There are pretty much two kinds of books I’ll buy and read, and those are comics and cookbooks (and in some cases, both). This year gave me some great examples of each genre, starting with this lovely book by internet-chef-celeb Matty Matheson. There are really some terrific recipes in here, but my favorite I’ve made so far is Chow Chow (a kind of green tomato relish). Most of the recipes in the book’s second half seem a bit advanced for an amateur chef like me, but this is also the book that introduced me to the simple perfection of the Bologna Bowl and for that I’ll forever be grateful.
Manga author Junji Ito and horror go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Fans of either Ito’s work or Mary Shelley’s classic novel would do well to pick this book up. It’s a gorgeous and perfectly suited adaptation that I loved reading, and also includes some really terrifically creepy short stories by Ito with titles like “Neck Specter.” As if this book needed to win me over any more than it already did...
The only superhero comics I’ve followed over the past few years are Black Panther and now, the sadly cancelled X-Men: Red. Here we have my favorite X-Men story I’ve read in years, a wonderful callback to some classic X-stories while also telling a terrific, timely story about prejudice that feels undeniably relevant. The simple equation of X-Men + social commentary = the good stuff, remains true, but author Tom Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar also add fantastic character work to the cast, particularly Jean Grey, who hasn’t felt like a “real” humanized character in many, many iterations. Leaving behind the Phoenix Force has pushed her into some incredibly rich territory, which Asrar’s art captures beautifully.
This is just an incredibly easy recommend for any fans of Bloodborne out there. Artist Piotr Kowalski evokes the game’s design beautifully with his tightly-rendered art, while Kot has quite ingeniously crafted a simple-yet-effective narrative that touches on events in the game without outright repeating them. It’s a fantastic read for any fan of horror, but especially for people like me who’ve played Bloodborne over and over despite the many great games languishing in their backlog.