utorak, 20. kolovoza 2013.

Derik Badman/MadInkBeard - Best of comics


Majstorski izbori.


Best Comics I Read in 2012

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s “best of” time. I tried real hard to keep track of every book/comic I read this year, though, as usual, I neglected to take any notes about web/digital comics. I’m also not so good about keeping track of short stories, single page comics, or anthology pieces that I really liked. So, this list comes with caveats about those forms. I had these in categories at first, but that’s pointless, so it’s just a list in alphabetical order of as many comics as I felt like including along with some brief and inadequate attempts to explain why (most of these rely too much on visual effect to be easily summarized). All of these are comics I read for the first time in 2012 (so not counting rereads), and most were published in 2012 (with a few minor exceptions for foreign works which I’m usually a little behind on).
Hic Sunt Leones by Frederic Coché (Frémok, 2008) – If you’ve seen some of Coché’s other works, you might know that they tend to be etchings, for this book he switched to painting, and it’s beautiful. Often abstract (visually and narratively), it reads like a poem with images that veer between abstract color fields to expressively painted representations (figures, landscapes, objects). It’s published from Belgium, but the comic itself is multi-lingual (English, French, German, and some Latin I believe).
seed toss, nameroughquena 1-3 by Warren Craghead (2012) – More of Warren’s tiny, print-out-and-fold-em books, there were supposed to be 6 of these that are sort of tracing the history of Arlington, Virginia, but so far only 3 have appeared. Like a lot of my favorite comics, these move between narrative and abstraction. The first issue has a lot of plants and seeds, then we find natives and colonials in issues 2 and 3 with all these great little drawings of people and tools.
Lenin Kino by Olivier Deprez (Fremok, 2009) – Most of the panels in this comic are blurry abstract field paintings in a dark, murky color. I haven’t the slightest clue what this comic is about. I love it. This is a comic that two of my friends, who are painters and don’t read comics, really fell for. Deprez seems to mostly do wood/linocut work for his comics, so, like the Coché above this is a bit of a departure.
Rolling Stock #1 by Oliver East (2012) – Again with the narrative/abstraction, this time in the form of Oliver’s walking/landscape comics. He seemed to really level up this year with this series. They are more sparse/subdued than his other work and with a cleaner design to the pages/panels, often breaking into what seems like complete abstraction but, in context, is pared down representation from his observations.
Le Wagon Engourdi by Vincent Giard (Colosse, 2012) – This little comic is like an explosion of bright colors and crazy lines which, if you’ve seen Vincent’s work, will be no surprise. Each page is beautiful. It’s pretty much wordless so don’t worry about the French title. It’s kind of got a story about a woman reading on the train. There are explosions and comics within the comic and fantasy and… well you should just get this and read it. You can even read it (slightly different version, I think) online.
RL #1 by Tom Hart (2012) – This is probably one of the most painful comics you will ever read (well maybe until #2 appears) telling the story of Tom’s young daughter’s death. You can see Tom really stretching himself to do justice to the work. He succeeds admirably well (visually I think this is the best I’ve seen from him) for what must have been a very difficult creative process.
Q by Aidan Koch (Floating World, 2012) and/or After Nothing Comes by Aidan Koch (2012) (out of print I guess) – Aidan is so damn prolific I had to list two of her comics here. Q is a large tabloid comic in color and After Nothing Comes is in a smaller b+w zine format. Seeing Aidan work large and in color for Q is really something especially when she takes advantage of the space offered by the dimensions. After Nothing Comes is, I think, more successful as a kind of poetic narrative, but you can tell it was created in color and then printed in greyscale, and I can feel that loss of effect after looking at Q.
The Shape of the World by Jason Overby (2012) (out of print I guess) – A strange little minicomic/zine from Jason that I kept thinking was hand drawn (that is, some parts don’t look like they were copied/printed). There are ripped drawings taped onto the pages, and a smaller register of pages stapled into the middle. Many of the pages have no images at all just text, most have a abbreviated sketch or just small black squares. The text addresses Jason’s frequent theme of memory, reality, and perception. In comparison to a lot of Jason’s denser work (of which there has been some great examples this year too) this is very sparse.
Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton (Blue Rider, 2012) – This isn’t exactly a comic. It’s a memoir about Shapton’s experiences with swimming (she swam competitively), but interspersed with the textual sections are quite a few sequences of images that are really lovely: beautiful blue watercolors of a swimmer swimming, a series of blue watercolors of swimming pools, a series of bright colored landscapes(?). The memoir was also quite enjoyable and well written with an interesting attention to the sense of smell.
Kamui-Den by Sanpei Shirato (4 vol., Kana, 2010-2012) – This is a French edition of the manga from the late 60s in the form of 4 ~1500 page volumes. It’s a huge epic about class struggle in medieval Japan mixed with almost incongruous ninja stories. There are so many plotlines and characters it is often hard to keep track, and Shirato himself seems to drop plotlines at will when he loses interest or they stray too far from the main thrust of the narrative. There are, especially early on, long side stories that overwhelm the narrative (like a long tale about a wolf). It’s a huge baggy monster, but easily ranks with Lone Wolf & Cub as a masterful work of manga about Edo period Japan (LW&C’s Goseki Kojima was an assistant to Shirato on Kamui-Den). It’s a shame there’s no English edition as I think it could attract the classic manga and the samurai manga fans; I could see Dark Horse putting this out.
Stopping at ten seems to make sense here. Though there are other works I read this year that could have also made the list depending on the circumstances:
-Les Hommes-Loups by Dominique Goblet (Frémok, 2010)
-Building Stories by Chris Ware (Pantheon, 2012)
-Dro 1-3 by Pascal Tessier (2012) (issue one online)
-One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige (Taschen)
-Infomaniacs by Matthew Thurber
-Smoo 5 by Simon Moreton
-Koan by Allan Haverholm
-Corporeal Breach by Chris Day (2011)
-”Samuel Lipinski” by Daniel Blancou in Lapin 37-40 (2009)
-”The Great” by Alyssa Berg (2012) (starts here)

Comics Books 2011

Favorite reads of the year, this is all the comics that are books unto themselves (well, kind of) (see webcomics, minicomics/short stories, and manga lists). As usual for my lists this is not just works that were published (or republished) in 2011, but it covers anything I happened to have read in 2011. This turned out to be the hardest of my lists to put together. I ended up being a lot less excited about longer comics/books this year, especially new works in English, with half the list being French language publications. Some of these selections may not have made the list in a stronger year.
Not 2011, but damn you should read this, because it was my favorite self-contained comic of the year:
Par Les Sillons by Vincent Fortemps (Fremok, 2009): I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this book, maybe it was just from browsing the publisher’s website and looking at the samples, but I am sure glad I did find it. This is an amazing work, one of my favorite comics ever, let alone, this year. A beautiful, silent narrative told in images that look to be part etching, part monoprint, smeared and scratched with a wonderful gray glow to them (check out the samples at the link above). I’ll write a full post on this, one of these days.
New editions/printings for 2011:
Journal v.1-4 by Fabrice Neaud (Ego Comme X, 1996-2002, new editions/printing (in 3 books) 2011): I don’t think I could overhype this as one of the (the?) best autobiographical comics ever made. Neaud is a superb draughtsmen who can move from near photorealist figures and settings into expressive and metaphorical images that add a powerful depth to the work. As a writer of his own life, he is fairly brutal and incisive. This is not the autobiography of current/historical events (a la Maus/Persepolis), of the miniscule day (American Elf), nor of the “relationship comics” variety (Brown’s trilogy, Blankets). Rather Neaud takes on love, friendship, art, and perhaps most importantly the life of a gay man in a heterosexual society. It’s a depressing sign for comics in English that this still hasn’t been translated/published, but it’s also not totally surprising, as Neaud does not shy away from graphic images of his own sexual activity and fantasy. And while the graphic heterosexuality (focused on women’s bodies, of course) of many previous/contemporary cartoonists is printed and praised, the same attention to homosexual male sexuality seems to be the province of ghettoized comics (including yaoi manga). According to a recent interview with Loic Néhou of Ego Comme X there are some interested publishers for an English edition, but if those deals fail to come to fruition Ego Comme X will do a print-on-demand English version.
Actually New in 2011:
Unspent Love, or Things I Wish I Told You by Shannon Gerard (Conundrum, 2011): This came out late in the year to, so far, little fanfare, but I really enjoyed rereading the pieces collected here (most (all?) of which appeared online at Top Shelf 2.0). Each section in the book is a textual monologue accompanied by images of a figure or two over short stretches of time. The connection between the text and the figures (characters) is often ambiguous, but the interaction of the two makes for some fine comics.
Color Engineering by Yuichi Yokoyama (Picturebox, 2011): This is a wonderful, if occasionally frustrating, read. Way stronger and more visually dynamic book than Yokoyama’s Garden, also released this year (but which I found a little dull). Color Engineering is often closer to an abstract comic than to anything else. It’s one of the few comics I’ve read where almost every page seemed to be part of a two-page spread rather than just its own page.
New parts of ongoing serials… also those artists that make the list almost every year:
“Love Bunglers” by Jaime Hernandez in Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 (Fantagraphics, 2011): Assuming this will be one place where my list will cross-over with a lot of other people’s (and it has, as of this writing, ditto for my next selection). A really powerful entry (one of the best) in Hernandez’s ongoing serial. You probably don’t need me to say anything about this, either you already read it or you don’t care. This one kind of breaks the list’s rule, since I’m really only a fan of the Jaime portion of the volume, but it feels weird to but this in the short story section since it doesn’t really stand alone.
Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics, 2011): No one does insomnia like Kevin Huizenga. He makes the everyday into a formal adventure of comics, and the way he plays with time is amazing. This is another strong issue of what appears to be the last of the Ignatz line. (Not really a book, but too high-end to be considered a minicomic.)
Not new, but both pretty striking works:
Vent Frais Vent du Matin by Nadia Raviscioni (Atrabile, 2010): This comic is a bit oblique at times, with some repeating motifs that I’m not sure what to make of them, but it is an expressive, non-linear work that is quite unique. I can’t say it better than Matthias Wivel did at TCJ last year (where I heard of the book).
World Trade Angels by Fabrice Colin and Laurent Cilluffo (Denoel, 2006): I heard of this book a long time ago from a Bart Beaty post at The Comics Reporter (sadly all the images appear to have disappeared from that post), and this year I finally tracked down a copy. I can only echo what Beaty said in that post, and marvel that no one has picked this up for English translation.

Minicomics and Short Stories 2011

Minicomics, short stories, and other non-book/non-web comics from the past year. This is a hard category to select for as I didn’t keep a list of every comic I read this past year, just the pamphlets and books. So I had to go digging around in the closet (where the minis are) and the shelves to try to find selections made or read in 2011 (a little of each). I’ve linked each to the artist’s website (where possible), as well as to other sites where the comic is for sale (if at all and not at the artist’s site).
“Blast Furnace Funnies” by Frank Santoro (2011): This tabloid-sized comic by Frank is probably the best comic he’s ever done. It’s a very personal work about Pittsburgh and his relation to the city. This isn’t so much a story as a monologue. Almost devoid of figures, the comic is visually focused on the geography, landscapes and buildings of Pittsburgh, printed in two-color yellow and purple. A really lovely comic. You can get it from Picturebox.
King-Cat #72 by John Porcellino (2011): I always love the new King-Cat, but two stories in this issue really put it into the realm of favorites. “Christmas Eve” is one of those almost wordless walking comics that Porcellino does (like my favorite of his: “Psalm”). It’s beautiful. “Under the Stars” is a brief meditative two-pager that just really struck me.
“Black Wall” by Aidan Koch (Kaugummi, 2011): This small 20 page booklet from a small French publisher is a series of single page images showing rooms and some cats. It’s hard to call it a narrative, but it is clearly sequential in nature. Pencilled images mix with ink washes. Images, shapes, and marks repeat in different panels/locations… It is a mysterious little book, but striking in its way.
“Cinéma” #1-3 by Julie Delporte (2011): I really love these tiny 8 page color minis that take three films as a… not really theme, but a point of connection. The images are in colored pencils and are spread across the pages without concern for panel divisions. The text is the primary structural element of the comics with the images acting in supplement. (Not sure if you can still get these.)
“Community” and “Calf” by Chris Day (2010): These are both from last year, but I only got them at MoCCA this year after enjoying Day’s work in the Closed Caption Comics #9 anthology. Both of these minis look like some combination of collage and redrawn appropriation, retaining both a certain photographic realism as well as the quality of a hand at work in the drawing. Again, it’s hard to call these narrative, they are more like loose series of images and text that evoke less a story than a mood (and a kind of creepy one at that). (Not sure if you can still get these.)
“This is a Ghost” by Warren Craghead in Ghost Comics (Bare Bones Press, 2009): This anthology is from 2009 but I only read it this year, so it’s on the list. This is a fabulous 14 page comic by Warren, a beautiful example of comics poetry, with a great use of repetition and pacing. See my comments on the anthology and Warren’s piece further down in this post. Looks like you can read the whole anthology for free as a pdf!
“La réduction” by Sébastien Trahan in Lecture à Vue: La Mauvaise Tête Dessine Alto (Colosse, 2010): A lovely and almost abstract, text-heavy story based/adapted/inspired by a novel. The images almost completely avoid character and action in favor of setting, location, mood. I wrote a bit about the story in this post.
“Folklore” by Tobias Tycho Schalken in Eiland 5 (Fremok, 2010): A mysterious silent narrative beautifully drawn in a loose black line and blue washes. read my post on favorite webcomics from 2011.]

Webcomics 2011

Webcomics used to be so much about series and strips, but it feels like as time passes comics on the web are more inconsistent things: single pages, short projects, excerpts, one-off issues, journal comics, etc. As I browse through my feed reader, I have very few items left that link to ongoing comics series, fewer still where the series seems to be regularly updated anymore.
Mostly what I end up following are artist’s websites, blogs, tumblrs, or flickr streams to see whatever their latest work is. This is supplemented by a few group sites (like Grandpapier). Because of this fragmentation of webcomics it’s hard to go back now and make a comprehensive “favorites”/”best of” list for 2011, but I tried. Some of these works came immediately to mind, others I recalled after taking a trip through the list of feeds in Google Reader:
from Jason Overby's 2101
1) Top of the list has to be Jason Overby’s recently completed 2101. Pardon the colloquialism, but… holy crap this comic is awesome. How can you even begin to describe it, it is so unlike anything else out there. Over the course of twelve long horizontal scrolls, Jason has created a powerful, rich comic that is created from photographs of collaged, drawn, sculpted, photographed, painted panels. It is a true mixed media work of comics. The images veer between the abstract and the representational, the expressive and symbolic, the narrative and poetic. The narrative content unfurls as a narration by a character who described himself as an “A.I.”, skipping back and forth in time to discuss his life, his wife, and the A.I. they create. At one point “Jason Overby” intervenes in the narration which opens up room to read the comic as metaphorically autobiographical–or perhaps not as “Jason Overby” could himself be a fiction in the comic (as opposed to Jason Overby the artist). I’m finding it hard to say anything useful about this comic, sometimes it’s like that with truly unique works. I highly recommend you take the time to read the whole thing… right now.
Some other highlights from the year in no particular order:
from Warren Craghead's 30 days of comics
2) A few of my #30dayscomics compatriots did some amazing work in November. Especially check out pages by Warren Craghead, Allan Haverholm, and Simon Moreton. (Mine start here.)
3) The curatorial efforts of Blaise Larmee on the Alt Comics tumblr is well worth following/exploring. If nothing else it will force you to question the limits of what is a “comic.”
from Pascal Tessier's 2010 (tout)
4) Pascal Tessier’s work especially the ongoing serialization (almost complete) of “2010 (Tout)” on Grandpapier: The latter is some form of sketchbook/journal that Tessier publishes a year behind (i.e. right now he’s posting the December 2010 pages). Lots of life drawing, quotes, sketches, abstractions all in Tessier’s sharp, thin-lined style. Even if you can’t read the (fairly limited) French text, the drawings are worth it.
from Pages by Jaakko Pallasvuo
5) Pages: Letters between Aidan Koch and Jaakko Pallasvuo: This short lived series of comics letter between two young and visually innovative cartoonists was an interesting experiment and worth browsing through. (I just got Pallasvuo’s new comic from Landfill, but haven’t had a change to read it yet.)
from Julie Delport's journal comic
6) Julie Delporte’s journal comics (English versions of some/all): Delporte is currently one of the fellows at the CCS in Vermont, which is quietly in the background of the recent pages. There’s something about the candid text and colored pencil drawings that I really like. I wrote a bit about some of her comics in my BCGF round-up.
from Liz Suburbia's Sacred Heart
7) Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia: A serialized story about teens in a small town. Lots of punk rock and what appears to be a delving into fantasy/horror realms, also there are, so far, no parents at all, which I’m guessing is somehow relevant. You can see Suburbia’s drawing skills grow quite a bit over the course of the fourteen chapters.

Top 10 Comics circa June 1 2011

from Par Les Sillons

My list of top 10 comics went up today as part of The Hooded Utilitarian’s comics poll (on this page). I didn’t add commentary to the original list, but now I wish I had, so… Here’s what I originally sent in, and then some comments on each selection:
In no particular order, surely colored by those pieces I have more recently reread/seen. Taking a broad view of comics for one of these and probably leaning too much towards longer works because they are easy to see on the shelves.
  • Love & Rockets: Locas Stories by Jaime Hernandez (as a whole series)
  • Peanuts by Charles Schulz
  • King-Cat Comics and Stories by John Porcellino
  • Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka
  • Fifty Days at Iliam by Cy Twombly
  • How to Be Everywhere by Warren Craghead
  • Krazy Kat by George Herriman
  • The End by Anders Nilsen
  • Journal III by Fabrice Neaud
  • Par Les Sillons by Vincent Fortemps

Locas: Well, I already got a chance to write about that for the poll.

Peanuts: I read this as a kid in the newspaper, but it was only when I started getting the Complete reprints that I really appreciated how good Schulz was. A few relevant posts.
from King Cat
King-Cat: I have probably already praised John Porcellino’s work to excess. Here are a bunch of posts I’ve written.
from Phoenix v.9
Phoenix: My favorite Tezuka work, my favorite manga. I wrote a 13 part series on this in 2009.
Heroes of the Achaeans by Twombly
Fifty Days at Iliam: People may argue at its comic-ness, but this series of 10 paintings fit enough criteria that I’ll call it a comic if I want to. Word and pictures: check. Sequence: check. Page layout: check (in this case, the “page” is a dedicated room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). What more can you ask for? Oh yes, it is an amazing, beautiful, expressive, dynamic series, that repays repeated visits. See the museums images of the work.
from How to Be Everywhere
How to Be Everywhere: I still haven’t written a post on this series of Warren’s Apollinaire adaptations, but it was a no brainer addition to list. Poetic comics that always has more to offer with each reading. I have 2 pages from it on my bedroom wall. This is an unrecognized gem of a work. Samples here (and you can order it too).
Krazy Kat: This probably doesn’t need comment. Right? Here’s a post I wrote a long time ago when I first read the strip.
The last three additions were where my list making started to get harder. The first seven were pretty easy for me. From here on in, my selections were, to some point, skewed by work I had read recently, and probably a bit towards work I thought wouldn’t get enough attention in the poll (though surely, someone else voted for Neaud?).
from The End 1
The End: Nilsen’s Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow is a lot more direct and has, I think, gotten more attention than this shorter more abstract book, but to me, this is the real masterpiece. This is quietly powerful, heartbreaking even, without spelling everything out, without getting too explicit. It’s not hard to see why #2 never materialized. Where could you go from here? Surely, one of the most depressing comics ever.
from Journal 3 by Fabrice Neaud
Journal III: I’ll admit I’ve only read this once. It’s in French and it took me quite awhile, but, damn, this is one of the best autobiographies ever made in comics (and I haven’t even seen the other 3 volumes in the series). Beautifully drawn, expressive, intelligent, political, even. Still no English version? For shame, English comics publishers… for shame.
from Par Les Sillons
from Par Les Sillons
Par Les Sillons: I probably reread this the day before I made my list, so it was fresh in my mind. This is a big beautiful, messy book that is wordless (so no worries that it’s from Europe, and the indicia is translated into English). The art veers between representational and abstract. It looks like its made of monoprints, dark and smeary and etched with scratches. The story has war and nature, leaving and homecoming, and ends with falling leaves. I want to read it again right now.

Best Online Comics Criticism 2010: Derik’s List

This year I was one of the “judges” for the Best Online Comics Criticism of 2010, organized by Suat Tong Ng at The Hooded Utilitarian. He posted yesterday about the process and some of the runners-up. You can visit his post on the final aggregate list, and take a trip around to the other judge’s sites to see what they chose.
Here’s my final list of 10 favorite articles. I’d like to say there was some coherent criteria I was working from, but mostly these are pieces that held my interest. Some of them increased my interest in a work I’ve already read, some of them made me want to read a work I haven’t read, and some of them just increased my enjoyment/knowledge of comics in general. I veered very much to the critical review type of article, as opposed to some of the historical-type articles that were nominated. I hope you’ll read all of these, I think they are worth the time.
In alphabetical (author last name) order:
Rob Clough on Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #3
Katherine Dacey on Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako
Craig Fischer on David Mazzucchelli
Ryan Holmberg on the works of Yokoyama Yuichi
Joe McCulloch: “The Problem with American Vampires Is That They Just Don’t Think” (essay on thought balloons)
Ken Parille on Charles Bursn’ X’ed Out
Matt Seneca on Roy Crane’s Captain Easy
Jason Thompson on Morality in Action Manga
Matthias Wivel on Herge’s Tintin
Valentina Zanca on Dino Buzzatti’s Poem Strip
Sorry there’s no commentary on each, I didn’t have the time this week.

Best Print Comics of 2010

A quick disclaimer: Like previous years, my list is a mix of comics first published this year, comics first translated this year, comics republished/collected this year, and comics from previous years that I first read this year. I haven’t read a lot of the big books of the year that I see appearing on other lists such as X’ed Out, Weathercraft, Market Day, Wilson, Artichoke Tales, etc. (not to mention any superhero books and the like). Some of them I’ll probably get to next year (Weathercraft, Artichoke Tales) some I won’t.
Whenever I start drawing up a list like this, I immediately start to doubt my choices. Was it really that good? Everyone else thought that book was one of the best, shouldn’t I? The decision is compounded by books that I only read once and am still unsure about. I did reread a few potential favorites in the past two weeks go try to reassure myself on my choices. As is often the case I didn’t end up writing about any of these books yet (at least not in detail), so I’ve searched around to link to a few posts by other’s about the books where I could find them). This list is a bit skewed for books read in the more recent past, but it’s the list I came up with.
Also don’t neglect to look at my best webcomics list too.
In no particular order:

1) Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue (Viz) – I read 9 volumes of the VizBig edition of this manga series this year, which comprises 27 normal volumes… that’s more pages than all of Cerebus (though certainly less text!). This series, a fictionalized biography of swordsmaster Miyamoto Musashi, is beautifully drawn, engaging plotted, and all around awesome. There are some similarities to series like Lone Wolf and Cub, but Inoue is much more concerned about the internal life of his characters and the morality of the endless violence. In some ways, Inoue seems to be both having his cake and eating it too: drawings pages and pages of bloody sword fights, while also slowly undercutting the whole point of all the fighting and the “fight your way to the top” trope that one finds in so many manga action series. I ended up reading most of the series twice over the course of the year, and I’m hoping to write more about some aspects of it in the near future. There seems to be very little written about Vagabond (that I could find, let me know what I’m missing). Here’s a good post on one particular scene by David Brothers at 4th Letter.

2) “Love Bunglers” and “Browntown” from Love & Rockets: New Stories #3 by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) – Two really powerful stories from Jaime, and, in my opinion, a wonderful return from those superhero pastiches of the past two issues. This is Jaime doing what he does best, advancing the lives of his characters, adding to their histories, introducing side characters, and generating an emotional impact. Lots written about this one so far including: Frank Santoro at ComicsComics, and Tucker Stone and Michel Fiffe at Factual Opinion
From page 24 of Conte Demoniaque
3) Conte Demoniaque by Aristophane (L’Association) – If many English speaking readers were introduced to Aristophane this year through Matt Madden’s translation of The Zabime Sisters (surely in the runner-up category for this list), my first of his books was this infernal tale of demons, hell, and the damned. This is a bleak work, drawn in a visually rich style. You should check out the very long essay by Fabrice Neaud on this book, which I translated a few months ago.

4) Faire Semblant C’est Mentir by Dominique Goblet (L’Association) – Another new discovery for me from Europe, I find it hard to believe no one has picked this up to publish in English (it’d be a perfect fit for D&Q). An autobiographical story, co-written with Goblet’s boyfriend (and co-protagonist). Goblet’s style is varied and shifting, but consistently striking in its power. From haunting pencilled images of a visit to the grocery store (where the ghostly figure of the boyfriend’s previous lover follows the protagonists) to the abstract paintings that end the book, I’ve not seen a comic that has this visual range, while still feeling so consistent. I wrote a bit about the style of Faire Semblant here. There’s not much I can find in English except Bart Beaty writing on the book and brief commentary by Matthias Wivel.

5) Acme Novelty Library #20 by Chris Ware (D&Q) – Despite being part of the ongoing Rusty Brown serial, this issue of Acme Novelty Library read like a self-contained entity and was more successful for it. Ware pulls out all the stops for this one, most impressive here is the stylistic variation he uses across the story. The art is often less stiffly iconographic than much of his previous work, so that when he does go down that path (like in the early parts of the story), it has an narrative effect of its own. Similar to #19, this issue’s story also deals with the way people can rewrite their own life stories. Some reviews: Sean Collins at AttentionDeficitDisorderly, Matt Seneca at Death to the Universe, and Brian Heater at the Daily Cross Hatch

6) Rip Kirby v.2 by Alex Raymond (IDW) – After reading so much about Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby in Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss (a comic which was half “best” this year), it was great to finally read some nice reproductions of this realist detective strip (I’d read some poor quality reproductions of two stories before but they didn’t do the art justice). The stories are pretty interesting, interesting enough when accompanied with Raymond’s artwork. Just beautiful ink work throughout. Raymond subtly changes his style with each story. I haven’t yet caught up with the other volumes, but I plan to. My favorite strip reprint of the year (just edging out Stan Drake’s Heart of Juliet Jones from Classic Comics Press, which you should also look up).

7) The Wrong Place by Brecht Evens (D&Q) – First read through you can get distracted by how beautiful this book is. Damn. Evens watercolor images are vibrant, multilayered, and really dense. He makes great use of color for narrative affect. The most obvious example is using different color text for different characters speech, but at a later point in the story he drains all color from a two page spread leaving behind a scene that is an added punch of emotion due to its greyness. On second reading the subtlety of the story comes through and you really start to appreciate this rather simple story about two very different friends. Also, as I’ve seen others notice, one of the best (at times cubistic and almost abstract) sex scenes seen in comics. This book hasn’t gotten much attention, but here are two pieces worth reading: Robert Boyd on The Wrong Place and Frank Santoro on The Wrong Place (and an interview with the artist).

8) Powr Mastrs v.3 by C.F. (Picturebox) – The longer this series goes on the better it gets. I’m still not sure what is really going on from a larger narrative perspective, but C.F. does an amazing job with his world building and weaving together various characters. Plus, the art is just awesome, from the light pencilled drawings, to bright watercolors, to pages of abstract shapes, it’s a visual delight. Some commentary from Tim Callahan at Comic Book Resources and Arthur Smid at the Daily Cross Hatch (on v.2).

9) Vastness #2 by Aidan Koch (self-published) – As I noted in my review of her longer book The Whale, I think Koch seems to work better in shorter form (at least to this point). Probably a week after I wrote that review I got this comic in the mail. It’s a single page approximately 11″ x 17″ piece of paper printed in color on one side and folded in quarters. The single large image is divided into panels and page-like quadrants. It’s beautifully drawn and the narrative is evocative and restrained. You can see the whole thing here. It’s easy to overlook shorter works when making up lists like this, as books and series tend to feel more important by sheer weight of pages, but I think it’s important to remember that comics can come in all sorts of formats. One might even project a “best pages” of the year list. Something to keep in mind for next year.
Addendum to the webcomics list:

I really should have added Trevor Alixopulos’s “Old House” short story to that list, but I forgot. I love his drawing style and the way he successfully tells the story with more than a usual amount of text. It’s a great story, worth reading and rereading (and not just because it has a D&D reference in it).

For what it’s worth, these are all the (non-web, non-mini, non-pamphlet) comics I read this year (at least all those I remembered to write down, which is the great majority of them, as I was pretty careful this year in keeping a list):
Beanworld: Remember Here When You Are There by Larry Marder (Dark Horse, 2009)
You are There by Forrest and Tardi (Fantagraphics, 2009)
Proper Go Well High by Oliver East (Blank Slate, 2009)
The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics, 2009)
Genesis by R. Crumb (WW Norton, 2009)
Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma (Yen, 2009)
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan (DQ, 2007)
Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji edited by Henry D Smith (George Braziller, 1999)
Mine Tonight by Alixopulos (Sparkplug, 2006)
Usagi Yojimbo 21: The Mother of Mountains by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse, 2007)
The New Sun by Taro Yahima (Henry Holt, 1943)
Times of Botchan v4 by Taniguchi and Sekikawa (Fanfare, 2009)
GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz, 2009)
Faire Semblant C’est Mentir by Dominique Goblet (L’Association, 2007)
1h25 by Judith Forest (Cinquieme Couche, 2009)
Paradise Kiss v.1 by Ai Yazawa (Tokyopop) (reread)
King: The Special Edition by Ho Che Anderson (Fantagraphics, 2010)
A Distant Neighborhood v.2 by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare, 2010)
Krazy and Ignatz: Tiger Tea by George Herriman (IDW, 2010)
Ristorante Paradiso by Natsume Ono (Viz, 2010)
Buddha v.1-8 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) (reread)
Mushishi v.3-7 by Yuki Urushibara (Del Rey) (reread)
King of Flies v.1 by Mezzo and Pirus (Fantagraphics, 2010)
Silent Mobius v.3 by Kia Asamiya (Udon, 2010)
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli (Pantheon) (reread)
The Sands by Tom Hart (Black Eye)
Berlin and That by Oliver East (Blank Slate, 2010)
Art in Time, ed. Dan Nadel (Abrams, 2010)
BodyWorld by Dash Shaw (Pantheon, 2010)
L’Homme Sans Talent by Yoshiharu Tsuge (1986) (Ego Comme X)
Passionate Journey by Frans Masereel (reread)
Suppli 4-5 by Mari Okazaki (Tokyopop)
King Canute Crowd by Eddie Campbell (reread) (Top Shelf)
Three Piece Suit by Eddie Campbell (reread) (Top Shelf)
How to be an Artist by Eddie Campbell (reread) (Top Shelf)
After the Snooter by Eddie Campbell (reread) (Top Shelf)
Rip Kirby v.2 by Alex Raymond (IDW)
Kelly Green 1 and 2 by Starr and Drake (Dargaud)
The Heart of Juliet Jones v.2 and 3 by Stan Drake (Classic Comics Press)
Mercury by Hope Larson (Atheneum)
Satsuma Gishiden v.1 by Hiroshi Hirata (Dark Horse)
King Cat 71 by John Porcellino (self-published)
Wild Kingdom by Kevin Huizenga (D&Q)
Acme Novelty Library 19 by Chris Ware (reread) (D&Q)
Love and Rockets New Stories #3 by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Ma Vie Mal Dessinee by Gipi (Futuropolis)
The Yellow M by Edgar Jacobs (Cinebook)
Nana volumes 11-19 by Ai Yazawa (Viz)
Conte Demoniaque by Aristophane (L’Association)
Dead Memory by Marc Antoine Mathieu (Dark Horse)
Vagabond VizBig v.1-9 by Takehiko Inoue (Viz)
Cross Game v.1 by Mitsuru Adachi (Viz)
The Whale by Aidan Koch (Gazebooks)
The Zabime Sisters by Aristophane (First Second)
You’ll Never Know v.2 by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)
Powr Masters 1-3 by CF (reread of 1 and 2) (Picturebox)
If ‘N Oof by Brian Chippendale (Picturebox)
Pierre Alechinsky: Margin and Center
Acme Novelty Library 20 by Chris Ware (D&Q)
Silent Mobius v.2 by Kia Asamiya (Udon)
The Wrong Place by Brecht Evens (D&Q)
The Lodger by Karl Stevens (self-published)
Lone Pine by Jed MacGowan (self-published)
Flesh and Bone by Julie Gfrorer (Sparkplug)
Ax: A Collection of Alternative Manga (Top Shelf)
Kamui-Den v.1 by Sanpei Shirato (Kama) (French edition)

Best Webcomics of 2010

[Roughly putting a French translation back into English: My line constantly brings to mind it's existence as ink. I call on the complicity of my reader who transforms the line into meaning, using our common well of culture, history, and poetry. - Saul Steinberg.]

Since webcomics are the only type of comic I’m reading in a regular serial form (not counting long term projects like Rusty Brown or the few manga series I’m caught up with), I thought I’d separate out the webcomics from any other best of list. I haven’t yet gotten to rereading all of these comics (though most I’ve read at least twice), but they are comics I really enjoy(ed) and have not given up on (I do a lot of following and unfollowing of webcomics to try new things and give up on those that don’t keep my interest)… Plus, by separating these out, it gives me an excuse to make two posts about comics I loved.
In no particular order, and each deserving of further analysis/description/commentary:
Roughly putting a French translation back into English: My line constantly brings to mind it's existence as ink. I call on the complicity of my reader who transforms the line into meaning, using our common well of culture, history, and poetry. - Saul Steinberg.
1) Quadrilogues by Pascal Tessier (Grandpapier) – For a few months I delighted in finding this series in my feed reader each day. Tessier structured the series as single pages mixing quotations from (mostly) famous thinkers, writers, and artists with his own evocative black and white imagery. It’s a shame the text is all in French so that most of my readers can’t get the full effect of the comic. The combination of thoughtful words and beautiful imagery makes for pages that are worth contemplating rather than just reading/viewing. More on comics from Grandpapier here, here, and here.

2) Puke Force by Brian Chippendale (Picturebox) – I have yet to write about Chippendale’s big book from this year, If ‘N Oof, but I’ve enjoyed this webcomic series much more. Puke Force seems more quintessentially Chippendale, with snaking panel sequences, frenetic mark-making, genre pastiche, and social commentary, in the vein of the latter parts of Ninja. The humor is often very dark, but also quite funny. Chippendale juggles a number of simultaneous lines of action with skill. The whole sequence in the weird valley is just crazy with it’s background textures (see above).

3) House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono (Viz SigIkki) – This is one title from Viz’s SigIkki line that I’ve kept up with, I even went so far as to watch the anime series which is free on Hulu. A quiet story in historical Japan (not sure what time period exactly) starring a failed samurai and a gang of kidnappers. It’s unusual, and much different than other manga period pieces like Vagabond or Lone Wolf and Cub in that it features very little violence. This is primarily a character-based story, even the majority of the shady dealings of the kidnappers occur off-panel. Ono has a fairly simple drawing style that manages to be very expressive. I often find I must pay very close attention to keep up with the narrative. Looking forward to rereading this in the print edition.

4) The ongoing output of Jason Overby – If you been reading this site you’re probably already familiar with my love for Jason’s work. He’s constantly posting single page and short comics as well as other images that are visually and intellectually thought provoking. The sidebar of his site has a number of minicomics you can read online. Reviews of his minicomics here, here, and here

5) Trains Are… Mint #7 by Oliver East – I read a few comics by East this year, including his latest books Berlin and That (Blank Slate), but, as he keeps getting better, this is the latest. East’s style is so unusual for comics, an blending of naive (he’s new to making and reading comics) and sophisticated (he’s created his own unique style). From it’s amazing abstract first page to a long sequence showing the same house from the same viewpoint for (if I counted correctly) 87 panels without geting boring, this is great comic. More on East’s work: here, here, and here.

6) Carnivale by Nick Mullins – Mullins has been serializing this story online for years. I’m not sure how long I’ve been following it serially, but after recently rereading a large portion of it in minicomic format (you can order them here) I gained a renewed appreciation for it as a larger whole. Even out of the larger context, just looking at a few pages should give you an appreciation for his fine line work, his skill creating wordless dialogue, and his mix of the normal, the fantastic, and the grotesque.
7) Bonus shout out to the What Things Do site for its online reprinting of King-Cat issues and early Ron Regé Jr. Yeast Hoist issues.

8) Extra shout out to my favorite webcomics that are almost never updated at Western Park by Timothy Kidd.

My Best Comics of 2009

I’m trying to stick to a list of ten, all of which actually came out in 2009 (if not necessarily made in 2009). I probably missed a couple things that might make this list had I gotten to read them. This might be my first best of list that doesn’t include Jaime Hernandez (not a big fan of the latest L&R superhero nostalgia story) but I’ve got a few other repeat artists from last year.
In no particular order, with links to my posts on the books (where possible):
(Those last two entries are not single works, but all are short enough that I don’t feel I’m breaking any rules by combining them.)
Other potential candidates:
  • Ganges 3 by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics): Haven’t seen this yet.
  • Proper Go Well High by Oliver East (Blank Slate): Don’t have a copy yet.
  • The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second): Haven’t gotten a chance to reread this
  • Twentieth Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa (Viz): I’ve only read the first two volumes, so I’m not sure about this series yet.
  • Dash Shaw’s Mome short stories: I’m expecting the new collection of these soon, then I’ll be motivated to reread them.
Maybe this list would look different in a month, maybe not. Either way, these are all books I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you read.

Best Webcomics of 2008

I realized that I neglected to mention webcomics (with the exception of BodyWorld and Jason Overby’s work) on my best of list or its accompanying reading list. Most of the non-web comics I read are single works. I read very few serials at this point (and those I do read are generally a long way in between episodes), so the reading experience of webcomics and the others are rather different for me. The evaluation process is different when I have an arc, an incomplete series of pages to work with. So, already rethinking my list, I’m adding some webcomics picks in no particular order:
BodyWorld by Dash Shaw: Already on the previous list, but bears repeating.
Succe$$ by Gustavo Turner and Karl Stevens: Tom just posted an interview with Stevens, and I’m delighted to hear that the recently completed “Succe$$” strip will be followed up by a new Stevens strip (whose printed Whatever from Alternative Comics is worth searching out, one of the comics I wish I had taken the time to reread this year). “Succe$$” is a realistically drawn, often hilarious strip about a bunch of young corporates working for an “eco-financing” firm. Mad Men’s Don Draper makes two hilarious cameos, and that’s all I should need to tell you. Originally in the Boston Phoenix, in print and at their website, you can more easily go through the whole series at the well-hidden website for the series: http://www.successcomic.com/.
Finder #40 by Carla Speed McNeil: This part of the Finder series just ended at the end of the year. Another great Finder story that I hope will make it to print soon so I can more fully enjoy it (inked as opposed to the posted pencils). I’ve posted about Finder a few times in the past.
Les Petits Riens by Lewis Trondheim: If you can read French it’s well worth following Trondheim’s diary comic blog. If not, you can always get the collected translations from NBM (volume two due in the next month or two, I think). My preferred autobio webcomic. I’ve posted a lot about Trondheim’s work in the past.
Scary-Go-Round by John Allison: This long running strip continues to amuse and entertain. Allison seemed to pick up a lot of steam this year.
The Lady’s Murder by Eliza Frye: I absolutely loved this short story. I wrote about it for ComixTalk earlier in the year.
Blaise Larmee’s blog: I discovered Blaise’s work after he commented on one of my posts. The comics he posts to his blog are often fragments (or seem to be) but the images are raw and inventive. I have his mini to review one of these days. He’s got an infrequently updated serial at the Secret Acres site.
Bluesy Face by Jed McGowan: I’m loving Jed’s style on this serial. I wrote about Bluesy Face here. Also about his short “Ritual of the Savage” in this ComixTalk column.
I’ll also take this time to mention my own webcomic Things Change, which finished up its third book this year. Book Four begins in the next week.

Best Comics of 2008

The year winds down, vacation comes and goes, and best of lists make their appearances. I’m usually pretty bad about remembering what I read each year. With the help of my (I think up-to-date) Library Thing account, I have a pretty good list of what comics I have from 2008 (that discounts minis and pamphlets, but I added them to my list below as much as I could). I tried to stick to comics published this year, either new, translated, collected, or, occasionally, new editions, though some might be a little off. This year, besides listing a best-of list of an arbitrary number of works, I’m also listing, as much as possible, all the “new” comics I read. I’m linking to my posts on same, though I only wrote about a tiny percentage.
Best Comics of 2008 (in no particular order):
Comics Poetry pick:
Craghead, Warren. How to Be Everywhere: I’m already cheating as this was published in 2007. It must have been late in the year, because I clearly didn’t get this until 2008, else it would have made my best of 2007 list. My post on this is still forthcoming (sometimes the best works are the hardest to write about), so in the meantime see what Bill Randall has to say.
Excavating Manga History pick:
Hayashi, Seiichi. Red-Colored Elegy (Drawn & Quarterly): The way this comic unfolds narratively fascinated me. Hayashi leaves plenty of room for thought and interpretation. I go on at length here.
Breaking Through in All Sorts of Ways pick:
Shaw, Dash. Bottomless Belly Button (Fantagraphics) and BodyWorld (online). Shaw’s The Mother’s Mouth made my 2006 list, and he continues to impress both in these two longer works and in his recent and ongoing contributions to Mome. I wrote about BBB here. I haven’t written about BodyWorld yet, so you’ll have to read BodyWorld for yourself online in anticipation of its release by Pantheon sometime next year.
Manga Series pick:
Urushibara, Yuri. Mushishi v.1-6 (Del Rey) (4-6 date from 2008). My opinion may be slanted here because this is my latest reading (I read five volumes in the past weeks), but this manga series really impresses. Despite it’s regimented episodic structure (which I usually do not like), this series builds a wonderful world of Japanese villages at some indistinct time period (1700s? 1600s?) populated by invisible life forms called “mushi” which are somewhere between plant, insect, and spirit. Each story shows the mushi affecting people in different ways. Urushibara’s art is evocative, often beautifully abstract, and rougher than mainstream manga. Edit: I subsequently posted about the series here.
Perennial Favorite pick 1:
Porcellino, John. Thoreau at Walden (Hyperion). An intelligent and beautiful book by one of my favorite comic artists. My post about the book.
Perennial Favorite pick 2:
Hernandez, Jaime. The Education of Hopey Glass (Fantagraphics). One of my favorite cartoonists. This book is another excellent addition to the ongoing epic group biography of his characters. I wasn’t so thrilled with the latest serial story (Love and Rockets: New Stories v.1) that dove full bore into the usually downplayed superhero stories that lurk in the background of some of the other books.
Mini-comics pick:
Overby, Jason. Jessica (mini) Solipsist’s Doodles (mini) and Discretefunk.com (website). I just recently discovered Overby’s work and have been fascinated by it. I wrote about Jessica here and my post on Solipsist’s Doodles from this week is here.
Popular pick:
Guibert, Emmanuel. Alan’s War (First Second). I probably won’t be posting about this because I don’t have much to say, but this biographical comic is an excellent, beautifully drawn, well told story of Alan Cope and his life. About half the book focuses on his experiences getting drafted and sent to Europe at the end of World War II; the second half deals runs through the rest of his life, jumping from thread to thread to connect the formative experiences of the first half with his subsequent life. Guibert’s drawings look like old photos and the narration is conversational and engaging. This work should have a broad appeal.
Anthology pick
Various, edited by Sammy Harkham. Kramer’s Ergot volume 7 (Buenaventura). Just the sheet outlandish size of this book makes it impressive. That inside finds a decent percentage of amazing works by some of the best living comic artists (primarily from the US) is the prize inside. While some of the pages in the book are disappointing on different levels (some just didn’t take advantage of the format like they could have), many of the contributions are wonderful, large and colorful, with a clear interest in making the most of the large format. Chris Ware evens offers a comic that has an optimistic ending (I was surprised). More on this in the near future as I collect my thoughts.
Comics I Know I Read in 2008:
(mostly complete list, in no order though I put publishers together)
C.F., Powr Mastrs v.2 (Picturebox)
Yokoyama, Travel (Picturebox)
C.F., Core of Caligula (Picturebox)
Weinstein, Goddess of War v.1 (Picturebox)
Santoro et al, Cold Heat Specials (Picturebox) (I wrote about the first two)
Thomas etc., Savage Sword of Conan v.4 (Dark Horse) (Actually I’m still reading this, it’s very long.)
Whedon et al, Buffy Season 8 various issues (Dark Horse)
Rege, Against Pain (Drawn & Quarterly)
Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)
Modan, Jamilti (Drawn & Quarterly)
Lutes, Berlin v.16 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Ware, Acme v.19 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Tomine, Shortcomings (Drawn & Quarterly)
Huizenga, Or Else v.5 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Briggs, Gentleman Jim (Drawn & Quarterly)
Doucet, 365 Days (Drawn & Quarterly)
various, DQ Showcase 5 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Amano, Aqua 2 (Tokyopop)
Asano, Solanin (Viz)
Tezuka, Dororo 1 (Vertical)
Drake, Heart of Juliet Jones v.1 (Classic Comics Press)
Caniff, Terry and the Pirates v.2 (IDW)
Larcenet, Ordinary Victories v.2 (NBM) (I reviewed the french album that makes up the first half of this translation)
Trondheim, Little Nothings v.1 (NBM) and ongoing online (in French)
Tanaka, Metronome (NBM)
Giardino, No Pasaran v.3 (NBM)
Trondheim and Appollo, Bourbon Island 1730 (First Second)
Campbell, Monsieur Leotard (First Second)
Brubaker, Reich v.3-5 (Sparkplug)
English et al, Windy Corner 2 (Sparkplug)
Alixopoulos, Hot Breath of War (Sparkplug)
Huizenga, Ganges v.2 (Fantagraphics)
various, Mome v.10-12 (Fantagraphics)
Schulz, Complete Peanuts 67-68 (Fantagraphics)
Drechsler, Daddy’s Girl (Fantagraphics)
Hernandez Bros. Love and Rockets: New Stories v.1 (Fantagraphics)
Peeters, Blue Pills (Houghton Mifflin)
Gravett ed., Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics (Running Press)
Actus Tragidus, How to Love (Top Shelf)
Simmonds, Tamara Drewe (Pantheon)
Larson, Chiggers (Atheneum)
Stevens, Whatever (Alternative)
Williamson, At a Crossroads (Princeton Architectural)
East, Trains are Mint (Blank Slate) and v.5 (self-published)
Porcellino, King Cat v.69 (self-published)
Sim, Glamourpuss 1-4 (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
Sim, Judenhaas (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
Some of the comics in this list might have been bumped up if I had gotten to rereading them.
New Year’s Resolution for this Blog:
1. Try to be more consistent with posts.
2. Reread more comics. Write more about comics that aren’t new. (In particular, series of comics/books that are now complete.)
3. Write more long posts that aren’t just reviews of single works, like my post on first person point-of-view in comics.
4. Improve my writing style.
Happy new year everybody!

Best Comics Criticism of 2007

Chris Mautner asked a bunch of comics critics/reviewers/bloggers to select their favorite piece of comics criticism for his “Everyone’s A Critic” column at Newsarama. Once I started looking around, I found a few pieces that I enjoyed over the past year. They skew towards the longer or recent, as my memory fails me, and I neglected to keep track of this particular area of my reading. Chris has my top choice for his column (coming soon), but here are the runners-up, in no particular order:
a) Jesse Hamm on Jesse Marsh: This is an old piece of Hamm’s that he posted a couple months ago to his LiveJournal, but it’s the first criticism I’ve seen on Marsh that made me see why I should read his comics. (The piece on Marsh in the most recent Comic Art issue helped too, but it’s strong biographical focus was less to my tastes.)
b) Stephen Frug on a page from City of Glass: Great close reading of a page, including a nice comparison of the original novel to the comic adaption. (The first in a series on “100 Great Pages”.)
c) “Jaime Hernandez: Mad Love” in Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk: Wolk really gets to the many reasons to love Jaime’s Locas stories. This is the kind of comics criticism you could give to a non-comics reader and get them interested in reading a comic (I think, I haven’t tried it yet). Part of this chapter originally appeared as a review of “Ghost of Hoppers” in Salon.
d) System of Comics by Thierry Groensteen as translated by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen: What can I say, I love this formalistic kind of analysis. Groensteen’s concept of “braiding” is, in particular, deserving on more thought and attention. (My comments on the French edition from few years back.)
e) Noah Berlasky on a few panels from Asterix: A fine bit of close reading, something I always appreciate.
I’d love to here any suggestions from my readers…

Best Comics of 2007

It is time for my list of Best Comics I Read in 2007 (not necessarily published in 2007). Something like this is always hard as I tend to forget a lot of stuff. What did I read this year, what did I read last year? It’s easiest to go by what I reviewed or what I’m planning to review and haven’t gotten to yet.
In no particular order, mostly linking to my original reviews (webcomics are linked to the strip itself). If I hadn’t previously reviewed the work then my comments are brief. Maybe someday I’ll write something longer on all of these. Despite a sense of the great time it is for comics publishing, I feel like my list is much less satisfying than last year’s:
Curses by Kevin Huizenga: This is a book from last year, which I didn’t get to read until January. I never did write about it. Not only does it showcase Huizenga’s formal skills, but the narrative blends the banal and the fantastic, non-fiction and fiction, in a way that makes for an engaging read.
The End #1 by Anders Nilsen: My favorite work I’ve seen by Nilsen (I still haven’t read “Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow” though). He mixes a sincere pathos with a certain abstraction of narrative and image that is more effective than one might think.
Trains Are Mint #4 by Oliver East: Can be read in full online. I posted briefly about it here and reviewed some other issues of Trains are Mint here.
Cold Heat 3 and 4 by Frank Santoro and Ben Jones: I reviewed issue one and issue two last year.
Storeyville by Frank Santoro: I haven’t read the new edition of it yet, but I looked through it. Not only the great comic by Santoro in an edition that I’m not afraid to page through (for fear of ripping the old newsprint edition), but the design is wonderful, including a convincing reproduction of the colors of the old edition on sturdier paper.
The Hero’s Life and Death Triumphant by Frederic Coche: I reviewed it back in February. What a strange and disturbingly beautiful work.
Gray Horses by Hope Larson: This one surprised me. I wasn’t expecting much from it, as it has a deceptive simplistic look, yet upon closer examination Larson shows great skill and invention with the comics form and tells a layered narrative that pays with rereading. My review from June.
“Cherchez La Femme” by Becca Taylor in Papercutter 2: A great short comic of appropriated text and image. It came out in 2006, I read it in June. The Papercutter anthology in general has had some good comics appearing in it.
“Wordlessness (on steinberg?)” by Richard Hahn in Windy Corner Magazine 1: Never got around to reviewing this, but Hahn’s comic at the end is a lovely abstract narrative. Austin English’s child-like crayon comics (which are the major portion of the magazine) are unlike anything else. One hopes this magazine starts appearing more often.
xkcd by Randall Munroe: This strip is consistently funny and intriguing using the barest of imagery.
Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart: A noirish narrative that has me engaged. Stewart’s duotone art is some of the best you’ll find on a webcomic.
Finder by Carla Speed McNeil: Even her pencilled pages are worth reading. I eagerly await the next volume. My review of the last paper volume.
The latter volumes of Tezuka’s Phoenix. I can’t wait to read this whole series again in order.
Perennial Favorites: Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets, John Porcellino’s King-Cat, Jason Lutes’ Berlin (2 issues made it out this year, surely a record!).
Reprints galore: Peanuts and On Stage in particular.
About Comics: Schulz and Peanuts (Despite the controversy I found this biography an engaging read and I loved the way Michaelis integrated the strips into the text), Comic Art 9, Comics Comics, and The System of Comics by Thierry Groensteen.

My Best of 2006

Based on shaky recollection and searching blog archives, I offer my favorite comics of 2006. All links go to my reviews on this blog.
1. Ghost of Hoppers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics): A contemporary master at the top of the form. The rich life of the characters and the depth of story is nicely augmented by the minimal and precise drawings.
2. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton-Mifflin): A comics memoir that with a literary sense lacking from most autobiographical comics.
3. Ganges 1 by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics): I just love Huizenga’s work. It’s fun and contemplative with a great and experimental use of the form.
4. Ninja by Brian Chippendale (Picturebox): I just reviewed it yesterday, so I won’t repeat myself so soon.
5. Frank Santoro: Yes, I’m cheating, but Santoro’s comics were a highlight of the year from the surrealistic Incanto (Picturebox) to the Ben Jones scripted Cold Heat 1 and Cold Heat 2 (Picturebox). His sparse line work and bold colors are sui generis in the comics world.
6. Mother’s Mouth by Dash Shaw (Alternative Comics): Shaw is an experiementer, and a good one at that.
1. Les Petits Riens by Lewis Trondheim (Never reviewed this, so the link goes right to the comics)
2. Scary Go Round by John Allison (ditto, but I’ve read all the collected volumes)
3. Finder by Carla Speed McNeil (My review of the most recent volume)
4. Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee (No review, mostly because I haven’t gone back and reread the whole thing)
5. Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North
Ongoing praise for reprints/translation: Krazy Kat (Fantagraphics), Peanuts (Fantagraphics), Walt and Skeezix (Drawn & Quarterly), Phoenix (Viz), and Buddha (Vertical, which finished up this year).

Best of 2005, It’s Unavoidable

(Edited 1/2/06 with review links)
Shawn has a list of 365 Things he enjoyed in comics this year (this site is number 259), which is a wealth of new discoveries to explore. Chris and Alan just put up their Best of 2005 at CBG. Reminded me that I was working on a list too.
I’m going to take a different tactic than most of these types of list. As I tend to read a lot of older publications, I really can’t do my “best of” list without including books published in previous years (or decades), so this will be a mix of the old and the new. As I’ve mostly read comics this year, that will be the focus, but I’ll throw in TV shows too (that’s an easy list for me to make as it is short and sweet).
Comics (in no particular order, and I’m sure I forgot something) (links are to reviews I wrote):
1. La Vie comme elle vient, Lewis Trondheim (Dargaud): Trondheim’s anthropomorphic animals are cartoony and often silly, but this volume of his Lapinot series really hits hard on the emotions. No English translations of this book, and the others in the series that were translated (by Fantagraphics) are not as great as this one.
2. Buddha, Osamu Tezuka (Vertical): This series continues to impress and delight. Also Tezuka’s Phoenix (Viz) which had one volume out this year and the next one coming soon. There’s a reason Tezuka is called the “god” of manga.
3. Saikano, Shin Takahashi (Viz): This manga’s seventh and final volume is coming out in the next month. I experimented with a few manga titles this year, and this is one series that I came to follow as new volumes arrived. Its rather clichéd, for manga at least, concept of girl as super-army-weapon is told in such a way as to make it very human. A war rages throughout this manga yet we see very little of the fighting or the enemy, instead we see the lives of people dealing with their mortality.
4. Yokohama Kidaishi Kikou, Ashinano Hitoshi (scanlation): If I could recommend one manga to a non-manga or non-comics reader it would be this one. Beautifully drawn and carefully constructed, this ongoing series moves with the rhythm of real life, sometimes moments take forever and sometimes years pass in the blink of an eye.
5. Arf! The Life and Times of Little Orphan Annie, Harold Grey (Arlington House, 1970): I never would have guessed, but I devoured this book of Annie newspaper strips. Gray is a master of pacing and his crudely expressionist art is deceptively perfect for the stories he tells.
6. 99 Ways to Tell a Story, Matt Madden (Chamberlian Brothers, 2005): It’s no surprise seeing this on my list, I love Madden’s formally inventive comic recreation of Queneau’s Exercises in Style. An encyclopedia of techniques and styles that is never dull.
7. Couch Tag 2, Jesse Reklaw (mini): A family history organized through the succession of pet cats. Wonderful.
8. Or Else, Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly, 2004-): This series was a surprising and brilliant new addition to comics. Issue 2 in particularly is wonderfully fantastic and scientific at the same time. Formally exciting, too.
9. Gemma Bovary, Posy Simmonds (Pantheon, 2005): The formal text/image arrangement of this book is very interesting, unique almost, and works amazingly well.
10. Krazy Kat by George Herriman (Fantagraphics): I finally discovered Krazy Kat this year. This series of reprints is beautifully done and worth picking up at least one volume.
11. Ordinary Victories, Manu Larcenet (NBM, 2005): This book never got much attention but it is a wonderful example of the current “new wave” of French comics. I’ll be reviewing it soon.
12. The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): A manga about a man who walks around his new neighborhood. Filled with tiny moments and the joy in observation and everyday discovery.
13. Maximum Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, edition concept by Walter Mosley (Marvel): What might at first sound like a joke (enlarge Fantastic Four #1 panel by panel into a coffee table book) is actually a great lesson in reading comics.
14. Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond (Checker): If it weren’t for Raymond’s beautiful art (which really deserves full remastering, recoloring, etc etc) this would never make the list, but with the art, this is a great thing to behold. The most recent two volumes (4 and 5) are quite impressive, and even the story becomes less problematic and silly.
15. Masters of American Comics, edited by John Carlin, Paul Karasik, and Brian Walker (Yale): A catalog to accompany the exhibit (currently in California, coming to the east coast in September 2006) of 13 American comic artists. It’s a high quality production filled with impressive reproductions of great comic art. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
16. Promethea, Alan Moore and JH Williams III (DC/America’s Best): The ending issue of Promethea (my favorite of Moore’s series) is a visual and verbal explosion of unequalled achievement. This year I’ll be rereading the whole series.
17. King-Cat, John Porcellino: Numbers 64 and 65 came out this year and both are some of Porcellino’s best work I’ve seen (2 collections and a few issues).
18. 676 Apparitions of Killoffer, Killoffer (Typocrat): Just read this once yesterday, but… wow. More later.
Continuing Series of Continuing Interest: Finder, Love and Rockets Vol. 2, Strangehaven, Berlin, Following Cerebus.
Disappointments/Overhyped: Astonishing X-Men, Serenity.
Hopes for the New Year: Huizenga’s Ganges, Harkham’s Crickets, Moore and Gibbie’s Lost Girls (finally?!), First Second’s launch, more high quality reprints of old comic strips (and continuing volumes in Peanuts, Krazy Kat, Flash Gordon, and Gasoline Alley), more of Tezuka’s Buddha and Phoenix, more from Typocrat, more from Pantheon (I’ve not seen anything about what their next releases are).
A few things don’t make the list because I haven’t read them yet. I still haven’t gotten the Black Hole collection, and my collection of the issues is missing part 1, which always made me feel like I was missing something important. I haven’t read Walt and Skeezix yet, though it is sitting on my shelf waiting. A few I did not find as worth of high praise as others (I’m still on the fence with The Push Man).
TV and TV on DVD (one thing I always find it easy to rank):
1. Deadwood (HBO) (more review here): The best show on television, hands down. HBO needs to get off its ass and release a season 2 DVD.
2. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): I cautiously checked this show out on DVD and was shocked to find it to be one of the most interesting and intelligent shows on. A science fiction tv show that not only tells an exciting story filled with dynamic characters, but it is also filled with policial and religious exploration that is relevant to the contemporary times. This is light years away from the original series.
3. Veronica Mars (UPN): With the new (second) season this show keeps getting better: the old characters grow, interesting new characters are added, and the stories are more tightly wound than last season. The writers mix weekly small mysteries with season-ranging large mysteries in a suspenseful and interesting way.
4. Wonderfalls (FOX/DVD): Another one that was cancelled far too soon. Funny, thoughtful, engaging, and inventive. Get the DVD, watch it.
5. Lost (ABC): The writers are managing to walk a fine line with this show between mystery and revelation. After a rocky first two episodes (moved really slow and quite repetitive), they’ve kept me interested in the old and the new without leaving me feeling that the story is not progressing. My one wish: more of Locke (he’s my favorite).
6. The West Wing (DVD): Who knew this would be the year I watch 4 seasons of West Wing in rapid succession. The show has a tendency to show bits and pieces in interesting ways. Often we see a struggle for some piece of legislation and never see the victory or lose. It has a true “slice of life” structuring. I do get annoyed that the characters seem to have no personal lives, but I guess they can only show us so much. I’m extremely impressed by Aaron Sorkin having written or co-written 20 of the 22 episodes in Season 4. Damn!

My Best of 2004

Alas, everyone else is doing it… I’m not usually very current with my consumption, so here is my very short list of favorites from 2004:
New Novel:
Vanishing Point, David Markson (Perhaps not as great as his previous This is Not a Novel, but still worth much more than most novels)
New in Paperback:
VAS: An Opera in Flatland, Steve Tomasula (Review forthcoming, formally inventive and topically relevant)
New Impressions of Africa, Raymond Roussel (Review will be up on Monday)
Short Fiction:
Novelties and Souvenirs, John Crowley (I prefer his novels, but he is a wonderful writer of realistic fantasy)
Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories, Jaime Hernandez (700 pages in the life of… epic and mundane, beautiful simple art)
Buddha Volumes 3-4, Osamu Tezuka (the godfather of Japanese comics fictionalizes the Buddha’s life, quality Japanese comic that is overshadowed by the proliferation of really bad ones)
Sonic Youth “Sonic Nurse” (The best album they’ve done since… “Daydream Nation”)
P.J. Harvey “Uh Huh Her” (bluesy, rocking, I can’t stop listening to it)
Denison Witmer “The River Bends and Flows Into the Sea” (A Philly local who writes great songs, indie rock-ish)
TV on DVD:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 6 and 7 (Some people malign the last two seasons, but this is pure gold television)
Millenium Season 1 (Really really dark, which isn’t usually my style, but I couldn’t stop watching and eagerly await Season 2 in January)
New TV:
Lost (a nice blend of reality and fantasy, with a great sense of pacing, and a slow unveiling of characters)
Veronica Mars (Not only a fun, well written show, but one of the few I’ve seen that takes on class disparity on a regular basis)
The Saddest Music in the World, Guy Maddin (Odd, beautiful, grainy, funny, and I’ll be damned if there isn’t some political metaphor in there about public outcries of pain and sadness)
Honorable Mention for Novels that Came out Last Year Which I Want to Recommend Anyway:
Voice of the Fire, Alan Moore (Many may know him for his comics (Watchmen, From Hell, Promethea) but this proves that he can write prose too, a centuries spanning work revolving around Moore’s home of Birmingham, England)
Oracle Night, Paul Auster (this continues many of Auster’s preoccupations and tropes, but it is to his credit that it feels new and inventive)
My Paris, Gail Scott (see my review)
The Blond Box, Toby Olson (Duchamp, a science fiction novel, a murder mystery, a meditation on art and sexuality, Olson has it all and it’s wonderful)

Madinkbeard's comics:

  MadInkBeard Issues

  Books and Downloads

  1. freemini
  2. badman_comics_poetry_6


  Short Comics

  1. 2012-11-01
  2. mars_p2
  3. 2011_12_24 (after Schulz)
  4. 0-cam
  5. AhSeen_1
  6. 4_23_11
  7. eland_p1
  8. CRL News Dec 2007 cover
  9. sorrentino
  10. momatour



  1. Every Comic I Read in 2013: July
  2. Every Comic I Read in 2013: June
  3. Every Comic I Read in 2013: May
  4. Every Comic I Read in 2013: April
  5. 9th Bloggiversary
  6. Ga(ro/ps)
  7. Every Comic I Read in 2013: March
  8. Comics as "écriture": Balthazar Kaplan
  9. Every Comic I Read in 2013: February
  10. Every Comic I Read in 2013: January
  11. 2012 in Review


  1. Best Comics I Read in 2012
  2. Post-BCGF
  3. Building Stories, first read
  4. (at The Hooded Utilitarian) "Dungeons & Nostalgia"
  5. Comics Poetry, Poetry Comics, Graphic Poems
  6. "Literary" Comics
  7. (at The Hooded Utilitarian) "A Peter that Never Existed"
  8. MoCCA 2012
  9. On Locas: La Maggie La Superhero
  10. Comics Books 2011


  1. Manga 2011
  2. Minicomics and Short Stories 2011
  3. Webcomics 2011
  4. Astral Talk edited by Aidan Koch
  5. BCGF 2011
  6. Best American Comics Notables 2011
  7. What makes a comic great?
  8. Quote: Comics as Collage
  9. One-Panel Criticism: King-Cat No. 65
  10. Writing about Colosse
  11. Top 10 Comics circa June 1 2011
  12. Essay on: Jaime Hernandez's Locas
  13. Favorites: "Psalm" by John Porcellino
  14. MMF: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi
  15. Lone Pine by Jed McGowan
  16. Excess and the Everyday in Hanawa's Doing Time
  17. Fabrice Neaud on Stylistic Change
  18. MoCCA Festival 2011
  19. Interview with Austin English
  20. Anthology Round-Up
  21. Kozue Amano's Aria: Nostalgia etc
  22. Grey Supreme 1 by Mark Laliberte
  23. One-Page Criticism: Prince Valiant #199
  24. MMF: Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa
  25. Deborah Turbeville: Past Imperfect
  26. Brickbrickbrick by Mark Laliberte
  27. Best Online Comics Criticism 2010: Derik's List
  28. One-Page by Blaise Larmee
  29. One Blueberry Panel
  30. Flesh and Bone by Julie Gfrorer


  1. Best Print Comics of 2010
  2. Best Webcomics of 2010
  3. The Whale by Aidan Koch
  4. Points de vue
  5. Enso and Haiga
  6. LitGraphic at the Michener Museum
  7. The Zabime Sisters by Aristophane
  8. Ozu Inspiration
  9. Alternative Comics Roundtable
  10. Translation of Neaud on Aristophane
  11. Talking Head
  12. A page from Cross Game
  13. Discussing Style
  14. International
  15. Technological Advances?
  16. Renoir on Plagiarism
  17. Trains are Mint 7
  18. Bordwell on Show and Tell
  19. Masereel's Leaps in Time
  20. Philadelphia Museum of Art Visit
  21. PACC Follow-up
  22. Mushishi 8-9-10
  23. Two Panels by Herge
  24. DC Trip, Museum Highlights
  25. Best American Comics Criticism?
  26. Talking, Thinking, and Seeing in Pictures: Narration, Focalization, and Ocularization in Comics Narratives
  27. from The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony
  28. Garo Manga Exhibit
  29. David Markson RIP
  30. Asterios Polyp: Word balloons, colors, etc.
  31. La Bande Dessinee, Mode D'Emploi by Groensteen
  32. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R Crumb
  33. Abstract Comics: The Discussion
  34. Proper Go Well High by Oliver East
  35. Friday by Jenni Rope
  36. Pascal Matthey’s Scenic Descriptions
  37. Haiku and Haiga
  38. My Best Comics of 2009


  1. Notes on Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
  2. Elements by G#ROM
  3. Driven By Lemons by Joshua Cotter
  4. Travel by Yuichi Yokoyama
  5. The Hot Breath of War by Alixopulos
  6. Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati
  7. Masterpiece Comics by R Sikoryak
  8. Super Spy by Matt Kindt
  9. Suppli 1-3 by Mari Okazaki
  10. Yes and Hypnotizing by Aidan Koch
  11. Archaeology by James McShane
  12. Exploding Head Man by Jason Overby
  13. Aria v5 by Kozue Amano
  14. Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years
  15. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
  16. Map of My Heart by John Porcellino
  17. Lose 1 by Michael Deforge
  18. The First Transmission of the MCC
  19. Alex Toth Doodle Book
  20. Running Away by Toussaint
  21. The Complete Jack Survives by Jerry Moriarty
  22. Le Tricheur by Ruppert and Mulot
  23. Rereading Hutch Owen
  24. Ending Asterios Polyp
  25. Kramer's Ergot 7 at du9
  26. Warmer and Little Flashes by Aidan Koch
  27. Translation: Poison River and the vertiginous ellipsis
  28. Reading Bande Dessinee by Ann Miller
  29. Comic Art: Characteristics and Potentialities of a Narrative Medium, Abbott (1986)
  30. Le Voyage by Baudoin
  31. Snowy Sees Double
  32. Petit Trait by Baladi
  33. Man of My Heart by Toth
  34. Oishinbo 1 and 2 by Kariya and Hanasaki
  35. Hoytiden by Rui Tenreiro
  36. Comics by Allan Haverholm
  37. Posts on Tezuka's Phoenix
  38. Phoenix Volume 10 and 11: Sun
  39. Butor on Detective Stories
  40. MoCCA 2009 Recap
  41. Phoenix 9: Strange Beings
  42. Lone Wolf and Akira
  43. Phoenix 9: Life
  44. Phoenix 7 and 8: Civil War
  45. Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey
  46. Phoenix 6: Nostalgia
  47. Phoenix Volume 8: Robe of Feathers
  48. Phoenix Volume 5: Resurrection
  49. Phoenix Volume 4: Karma
  50. Phoenix Volume 3: Space
  51. Phoenix Volume 3: Yamato
  52. Phoenix Volume 2: Future
  53. Transformative Constraint in the Comics Classroom
  54. Phoenix Volume 1: Dawn
  55. The Structure of Tezuka's Phoenix
  56. Cold Heat: The Series 5-6 by Jones and Santoro
  57. 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail
  58. Ordinary Victories 2 by Manu Larcenet
  59. Panel Madness Day Four: Rubber Blanket Issue 2 Page 38
  60. Dash Shaw Interview at du9
  61. Parille on Acme Novelty 19
  62. Hart on Drama vs Poetry
  63. More Mushishi
  64. Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara
  65. Metacriticism: Stolidly Gestural
  66. On Criticism by Noel Carroll
  67. Best Webcomics of 2008
  68. Best Comics of 2008


  1. Solipsist's Doodles by Jason Overby
  2. Santoro on Page Composition
  3. The Infinitesimal Novel
  4. Godek's Everyday
  5. Bourbon Island 1730 by Apollo and Trondheim
  6. A Block of Panels in Solanin
  7. Branigan on Point of View
  8. Kinetic Krigstein
  9. Love and Rockets: New Stories
  10. The Marvellous Everyday
  11. Anchorage and Relay
  12. Craghead is a poet
  13. Jessica by Jason Overby
  14. Text, image, layout, rhetoric
  15. Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi
  16. Categorization in Analysis
  17. Comics Schemata
  18. An Autumn Afternoon
  19. Two Peanuts Anomalies
  20. Pleasures of the Comics
  21. Quotidian mystery
  22. Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw
  23. "My" poems
  24. Freedom within Boundaries - Presentation
  25. Helen Lundeberg
  26. 3 Appreciations of Frank Santoro – 3
  27. 3 Appreciations of Frank Santoro – 2
  28. 150 panels of Concrete
  29. 3 Appreciations of Frank Santoro - 1
  30. Time Overlapping
  31. Cave and Jungle
  32. Series and Repetition
  33. Breathtaking View
  34. Toussaint at the Quarterly Conversation
  35. Rereading Kawabata
  36. Spuk (Thesen gegen den Fruhling) by Niklaus Ruegg
  37. Love in the Western World
  38. Auden on Critics
  39. Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
  40. Rubiah and Radioactive Forever
  41. Metronome by Veronique Tanaka
  42. Write what you know or like
  43. Analytical criticism
  44. Wordless Novels and At a Crossroads
  45. Thought Balloon Ellipses
  46. Experimentation and Pretension
  47. Morgan on Single Panels
  48. Morgan on Description in Comics
  49. Pratt drawrite
  50. Trains Are Mint by Oliver East
  51. Panter image
  52. Dichotomies of Life/Art
  53. The Lady's Murder
  54. The Essay
  55. Stephen Frug on Graphic Novels and Length
  56. Dash Shaw on stories and worlds
  57. Felix Vallotton in High Contrast
  58. Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino
  59. Cold Heat Specials
  60. Making Meaning Notes
  61. Arriola draws music
  62. Maggots by Brian Chippendale
  63. Drawrite
  64. Flaubert on Conclusions
  65. Bordwell on Criticism
  66. Attention Grabbing
  67. Panels & Pictures: Text
  68. Fields and Diagrams
  69. H2 by Mitsuru Adachi
  70. Pettibon Abstract Comic
  71. More on Definitions
  72. Invisible Style
  73. Satchel Paige by Sturm and Tommaso
  74. Robbe-Grillet on plot and surrealism
  75. Rohmer's Style
  76. Quotes on Noir
  77. Gary Gygax RIP
  78. The Golem's Mighty Swing
  79. Reviews v Criticism
  80. Cotton Woods by Ray Gotto
  81. Image Text Interaction Coffee
  82. Panels & Pictures: Definition
  83. Godard and constructive editing
  84. Floating Weeds
  85. Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk
  86. Panels & Pictures: Close Reading Krigstein
  87. First Peanuts Sunday
  88. Best Comics Criticism of 2007
  89. Film Reviewing Film Criticism
  90. Gasoline Alley


  1. Best Comics of 2007
  2. Poetry as Unity
  3. Marsh Composition and Color
  4. Milch on Fiction
  5. Blanchot on the Everyday
  6. Lefebvre on the Everyday
  7. Aborted Groensteen Review
  8. Butor on Flaubert
  9. Trains Are Mint
  10. White Rapids by Pascal Blanchet
  11. Aqua 1 by Kozue Amano
  12. Throbbing Pulse
  13. Favorite Peanuts Strip
  14. Exit by Nabiel Kanan
  15. Page Flow in Andromeda
  16. The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier
  17. Panels & Pictures: List
  18. Kundera on Theme Words
  19. Music in Comics
  20. All Over Coffee by Paul Madonna
  21. Long Form Serialization
  22. Gray Horses by Hope Larson
  23. Papercutter 2 and 4
  24. The Last Novel by David Markson
  25. Yukiko's Spinach by Boilet
  26. Ordering Strips
  27. Nonplot-Based Narrative Ordering
  28. American Elf Volume 2
  29. David Markson: A Bibliography
  30. David Markson: An Introduction
  31. Writing about Margins
  32. Anders Nilsen in Mome
  33. Panels & Pictures: One Page
  34. Themerson Review at TQC
  35. The Hero's Life and Death Triumphant
  36. Panels & Pictures: One Panel
  37. Top 10 Works of Fiction
  38. Salmon Doubts


  1. Saul Steinberg
  2. My Best of 2006
  3. Ninja by Brian Chippendale
  4. Romance Without Tears
  5. Whoa Nellie
  6. Cold Heat 2
  7. The Mother's Mouth
  8. Mamet on Comics
  9. What's Wrong With This Post
  10. Making Comics
  11. Tintin and the Secret of Literature
  12. Panels: Herge's TV
  13. Les Bijoux Ravis
  14. Phoenix 7 and 8
  15. On Ghost of Hoppers
  16. Pierre Alechinsky
  17. The Mystery of the Sardine
  18. Bechdel on Everyday
  19. The Mezzanine
  20. Finder V8
  21. Two more Twombly
  22. Sound of the Mountain
  23. Morlac
  24. Mary Perkins On Stage
  25. Saikano
  26. Alpha Flight Pictureless
  27. CHRZ
  28. Promethea
  29. Archie Americana
  30. Cold Heat 1 by Jones and Santoro
  31. Storeyville by Santoro
  32. Craghead Schulz Tribute
  33. Complete Peanuts V5
  34. Le Combat Ordinaire T3
  35. Panels: L&R 16
  36. Incanto by Santoro
  37. Move to the City
  38. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  39. A Strange Commonplace
  40. Alex Toth's Zorro
  41. Daredevil 26-81
  42. Dash Shaw's Symbolia
  43. Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North
  44. Guardians of the Kingdom
  45. Alcoholalia by Andrei Molotiu
  46. Bleu by Lewis Trondheim
  47. Fine Art and Comics
  48. Désoeuvré by Lewis Trondheim
  49. New Porcellino Micros
  50. Prince Valiant: An American Epic
  51. Lapinot et les Carottes de Patagonie
  52. Panels: Colan's Monochrome Bogie
  53. Daydreams and Nightmares
  54. Panels: Steranko's Psychedelic Silhouettes
  55. Marvel Romance Review
  56. Stars, Crosses & Stripes Review
  57. Panels: Krigstein's Multi-Panel
  58. The First Kingdom Vol 1
  59. Ganges 1 Review
  60. Dylan Horrock's Atlas 1 and 2
  61. Bouvard and Pecuchet Review
  62. Winsor McCay's Little Nemo
  63. Chimera Review
  64. Graphic Novels v. Novels
  65. King-Cat No. 66
  66. Times of Botchan Review
  67. Krigstein on Panels and Pages
  68. Surrealism and The Uncanny - Two Quotes
  69. The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger
  70. Six Hundred Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer Review
  71. Masters of American Comics - Catalog
  72. Polly and Her Pals
  73. Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcenet
  74. Mary Fleener's Stylistic Dynamism
  75. Art of the Funnies and the Comic Book: Aesthetic Histories
  76. Briefly on: Panel Composition
  77. Blue by Kiriko Nananan
  78. King-Cat #65: Places by John Porcellino
  79. Maximum FF Review
  80. Best of 2005, It's Unavoidable


  1. Arf! The Life and Times of Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray
  2. Hicksville Review
  3. Teratoid Heights by Mat Brinkman
  4. Gemma Bovary at The Quarterly Conversation
  5. Mister O by Lewis Trondheim
  6. Louis Riel by Chester Brown
  7. One Hundred Demons Review
  8. Adventures of Tintin Review
  9. Satisfactory Comics 6
  10. Flash Gordon Review
  11. Prince Valiant 11 by Hal Foster
  12. 99 Ways to Tell a Story Review
  13. Pictureless Comics
  14. Corto Maltese En Siberie
  15. The Walking Man
  16. Aria by Kozue Amano
  17. Different Ugliness Different Madness
  18. Best of Nancy
  19. The Art of the Possible by Kenneth Koch
  20. Quiet Country Cafe
  21. Swan Vol 1 by Ariyoshi Kyoko
  22. Best of Little Nemo
  23. Krazy Kat 1931 - 1932
  24. Nogegon by Schuiten and Schuiten
  25. Levels of Abstraction
  26. Systeme de la bande dessinee
  27. Two by Jason
  28. D+Q Showcase 3
  29. In Formosas Dire Straits by Milton Caniff
  30. NYC Trip, Art and Comics
  31. Case, Planche, Recit
  32. Never Ending Summer by Allison Cole
  33. Oupus 1
  34. Literary Graphic Novels?
  35. The Girlfriend Trilogy
  36. Bone: One Volume by Jeff Smith
  37. Or Else 1 by Kevin Huizenga
  38. Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
  39. Mathews Brooklyn Rail Interview
  40. Paul Metcalf Interview
  41. Doug Nufer Interview
  42. Genoa by Paul Metcalf
  43. Matt Madden Interview
  44. Exercises in Style
  45. Never Again by Doug Nufer
  46. Negativeland by Doug Nufer
  47. Going Down by David Markson
  48. TV as Fragmented Muse
  49. My Life in CIA by Harry Mathews
  50. Film Noir Reader
  51. Queneau Quotes on Novel Structure
  52. Sorrentino Conversation
  53. Postcard Narrative
  54. Kiss Me Deadly
  55. Panorama of American Film Noir (1941-1953)
  56. Pierrot Mon Ami by Raymond Queneau
  57. Quotes: Duchamp, Poe, Borges, James
  58. Agape Agape by William Gaddis
  59. Interview with Queneau
  60. Tom Harris and Stefan Themerson
  61. Trent's Last Case


  1. Corey on D&D and Writing
  2. New Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel
  3. My Best of 2004
  4. Metal Machine Music
  5. A Fine Mess 2 by Matt Madden
  6. The Novel Encyclopedia
  7. Enstrangement, Metafiction, and Constraint
  8. Dave Sim’s Cerebus
  9. The Lost Scrapbook by Evan Dara
  10. "Little Casino" by Sorrentino
  11. My Paris by Gail Scott
  12. Eunoia by Christian Bok
  13. "Aberration of Starlight" by Sorrentino
  14. Duchamp's Letters
  15. "The Moon In Its Flight" by Sorrentino
  16. Mark Tansey
  17. La Television by Toussaint
  18. RabbitHead by Rebecca Dart
  19. Cerebus, Procedural Constraints
  20. "Crystal Vision" by Sorrentino
  21. "Under the Shadow" by Sorrentino
  22. The Book of Batchelors by Philip Terry
  23. Sorrentino Interview
  24. Harry Mathews Exhibit
  25. "Gold Fools" by Sorrentino
  26. Composition No. 1 by Marc Saporta
  27. Mathews Quote
  28. 99: The New Meaning by Walter Abish
  29. Quote: Hemingway
  30. Mathews on Translation
  31. Queneau in re Inspiration
  32. Quote: Calvino
  33. Roussel's Method
  34. Leiris on Roussel
  35. Quotes from Cigarettes
  36. Cigarettes by Harry Mathews
  37. Rohmer and Permutations
  38. Mathews Interview Quotes
  39. The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium
  40. Quote: Originality

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