(Title quote from Art Spiegelman.)
These are the nominees for Best Graphic Story.
Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)
Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)
Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)
The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)
I originally thought this category would be one of the easier ones, as I have already read four out of the six, nominated them, and own them to boot. Nope. I'm still going round and round with the top three, and which one ends up at #1 depends on the day of the week.
7) Saga, Volume 6
I know this is a minority opinion, but I do not like this comic. The Eight Deadly Words applies, and has every time I've tried to read it.
6) No Award
5) Black Panther, Vol. 1: A Nation Under Our Feet
This is an admirable beginning, but you can tell Ta-Nehisi Coates is a comics newbie. I would call this first volume essentially a learning curve. All the pieces are there, and the plot has been set in motion, but the whole thing is a little disjointed. I expect the story to improve in Volumes 2 and 3, which are patiently awaiting me atop Mount TBR. (Brian Stelfreeze's art is quite good, however.)
4) Paper Girls, Volume 1
This surprised the heck out of me. I liked it far more than I thought I would (enough to order Vol. 1-2, and preorder Vol. 3). It's a story of female bonding and sistas doin' it for themselves; a sci-fi time travel saga; an alternate-worlds kill-the-monster horror tale; and a mystery wrapped and tied with a pretty 80's pop-culture bow. (As evidenced by the werewolf wearing a Guns n'Roses t-shirt.) It ends on a cliffhanger, which is something of a downer, but Brian K. Vaughn is telling a far better story here, in my opinion, than Saga.
(These were the three easy choices. Now I start gnashing my teeth.)
3) Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous
Kamala Khan is just a sweetheart. I love her family, I love her interactions with her friends, I love her endless struggle between being a superhero and a normal teenager, and I love her screwing up because of it. I also love the fact that both G. Willow Wilson and her character are unapologetic Muslims, which takes a lot more courage now than it used to.
(Argh!! Flip coins. Draw straws. Close eyes and point.)
2) The Vision, Vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man
This is actually the first half of a complete, self-contained story (and on my ballot, I nominated both Volumes 1 and 2). As the title (from The Merchant of Venice) indicates, this is a Shakespearean tragedy in graphic novel form. It's dark and sad and thoroughly adult, with (fortunately) a tiny glimmer of hope on the last page.
1) Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening
Sana Takeda's sublime art and Marjorie Liu's worldbuilding are what tipped this one to the top. (At least for today.) This would be a damn fine fantasy series in written form, with its magic, Lovecraftian feel and Egyptian tone, and centuries of history, discrimination and bloodshed (and talking cats with multiple tails), but the outstanding art gives Monstress the edge.
Next: Best Fanzine/Semiprozine