For the graphic novel -- a misleading term that's come to encompass nonfiction as well as fiction -- the days when mainstream stories about the form always included references to caped crusaders and the risible phrase "not for just for kids anymore" are vanishing in the rearview mirror. You can now find graphic novels on virtually any subject and featuring the highest level of narrative and illustrative accomplishment. The success of Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" has led to a boom in the graphic memoir, where the visual art (with droll little labels pointing to significant elements) frequently plays an ironic counterpoint to whatever the characters are saying about themselves. But if the graphic novel is uniquely suited to telling us two contradictory things at once, it can also communicate straightforward information and unambiguous lyricism. Here are some of the best books published in 2013. Some are funny, some are enlightening, some are scary, some are exciting and some are simply beautiful. All are unforgettable.
Laura Miller is the author of "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia."