Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Top 50 Comics of the Year

Rob unveils his list of his fifty favorite comics of the 2008.

It's never easy making a list of the year's best comics. What's funny is that I've heard a number of critics say that this was an off-year for comics in comparison to 2007. I could not disagree more. I felt there were more comics in the running for my personal top 50 than ever before and several masterpieces.

The list below is unapologetically personal, eccentric and all over the place. It's not a listing of the most "important" books of the year, necessarily. There are plenty of mini-comics on there, and I felt perfectly comfortable putting them on the same list as original graphic novels or collections. This is a list of comics that moved me the most, made me laugh the most, made me think the most or in some other way impressed me as examples of the art. A few notes before I move on to the list. There are a few notable comics missing, mostly because I haven't seen or read them yet. KRAMER'S ERGOT #7 is the most significant example of this. I also haven't had a chance to read the third volume of POPEYE yet. I wasn't able to read much from Picturebox or Closed Caption Comics this year. I decided to include collections of old material on my list, as long as the collection was published in 2008.

Without further ado:

1. ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #19, by Chris Ware (self-published, distributed by Drawn & Quarterly). If this is a predictable pick, it's because Ware continues to top himself, year after year. The story of Woody Brown was Ware's most humane, complex and absorbing work yet. Ware's metafictional science-fiction story is in fact the author reading his story and creating subconscious connections.

2. WHAT IT IS, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly). Part statement of purpose, part autobiography, part philosophical treatise, part art project, part textbook, and all of it magnificently exploring the nature and process of creation. This is a book I'd recommend to every artist and writer, filled with self-deprecating wit and wisdom.

3. LITTLE NOTHINGS, by Lewis Trondheim (NBM). Trondheim is one of the people who can lay legitimate claim to "world's greatest living cartoonist", and this volume of spontaneous autobiographical vignettes may be his single best work translated into English. It's funny, thoughtful and beautiful to look at. I'm delighted that a sequel is on its way.

4. BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON, by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics). This is the year everyone started to notice what Shaw was doing. BBB was the book that took the lessons he learned during his years of doing experimental comics and applied it to the genre of "family drama". It's full of strange connections and disconnections as the members of the Loony family all live in their own little realities. Shaw mines a lot of humor from the awkwardness of their relationships and lives.

5. INKWEED, by Chris Wright (Sparkplug Comic Books). The best of many great books from Sparkplug, this collection of scratchy strips by Wright explores lust, creation, destruction and obsession. His eccentric character design and sheer density of his images draws the reader into his turbulent and frequently raunchy world.

6. WORMDYE, by Eamon Espey (Secret Acres). This release by promising new publisher Secret Acres took me by total surprise. Espey creates a bizarre, hallucinatory world filled with nightmarish dream logic. Espey mixes dark humor, naivete' and a take-it-or-leave form of storytelling in his short stories that are related by theme and tone more than specific content.

7. PETEY AND PUSSY, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics). This was the funniest book of the year, with the lead story containing an amazingly dense layer of jokes, gags and long-form payoffs. Kerschbaum manages on the one hand to use gross-out humor to maximum effect, but there's always a fiendish intelligence behind these jokes that give them an even greater impact. Only Michael Kupperman is in Kerschbaum's class when it comes to matching up artistic chops with the effective use of the gags they think up.

8. AN ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION, CARTOONS AND TRUE STORIES, Volume 2 (Yale University Press), edited by Ivan Brunetti. This companion to the fantastic first volume is much more idiosyncratic and personal. Once again, the way Brunetti edited the volume was absolutely key to the way each piece works in this book. Indeed, each piece comments on preceeding stories in new and surprising ways. This volume also has the added bonus of reprinting many more obscure cartoonists. If the first volume was ideal in teaching comics to beginners, this volume extends those lessons to a more advanced set of pupils.

9. BREAKDOWNS, and PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG %@&*!, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon). Among other things, this book is an illustration of the sheer willpower needed to sustain a career as a cartoonist, much less one trying to push the envelope as much as Spiegelman. This is a beautiful art object in addition to being a reprint of a groundbreaking collection of strips. The new series of autobiographical strips is every bit as fascinating as the old material, as Spiegelman tries to figure himself, and cartooning, out.

10. WILLIE AND JOE, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics). In a decade marked by reprints with strong production values and design, this collection of all of Mauldin's World War II work stands out. The design, the fonts used, and the paper are evocative of the war, giving a worthy platform for a series of brilliant strips drawn with a lively hand. Every library in the US should have a copy of this book.

11. THE HOT BREATH OF WAR, by Trevor Alixopolous (Sparkplug Comic Books). Alixopolous produced yet another thoughtful, provocative book about the intersection between personal and political, this time focusing on the relationship between war and sex. He approaches the subject in a number of of different ways (literal, lyrical, metaphorical), all with a lively, loose line.

12. BOURBON ISLAND 1730, by Lewis Trondheim & Appollo (First Second). Trondheim is not only one of the greatest cartoonists in the world, he's also one of the greatest collaborative cartoonists as well. This book is one of his densest in terms of subject matter and characterization, spinning a complex narrative about the ways in which colonialism lessens both the colonized and the colonizer along with the nature (and cost) of freedom. The production from First Second is absolutely top-notch.

13. ALAN'S WAR, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second). Speaking of collaborations, this is an artist's interpretation of one man's need to discuss his life in terms of anecdote and personal encounters. The restraint of both narrator and artist masks the lurking tensions within. It's a fascinating companion piece to WILLIE AND JOE.

14. PAUL GOES FISHING, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly). This was the greatest entry in the low-key, playful and sometimes melodramatic Paul series. Rabagliati wove crackerjack anecdotes in and out of a tranquil plotline, then took a dramatic left turn before ending on the most emotionally affecting scene in any comic I read this year.

15. The works of Kevin Huizenga. I lumped GANGES #2, FIGHT OR RUN, OR ELSE #5, NEW CONSTRUCTION #2 and THE FACTOIDS OF LIFE together because they all seemed like disparate parts of the same project. GANGES was his "big" release of the year, but each of these comics seemed to flex a different part of his cartooning skill set. Huizenga takes a number of his visual cues from the golden age of newspaper strips, filtered through an inquisitive and probing intellect. This year also showed off his dry wit.

16. PERLA LA LOCA, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics). This volume of the new Love & Rockets reprint collection featured Jaime's best-ever stories in "Chester Square" and "Wigwam Bam". This is when Jaime took a loosely-defined set of characters and gave them a depth, warmth and humanity that made them unforgettable. These are also some of the best-drawn comics of all time. Having both stories in one volume is truly a public service for readers; the only reason why this is not higher on my list is that I've read these stories elsewhere many times.

17. BEYOND PALOMAR, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Beto's epic "Poison River" is one of the most complex, convoluted and shattering stories ever. Much of his more visceral, nihilistic current work can be traced to what he did in this account of Luba's pre-Palomar life. "Love and Rockets X" is not quite in this class, but it's a tight little thriller weaving in sexual and racial politics on a particularly bad day in Los Angeles.

18. ERRAND SERVICE, by Will Dinski (self-published). This would be my vote for mini-comic of the year. The story starts with a clever premise (the narrative of a person who performs unusual tasks like checking whether doors are locked for someone with OCD) and quickly turns into a story of regret and multiple betrayals. Every comic Will Dinski makes is elegantly and cleverly designed, and ERRAND SERVICE is the perfect confluence of design and idea.

19. BODYWORLD, by Dash Shaw (webcomic). Shaw has become a genius at using unusual approaches with regard to color, especially in his genre comics. In some ways, this comic is already more interesting than BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON; it's pushing more borders in terms of its storytelling techniques while still being firmly rooted in sci-fi pulp soap opera. When it's done and published, it will be a likely book of the year candidate.

20. AGAINST PAIN, by Ron Rege', Jr (Drawn & Quarterly). Rege' is an idiosyncratic and groundbreaking artist who has had a huge influence on a number of post-Fort Thunder artists. This book collects many years worth of minicomics and anthology entries (including his classic "High School Metaphor", a very different take on Spider-Man). It's easy for one's eye to fall off of Rege's pages, but making the commitment to engage his work is well worth the effort.

21. ORDINARY VICTORIES, by Manu Larcenet (NBM). This is an interesting companion piece to PAUL GOES FISHING, about a man trying to come to terms with the notion of fatherhood, his own mortality and changes in his hometown. Larcenet does a great job getting the audience to sympathise with his protagonist while still leaving him human and flawed, and the playfulness of his line and character design makes it a joy to read.

22. GODDESS OF WAR, by Lauren Weinstein (Picturebox). Weinstein drew a lot of notice with her autobiographical comics, but I always preferred her earlier, weirder work. GODDESS OF WAR is a weird amalgam of the two, about a mythological being with the personality of a teenager, and then takes a really weird turn into Cochise's personal history. Weinstein's art goes from a ragged, lively line to a beautifully rendered "plate". An idiosyncratic work from the most idiosyncratic of all publishers.

23. GUS & HIS GANG, by Christophe Blain (First Second). A rumination on friendship and romance disguised as a rough-and-tumble cowboy story. The grittiness of the old west and human emotion is given a striking contrast with Blain's bigfoot character design. It's by turns both funny and heartbreaking.

24. TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #4, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics). One of the greatest humorists in the world once again packed gag after layered gag under one umbrella of insanity. It's remarkable how Kupperman is able to blend new and old material seamlessly into a single loopy concept gag (reading a page once an hour, every hour of the day).

25. CAPACITY, by Theo Ellsworth (Secret Acres). This story of an artist trying to find a way tell his stories was one of the most striking books of the year, having an almost feverish quality to its drawings. Against all odds, Ellsworth successfully patches together a number of seemingly-unconnected anecdotes and gets the audience to root for him while he's doing it.

26. EYE OF THE MAJESTIC CREATURE #3, by Leslie Stein (self-published). Stein combines misanthropy and the longing for human connection with an absurd, biting wit and plenty of self-effacement. She also combines a fluid line with a dense stippling style to create memorable image after memorable image. Stein's on my short list of artists who deserve much wider recognition.

27. BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2008 (Houghton-Mifflin). This was the Lynda Barry-edited edition, and it's her own love letter to the experience of reading comics. This volume almost entirely avoids autobiographical and naturalistic stories in favor of the weird, the fanciful and the hard to classify.

28. I STILL LIVE, by Annie Murphy (self-published). This was the most self-assured debut of the year by an artist whose interests include the intersection between spiritualism and feminism and whose style occupies the space between quietude and poetic sweep. As she refines her style, she will be a fascinating talent to watch. Murphy was just awarded a Xeric grant for wider publication of this comic, so look for it in 2009.

29. MOME #12. (Fantagraphics). This issue completed MOME's transformation from young cartoonist's spotlight to eclectic assortment of first-rank work, both new and translated. This issue features a tremendous one-two-three punch from David B, Killoffer and Oliver Schrauwen, the usual great work from Dash Shaw and Tom Kaczynski, and exciting newcomers like Jon Vermilyea. None of the original lineup of MOME had a new comic in this issue as editors Gary Groth & Eric Reynolds are finding a balance between printing rare work by big-time cartoonists along with nurturing newer talents.

30. NOCTURNAL CONSPIRACIES, by David B (NBM). This is a collection of David B's dreams, and he invites the reader to make symbolic connections between the images that arise. Murder, mayhem, spies and sex form a sort of ongoing nighttime saga, all done in his shadowy, angular style.

31. LITTLE THINGS, by Jeffrey Brown (Touchstone). This may be Brown's best book, a definitive collection of the sort of quotidian details and obsessions that make up a life. What's interesting about this book is that his romantic relationships, which formed the bulk of emphasis for much of his prior autobiographical work, are relegated to the background as Brown explores his other passions. As always, Brown's wobbly and scratchy line invites a certain kind of intimacy and brings a sense of immediacy to the reader.

32. THE RABBI'S CAT 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon). Sfar's ongoing exploration of the more intellectual side of his Jewish roots continues with surprising high adventure, an exploration of racial & religious politics and more dry wit. As always, the looseness and spontaneity of his line meshes well with his expressive use of color. Sfar isn't a tight storyteller like Trondheim, but rather indulges in extended ramblings that lead the reader in some very pleasant directions.

33. SWELL, by Juliacks (self-published). Juliacks is a multi-media artist with a unified vision of how her art should look like, sound like and feel like in all media. That gestalt is felt on her comics pages, as she merges a fine arts sensibility with impeccable storytelling instincts, incorporating text itself in a decorative as well as a narrative fashion. This minicomic series, exploring a woman's coming to terms with the death of her sister, is in turns fanciful and emotionally devastating. Juliacks' work is immersive and requires full engagement from a reader, but it's well worth the commitment.

34. SPANIEL RAGE 2008, by Vanessa Davis (self-published). Davis is one of the top autobiographical cartoonists working today, and her diary strip has only gotten sharper, funnier and more intriguingly self-reflective. This mini is just a taste of her upcoming published work, and it made me immediately want more.

35. POCKET FULL OF RAIN, by Jason (Fantagraphics). This volume reprints the early work of one of my favorite cartoonists working today. Here we see how he developed his deadpan, anthropomorphic style, why he abandoned an earlier, more naturalistic bent and the ways in which he developed his craft as an ace gagsmith.

36. THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1967-68, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics). It's hard to know how to rank a given volume of Peanuts in a list like this. Suffice it to say that Schulz was still at the absolute height of his powers here (eighteen years into the strip!) and was just starting to move in some different directions. This volume captures the best of his older and newer approaches.

37. EXPLAINERS, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics). In its own way, this collection of the artist's Village Voice strips was every bit as important an archival work as WILLIE AND JOE or BREAKDOWNS. Feiffer (along with R.Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Charles Schulz and Chris Ware) ranks as one of the five most important and influential cartoonists in the latter half of the 20th century. That influence extends beyond comics and into the greater culture itself. Feiffer's takes on gender and relationships in particular, along with his acidic and cynical view of politics, was an enormous influence on modern comedy and cultural commentary.

38. WHERE DEMENTED WENTED, by Rory Hayes (Fantagraphics). Hayes' singular voice was often mistaken as being "outsider art"; nothing could be further from the truth for a cartoonist who was strongly influenced by the style and content of contemporary underground cartoonists. However, Hayes filtered that influence through his own unique view of the world, resulting in strips more unsettling, unrestrained and more personally revealing of his own inner demons than those of his peers. This book may never have a large audience, but those it does speak to will draw much inspiration from it.

39. THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE, by Jesse Reklaw (Dark Horse). Reklaw's formula of turning the dreams of others into little comic vignettes actually becomes more and more appealing as the stories start to accrue. Reklaw manages a perfect balance of discipline and spontaneity in his work, using a lively but distinct line to tell the weirdest flights of fancy and boxing them into a rigid grid. Reklaw thinks comics as much as he feels them and has managed to create an idiosyncratic strip that manages to appeal to a wider audience.

40. SNAKE OIL, by Chuck Forsman (self-published). Forsman is another impressive young talent who's gained a lot of well-earned attention early in his career with this breakthrough mini. Reading this one-man anthology is like watching a scientist in a laboratory, feeling his way through trial and error experiments, each of which yields interesting results. One senses that Forsman did an enormous amount of work before he let himself create a comic with this degree of spontaneity and creative takes on certain genre ideas. Forsman's focus on characters being thrown into bewildering environments mirrors what he does to the reader and himself as a creator.

41. ESTRUS COMICS #6, by MariNaomi (self-published). MariNaomi drew on her sexual history for a series of hilarious, candid and thoughtful anecdotes. She delved way back into her teen and pre-teen years to detail her escapades, and then took a sharp left turn into a story about an especially shattering account of a relationship that haunts her to this day. The playfulness of her line and her wit made that story all the more effective.

42. LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES #1, by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Jaime, Gilbert and Mario return and veer off in a completely different direction. Jaime crafted a straight-up superhero story that captured all the thrills and ridiculousness of the genre (using many of the familiar Locas and several new characters), Beto returned to the sort of experimental comics he did in NEW LOVE (including Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis stand-ins in outer space), and Mario & Beto teamed up for a pagan sitcome of sorts. Jaime and Gilbert continue to reinvent themselves, innovate and stay at the forefront of the comics world.

43. HOTWIRE, Volume 2 (Fantagraphics), edited by Glenn Head. This uneven but unfailingly interesting anthology is a perfect companion piece to MOME and KRAMER'S ERGOT in that it wallows in the vulgar, the visceral and the loopy aspects of comics storytelling. Like any good anthology, it's a reflection of its editor's taste for stories that are in-your-face, funny and straight from the id. It's the closest connection link we have now to the era of underground comics.

44. INJURY COMICS #2, by Ted May, Jeff Wilson & Jason Robards. (Buenaventura). This series is part-throwback to 80s alternative comics and part homage to Kirbyesque kineticism. May throws absurdist gags, romance sagas (by way of stoner, heavy metal youth) and a cyborg slugfest with animal-themed thugs into this stew of a comic book. The comic works because May and his collaborators tell over-the-top stories with a straight face, despite many laugh-out-loud moments.

45. DRAWN & QUARTERLY SHOWCASE #5 (Drawn & Quarterly). The latest volume of the typically handsome anthology featured stories that dealt with the feeling of being an intrude in hostile territory. The standout story is T. Edward Bak's, a one that effectively uses an almost oppressive use of black as we meet a soldier who abandoned his lover to "fight for liberty", the consequences he suffered as a result and the ways in which his lover reacted. Bak's striking use of color, contrast and elements of collage give him a unique style in comics.

46. HALL OF BEST KNOWLEDGE, by Ray Fenwick (Fantagraphics). This book is an interesting example of the full integration of lettering, typography, image and decorative flourishes. Despite there being very few images recognizable as "drawings", there's no mistaking this for anything other than a comic because of the way Fenwick uses sequence and iconography. It's a book where it only becomes apparent that there is an actual story very late in the game, and the punchline is enormously clever.

47. DO NOT DISTURB MY WAKING DREAM, by Laura Park (self-published). Mini-comics are actually not the best vehicle to present Park's gorgeous and playful sketchbook comics; they don't capture the vibrancy of her use of color. That said, Park's chops are stunning in any format, her wit biting and her character design charming. She's truly a talent worth watching.

48. GROTESQUE #2, by Sergio Ponchionne (Fantagraphics). This is one of the most underrated of the Ignatz line's series and certainly one of its best looking. This issue focused on a sort of waking nightmare and a city where emotion literally comes at a price. Ponchionne is an astonishing style mimic whose linework has a richness to it that invites the reader to luxuriate in each image--especially when they illustrate the most disturbing of concepts.

49. WINDY CORNER MAGAZINE #2 (Sparkplug Comic Books). WCM and Mineshaft stand out as the most personal and eccentric publications that mixes new stories with commentary about comics. WCM is the manifestation of editor Austin English's absolute devotion to and love of comics and his commitment to get other artists to talk about comics. It's a delightfully and unapologetically quirky and passionate magazine, and that passion comes through on every page, even if one doesn't share English's aesthetic sensibilities.

50. MAGIC WHISTLE #11, by Sam Henderson (Alternative). Like the best of humorists, Henderson thinks through his gags to such an extent that his meta-analysis becomes a comedy routine unto itself. At the same time, his gags are vulgar and visceral. That tension is at the heart of Henderson's mission to tell a gag, dissect the gag, and then somehow put it back together funnier than it was in the first place. It also must be noted that making one's drawings funny makes for a good humor comic, and Henderson's deliberately crude style is a perfect launching point for his purposes.

I wanted to give honorable mention status to the following:

MINESHAFT, edited by Everett Rand & Gioia Palmieri
THE LAGOON, by Lilli Carre'
THE LAST MUSKETEER, by Jason
ABANDONED CARS, by Tim Lane
CHIGGERS, by Hope Larson
MACEDONIA, by Harvey Pekar, Ed Piskor and Heather Roberson
MY BRAIN IS HANGING UPSIDE DOWN, by David Heatley
BURMA CHRONICLES, by Guy Delisle
FREDDIE AND ME, by Mike Dawson
JAM IN THE BAND, by Robin Enrico
JESSICA FARM, by Josh Simmons
THE AMAZING REMARKABLE MONSIEUR LEOTARD, by Eddie Campbell & Dan Best
TRANNY, by Steve Lafler
STINKY, by Eleanor Davis
NURSE NURSE, by Katie Skelly
CROSS COUNTRY, by MK Reed
PS COMICS, by Melanie Lewis
SAMMY THE MOUSE, by Zak Sally
LOVE STORIES, by Mat Tait
SPELT-RITE COMICS, by Martha Keavney
TEA TIME, by Stef Lenk
HOW TO DRAW STUPID, by Kyle Baker
SUNDAYS 2, edited by Chuck Forsman, Joseph Lambert, Sean Ford, et al.
REICH, by Elijah Brubaker
INSOMNIA, by Matt Broesma
CRICKETS, by Sammy Harkham
BAOBAB, by Igort
TYPHON, edited by Danny Hellman
WIZZYWIG, by Ed Piskor
BERLIN, by Jason Lutes
DEITCH'S PICTORAMA, by Kim, Simon, Seth and Gene Deitch
GOOD MINNESOTAN, edited by Meghan & Raighne Hogan
FISHTOWN, by Kevin Colden
TONOHARU, by Lars Martinson

All of these books were given strong consideration for my top fifty list, and all are worthy.

Finally, here's my top 50 again, without commentary:

1. ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #19, by Chris Ware (self-published, distributed by Drawn & Quarterly).

2. WHAT IT IS, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly).

3. LITTLE NOTHINGS, by Lewis Trondheim (NBM).

4. BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON, by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics).

5. INKWEED, by Chris Wright (Sparkplug Comic Books).

6. WORMDYE, by Eamon Espey (Secret Acres).

7. PETEY AND PUSSY, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics).

8. AN ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION, CARTOONS AND TRUE STORIES, Volume 2 (Yale University Press), edited by Ivan Brunetti.

9. BREAKDOWNS, and PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG %@&*!, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon).

10. WILLIE AND JOE, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics).

11. THE HOT BREATH OF WAR, by Trevor Alixopolous (Sparkplug Comic Books).

12. BOURBON ISLAND 1730, by Lewis Trondheim & Appollo (First Second).

13. ALAN'S WAR, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second).


14. PAUL GOES FISHING, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly).


15. The works of Kevin Huizenga.

16. PERLA LA LOCA, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics).

17. BEYOND PALOMAR, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics).

18. ERRAND SERVICE, by Will Dinski (self-published).

19. BODYWORLD, by Dash Shaw (webcomic).

20. AGAINST PAIN, by Ron Rege', Jr (Drawn & Quarterly).

21. ORDINARY VICTORIES, by Manu Larcenet (NBM).

22. GODDESS OF WAR, by Lauren Weinstein (Picturebox).

23. GUS & HIS GANG, by Christophe Blain (First Second).

24. TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #4, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics).

25. CAPACITY, by Theo Ellsworth (Secret Acres).

26. EYE OF THE MAJESTIC CREATURE #3, by Leslie Stein (self-published).

27. BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2008 (Houghton-Mifflin).

28. I STILL LIVE, by Annie Murphy (self-published).

29. MOME #12.

30. NOCTURNAL CONSPIRACIES, by David B (NBM).

31. LITTLE THINGS, by Jeffrey Brown (Touchstone).

32. THE RABBI'S CAT 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon).

33. SWELL, by Juliacks (self-published).

34. SPANIEL RAGE 2008, by Vanessa Davis (self-published).

35. POCKET FULL OF RAIN, by Jason (Fantagraphics).

36. THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1967-68, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics).

37. EXPLAINERS, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics).

38. WHERE DEMENTED WENTED, by Rory Hayes (Fantagraphics).

39. THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE, by Jesse Reklaw (Dark Horse).

40. SNAKE OIL, by Chuck Forsman (self-published).

41. ESTRUS COMICS #6, by MariNaomi (self-published).

42. LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES #1, by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics).

43. HOTWIRE, Volume 2 (Fantagraphics), edited by Glenn Head.

44. INJURY COMICS #2, by Ted May, Jeff Wilson & Jason Robards. (Buenaventura).

45. DRAWN & QUARTERLY SHOWCASE #5 (Drawn & Quarterly).

46. HALL OF BEST KNOWLEDGE, by Ray Fenwick (Fantagraphics).

47. DO NOT DISTURB MY WAKING DREAM, by Laura Park (self-published).

48. GROTESQUE #2, by Sergio Ponchionne (Fantagraphics).

49. WINDY CORNER MAGAZINE #2 (Sparkplug Comic Books).

50. MAGIC WHISTLE #11, by Sam Henderson (Alternative).

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad you mentioned BOURBON ISLAND 1730. To date I don't think I've read a single review of it anywhere; which is a shame given its quality and the creators involved.

    The only title I think I’d add is Hideo Azuma’s Disappearance Diary (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

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  2. George,

    Thanks! I actually wrote an extensive review of it over at sequart.com, but the site's been down for a bit. Once the site's recovered, I'll forward you a link. I think it's one of Trondheim's best books.

    I think I did some some critiques that were slightly baffled by the idea that this wasn't a fun, lighthearted Donjon-style pirate romp. Sure, there were moments of humor, but it was instead such a dense, complex and challenging study.

    --Rob

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  3. I'd probably add Travel and (especially) Skyscrapers of the Midwest, but I can't say I disagree with any of your choices. I'm especially happy to see Trondheim and Sfar so well represented - those guys are consistently thoughtful and entertaining, and I hope the translations keep coming. (I really, really need to catch up on their Dungeon books.)

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  4. I need to give Skyscrapers another shot, I think. I started the first issue and for some reason I had trouble penetrating the text-heavy portions of it.

    I haven't read travel but that's clearly another one I need to check out.

    Dungeon probably ranks as my favorite genre book of all time. That's especially true of the main three "branches" (zenith, early years, dark years).

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  5. That's a really great list... I would also recommend Skysxrapers (although I never read the collected edition) and Glamourpuss (although there are parts in it i don't like at all)...

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. Some excellent picks, there, Rob my friend, to be sure.

    And yet, somehow you still did not see fit to recognize my comic masterpieces, dutifully displayed at http://www.mredweirdo.com .

    I can only wonder how you of all people could do this to me? You cruel, cold-hearted bastard!

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  8. Ed,

    So many comics, so little time!

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