With more than a million visits in our first year of operation, Comics in Education is pleased to present its first annual awards for the best graphic novels of the year. The purpose of the awards is to acknowledge three outstanding works published during the calendar year that represent remarkable achievements of the visual narrative form. Winners may append the gold, silver, and bronze icons to their promotional materials and earn the right to identify their works as the first-ever medal winners in what will become an annual tradition for the Comics in Education website.
Here are the three winners for 2014 and congratulations from Comics in Education!
3. Kill My Mother, by Jules Feiffer
Feiffer's graphic novel has received considerable praise, and when it comes right down to it, such praise is the result of great storytelling. Because of its complex narrative and brilliant line work, Kill My Mother is the kind of graphic novel that envelops rather than merely engrosses the reader--a tale that weaves together the stories of five women linked by a has-been private eye. Reading the narrative feels like watching the very best that film noir has to offer.
2. Hoax: Psychosis Blues, by Ravi Thornton
Illustrated by various artists and based on the relationship between Ravi Thornton and her late brother, Rob, who ultimately lost his battle with schizophrenia in 2008, Hoax: Psychosis Blues is one of the most compelling graphic stories of the past decade. Rob's tale is told in the poems he wrote, brought to life by such accomplished artists as Hannah Berry, Julian Hanshaw, and Bryan Talbot. Hoax is a cross media project, with the other principal strand being Hoax: My Lonely Heart, a musical stage performance. On its own, however, Thornton's graphic novel represents a superlative achievement in visual storytelling.
1. The Boxer, by Reinhard Kleist
Telling the story of Harry Haft who is sent to Auschwitz at 16, is forced to box for his life while imprisoned by the Nazis, escapes captivity, and eventually emigrates to the US where he fights Rocky Marciano in 1949, The Boxer is Comics in Education's pick for the best graphic novel of 2014. Not only is the story remarkable in itself, but Kleist's deft handling of the narrative--both the verbal and the visual--is like something out of a Will Eisner comic. It is, quite simply, brilliant.
Congratulations to the Winners, and see you again next year for our 2nd annual awards!
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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