Books·Books of the Year

The best Canadian comics of 2022

Here are the CBC Books picks for the top Canadian comics of the year!

Here are the CBC Books picks for the top Canadian comics of the year!

Squire by Sara Alfageeh & Nadia Shammas

Squire is a comic book by Sara Alfageeh, left, and Nadia Shammas. (,

Squire, a fantasy graphic novel, follows a young woman named Aiza. She's a member of the Ornu people, a subjugated group in the crumbling Bayt-Saiji Empire. With war on the horizon, Aiza enlists to train as a Squire in hopes it will lead her to Knighthood — and full citizenship. But as Aiza navigates the social and physical rigours of military training, she realizes the Empire's plans for "the greater good" may not be what's best for her people.

Nadia Shammas is a Palestinian American writer based in Toronto. Her previous work includes CORPUS: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments and Ms. Marvel: Stretched Thin. 

Sara Alfageeh is a Jordanian American illustrator from Boston. She's illustrated comics and picture books, including for Marvel Comics and Star Wars.

Ducks by Kate Beaton

 Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is a book by Kate Beaton.
Ducks is a comic by Kate Beaton. (Morgan Murray, Drawn & Quarterly)

Ducks is an autobiographical graphic novel that recounts author Kate Beaton's time spent working in the Alberta oil sands. With the goal of paying off her student loans, Kate leaves her tight-knit seaside Nova Scotia community and heads west, where she encounters harsh realities, including the everyday trauma that no one discusses.

Kate Beaton is a cartoonist from Nova Scotia who launched her career by publishing the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant online. The sassy historical webcomic gained a following of 500,000 monthly visitors and was eventually turned into a bestselling book. Beaton's success continued with the book Step Aside, Pops, which won the 2016 Eisner Award for best humour publication. Beaton has also published two children's books, King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.

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LISTEN | Kate Beaton discusses Ducks with Shelagh Rogers:

Kate Beaton talks to Shelagh Rogers about her graphic memoir, Ducks.

Rave by Jessica Campbell 

Rave is a comic book by Jessica Campbell. (Drawn & Quarterly)

This graphic novel follows a 15-year-old girl named Lauren, who is a faithful member of an evangelical church. After her devout parents banish evolution textbooks from the house, Lauren goes to study and sleeps over at her classmate Mariah's house. The evening develops into something Lauren never expected, and she's left to sort out a lifetime's worth of internalized homophobia and Christian guilt.

Jessica Campbell is an artist, originally from Victoria, whose work has been exhibited across the U.S. and Canada. Her previous books include Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists and XTC69.

LISTEN | Jessica Campbell discusses Rave on Q:

Jessica Campbell is a graphic novelist from B.C., who grew up in a strict religious community. But as she got older, she started to question her faith. Her latest book, Rave, is loosely inspired by her journey of figuring out who she is and what she believes in. Campbell joined Tom Power to tell us more.

Shifting Earth by Cecil Castellucci, Flavia Biondi & Fabiana Mascolo

Shifting Earth is a graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci, centre, Flavia Biondi, right, and Fabiana Mascolo. (Berger Books)

In Shifting Earth, botanist Dr. Maeve Lindholm finds herself stranded on a strange parallel Earth after a freak particle storm, with little hope of getting home. Her home world is on the brink of ecological disaster, but in this parallel universe nature overshadows science, children are rare and humans pay an unthinkable price when they have been deemed useless. 

Cecil Castellucci is an award-winning American-born Canadian YA novelist, musician and director. Her other books include Shade, Odd Duck and Star Wars Moving Target. She has also written Batgirl for DC Comics. 

Flavia Biondi is an Italian artist and scriptwriter. Her other works include La generazione (Generations) and La giusta mezura (Just Enough).

Fabiana Mascolo is a comic book artist based in Rome.

LISTEN | Why Cecil Castellucci tackles climate change action in a comic:

Cecil Castellucci is a bestselling YA author who splits her time between Montreal and Los Angeles. Her latest graphic novel takes on a timely challenge – climate change. Shifting Earth is about a botanist in the near future, collecting seeds from a climate-ravaged earth. She then lands in a parallel universe that is green and has everything they need, but there are still difficult choices to be made. Cecil Castelucci discusses writing about hope and inspiring a path toward climate action.

Geneviève Castrée: Complete Works 1981-2016

Geneviève Castrée: Complete Works 1981-2016 is the collected works of late cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Geneviève Castrée: Complete Works 1981-2016 is a posthumous collection of the works of illustrator, cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée. Featuring an introduction from Castrée's widower, American musician Phil Elverum, the book collects never-before-seen illustrations, comics, album covers and more. 

Castrée was a cartoonist, illustrator and musician from Quebec. Her books include the memoir Susceptible and the children's book A Bubblewhich she drew as a final gift to her then two-year-old daughterCastrée died of pancreatic cancer on July 9, 2016.

LISTEN | Why Phil Elverum put together a collection of Geneviève Castrée's work:

The musician Phil Elverum, also known as Mount Eerie, has written multiple songs about the grief of losing his spouse, Geneviève Castrée, to cancer. But there's more to Castrée than the story of her death. In a new art book, Geneviève Castrée: Complete Works 1981-2016, Elverum presents a selection of his wife's work as an acclaimed Canadian cartoonist and visual artist — someone who lived passionately in the pursuit of art. He joined Tom Power to talk about shifting the narrative from sorrow to celebration.

Birds of Maine by Michael DeForge

Birds of Maine is a book by Michael DeForge. (Matthew James-Wilson, Drawn & Quarterly)

Birds of Maine is a graphic novel that imagines life after the demise of humankind. In this surreal and post-apocalyptic reality, birds roam freely and have constructed a new and more equitable world order. But when a new human arrives to this world, life as the birds know it changes forever.

Michael DeForge is a Toronto-based creator who has won awards for comics like Leaving Richard's Valley, Dressing and Lose #1. Other acclaimed books include StuntBig Kids, Ant Colony, Sticks Angelica Folk Hero and Heaven No Hell. DeForge was a finalist for the 2021 Doug Wright Awards for Canadian comics for the 2020 graphic novel Familiar Face.

Time Zone J by Julie Doucet 

Time Zone J is a comic by Julie Doucet. (Drawn & Quarterly)

In Time Zone JMontreal artist Julie Doucet draws from her old diary entries to chronicle a whirlwind love affair from her early 20s. After developing an intimate correspondence with a reader overseas — not unheard of in the 1980s, when comic artists often mailed their work and communicated with readers through letters — Doucet flies from Montreal to France to meet the soldier, who's on furlough for a few days. 

Julie Doucet began drawing and publishing mini comics in 1988, and was featured in the anthology Heck! Comic Art of the Late 1980s. She started her groundbreaking strip Dirty Plotte in the 1990s, becoming an underground heroine and winning the Harvey Award for best new talent. Her comics — part-dream, part-diary — have been published serially as well as in collected formats. She famously quit the male-dominated comics industry in the late 1990s to focus on her other artwork. Time Zone J is her first inked comic since that announcement.

LISTEN | Julie Doucet discusses Time Zone J on Q:

Julie Doucet was at the top of her game when she announced — to the surprise of the comic book industry — that she was quitting the boys' club and walking away. Though it's been more than two decades since her last true comic book, Doucet remains an influential figure in the world of comics and has now returned with a new graphic memoir called Time Zone J. She joined Tom Power to tell us more.

Shelterbelts by Jonathan Dyck 

Shelterbelts is a graphic novel by Jonathan Dyck. (Conundrum Press)

Shelterbelts tells the story of a Mennonite community breaking open, as traditional beliefs and modern values collide. The schisms in the community reach a turning point when a non-denominational mega-church opens on the edge of the rural village. Shelterbelts weaves together scenes from the community — a pastor and his queer daughter contend with lost parish members, a librarian writes prescriptive notes in books for her patrons and young activists fight with a farmer over pipeline construction on his land.

Jonathan Dyck is a cartoonist from Winnipeg. He has received several provincial prizes for his illustrations, including a silver medal at the 2021 Alberta Magazine Awards and the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award at the 2018 Manitoba Book Awards.

LISTEN |  Jonathan Dyck on sharing his experience in Manitoba's Mennonite community:

A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp, Scott B. Henderson & Donovan Yaciuk

A Blanket of Butterflies is a graphic novel by Richard Van Camp, left, and Scott B. Henderson. The new full-colour version also features art by Donovan Yaciuk and Nickolej Villiger (not pictured). (Portage & Main Press)

When a mysterious stranger named Shinobu appears in Fort Smith, N.W.T. to claim a samurai sword and suit of armour from the museum, a young Tlicho Dene boy named Sonny is eager to help in A Blanket of Butterflies. The only problem is that the sword now belongs to a man known as Benny the Bank, who won it in a poker game. Now Shinobu, with some help from Sonny, his grandmother and a visitor from the spirit world, must face off against Benny and his men and reclaim his family's honour in the process.

Richard Van Camp is a Tlicho Dene writer from Fort Smith, N.W.T. who has written over 20 books across multiple genres. His other books include Angel Wing Splash Pattern, Night Moves and We Sang You Home

Scott B. Henderson is an author and illustrator based in Winnipeg. His other books include Breakdown and Pemmican WarsHe was also a contributor to the graphic anthology This Place: 150 Years Retoldwhich is now a CBC Books podcast.

Donovan Yaniuck is a comic book colourist from Winnipeg.

LISTEN | Richard Van Camp & Scott B Henderson talk to Shelagh Rogers about A Blanket of Butterflies:

Richard Van Camp & Scott B Henderson talk to Shelagh Rogers about their graphic novel, A Blanket of Butterflies.

A Train in the Night by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny & Christian Quesnel, translated by W. Donald Wilson

A Train in the Night is a graphic novel by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny & Christian Quesnel, and translated by W. Donald Wilson. (Between the Lines, Maximilien Faubert,

A Train in the Night is the graphic novel adaptation of the Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny's nonfiction book Mégantic. The book tells the story of the 2013 summer night when a runaway train full of oil caused a massive explosion in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic. The disaster claimed 47 lives and is one of the deadliest railway accidents in Canadian history. A Train in the Night connects the dots from the scene of the accident to the corporations, investors and politicians that may have played a role in the tragedy.

Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny is a writer, activist and videographer based in Quebec. Her book Mégantic was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Christian Quesnel is an author and comic, graphic novel and children's book illustrator from Saint-Andre-Avellin, Que.

W. Donald Wilson is a translator from Waterloo, Ont.

Kwändǖr by Cole Pauls

Kwändǖr is a graphic novel by Cole Pauls. (Conundrum Press)

Kwändǖr collects Cole Pauls's work from comic festivals, magazines and zine-making workshops. The comics cover topics like racism, family and identity and features Yukon history and Southern Tutchone cultural practices and language lessons.

Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist. He created his first comic, Dakwäkãda Warriorsas a language-revival initiative. In 2017, it won Broken Pencil magazine's awards for best comic and best zine of the year. In 2020, it won best work in an Indigenous language from the Indigenous Voices Awards. He is also the author of the graphic novel Pizza Punks.

WATCH | Cole Pauls shares his Indigenous punk comics:

Cole Pauls and his Indigenous punk comics

5 years ago
Duration 4:14
Tahltan comic artist Cole Pauls has been inspired by punk music, pizza and carrying the legacy of Southern Tutchone language through his comic art. Filmmaker: Camille Vernet

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