Best Books 2014: Graphic Novels

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ALL BEST BOOKS 2014 ARTICLES:
Best Books 2014: Top Ten
Best Books 2014: More of the Best
Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction
Best Books 2014: Core Nonfiction
Best Books 2014: Graphic Novels
Best Books 2014: E-Originals
Best Books 2014: Romance

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Brooks, Max (text) & Caanan White (illus.). The Harlem Hellfighters. Broadway. ISBN 9780307464972. $16.95. HIST

During World War I, the men of an all–African American regiment suffer bigotry and repression from their countrymen but are welcomed in France, where their courage and fierceness while facing the horrors of war win them respect and honor. This fictionalized account of true events burns with anger and frustration but also with determination, righteousness, and hard-won pride. ( LJ 3/15/14)—SR

Chast, Roz (text & illus.). Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781608198061. $28. MEMOIR

In this heartfelt, sardonic portrait of her aging parents’ decline, Chast’s scratchy art perfectly captures the surreal realities of the death process. Through quirky color cartoons, handwritten text, photos, and her mother’s poems, the author provides both insight and entertainment while exposing the unpleasant yet sometimes hilarious cycle of human doom in all its physical and emotional chaos. ( LJ 3/15/14)—MC

Feiffer, Jules (text & illus.). Kill My Mother. Liveright: Norton. ISBN 9780871403148. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871402950. GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, and Obie–winning Feiffer pulls his formidable skills together for his longest comic yet: a marvelous noir murder mystery featuring five fetching, Forties-era femmes with fatal intent. The art, which includes wonderful dance sequences, continues in his tradition of loose black-and-white scrawls, then adds delicate color wash to superb effect. [Also an LJ More of the Best of 2014 pick.] ( LJ 6/1/14)—MC

Kleist, Reinhard (text & illus.). The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft. SelfMadeHero. ISBN 9781906838775. pap. $22.95. BIOG

Shrimpy but scrappy, Hertzko (“Harry”) Haft survives Auschwitz only to face the heartbreaking challenge of finding his lost love Leah in America. Having learned to box to entertain Nazi camp officers, Haft tries professional prizefighting in hopes that she will find him. Stunning high-contrast black-and-white story­telling conveys Haft’s single-minded calculus of survival and sets this among the top graphic biographies. ( LJ 8/14)—MC

Lanzac, Abel (text) & Christophe Blain (illus.). Weapons of Mass Diplomacy. SelfMadeHero. ISBN 9781906838782. $24.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS

Neophyte speechwriter Arthur Vlaminck (former diplomatic staffer Antonin Baudry) flounders amid apparent chaos in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But his seemingly flaky minister-boss is actually a gutsy visionary. In a tour de force satire matched in excellence by Blain’s elastic color art, Lanzac (pseudonym of Baudry) fictionalizes France’s 2003 opposition to U.S. aggression against Iraq for presumed weapons of mass destruction. ( LJ 9/15/14)—MC

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