iFanboy’s Best of 2012: The Best New GN’s and Collections



There comes a time in a series’ life when it can no longer exist in the form of disparate issues stuffed to the gills with ads designed by someone with no sense of a book’s readership. When this time comes the issues develop a cocoon or chrysalis where they metamorphose and eventually emerge as a trade paperback. If the book survives long enough, sometimes even the trades undergo a secondary mutation and become an omnibus, which is a type of book specially designed to get nerds to buy the same product again. “Isn’t that the same thing as a graphic novel?” you’ve certainly been asked by the uninitiated. “Nay,” you reply, for a OGN or original graphic novel, is a book that eschewed the monthly grind and was given to fans lovingly as a solid chunk of story. It’s these collections and OGNs that line our shelves while the single issues waste away bagged, boarded and stored out of sight. Some truly exceptional books came out in 2012, and here is our chance to give them their due.


10. Fury Max: My War Gone By, Vol. 1

Garth Ennis understands that Nick Fury is a bastard. And Ennis is good at writing bastards, especially bastards during wartime. So what better pairing than Nick Fury drinking his way through stories of his heyday? This comibnation yielded an amazing little book called Fury Max, a book we’re not sure if Marvel knows we’re publishing, and hope they never find out. Fortunately, Ennis and artist Goran Parlov have snuck out enough issues of this gem to be collected into a trade that you should ferret behind enemy lines while Marvel is still looking the other way.


9. The Invisibles Omnibus

Remember that time you were abducted by aliens? Grant Morrison does. And that’s what this book is about. Probably. It’s hard to say, really. But The Invisibles is one of THE series from Vertigo and now you can have it in a delicious Omnibus form. One of the more obvious inspirations for the Matrix and some of Grant Morrison’s headiest work, which is really saying something. Whether for the first time or as a more handsome collection than softcovers, you really ought to have this book on your shelf.


8. Saga Vol. 1

Saga started in early 2012. Enough issues came out that they put out a trade. As Saga is one of the best new series of the year, by the communicative property of comic quality the collection of Saga, Vol. 1 is also one of the best trades of the year. QED.


7. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score

The Score is the latest in Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s leading man Parker, and possibly my favorite of the bunch. I hope that for years to come no “Best of” list is complete with the next installment of Cooke’s masterfully crafted tale of Parker and his antics.


6.  Rocketeer Adventures, Vol. 2

As one of the younger iFanboy staffers, I missed out on the original Rocketeer stories. I saw the movie as a kid, but didn’t get to experience the comic until much later as an adult. I fell in love with every aspect of this book, and was saddened that there would never be more. Then IDW audatiously said that they would make more, and backed up that announcement with some of the best talent working in comics today and gave us Rocketeer Adventures, and boy am I glad they did. Then just to show it wasn’t a fluke they did it again and gave us volume 2. An anthology of loving tributes which actually complements the original work is a rare and special thing, deserving both a place on this list and in your home.


5. Blacksad: A Silent Hell

For those in the know, the release of new Blacksad album is a joyous occasion. For the most part, the comics cultures of North America and Europe seem relatively disconnected, but Blacksad has bridged the gap like a modern day Tintin to win the hearts and minds of every reader lucky enough to gaze upon its glory. Besides excelling at classic noir storytelling, the art of Blacksad is unparalleled in its beauty. Having Blacksad: A Silent Hell set in an iconic city like New Orleans only heightens the eye candy. While I must recommend getting the first volume first, as far as 2012 offerings go, Blacksad: A Silent Hell is an easy pick for one of the best.


4. Fear Agent Omnibus, Vol. 1

Fear Agent was a special book. It was done by a writer still in the early days of his ascent, and drawn by a cadre of some of the most exciting artists to hit the scene in recent memory. The tale of Heath Huston is at time exhilarating and at times tragic. I’ve read some of the old sci-fi comics from which Fear Agent is thematically derived and I have to say that Fear Agent is a cut above. Jumping genres from sci-fi, to western, to war without ever missing a beat, yet always exploring a cohesive world without ever getting bogged down in the details Fear Agent is the special kind of thrill ride that can easily make you cry by the end and it was nice to see that in 2012 it got the prestige format it deserved.


3. The Underwater Welder

For some reason, Jeff Lemire’s new graphic novel, The Underwater Welder, was my most anticipated book of 2012. I’m a big Lemire fan, I like SCUBA diving, and there was something so offbeat about the idea of a book about a guy who welds things underwater. I was quite surprised to find this book took a Twilight Zone twist, without ever losing the honest human drama I expected from a Lemire book.


2. Scalped Vol. 10: Trail’s End

One of the best, and quite possibly the last, of the epic Vertigo runs has come to a close. Jason Aaron’s tale of life on the rez is as consistently heart-breaking as it is well-crafted. There have been times where a friend has asked, “I want to read a new comic series, and I’m actually in the mood for something with a superhero.” And I still recommend Scalped. Even as fiction I felt like Scalped opened my eyes to the realities of what amount to third-world nations without the very borders of the United States. Revealing a truth through fiction is one of the highest aims art can aspire to, and for that I will be sad to say goodbye to Aaron and Guerra’s Scalped.

Tale of Sand HC Cover

1. Tale of Sand

iFanboy has already lavished Tale of Sand with much-deserved praise. It was even named the iFanboy 2012 Book of the Year, so there is little that remains to be said by me. From the gorgeous design and presentation, to the story behind the story, Tale of Sand truly is the kind of book you cannot pass up owning, cherishing, and sharing for years to come.


  1. Great list Ryan, pretty much all awesome books. The only book that leaves me scratching my head is everyone’s apparent favorite, “Tales of Sand”. To me it was just bunch of random events strung together, reminiscent of Mobius but not as good. Is it the Henson connection for people? If the book was by Anonymous, would it get all this attention?

    But yea, Fury, Scalped, Welder, Parker, Saga, nice list!

  2. i LOVED tale of sand, one of the best OGN’s i’ve EVER read. but it came out in 2011.

  3. Saga & Scalped both were great buys for me, so highly recommended!

  4. Get Jiro was awesome.. That would be on my list. Also probably Batman Year One..

  5. As I have said in numerous “Best of the Year” threads, I would have included volume 1 of Mind the Gap in here. Such a great comic. But this is a great list. All well deserved of their spots.

  6. Just picked up that Fury Max trade, along with issues 7 & 8, good stuff, I look forward to getting all caught up.