Posted by The Gosh! Gang on 17th Nov 2023

Gosh! Comics Best of 2023 - Adult

It's that time again! We here at Gosh! Towers have been knocking our heads together and making serious trade offs to bring you a list of our favourite books from the year. As ever, apologies if the best graphic novel you've ever read comes out sometime in the next 6 weeks. We look ahead at release schedules and get advance reader copies where we can, but things do slip through.

We'll start with the usual disclaimer: doing any kind of Best Of list is a subjective affair, and we should emphasize that these are simply the titles we collectively liked best this year. We also try to offer a reasonable spread of subject matter to find something for as many tastes as possible. So I can guarantee you won't like everything in this list, but I can also guarantee you that you'll like something.

We loosely adhere to a few rules as we put these lists together:

  • We will only do the first book of a series unless a deliberate attempt is made to create a jumping on point with it. You might have loved volume 8 of Hell's Fancy Princess for its nuanced depiction of romance in the underworld, but we won't include it, sorry. We like to make these lists accessible.
  • Books collecting stories for the first time that have been serialized prior to this year do qualify. We will also include reprints of translated editions that are being presented in English for the first time, whatever the age.
  • We just stick to physical media, and only what we might describe as a book.
  • We only include things that we anticipate will actually be available for a period of time. Inevitably when we announce these lists some books will be temporarily unavailable or reprinting, but they should generally be available.

The list below is for our Best of 2023 Adult list. For our Best of 2023 Kids list, click here.

Should you wish to purchase any of these from our webstore (please be our guest!), just click on the title, or check out the Best of 2023 - Adult page for the whole range.

So here they are, presented alphabetically (no way are we going to try and rank these), our Best of 2023 - Adult!


By Emily Carroll

Publisher: Faber & Faber

I’m a huge (and picky) fan of horror, and I often feel let down by the offerings we get in comics. Violence, death and gore ≠ horror, for me, and so when I read Emily Carroll’s first offering, Through the Woods, I knew that this was a very special cartoonist with an incredible grasp on what horror meant, and could be. A Guest In the House follows Abby, newly married to the town dentist but still desperately lonely, she attempts to be an adequate step parent to her new step-daughter and fulfill the role she feels like she’s supposed to as “wife”. But the more she learns about her new husband, the less things seem to add up, and then there’s the added complication of the presence she’s started noticing around the house. Genuinely, writing this blurb gave me the chills all over again; there’s some panels and pages in this book that made me go cold. Her first (full length) book since Through the Woods continues Carroll’s particular flavor of horror and it’s just as creepy and unsettling as you could want it to be, it’s understated and beautiful.


By Patrick Kyle

Publisher: Breakdown Press

Originally created between 2019-2021 and now collected in a complete edition by Breakdown Press, Baby is Patrick Kyle's hilarious, compassionate odyssey on what it (could, possibly) mean to grow up. We follow the titular "Baby" as they progress through oblivious juvenility, rebellious adolescence and finally whatevercomesnext. I can be incredibly picky when it comes to comics that claim to be funny, but I've read and re-opened Baby a number of times this year and there's always a panel or an expression that gets me all over again. It's an extremely accessible comic and also incredibly quotable, both of which I can attest to after recommending it to my occasionally-comic-reading partner and hearing "If I were still a baby I could be free" when I tell her it's bedtime.


By Ellice Weaver

Publisher: Avery Hill

Ellice Weaver’s character study of two adult siblings is not necessarily a fun read. It’s awkward, sometimes abrasive, contemplative, and quietly moving. In the manner of the best storytelling, it has a lot to say but doesn’t need to scream from the hilltops to say it. The conversations between lead characters Mels and Matt have no need for melodrama to draw the reader in, but rather (mostly) hinge on the quieter moments that define family dynamics, and the replayed dramas that only siblings can understand. But Big Ugly is not just a finely constructed character piece: Weaver’s beautiful, bold art gives the turning of each page its own small frisson, paid off in the revelation of line, colour and layout. All of which is to say: it’s bloody good! 


By Sammy Harkham

Publisher: Pantheon

I really can’t face organizing my thoughts on Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin into a few paragraphs for this best of the year list. Partly, because it feels I have too much to say about it but also because I feel like I might not articulate its strengths well enough. But I don’t want to let someone else do it in case they don't do it justice, so here I go.

Set primarily in Los Angeles in 1971, Blood of the Virgin is the story of twenty‑seven‑year‑old Seymour, an Iraqi Jewish immigrant film editor who works for an exploitation film production company, and his wife Ida, who's raising their daughter and trying to build a life around Seymour’s evident faults. Sammy Harkham brings us into the underbelly of Los Angeles during a crucial evolutionary moment in the film industry from the last wheeze of the studio system to the rise of independent filmmaking.

It’s a story about being a slave to yourself, your passions, your origins, and your trauma. It’s a book about making art and making amends. The characters are utterly real and compelling and Harkham’s cartooning is flawless; it’s proper comics. It took 14 years to make and it was utterly worth it. 


By Daniel Warren Johnson

Publisher: Image

Before the narrative of Do A Powerbomb begins, Daniel Warren Johnson explains his late conversion to pro-wrestling fandom during long nights trying to put his infant daughter to sleep. It’s rare for an introduction to so perfectly set the tone for the book that follows (especially when the story includes necromancers, talking orangutans and ultraviolence), but this is ultimately a family tale. Legacy wrestler Lona Steelrose isn’t allowed to follow in the footsteps of her wrestling icon mother Yua Steelrose, until an invitation from an exiled galactic warlord offers an opportunity even greater than glory. With art that is never anything less than kinetically mind-blowing in the fight sequences and evocatively heart-rending in quieter moments, the twists and escalations that follow are best discovered with fresh eyes. No prior knowledge of (or even interest in) wrestling, science fiction, or Faustian pacts is needed to enjoy this latest corner-rope-climbing triumph from Johnson and longtime colour collaborator Mike Spicer.


By Tom King & Phil Hester

Publisher: DC

Secret histories are dime a dozen in superhero comics; the shadowy cabals, grand manipulations and dark origins that led our shining heroes to the iconographies we’ve always known. Yet Gotham City: Year One avoids the superheroic pitfalls of such histories, instead telling a story of the very human tragedies of a Gotham City and Wayne Dynasty from long before the Caped Crusader was born. Tom King picks the perfect eyes to see such a story through in gumshoe-iest of gumshoe detectives Slam Bradley, who first shared the page with Batman in the original Detective Comics #1. Alongside Phil Hester’s grounded stylization and sublime storytelling, the hard-boiled cops, wily dames, and city where the rain only stops long enough for the blood to dry are brought to life with a modern-eyed approach to classic tropes. DC continues to package stories with care, and the behind-the-scenes sketchbook and cover gallery complete a lovely looking hardcover collection of one of our favourite crime stories of 2023.


By Joe Kessler

Publisher: New York Review Comics

Joe Kessler has been making comics in London for years, most-known for his anthology series Windowpane, published through Breakdown Press (for whom he's also the lead book designer). His work is striking and profound, with a masterful ability to switch between warmth and nostalgia to stings of upsetting horror and back again; comics that can leave you breathless. This year he released the highly anticipated The Gull Yettin with NYRC, a silent voyage with the main character, a young boy, and the mysterious titular cryptid. Is the Gull an imaginary friend or some sort of malevolent spectre? The work is so intrinsically "comic", the purest distillation of what we can appreciate the medium is capable of, and without ever using a balloon or a single piece of text. It's a book that will be talked about and referenced for years to come, a truly important piece of work.


By Julia Wertz

Publisher: Black Dog

A brutally honest and whimsical account of her recovery journey, Impossible People is one of cartoonist Julia Wertz’s best works. The story unfolds as Wertz tells her struggle with sobriety, but it is so much more than just a drunken confession. From depicting the most disastrous trip to Puerto Rico that reminds you of your worst breakup (the panel where Wertz shed her tears on her chubby cheeks - ouch); to the most embarrassing/hilarious review she ever left for a sex toy purchase, Wertz’s raw and unadulterated humour makes you giggle from beginning to end. If you have been a loyal fan of her since The Fart Party era, Impossible People saw Wertz mature along with her art. It's witty, it’s endearing, and you just can’t help but resonate with her silly ways of life.


By Youssef Daoudi & Adrian Matejika

Publisher: WW Norton

Jack Johnson was the first Black boxing heavyweight champion, fighting in the ring and outside it, derided, threatened and hated for the colour of his skin. This powerful, poetic graphic novel by Youssef Daoudi & Adrian Matejka tells the story of Johnson’s life framed by the rounds of his famous 1910 Reno, Nevada showdown with “Great White Hope” Jim Jeffries. Daoudi’s muscular, dynamic brush strokes bring the racial injustice and acts of defiance to life as we explore Johsnon’s past, and explode with energy in the depictions of the sport in all its brutal vitality. All the while, poet Matejka creates Johnson’s voice through verse, making for a unique, unforgettable experience.


By Shungicu Uchida

Publisher: Fantagraphics

Originally released in the 80s as an alternative manga, Minami’s Lover is an unabashed adult manga that will make you frown and chuckle at the same time. With his girlfriend Chiyomi getting mysteriously shrunk down to six inches tall one day, the main character Minami has tried to make an effort to adapt to such a drastic change. However, as a teenager, it is hard for him to not make selfish and perverted decisions at times. You either love him or hate him, and that’s the fun of reading this manga. Minami’s Lover dives into the dark side of sex and love in the eyes of a schoolboy - unfiltered and unforgiving - it is definitely not your regular teenage romance series, but far more interesting.


By Daniel Clowes

Publisher: Jonathan Cape / Fantagraphics

No matter the types of comics you read, it's more than likely you've heard of Daniel Clowes or the legendary Ghost World. Monica is his first comic since 2016's Patience and might be my favourite of his works so far. I'm going to be careful not to spoil any part of this book for you, so bear with me. Monica is a collection of 9 short stories, narrated by characters within the book, which stand as a chronicle of the American experience from the Vietnam war up until some point in the near future. There's a chronology to some of the stories, but it's your job to decide what you think is 'fiction' within the logic of the book, or what's actually happening. It's a touching, funny, sometimes horrific but utterly engrossing work of the medium with the incredible, clean comic art you expect from Clowes. I defy you to open the book to see the opening panel of the first story 'Foxhole' and not want to devour the whole thing.


By Susumu Higa

Publisher: Fantagraphics

“This is war. People die all too easily”. From seeing local Japanese troops persecuting their own countrymen to understanding the gravity of the US military occupation, Okinawa by Susumu Higa gives us a glimpse of the horrifying nature of war. The art style is incredible. It perfectly translates the devastation and the (shattered) dreams and hopes of Japanese civilians and soldiers. If you're a fan of Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen or Shigeru Mizuki's Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, this will add to your splendid collection of manga about World War II.


By Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Flipping through the pages of Roaming, it is as if you were wandering the streets of New York City with your teenage best friends in 2009. From being amazed by the biggest clothing department store to learning the best way to eat pizzas (folded), it reminds you of those halcyon days when everything was new but daunting, exciting but bittersweet. Roaming tells the story of three freshman college students, Dani, Zoe and Fiona, who are struggling to navigate their relationship with each other. Perhaps it is the captivating beige color palette, or that hint of adolescent frustration, but Roaming makes you as a reader feel nostalgic and young again. 


By Erik Svetoft

Publisher: Fantagraphics

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Erik Svetloft is my favourite discovery of the year. When I heard that Fantagraphics were releasing a bizarre and grotesque Swedish horror comic on Valentines Day, I knew this was going to be something I had to check out, and I wasn't disappointed. Spa takes place in a 5-star hotel and wellness centre, the kind that David Croenenberg might run, in northern Europe. At every turn, nothing's okay or right: guests are confronted with inconceivable monstrosities; there's a horrifying apparition in the pool; and the employees accept their cruel and sad fate. Svetloft's artwork is beautiful and extreme (that double page spread of the pig 'parade'. Phwoar!) and carries you through this ambiguous, haunting and alarming book, even when you're not quite sure what it is you're exactly reading. If you've read any Junji Ito and you're a fan of David Lynch, and you just wished that someone could successfully meld the two...pick up Spa.


By Satoshi Miyagawa & Kai Kitago

Publisher: DC

Sublime literary worth? Hilarious insight into the human condition? Propulsive, meaty action entertainment? Heartfelt examination of identity? Sure...these things are all well and good. But do you know what’s also really good? A manga featuring Superman zipping to Japan on his lunch and absolutely losing his mind over the food, that’s what. What’s the secret origin of Superman’s love of Japanese cuisine? Can Superman share his love with fellow Justice League members (and convince Aquaman to eat sushi)? Will his late order arrive in time for him to fly back to the Daily Planet within his lunch break? Read the breezy, feel-good, this-is-not-something-I-ever-expected-to-read graphic novel of the year to find out!


By Poppy Pesuyama

Publisher: Viz

This manga memoir shouldn’t be so comical when dealing with the devastating topic of sexual harassment in the workplace, yet non-binary manga artist Poppy Pesuyama manages to capture a light-hearted essence in recollecting their experiences working in the manga industry. Join Poppy-chan as they detail what it’s like to identify as a non-binary person in Japan, and receive therapy as they try to unravel their painful past. Until I Love Myself is relatable for all who have experienced trauma and have had to build themselves from the inside out.


By Liam Cobb

Publisher: Breakdown Press

What Awaits Them is the recently released collection of the comic works of Liam Cobb. When he burst onto the comics scene in the 2010s, he left an indelible impression with his artwork and form that we can still see today. You might recognise his gleaming, utopic depictions of architecture (or seen the many who have since co-opted the style) but maybe you've never seen his chilling, haunting tales of the tundra of the Old West, or the humid claustrophobia of his ill-fated and helpless tales of the rainforest. It's a book of lush extravagance and bleak reality, which rang true on their original publication and hold even more of a stark prescience today. 


By Yuta Yagi

Publisher: Tokyopop

While gay marriage isn’t legal in Japan, there is one way to go around it to make it official and legally binding for the couple - by adopting your partner. Scratching your head thinking that’s ridiculous? We know, but that’s how Yuta Yagi guarantees his partner getting hospital visitation rights and being entitled to inheritance in Japan. In this heartwarming and informative autobiography, Yagi shares with you how he met his husband and the tough grind of getting his other half legally recognised as his family member. Why I Adopted My Husband is an eye-opener for anyone, especially if you’re curious about LGBT+ laws in Japan.


By Kelly Sue Deconnick, Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha & Nicola Scott 

Publisher: DC

Kelly Sue Deconnick teams up with a murderer’s row of artists - Phil Jiminez, Gene Ha and Nicola Scott - for this three-chapter origin of the Amazons, as told in their own voices. Fed up with being marginalized by the male gods, the goddesses of Greece formulate a plan to create an isle of formidable women warriors to execute their will. Although billed as a Wonder Woman story, this is really Hippolyta’s tale, and one of the best formulations of the Amazonian culture that we’ve ever seen. And did I mention the art? Jimenez, Ha and Scott all deliver career-best work, with lush, detailed illustrations that shine in the oversized format. A must-read, whether you’re an existing Wonder Woman fan or a curious newbie.


By Deena Mohamed

Publisher: Granta

Cairo-based alt-cartoonist Deena Mohamed spins a magical realist tale of a modern Egypt where wishes can be bought in a can, animals can talk, and all the depressingly familiar inequalities in society remain stubbornly persistent. Telling three main narrative threads as a trio of characters attempt to make their most fervent wishes come true, Mohamed’s cartooning is sublime, filled with inventive flourishes. All that creativity is in the service of a story packed with satirical social commentary (witness the corrupt, Western-exploited wish-mining industry), and Mohamed has even translated the text into English herself, ensuring that none of the meaning is lost. Also, it’s damn funny!