The Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2012

Jeffrey Dahmer, meet alien dinosaur

Mort Drucker arrived at Mad magazine in 1957, and over six decades has masterfully caricatured countless movie stars and politicians. Mort Drucker (Running Press, 272 pp., $30) includes scores of his parodies, but perhaps the most brilliant is 1963's "East Side Story," written by Frank Jacobs. Here's Drucker's snaggle-toothed Khrushchev singing, "I feel vicious, oh so vicious/I feel vicious, malicious, and low!" while JFK and our allies chime: "Nikita! We've just seen a Red named Nikita!" Set against high-contrast photos of the U.N., Drucker's dazzling cartoons took a bit of the chill off the Cold War.


And, finally, there is Chris Ware, a one-man argument against the facile glow of the Internet in favor of the delicious tactility of print. Crammed with tales of angst-ridden lives lived in rundown apartments and gentrifying burbs, Building Stories (Pantheon, various volumes in boxed set, $50) comes packed in a carton evocative of a board game. Ware's bleak stories of expanding waistlines and shrinking incomes are so compelling that you can't stop unfolding and turning the pages of the jumbo broadsheets, tiny pamphlets, and hardback books in this collection. The complex interplay of his impeccably rendered figures with graphics and text does what the best comics have done for more than a century now: thrill eye, hand, and mind in concert.

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