There's no doubt that 2022 was a high-quality year for entertainment with seemingly every popular medium under the sun resurfacing from years of pandemic-driven turmoil to remind us why we love to leave home and discover new stories. Movie theaters delivered titanic blockbusters; television series and wrestling promotion summoned shocking twists; video games let us experience new ways of thinking. And comics, our website's namesake, were no exception to this trend.
Across the realm of comics publishing, there were plenty of highlights to be found amongst new manga, revived superhero series, and plenty of exciting updates. However, there was no aspect of the comics scene quite as exciting as the many original, self-contained works which showcased a wide array of artistic talent detailing dark tales of terror, sweeping high-fantasy, and reflecting life in the 21st century at its most honest. We refer to these singular publications as graphic novels for the literary merits they bring to this vast visual medium. 2022 produced a collection of original graphic novels bound to resonate for years to come.
And the winner of the 2022 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Graphic Novel is…
Ducks created by Kate Beaton!
Published by Drawn and Quarterly, the long-awaited volume Ducks details famed Canadian cartoonist Kate Beaton's early adult life working in the tar-sands of Alberta. It provides an intensely personal portrait of leaving home and surviving systems of capitalism, misogyny, and abuse in which work is anything but voluntary. It follows in a proud tradition of comics memoirs that capture the most intimate affairs of a cartoonist's life and transforms them into a universal meditation upon profound forces. Ducks already seems destined to be taught alongside works like Persepolis, Fun Home, and Maus.
Beaton's artwork ranges from familiar, focused comedic beats capturing small moments of daily life to vast, detailed depictions of western Canada's natural beauty and the industrial forces morphing that landscape. Her ability to zoom in and out of such complex systems applies to the narrative as well. Even as it roams across many sites, each with their own set of employees, Beaton never loses track of any individual's humanity. Readers are compelled to look past simple distinctions of hero and villain to recognize themselves and their loved ones in these specific depictions. Ultimately, it's Beaton's honest approach and unwillingness to moralize that provides a nuanced depiction of the most dangerous forces threatening new generations coming of age in the 21st century. There are no easy answers or explanations, but Beaton guides readers to a greater understanding of the complexity and our place within it in a transformational work of profound beauty.
Congratulations to Kate Beaton and the folks at Drawn and Quarterly on their Golden Issues Awards win!
The 2022 nominees for Best Graphic Novel are:
- Clementine: Book One by Tillie Walden (Image Comics)
- Ducks by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly) -- WINNER
- It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood (Image Comics)
- The Night Eaters: She Eats The Night by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
- Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith (Chronicle Books)