperman’s poignant family memoir All The Answers (Gallery 13) has won PW’s 2018 Graphic Novel Critics Poll. The book received seven votes from a panel of 12 comics critics. It was chosen earlier as a PW Best Book of 2018.

A serious layered investigation that probes the history of Kupperman’s father Joel, a child star from WWII era radio (and later TV) “Quiz Kids” program, the book examines how his celebrity became a traumatic experience, turning him into an emotionally distant, unresponding parent. In All The Answers, Kupperman attempts to extract memories from Joel as he slips inexorably into dementia.

“It's a book about how families can poison the well for multiple generations, the fleeting and dangerous power of fame, and one son's attempt to understand his father before it's too late,” PW critic Rob Clough said. Kupperman, who has written that it took him years to complete the book, delves into the era’s anti-semitism and examines the emotional trauma that comes from being a manufactured show business prodigy, especially after the scandals surrounding the end of Joel’s celebrity career.

“The “Quiz Kids—super smart youngsters—were paraded around on the media of the '40s and abandoned when they weren't cute any more,” PW’s More to Come Podcast co-host Heidi MacDonald, explained. Speaking to the current era of celebrity obsession and “fake news,” MacDonald said that the book reminds readers how “the toll of "reality shows" has always been with us.”

“Reproducing cultural artifacts from contemporaries like J.D. Salinger, to period tabloids and family photos, Kupperman conjures the era perfectly,” said PW’s graphic novel reviews editor, Meg Lemke. “Not merely a top graphic novel of the year, this should be hailed as one of the finest biographies of 2018 [in any format],” according to PW critic John DiBello.


Taking second place with five votes is Chlorine Gardens by Keiler Roberts (Koyama Press), a graphic memoir comprised of “deeply personal and seemingly mundane autobiographical vignettes told with a blend of fierce honesty and a humorist's bone-dry wit,” Clough said. Focusing on her daily life as an artist and the mother of a young child, Roberts shifts between domestic and existential concerns, finding humor even in serious issues about her health. The book is also a PW Best Book of 2018.

“Roberts manages to find the humor in being bipolar, being diagnosed with MS, and having a really awful dog, all at once,” MacDonald said. Roberts prior memoir Sunburning (Koyama Press), was cited in the 2017 Graphic Novel Critic’s Poll. PW critic Rob Kirby called Chlorine Gardens: “Roberts' best book yet, which is really saying something.”

The PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll is compiled by asking participating critics to list up to 10 trade book releases they consider the best graphic books of the year. The book receiving the most votes wins; and we share the remaining top vote-recipients. Titles listed as Honorable Mentions each received a single vote. Taking part in this year’s poll are PW graphic novel reviewers Chris Barsanti, Rob Clough, John DiBello, Glen Downey, Shaenon Garrity, Rob Kirby, Maia Kobabe, and Chloe Maveal. Also participating are PW Graphic Novels Reviews editor Meg Lemke, PW’s More to Come Podcast Co-hosts Heidi MacDonald, Kate Fitzsimons and PW senior news editor Calvin Reid.


Third place is a tie between four titles. Three of the titles, Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second); Tommi Parish’s The Lie and How We Told It (Fantagraphics) and Carolyn Nowak’s Girl Town (Top Shelf) investigate gender and sexuality, including LGBTQ experiences.

According to Kobabe, these works showcase a trend in 2018: “The wealth of new trans and nonbinary voices and characters in comics.” Clough agrees, describing how in 2018, “the field keeps widening and diversifying with more women, more queer people and more people of color doing comics than ever before.”

The Prince and the Dressmaker, aimed at YA audiences but attracting adult fans, features the friendship between a Parisian seamstress and her royal client, a prince who sometimes wants to dress as a princess. Kobabe quips that the book reads, “like a cross between Cinderella and Ru Paul's Drag Race.”

In The Lie and How We Told It, two old friends meet unexpectedly and catch up on each other’s lives, “a seemingly non-dynamic subject for a graphic novel. But Parrish pumps it up to a passionate tale,” said DiBello. Kirby added: “this deceptively simple story features strikingly beautiful visuals, and has a lot to say about the fluidity of both gender and sexuality.”

Critic Chloe Maveal described Girl Town, Nowak’s genre-bending collection of short stories, as a “masterful way of celebrating being a woman regardless of size, shape, color, or any other identifying factor.” Reid said: “Nowak’s collection of exquisitely illustrated short stories captures the intensity and the absurdities of female relationships, be they hetero, Sapphic or some indeterminate combination.”

And Hartley Lin’s Young Frances (also a PW Best Book 2018), originally serialized as Pope Hats, focuses on two strong female leads in a story about an unambitious young paralegal and her best friend, an aspiring actress. “Office politics were never so lyrical as in this story about finding yourself, imposter syndrome, and navigating career choices,” MacDonald said. “Lin has created a small comics masterpiece that uses humor, a vivid sense of place, lively dialogue and fabulous drawing skills to probe the all-too-real bond between two young women,” Reid said.


Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (Drawn & Quarterly)

“21st century America's interlocking miasma of anxiety, loneliness, paranoia, and dread has rarely been more chillingly or thoughtfully atomized than in this haunting graphic novel from the artist behind Beverly.” – CB

Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels (Lion Forge).

“A soberly conceived and beautifully illustrated graphic sci-fi work that meditates on the nature of personal identity and individual humanity, and on the consequences of separating those precepts from the sum total of our life experiences.” – CR

Hey Kiddo by Jarret Krosoczka (Scholastic Graphix)

The author “tells the story of his own childhood in a moving and honest memoir. Jarrett's mother was a heroin addict who was in and out of half-way homes and jails for most of his childhood …He writes that he was saved by art, and I think his work will save others.” - MK


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (First Second)

“A witty, lively, beautifully drawn autobio story about learning to fit in and stand out at summer camp.” – SG

Why Art? by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)

“This book is part lecture, part absurdist parody of the art world, and part genuinely moving epic about the process of creating art and the community of artists who do it.” – RC

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal (Drawn and Quarterly)

“A breezy, funny look at a world without men, as a group of women recreate society, and children remember men only through a Paul Blart [movie] DVD.” – HM

My Solo Exchange Diary by Nagata Kabi (Seven Seas)

“This diary comic explores the concepts of mental health, anxiety, family, and sexuality in a way that is all too real for a lot of younger people putting themselves into the world for the first time. The artwork is animated and the writing is hilariously personal.” - CM

Berlin by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)

“It takes a special kind of author to write this sort of epic tale in this particular medium and a very careful mind when writing about living under the shadow of Nazi Germany, but lo and behold Lutes managed to create a masterpiece that captures the essence of the era in both style and form that serve as a humble model to what this medium is capable of with storytelling.” – CM

The Adventure Zone by Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy, Clint McElroy and Carey Pietsch (First Second)

“Pietsch's gleefully cartoonish art and McElroy's writing perfectly captures the non-stop bickering, adventure and general wackiness of both fantasy adventuring and playing D&D with your family.” - KF

From Lone Mountain by John Porcellino (Drawn and Quarterly)

“The latest collection of Porcellino's long-running zine, one of the quiet triumphs of the comics medium.” - SG

Come Again by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

“This period piece, set in a 70’s era commune in the Ozarks, is rich with mystery, magic, and a depth of understanding about human relationships—and the color and line work is just gorgeous.” – ML

My Boyfriend Is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris (Oni Press)

“Funny and charismatic, Ribbon and Farris give sharp sparkle to this literal storybook romance (yes, that IS a real bear that Nora's dating). Read it as a metaphor, read it as a fable or fairy tale, just read it. It's frank, silly, both passionate and compassionate, and absolutely delightful.” - JD

Art Comic by Matthew Thurber (Drawn & Quarterly)

“Thurber eviscerates the world of fine art by taking aim not simply at art criticism but at the education of young artists who can't hope to understand the forces at work against them.” – GD


After Hours Vol. 2 & 3 by Yuhta Nishio (Viz Media)

All the Sad Songs by Summer Pierre (Retrofit)

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Novel Adaptation by Ann Frank, Ari Folman & David Polansky (Pantheon)

Bad Friends by Ancco (Drawn & Quarterly)

Bad Girls by Alex de Campi and Victor Santos (Gallery 13)

Bastard by Max de Radiguès (Fantagraphics)

Blame This on the Boogie by Rina Ayuyang (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Communist Manifesto: A Graphic Novel by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Martin Rowson

Crushed by Trinidad Escobar (Rosarium)

Cupcake and Astronaut by Question No. 6 (Alternative Comics)

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Vol. 1 by Inio Asano (Viz Media)

Dork by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer (Dark Horse)

Eternity Girl by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew (DC)

Fence, Vol. 1 by by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad (Boom! Box)

Flayed Corpse and Other Stories edited by Josh Simmons (Fantagraphics)

Flocks by L. Nichols (Secret Acres)

Ghost Stories by Whit Taylor (Rosarium)

Green Lantern Earth One, Vol. 1 by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko (DC)

Hozuki's Coolheadedness Vol. 4 by Natsumi Eguchi (Kodansha)

Incognegro: Renaissance by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece (Dark Horse)

Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell (Image)

Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown (First Second)

Little Stranger by Edie Fake (Secret Acres)

Look Back and Laugh by Liz Prince (Top Shelf)

Love That Bunch by Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Drawn & Quarterly)

Machete Squad by Brenk Dulak, Kevin Knodell, David Axe, and Per Darwin Berg (Dead Reckoning)

Meal by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)

Monk!: Thelonius, Pannonica, and The Friendship Behind a Musical Revolution by Youssef Daoudi (First Second)

Moonstruck, Vol. 1 by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, and Kate Leth (Image)

My Brother's Husband, Vol. 2 by Gengoroh Tagame (Pantheon)

Niki de Saint Phalle: The Garden of Secrets by Sandrine Martin (Author), Dominique Osuch (NBM)

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (First Second)

One Dirty Tree by Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized)

Parallel Lives by Oliver Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)

Permanent Press by Luke Healy (Avery Hill)

Red Winter by Anneli Furmark and Hanna Stromberg (Drawn & Quarterly)

RM by Josh Bayer (Tinto Press)

Sheets by Brenna Thummler (Lion Forge)

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan (DC)

Space Academy 123 by Mickey Zacchilli (Koyama)

Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (Andrews McMeel)

The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett (Marvel)

The Secret Loves of Geeks edited by Hope Nicholson (Dark Horse)

Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

We're Still Here: An All-Trans Comics Anthology edited by Tara Madison Avery and Jeanne Thornton (Stacked Deck Press)

Weegee: Serial Photographer by Max de Radiguès (Conundrum Press)

X-Men: Grand Design & X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis by Ed Piskor (Marvel)