Adult fiction didn't sell well last year, with sales figures dipping by about 1 percent from 2015's numbers. But graphic novel sales went up in 2016, and that's something to celebrate.
Publisher's Weekly calls graphic novel sales "the lone bright spot in fiction" for 2016. Sales of comics and graphic novels increased by 12 percent over 2015, perhaps because a lot of big-name authors published new work last year. A lot of fantastic graphic novels came out in 2016, driving comics further out of their niche and into the mainstream.
Even though adult fiction sales took a dive, print book sales actually went up in 2016, as they did in 2015 and 2014. (The three-year increase in print sales is a fun little fact you can pull out any time someone laments that people are too attached to their electronics.)
If you didn't pick up any of 2016's best graphic novels last year, I've got seven suggestions for you to check out below. Because the comic book industry — which consists of far more publishers than the Big Two — puts out many, many volumes every year, my short list cannot be anything close to exhaustive, so please be sure to share your favorite contemporary graphic novels with the rest of us on Twitter.
1'Angel Catbird' by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain
Margaret Atwood's first graphic novel is the conservationist-minded tale of a man whose DNA is spliced with that of his pet cat and an unlucky owl. It sounds weird, but it's downright delightful.
2'Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book One' by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
Between the World and Me author Ta-Nehisi Coates rebooted Marvel's Black Panther series in Spring 2016, and the first graphic novel — which contains Black Panther (2016) Nos. 1-4 and Fantastic Four (1961) No. 52 — hit store shelves in August. The reboot's popularity landed it a spin-off series: Roxane Gay's World of Wakanda.
3'Faith, Vol. 1: Hollywood and Vine' by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage
After making her debut in Valient Comics' Harbinger series, Zephyr — A.K.A. Faith Herbert — got her own comic book miniseries in 2016. Fan response was so great that Faith No. 1 shattered records to get the fastest third print run in comic book history, and Faith was expanded into a full-length series. Faith, Vol. 3: Superstar comes to a comic book store near you on June 27, 2017.
4'Mooncop' by Tom Gauld
This quiet little graphic novel was one of the best books I read in 2016. The title character has always wanted to be a police officer in space, and he's just landed his dream job. But now everyone is leaving the moon and going back to Earth, and poor Mooncop must decide what to do with his imminent solitude.
5'Rolling Blackouts' by Sarah Glidden
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less author Sarah Glidden published this work of meta-journalism in 2016. Rolling Blackouts tells the story of how news gets reported, following Glidden and her independent journalist friends on a months-long tour of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.
6'Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF' by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos
Ten-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette has Inhuman DNA, but that won't stop her from trying to make the world a better place. When one of her inventions goes awry, the preteen opens a portal into Dinosaur World, where she finds her new best friend: a giant, red lizard possessing human-level intelligence.
7'Patience' by Daniel Clowes
Patience is "A COSMIC TIMEWARP DEATHTRIP TO THE PRIMORDIAL INFINITE OF EVERLASTING LOVE," according to the back cover. If you loved Daniel Clowes' Ghost World and want to read something that looks like your local newspaper's funnies, check out Patience ASAP.