Friday, January 24, 2020

The Top 75 Comics Of The 2010s

Over at Solrad, I compiled my list of the top twenty comics of the 2010s. This was an extremely difficult task, as I had to leave out many worthy entries. Here's my list, ranked 21-75, of the other best comics of the decade.

A few notes:

* I excluded anthologies from the list, with the exception of the Jason Martin-written issue of Papercutter. That's a separate category to consider, in my opinion.
* I excluded most big collections of artists, with the exception of Mark Connery's Rudy, because that work had never been collected before in any format.
* I only allowed one entry per artist. The exception was John Porcellino, in part because the two works I chose are both exceptionally good and are completely different in terms of format and style.
* I stuck to printed matter only, with the exception of Laura Park's piece.
* I am limiting myself to a single line of description for each comic. I've reviewed most of them already.

Here's the list of 20 I published with Solrad:

1. Rusty Brown, by Chris Ware (Pantheon).
2. Rosalie Lightning, by Tom Hart (Macmillan).
3. Pretending Is Lying, by Dominique Goblet (NYRB).
4. You & A Bike & A Road, by Eleanor Davis (Koyama Press).
5. The Love Bunglers, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics).

6. Soldier's Heart, by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics).
7. Leaving Richard's Valley, by Michael DeForge (Drawn and Quarterly).
8. The River At Night, by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn and Quarterly).
9. Everything Is Flammable, by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books).
10. Chlorine Gardens, by Keiler Roberts (Koyama Press).

11. Infomaniacs, by Matthew Thurber (Drawn and Quarterly).
12. Someone Please Have Sex With Me, by Gina Wynbrandt (2D Cloud).
13. Girl Town, by Casey Nowak (Top Shelf).
14. The Heavy Hand, by Chris Cilla (Sparkplug Comic Books).
15. Artichoke Tales, by Megan Kelso (Fantagraphics).

16. All The Answers, by Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13).
17. Blammo #9, by Noah Van Sciver (Kilgore Books).
18. Sir Alfred #3, by Tim Hensley (Buenaventura Press).
19. The Unofficial Cuckoo's Nest Study Companion, by Luke Healy.
20. Book Of Days Daze, by E.A. Bethea (Domino Books).

And here's #21 - 75:

21. King-Cat 75, by John Porcellino (Spit-And-A-Half). This is the tribute to Maisie Kukoc issue, and it's a magnificent, sincere, and loving eulogy for a beloved pet.
22. Recidivist #4, by Zak Sally (La Mano). Haunting, poetic, and complex work--and printed by hand.
23. Hagelbarger And That Midnight Goat, by Renee French (Yam Press). An absurdist piece about the ways in which beauty, kindness, cruelty, humor, and horror can all share the same space.
24. Education, by John Hankiewicz (Fantagraphics). The master of comics-as-poetry once again puts together an extensively immersive and challenging series of images in creating a powerful narrative of sorts.
25. Frontier #17: "Mother's Walk," by Lauren Weinstein (Youth In Decline). No one gets more real than Weinstein, and this account of childbirth and its accompanying stressors and pleasures holds nothing back.

26. I Want You #2, by Lisa Hanawalt. One of the funniest, most stylish, most disgusting, and most bizarre comics I've ever read; this is what I mean when I refer to a reading experience as "the full Hanawalt."
27. Approximate Continuum Comics, by Lewis Trondheim (Fantagraphics). Endlessly witty quotidian observations from one of the world's greatest cartoonists.
28. The Infinite Wait And Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press). This is Wertz at her height, with a fully-realized drawing style and attention to narrative detail that makes her usual hilarious observations all the more poignant.
29. Susceptible, by Genevieve Castree' (Drawn and Quarterly). Brutally honest personal account of how a toxic parent can traumatize a child, and how that child reacts to the experience as they grow up.
30. Bright-Eyed At Midnight, by Leslie Stein (Fantagraphics). An ode to art and beauty as a worthwhile thing to pursue done in a bright, colorful style that is in itself gorgeous.

31. Make Me A Woman, by Vanessa Davis (Drawn and Quarterly). Davis' trenchant observations and her innovative open-page layouts make her one of the best, most singular memoirists.
32. Your Black Friend, by Ben Passmore (Silver Sprocket). A devastating, incisive, personal, and funny statement about race and the ways in which white people unfairly look to people of color for instruction.
33. Our Mother, by Luke Howard (Retrofit). Howard's personal and painfully funny account of his mother's mental illness and its creeping inevitability in his own life.
34. Out Of Hollow Water, by Anna Bongiovanni (2D Cloud). With quiet but powerful restraint, Bongiovanni spins horrible fairy tales that reflect the cruelty of real life, especially with regard to women.
35. Incidents In The Night, by David B (Uncivilized Books). This is a wild bit of autobio, detective story, and magical realist conspiracy theory epic--all done in David B's trademark dense black line.

36. War Of Streets And Houses, by Sophia Yanow (Uncivilized Books). Yanow is an ace at depicting the intersection of personal and political hotpoints, with a shambling line that is irresistible.
37. Raw Power, by Josh Bayer (Retrofit). It's punk as fuck, like all of Bayer's work, matching the expressive energy of the line with a steady narrative framework and a powerful understanding of history.
38. The Hospital Suite, by John Porcellino (Drawn and Quarterly). Still maintains the poetic nature of King-Cat while telling a straightforward narrative about his mental and physical illnesses.
39. Chunk, by Emma Hunsinger. A perfectly and expressively drawn comic about art school that delves deep into each character's emotional narratives.
40. By Monday I'll Be Floating In The Hudson With The Other Garbage, by Laura Lannes (2D Cloud). Autobio doesn't get any rawer than this, as Lannes holds nothing back in talking about her relationships with a line so expressive that it practically jumps off the page.

41. This One Is Mine, by Laura Park. In a single page, Park displays their stunning skill as a cartoonist and their storytelling brilliance in discussing their life with cancer.
42. This Is The Last Day Of The Rest Of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics). This is a horrifying coming-of-age comic, filled with toxic friends and predators at every corner, told with commanding cartooning skill.
43. Sex Fantasy, by Sophia Foster-Dimino (Koyama Press). This is a funny, weird, and deeply intimate mix of personal and fictional stories--and the line between the two is deliberately blurred.
44. Dragon's Breath And Other Stories, by MariNaomi (2D Cloud). A sensitive, poetic, and deeply personal series of short memoir vignettes, tinged with a deep sense of melancholy and regret.
45. Arsene Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics). This outrageous "biography" traverses areas like colonialism, fantasy, weird sex, surrealism and many other categories.

46. Young Frances, by Hartley Lin (AdHouse). This is both an exquisite character study and a knowing, hilarious parody of what it's like to work in a high-powered law firm, drawn by an artist who understands the tiniest nuances of character interaction.
47. New School, by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics). This may be Shaw's masterpiece: a complex exploration of identity, adventure tropes, and sophisticated use of color for narrative purposes.
48. House Of Women, by Sophie Goldstein (Fantagraphics). A beautiful merging of design, color contrast, exquisite linework, and a complex takedown of colonialism, religion, and capitalism.
49. Exits, by Daryl Seitchik (Koyama Press). This is a beautifully surreal, personal, and angry book about the male gaze and what it means to be seen.
50. The Angriest, Saddest Black Girl In Town, by Robyn-Brooke Smith. With delicate and expressive pencils, Smith expresses her rage and alienation with regard to race, identity, and being the other.

51. Demon, by Jason Shiga (First Second). An outrageous, hilarious, over-the-top series of action sequences as logic problems and ultraviolence presented in context with its ethical & ontological implications.
52. Rookie Moves, by November Garcia. A funny and fresh voice in autobio who manages to express her own enthusiasm for comics and its creators as sharply as she does with regard to her own life.
53. I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner Of War In Stalag IIB, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics). Tardi is a legend, but this is his crowning achievement: telling the story of his father's wartime experiences.
54. Beta Testing The Apocalypse, by Tom Kaczynski (Fantagraphics). This is a smart and frequently chilling satire of culture and philosophy in a market-driven world.
55. Windowpane, by Joe Kessler (Breakdown Press). A trippy look at the twin poles of creation and destruction, filtered through a color scheme that often abstracts the subject matter.

56. Architecture Of An Atom, by Juliacks (2D Cloud). This is the most ambitious project yet by Juliacks, whose immersive style demands total attention and commitment from the reader--and this poetic story about human connection is worth it.
57. Houses Of The Holy, by Caitlin Skaalrud (Uncivilized Books). This is an enigmatic howl, a journey through the darkest recesses of memory told through symbols and language created just for this narrative.
58. Stroppy, by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly). This surreal bit of utter nonsense has its own iron-clad logic and narrative momentum, resulting in a gleefully strange adventure.
59. Rudy, by Mark Connery (2D Cloud). A quarter-century's worth of subversive, Dada, punk humor (with remarkably traditional comedic structures), collected in one overwhelming volume.
60. Spinning, by Tillie Walden (First Second). This is a beautiful, dense memoir about the demands we place on ourselves and how this distracts from many of our real issues.

61. Couch Tag, by Jesse Reklaw (Fantagraphics). It's a fascinating episodic memoir, wherein Reklaw repeatedly uses the idea of writing about one thing as a way of exploring a deeper emotional issue.
62. Sky In Stereo, by Mardou (Revival House). This is a bracing, brave story about a psychedelic experience gone horribly wrong, and the harrowing subsequent stay in a mental institution.
63. Magic Whistle #3.2, by Sam Henderson (Alternative Comics). Henderson remains one of the premier humorists in comics, and he added the editor hat in expanding his series into a humor anthology.
64. Too Dark To See, by Julia Gfrörer. The horror of this brilliant, scratchily-drawn comic is in its deeply cynical attitudes regarding love, sex, and relationships. 
65. Operation Margarine, by Katie Skelly (AdHouse Books). It's a combination of stylish clothes & poses, a kickass adventure, and a deep meditation on trauma.

66. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics). A sprawling, visually astounding monster mystery book.
67. Papercutter #17 (Tugboat Press). This is the issue where every story was written by Jason Martin, and drawn by an all-star team's worth of cartoonists;
68. The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams). The research and verisimilitude for the famous singing family's dialogue is top-notch, but it's Lasky's astonishing cartooning that's the true draw.
69. Invisible Ink, by Bill Griffith (Fantagraphics). A startling family memoir that leaves judgment behind and focuses on empathy instead.
70. Megahex, by Simon Hanselmann (Fantagraphics). Launched Megg, Mogg, and Owl into the public imagination; it's still the ur-young degenerate book of the last decade.

71. Lost Cat, by Jason (Fantagraphics). This Phillip Marlowe pastiche is one of the best of Jason's mash-ups of culture and explorations of loneliness.
72. Plans We Made, by Simon Moreton (Uncivilized Books). An emotionally impressionistic account of youth with a beautiful, spare line.
73. Hilda And The Mountain King, by Luke Pearson (NoBrow). This is the capper to one of the greatest kids' comics series of all time, by an artist at the height of his powers.
74. Forming, by Jesse Moynihan (NoBrow). A hilarious, profane, and hyperviolent account of the gods and aliens that walked the earth.
75. Pornhounds #2, by Sharon Lintz and various artists. A series of stories about working in the porn industry turns into a sensitive and funny account of dealing with breast cancer.