Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, words and art by Hitoshi Ashinano - Cheery. Post Apocalyptic. Slice of Life. Different New Things. When I think of everything I think a comic should be, I think of YKK. It's quiet, spare, sometimes entire chapters go by with no words at all. Everything is beautiful. Three generations go by quietly, and it never feels restless, never feels like something should happen. It's a perfect portrayal of what heaven might look like, a world completely free of "want" or "need". And it doesn't have an ending, just a place where there stop being more chapters. It doesn't end abruptly, it doesn't feel unresolved, but it isn't tied up in a neat little bow.
Azumanga Daioh, words and art by Kiyohiko Azuma - One of those rare stories that manages to be really funny and really moving at the same time. I laughed until I cried and I just cried, both.
Cerebus the Aardvark, words by Dave Sim, art by Dave Sim and Gerhard - Who is Gerhard? Nobody seems to know. He's one of the best lanscape artists I've ever seen, but Dave Sim is so outspoken that he gets swallowed up. But his backgrounds stand testament to his genious. I haven't read all 300 issues, but I've read what's considered the core of the comic, and it's amazing. Jaka's Story is the moving, human portrayal of a young girl's coming of age, Church and State is a multilayered political alegory full of fascinating characters, and Mothers and Daughters is an intricate, collage-like look into the mind of a man losing his grip on the world. Just don't try to take the mysoginist polemic to seriously.
Sandman, words by Neil Gaiman, art by just about everyone - It has its ups and downs, but Sandman is a remarkably rewarding book, full of allusions and poignant one liners that seem to ring with otherworldly significance. Every time I read it, I get the feeling that I'm being told something extremely important, if only I can pay enough attention.
Saukkosotilaat/Otter Soldiers, words and art by Elina Hopeasaari - This is the closest thing to fantasy you'll find me reading. Santa Claus is dead. The elves are trying to keep this quiet so that they can continue to gain influence among the "nice" children and eliminate the "naughty" ones. The art is impressive, the people really look like people to an unnerving degree, none of the slick lines you find in Japanese and Japanese-influenced comics
Epileptic, words and art by David B. - It's a french memoir about growing up with an epileptic brother, but the art has a Oaxacan sensibility to it. The way he portrays his family reminds me of...
Blankets, words and art by Craig Thompson - Beautiful, not-quite-there art, and a great portrayal of a family's dynamics. They're a pretty scary family, they can be really brutal at times, but they very clearly love eachother and only want what is best. But sometimes they don't get that.
Alien Nine, words and art by Hitoshi Tomizawa - This comic suffers from multiple reader disorder. Some people talk about Alien Nine as that comic that has really cute drawings of violent fights and gross aliens, and a main character who cries too much. Other people talk about Alien Nine, that touching study of three girls suffering through puberty together before all of their friends, the terror of sexuality personified in the creatures they fight, and a main character who suffers from a crippling anxiety disorder, at times too consumed by fear to even move. I read the second version, and loved it.
Saikano, words by Shin Takahashi, art by Shin Takahashi et. al. - There is something really appealing about the idea of my personal frustrations and difficulties being tied to the fate of the world. And the main characters' relationship so closely paralels my relationship with the woman I love that it's uncanny. Except, y'know, she isn't the angel of death.
Chobits, by CLAMP - See my article The Problem of Chobits. I resent this comic for being so much more moving than it deserves to be.