Runners up to my Top Ten of 2017 list, including Asterix, Lucky Luke, Harmony, and more

Runners Up to the Top 10 Franco-Belgian Comics of 2017 (That I Read)

Last week, I picked 10 comics for my “Top 10 Franco-Belgian Comics of 2017 (That I Read)” list.  They’re all amazing books and series.

There are other great books, though, too.  I just didn’t have room for them all.  Removing some of them really hurt. I probably should have just done a Top 20 list and called it a day, but I’m a masochist.

Today, then, I’m going to list the near-misses.  A couple of them actually did make the initial Top Ten list until I found one to include that was better and had to bump it out. It was a tough process.

So let’s see what books I left behind…

(Note: Click the images to go to my original review. Additional links, where appropriate, will appear right after the images.)

Clara

Clara cover detail

This is a one-and-done book, and quite different from everything else on this list.  “Clara” is the tale of a girl who copes with the death of her mother.  It’s a cute book, a sad book, and a wonderful book.  I’m old enough to have my mid-life crisis now, I suppose, so I’m susceptible to such tugs on the heartstrings, what can I say?

 

The Death of Stalin

Death of Stalin cover header image

Who’d have thought that one of the craziest and most tyrannical periods of Russian rule could be mined for such dark humor?

When Stalin dies, who takes over?  What happens when the people are so afraid of Stalin that nobody wants to declare him dead?

The book switches back and forth from wild political maneuvering to insanely silly political hackery that will make you laugh when you least expect it.  It’s based on the true events of the day, and they’re worth reading up on.  The book fictionalizes parts of it, of course, but appears to be much closer to reality than you’d probably think.

The story originally took two volumes, but Titan reprinted it as one book.  They made a movie of it, which got some critical notice in the fall, but not much of a release in America.

 

Mickey’s Craziest Adventures

Mickey's Craziest Adventures by Lewis Trondheim, Keramidas, and Brigitte Findakly

I love the high concept behind this — that a forgotten run of newspaper comic strips has been discovered, and this book reprints what was found. With a story by Lewis Trondheim and art by Nicolas Keramides, it’s a stylish and funny book. IDW printed a deluxe oversized edition of it, and it’s a beauty.

I should point out there that both Keramidas and Trondheim are killing it on Instagram in 2018. Click their names and start following them.  Don’t miss a thing!

The next book in the series is coming out in March from IDW. the preview pages for it are insanely gorgeous.  I can’t wait to see that one…

 

Harmony

Harmony v2 by Matthieu Reynes cover detail

Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3

Mathieu Reynes’ art is beautiful.  The first volume, by itself, almost made the Top 10 list.  The cinematic storytelling, the mysteries piled high, and the powerful lead character drew me right in. After the first cycle completed in three albums, though, I wasn’t sure what was going on.  The ancient characters from the start of the series were coming back and their tie-in to the story was beginning to show.  To me, they were the least interesting part of the series.  I still like the series and will continue to follow it, but it just missed the final list here.

If you’d like to learn more about the series, Matthieu Reynes is here to explain:

Reynes is also active on Instagram and worth a follow, by the way.

Esteban

Esteban the Whaler volume 1 by Matthieu Bonhomme cover detail

Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3

There’s a trend I’ve noticed in my list this year: Many books had an album dominated by a chase sequence of some sort.  “Valerian” had a great one in space, “Undertaker” sent wagons careening across the old west, and Esteban wins the prize for slowest chase scene this side of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” “Esteban” v2 featured two ships going at it near the South Pole, for goodness’ sake.

It’s a great story, overall, of a teenage orphan who joins a whaling ship, learns a bit about his mother’s past, and learns a lot about sailing and whaling.  Matthieu Bonhomme, also the writer and artist of “The Man Who Shot Lucky Luke,” uses a completely different style here, but still captures the story with flair.

The first storyline ran three books.  There are, currently, two more books in the series which I admittedly have not yet read.  I need to get back to those someday.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it when I do.

 

Lucky Luke: Daisy Town

Lucky Luke Daisy Town cover header

If you’re looking for the quintessential introduction to the “Lucky Luke” universe, this is your book. It’s based on the animated movie that Goscinny and Morris worked on in the early 1970s/late 1960s. The book was released a decade after that, and a few years after Goscinny’s death.

 

The Man Who Shot Lucky Luke

 The Man Who Shot Lucky Luke cover detail

“Lucky Luke” is a great series when you’re taking about the volumes written by Rene Goscinny.  The others pale in comparison.  Some are quite painful. The artists attempting to mimic Morris’ style inevitably fail.  They get the surface level stuff right, but everything behind that is so wrong that it’s painful.

When Matthieu Bonhomme did this one shot, inspired by the John Ford/John Wayne movie, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” he stuck to something closer to his own style.  It’s a stylish and entertaining tale that provides a parallel world version of the cowboy who shoots faster than his own shadow.

Along with the Valerian book, “Shingouzlooz, Inc.,” and the Trondheim/Keramidas Mickey Mouse book (see above), I like the system of honoring legacy titles by bringing in new creators to do a story in their own style that stands off on its own.

 

Alone

Alone v1 cover header featuring Dodzi

Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3

It’s like “Lost” meets “The Walking Dead” but kid-friendly.

I’m just reading this one now. I’m three volumes in, as I write this.  I like it, and it’s getting better with every book.  By the time I get to volumes 5 or 6, it might land a spot on the 2018 list. It’s just feels too early for me to put this into the top ten right now.  It winds up on this list, though, because it’s coming close.

 

Alter Ego

Alter Ego v1 "Camille" cover detail

Book 1 * Book 2

Art by the always impressive Mathieu (“Harmony”) Reynes, with a story by Lapière that is uniquely structured.

The six part story cycle tells six different characters’ stories that overlap in interesting ways. You can actually read the books in any order to get the story.  I’ve only read the first two so far.  If I read the back four in 2018, maybe the series makes that Top 10 list.  We’ll see…

There’s also a second cycle in the series with a different artist.

 

Love, The Fox

Love: The Fox cover detail for the header

A silent graphic novel telling the story of a fox trying to survive on an island that’s erupting.  Amazing visuals of animals doing what they can to survive, wrapped up in a nice package.  There are four books in the series, but I’ve only read the one so far.

Finally, and perhaps most shockingly absent from the final Top Ten list:

Asterix and the Chariot Race

Asterix and the Chariot Race cover detail by Didier Conrad

Look, I only had ten slots available to me. And, honestly, this is the last book that needs a bump in recognition. It’s been the best selling comic book in France every week since its release in October. It’s a great book.

I’ll make it up to you in 2018 with more Asterix coverage on the site.  Stay tuned for an announcement on Monday.

In 2017, I also reprinted and updated my reviews of the first two collaborations between Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, so you can read them all here:

Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad work together on Asterix and the Picts cover aAsterix and the Missing Scroll cover header

 

 

2 Comments

  • Arcturus January 11, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    You could have called this “Top 10 comics that didn’t make it in the top 10 best comics” for maximum clickbait ;^)
    (On a serious note) There’s so many comics I want to read now….

    Reply
    • Augie January 11, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      That’s an excellent idea. It’s never too late to change it! Oh, and the first subheader would be, “You won’t believe #5!”)

      Reply

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