“The revolution is already here.”
Those were the words of comics scholar Scott McCloud in a conversation with me last month about the increasing diversity in the comics world. McCloud, author of “Understanding Comics” and the forthcoming graphic novel “The Sculptor,” says he expects a rapid rise in the number of women cartoonists, emphasizing that roughly half “of the creative community is a volcano that hasn’t necessarily erupted yet.”
A diverse span of creators, from longtime New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast to best-seller Raina Telgemeier and rising star Jillian Tamaki, is proving true to McCloud’s words. Here are Comic Riffs’ top 10 graphic novels of 2014:
By Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn & Quarterly)
As he did in “Marble Season,” Hernandez writes of being young with piercing truth and nonjudgmental clarity. His masterful follow-up about adolescence in the ’70s is both culturally specific and experientially universal — as relatable characters are set against spare backgrounds. If you like this book, you might also enjoy: “The Love Bunglers,” in which Jaime Hernandez, after decades, somehow mines the “Love and Rockets” series (co-created with brothers Gilbert and Mario) for more gold; also, Mimi Pond’s transporting ’70s memoir “Over Easy.”
By Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Chast’s wry wit is well known to New Yorker magazine readers, but her graphic novel debut — a memoir about caring for her elderly parents — is a don’t-miss work of emotional depth. Powerfully funny and poignant, this is cartooning told straight from the soul.
By Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Harper Collins)
Russell had a tall order in turning Gaiman’s widely acclaimed macabre-for-kids tale into even pithier panels — as art now does much of the storytelling. The result is a rewarding meeting of two masters (and more contributing artists). If you like this books, you might also enjoy: The eerily enchanting “Beautiful Darkness,” by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët, and “Through the Woods,” by Emily Carroll.
By Max Brooks and illustrator Caanan White (Broadway Books)
Brooks (“World War Z”) shows a muscular flair for comics-documentary as he spotlights the real-life heroics of the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black regiment that fought the Germans in Europe and racism back home.
By Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Piskor had not been born when his new volume begins, but perhaps it’s just as well: Like a reporter with art pen in hand — and a hip-hop soundtrack in his head — the Pittsburgh cartoonist drops bold lines while steeped in deep research, bringing both a fan’s passion and a journalist’s discerning eye to this nitty-gritty history of the art form.
By Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
Davis is rightfully a rising talent, and one of her greatest gifts is her ability to build narrative momentum. She creates suspense, mystery and come-hither curiosity by never overtipping her artful hand. If you like this book, you might also enjoy: The warped and electric-tinted world-building of Michael DeForge’s wry-funny “Ant Colony.”
By Brian K. Vaughan and illustrator Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
World-class talent teams up to create this galactic adventure that is comics’ best space opus of our time. Vaughan (“Y: The Last Man”) crisply depicts the perils of parenting in wartime, and Staples’s Harvey Award-winning pen dazzles on almost every page.
By Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Sonny Liew (First Second)
Yang reaches back to the 1940s to uncover what may well be the first Asian American superhero in comics history (created by Chu F. Hing). Then he crafts an original back story and humorous, highly engaging adventures for the Green Turtle. If you like this book, you might also enjoy: The insightful writing of “Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal.”
By Raina Telgemeier (Graphix)
As a follow-up memoir to her hugely popular “Smile,” Telgemeier recounts her real-life relationship with her sibling — and the car trips of their childhood — for another intelligent hit with middle-school readers. If you like this book, you might also enjoy: Cece Bell’s textured memoir of growing up deaf: “El Deafo.”
By Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
The cousins Tamaki (“Skim”) have an amazing way with summoning the moods and emotions, sights and sometimes-threatening sounds of summer, before adolescence overtakes us like a wave. The demographic is teen readers; the joy is for all ages.
— Michael Cavna is The Post’s “Comic Riffs” columnist and graphic-novel reviewer for Book World. To read picks for the 10 best superhero comics of 2014, visit washingtonpost.com/comicriffs.