2021 in Books and Comics

Quick recap— mid-2020 I made a little paper/pen holder with a deposit slot behind it. For every book or graphic novel I read, I tear off a sheet, jot down the title and date I started reading. I use it as a bookmark, and when I finish, I note the end date and write a little note about the book/comic. Sometimes I doodle a picture.

Somewhere out there, Mrs. Millen is rolling her eyes and saying to the person next to her, “Now he starts tracking what he reads?”

If you’re curious, the grand total for 2021 was 80 little slips of paper, representing 24 books, 41 graphic novels, 13+ individual issues of comics (because sometimes I’ll use the same sheet if I read multiple issues in a sitting), and a couple books that are collections of one panel comics or tweets.

Last year I published a timeline of everything, but that was more work than I want to do today. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few titles from each month that stood out, for whatever reason. I’ll note going into it that several of the comics I learned about from a “best of 2020” list, so if you’ve heard of them before, that’s why. 


Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?
This book is hysterical, and would be worth the price even if all it had was that “Bwoocy hungy” line.

A vampire and a werewolf start dating. Single panel comics, adorably goofy.

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacy
My guess is that Black people will absolutely believe what happened to Lacy. The stories here run from hilarious to horrifying, and should be required reading for white people.

Impossible Jones
Kickstarter comics tend to be hit or miss, but this one is a lot of fun. Their website describes her as “A little bit Harley Quinn, a little bit Plastic Man.” She’s a hero in air quotes.


Superman Smashes the Klan
Yes, that Klan. Based on a radio play from the 40s, and disappointingly relevant today. Again, white people…just do better, okay?

Second Coming
I just found out the second volume of this is available, so I’ll probably be re-reading it. Jesus comes back to Earth and rooms with a super hero (who’s also in group therapy). Things don’t go well. Also, his dad is a real asshole.


Star Wars: Into the Dark
Part of the “High Republic” series of releases Disney kicked off last year. I’m still not sure about the whole Nihil thing, but this story was solid enough.


Exiles vol 1 & vol 2
Characters from different timelines come together to save the multiverse. If that sounds like “What if?” and the Loki series on Disney+, you’re pretty close. 

Gotham Central
Think “The Wire” but in Gotham. Light on super heroes/villains, heavy on detectives in Gotham PD. The Omnibus is a beast of a book, but it’s well worth reading. 


Lumberjanes (multiple)
Monstress (multiple)

I bounced back & forth between these all month. Lumberjanes is as light and goofy as Monstress is dark and intense. 


The City We Became
I dug this a lot more than N.K. Jemison’s “Broken Earth” trilogy, and am super looking forward to where the series goes next.


Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History
Four-plus decades of D&D art, with the history of the game alongside them.

The Book of Accidents
I’ve been surprised to find myself reading horror novels recently, largely thanks to Chuck Wendig. I just drew a picture of an owl on my slip of paper for this one. *wink*

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels
More romancey than I was expecting. A fun read if you like silly Victorian magical hijinks.


Bandette vol 4: “The Six-Finger Secret”
Presto! We love our Bandette in this house.

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?
If I were to pick a book of the year, this would (probably) be it. Eddie Gein was the inspiration behind Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Leatherface), etc… Seriously messed up dude. 

Both interesting and maddening. Interesting because it takes the story of rubber ducks dumped in the ocean and spins it out into climate change, manufacturing, supply chains, pollution, etc. Maddening because the writer meanders as much as the damn ducks. If you like stories in the New Yorker, you’ll love this.


Hawkeye (Fraction/Aja)
Bro, we have a two-book collection of these stories, not the omnibus I’ve linked to. Not sure what’s up with that cover art, bro, since the meat of the story doesn’t have him in that costume, nor is it the art style the stories known for. Anyway bro, this is the stuff the Disney+ series is largely inspired by. It also features an issue entirely from Pizza Dog’s perspective, bro.


Foundation Trilogy
This is the third (at least) time I’ve read the series. The show on AppleTV+ barely resembles the original books, which is what prompted me to revisit it. The books are…definitely of their time, but as one of the first authors that got me into sci-fi, they’ll always have a special place for me.


The Lady From the Black Lagoon
Not sure why there hasn’t been a movie or one of those limited series about Milicent Patrick, yet. She deserves one.


The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
Second time I read this one. Yeah, that angel is pretty stupid. He means well, though.

Special mention

You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton!
We kept this book on the dining room table and used it for daily motivation, reading a page out loud a day. I expect it will come back out again at some point in 2022 for a second run.