Written by Chris Onstad
It's not a graphic novel in every, or maybe any, traditional sense, since its primary venue is the Web, but Achewood is so profoundly genius it would be a crime to put it anywhere but on this list, and at the top of it. Achewood defies categorization or description, but a brief, futile attempt at a synopsis would go something like this: A bunch of cats, some robots, a bear and an otter who's 5 years old, live together in a fictional neighborhood called Achewood, which you might usefully think of as a grown-up, suburban, stoned version of Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood. The alpha and omega of Achewood are Ray Smuckles, a cat who's incredibly rich and successful at everything he does, but whom you can't quite hate because he enjoys it so much; and his best friend Roast Beef, who suffers from crippling depression. The art is at times crude, but it rises to moments of extreme lyrical beauty, and the writing has enormous emotional range from aching sadness to some of the most brilliant, bizarre comedy happening anywhere, in any medium.