All-ages comics are not just for younger audiences anymore. The creativity and quality of the writing and art has excelled so much in recent years, that veteran readers like me are thoroughly enjoying a wide-range of graphic novels that may have been marketed towards a more adolescent age group. Our staff has enjoyed and covered many of these titles, so we feel honored and extremely exuberant to be able to share our selections. BOOM! Studios dominated our list with their wide range of titles from their KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box, and Archaia imprints. Image Comics, Dark Horse, Archie Comics, and Oni Press also made the cut.
10. Emily and the Strangers – Breaking the Record (Dark Horse) – Created and written by Rob Reger, Emily is no stranger to comics, having first been published through Dark Horse back in 2005. Breaking the Record contained a story that in our opinion was incredibly appealing to teens, and reminiscent of Josie and the Pussycats, only with a more punk goth feel.
9. Imagine Agents (BOOM! Studios) – This one almost slipped under the radar, being that the final issue was released back in January. This series from Brian Joines tells the story about the agents of I.M.A.G.I.N.E., in particular Dave Slatern and Terry Snowgoose. Tasked with policing “figments” (the imaginary friends of children), who can sometimes wreak havoc once their child outgrows them, Imagine Agents was a creative journey that featured wondrous illustrations from Bachan, and worthy of making the 2014 list on the strength of its final issue.
8. Oddly Normal (Image) – How many times has a kid wished that their parents would just go away? Oddly Normal is a tale of a typical teenage girl who is dealing with everyday teenage issues like parents, school, and bullying. Our protagonist however, is not exactly normal, as Oddly happens to be part human part witch. Otis Frampton (who writes and illustrates the series) delivers a magical tale that happens to be among 2014’s brightest titles.
7. Penny Dora and the Wishing Box (Image) – What better way to write a story for kids than to adapt a story that was originally written by a child. That is exactly what Michael Stock is doing here, as he is reimagining a story that was written by his daughter (Nico) when she was all but eight years old. With strong art from Sina Grace complimenting the script, Penny Dora is a wonderful tale about family and adventure.
6. Adventure Time (kaboom!) – The popular animated series on Cartoon Network has been one of the best ongoing all-ages titles for years now. Those adventures and the essence of the show are brilliantly adapted to comics, thanks to Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb. It was recently announced that this creative team will be leaving Adventure Time after issue thirty-five, which brings an end to a remarkable run on a title that has set high standards that most all-ages comics can only hope to live up to.
5. Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring (Archaia) – Kate Leth gets it! She truly understands the minds of comic book readers. More importantly, she knows the Fraggle Rock universe and has put out one of the best all-ages titles that carries with it a boundless appeal. Along with the radiant illustrations and colors from Jake Myler, Journey to the Everspring is one our favorites of 2014.
4. Archie (Archie Comics) – The plot and writing style still remains funny, catchy, and incredibly appealing, even after all these years. Says Stephen Porferl, “I think I will encompass all that Archie comics delivered this year, they branched out and told compelling stories alongside their usual bubblegum pop comics. All of this on the tails of the news that they’re changing the image next year, good stuff on the horizon for young Mr. Andrews.”
3. Bee & Puppycat (kaboom!) – An adorable tale about friendship and adventure, Natasha Allegri who illustrates and writes (along with Garrett Jackson) has taken early influences from anime and manga, and created characters and a series with a strong universal appeal. Bee & Puppycat (who are the antithesis of Jake and Finn) is the perfect mix of humor and adventure with a bit of angst thrown in.
2. Lumberjanes (BOOM! Box) – How good is Lumberjanes? So good that BOOM! Studios immediately had to announce it as an ongoing after initially being planned as a miniseries. In an industry that is demanding that more female voices be heard, Lumberjanes delivers with a creative team made up entirely of exceptionally talented women. What’s remarkable here is that it totally breaks the demographic barrier, appealing to a diverse audience. Shannon Waters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, Brooke Allen, and Maarta Laiho get our votes for the best collaboration of the year, and one of the best titles of 2014.
1. Princess Ugg (Oni Press) – I struggled with whether or not I should put this in the all-ages category, but ultimately despite some violence and fleshy PG-13 illustrations, this title is the quintessential all-ages comic. Ted Naifeh writes and illustrates a gorgeous series that happens to be one of the most relevant titles of 2014. Set around a Princess Academy, Naifeh has created a character in Ulga that is strong but flawed, and has incorporated important issues such as literacy, war, and bullying along with the psychological impact it can have on children. As the series has progressed so has Ulga, as she is learning to understand the differences between her and the people of the five kingdoms, but more importantly, accepting who she is. Princess Ugg is our choice for the best all-ages comic of 2014.