Nowadays, in the second Golden Age of TV and the burgeoning first heyday of the podcast, writers run the show. All literary critics love words, but it sometimes seems that visual storytelling, both in the making and the appreciation, has become a bit neglected. Not so, however, in the realm of the graphic novel (or memoir, or nonfiction treatise -- we really need a different term for this genre). Putting together this (non-definitive) list of 10 standout graphic novels from 2014 was an exercise in the power of the image, whether the pages in question come in austere black-and-white or a full spectrum of color. A few of these titles use few or no words at all; others set up a fascinating dynamic between text and picture in which the visual can both undermine and transfigure what we read. Some hearken back to the early classics of the form, while others push the boundaries of what the graphic novel can do. Some you'll zip through, ravenous for the story; others you'll linger over, absorbed in the extraordinary eye candy and artistic bravado. All of them are worth returning to again and again.
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