The 10 Best Comics of 2013

Reading between the lines.
Feb. 7 2014 11:44 AM

The Cartoonist Studio Prize: The Shortlist

The 10 graphic novels and 10 Web comics up for Slate’s second annual comics prize.

The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies are proud to announce the nominees for the second annual Cartoonist Studio Prize. The winner in each of our two categories will be announced March 7; each winner will receive $1,000 and, of course, eternal glory. The shortlists were selected by Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois; the faculty and students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, represented by CCS Fellow Nicole Georges; and this year’s guest judge, Christopher Butcher of the Toronto comic book store The Beguiling and co-founder of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Last year’s Cartoonist Studio Prizes were won by Chris Ware, for his book Building Stories, and Noelle Stevenson, for her Web comic Nimona.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of the Year: 2013 Shortlist

The 10 nominees for best graphic novel of the year include ambitious work by lifetime masters of the medium and first comics by talented young artists.



Boxers and Saints, a pair of all-ages books by Gene Luen Yang exploring with brutal honesty both sides of the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901. Published by First Second.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, an ambitious first graphic novel by Isabel Greenberg exploring the role of myth and storytelling in society. Published by Little, Brown. (Read the Slate review.)

The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs, Étienne Davodeau’s thought-provoking story of two friends who know nothing about what the other does, each leaping into a new world. Published by NBM.

Julio’s Day, a deceptively simple story of one man’s life from age 0 to 100, by the ever-inventive Gilbert Hernandez. Published by Fantagraphics.

Map of Days, a beautifully drawn modern fable with dark undertones by Robert Hunter. Published by Nobrow Press.

Paul Joins the Scouts, the latest in Michel Rabagliati’s series of evocative memoirs of his life in Quebec. Published by Conundrum Press. (Read the Slate review.)

The Property, a sharp, dark comedy of Israelis abroad by Rutu Modan. Published by Drawn and Quarterly.

Sunny Vol. 1 and Sunny Vol. 2, Taiyo Matsumoto’s beautifully drawn and uniquely skewed manga about life inside a Japanese orphanage. Published by VIZ Media.

Susceptible, a coming-of-age story of a young girl facing the legacy of her family by Geneviève Castrée. Published by Drawn and Quarterly.

Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Ulli Lust’s fascinating, gritty memoir about German teens lost in Italy in 1984.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year: 2013 Shortlist

The 10 nominees for best online comic of 2013 all utilize the unique properties of the Web to deepen their storytelling, whether through the accretion of detail that serialized publishing allows or through innovative design that could only happen online.


As the Crow Flies, Melanie Gillman’s charming twice-weekly series about a queer teenager stuck at an all-white Christian youth camp.

Bouletcorp, the French cartoonist Boulet’s endlessly creative collection of quasi-autobiography and time-travel shenanigans.

Gunshow, KC Green’s bizarre and lively comic about “nerds and hell and dogs and death.”

Household, a creepy and austere penciled comic by Sam Alden about a brother and sister rooming together in New Orleans.

The Lone Wolf, Jennifer Parks’ mysterious, intricate story of a girl on an adventure in the underworld.

Lucky, Gabrielle Bell’s ongoing diary comic that explores the ups and downs of the creative life.

Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Erika Moen’s plucky, fun, and extremely NSFW weekly sex-toy reviews.

Out of Skin, Emily Carroll’s dark fairy tale about a woman living alone in the woods and the ghosts that haunt her.

Sticks Angelica, a pink-toned storybook tale by Michael DeForge of a young woman and her animal friends, but weirder than that sounds.

Subnormality, Winston Rowntree’s wild and wordy ongoing comic, designed to strain a browser.

Congratulations to all 20 of our nominees. We’ll announce the winners in the March issue of the Slate Book Review.

Special thanks to the sponsors of the Cartoonist Studio Prize:

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