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Sunday, December 07, 2008

The ADD Blog's Best of 2008 -- 2008 was a lousy year for me personally, although it ends with my immediate family healthy and intact (following bouts of pneumonia, severe back problems and other aggravating baloney) and my wife and I still employed, so obviously there are things to be grateful for. Nationally everything I've been waiting for for years finally hit the fan, the only surprise being that we never experienced an overt martial law. Unless Barack Obama has an outside-the-box plan to rescue Dick Cheney's Non-Negotiable American Way of Life early in his presidency, I do expect things to slide even further into the Karmic Abyss in 2009. So much so, in fact, that I kind of think we'll be extraordinarily lucky if there's an internet as such a year from now, and if we can all still access it as merrily, breezily and passionately as we do here at the end of '08. Here's to hopin', as mom used to say.

Comics? Comics this year were spectacular. Not Marvel and DC, which I have pretty much abandoned. Final Crisis and Batman RIP created nothing but a crisis of faith that Grant Morrison will ever not suck again, and the fan-fiction sensationalism of Bendis, Johns, etc. has by now completely infected both universes as viable storytelling mediums. At this late date, I have to believe the only people left reading more than one or two titles from the former "Big Two" are seriously impaired in some way. Sure, Marvel/Icon has Criminal to boast of, but that is it. The only other floppies I can think of off the top of my head that are worth my time and money are Buffy and Godland, from Dark Horse and Image respectively. Is Fell ever going to see another issue? If so, add that to the list. Hellboy I wait for the trade on, and man, as far as regularly-issued titles from corporate and near-corporate comics publishers go, that's it for me these days. No wonder I don't write much about floppies anymore. They might not be dead yet, but they're dead to me, and that would be my single-phrase summation of The Year in Comics 2008.

Lotta great graphic novels this year, though, as my attention turned almost exclusively to complete stories with a spine. Here's a look at some of the very, very best of them, along with handy Amazon links to help you buy them if you haven't yet. And yes, using these purchase links benefits (slightly!) this site and its ability to buy more graphic novels for me to talk about. See how it all comes back on itself like a vacation on Castrovalva?

The Education of Hopey Glass by Jaime Hernandez [Fantagraphics Books]

Every Love and Rockets collection is a wonder and a joy. This one had even more nuance and humanity in its pages than you'd usually expect, and there was no better graphic novel released this year. Read my full review. Buy The Education of Hopey Glass from Amazon.com.

Superior Showcase #3 ("Freaks" by Laura Park) [Adhouse Books]

This story stayed with me long after I read it. I bought up every copy I could find, so I could give them away to deserving readers ignorant of the wonders within. If "Freaks" isn't in next year's Best American Comics volume, I will buy a gun and shoot it. The book, I mean. Read my full review.

Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi [Drawn and Quarterly]

No cartoonist I've ever read has better captured the soul-deadening brutality and unfairness life sometimes delivers. Tatsumi is one of the all-time greats, and his autobiographical 2009 release is the comic I am most looking forward to in the year ahead. Read my full review. Buy Good-Bye from Amazon.com.

Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane [Fantagraphics Books]

Dirty, greasy and impossible to put down, Lane's hardcover debut was the perfectly-timed summing-up of The American Dream in all its power and tail-finned delusion. Read my full review. Buy Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane from Amazon.com.

Ghost World: The Special Edition by Daniel Clowes [Fantagraphics Books]

One of the best graphic novels ever gets a deluxe, obsessive overhaul that includes pretty much everything but the DVD. Hey, Eric, I have an idea... Read my full review. Buy Ghost World: The Special Edition from Amazon.com.

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best [First Second]

Whimsical, dramatic, exciting and humane. Eddie Campbell might hate the term graphic novel, but he created one of the best of the the year, a rollicking good time that everyone should lose themselves in at least once. Read my full review. Buy The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard from Amazon.com.

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell [Fantagraphics Books]

Blake Bell does the impossible and explains Steve Ditko. I feel bad that Ditko might not be pleased, but someone would have done this book. No one would have done it better than Bell. except Ditko himself. Which would be fine by me. Read my full review. Buy Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko from Amazon.com.

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier [Harry N. Abrams]

This, too, had to be done. And no one could have done it better, in this case not even the subject of the book. Thank you Mark Evanier. Job well done. Read my full review. Buy Kirby: King of Comics from Amazon.com.

Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell [Top Shelf]

A surprise only in the fact that it's taken comics this long to give Powell the format he has so long deserved. The fact that he had this great a work within him, frankly, was no surprise at all. Read my full review. Buy Swallow Me Whole from Amazon.com.

Look Out!! Monsters by Geoff Grogan [LOM]

Grogan uses an undead monster to prove there's still some life left in floppy comics. Read my full review.


All of these are worthy of your attention, and more of mine than I have the time to give them at the moment:

Alan's War by Emmanuel Guibert and Alan Cope [First Second]

Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips [Marvel/Icon]

What It Is by Lynda Barry [Drawn and Quarterly]

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely [DC Comics]

Breakdowns by Art Spiegelman [Pantheon]

Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw [Fantagraphics Books]

Mome edited by Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth [Fantagraphics Books]

The Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz [Fantagraphics Books]

Where Demented Wented: The Art and Comics of Rory Hayes edited by Dan Nadel [Fantagraphics Books]

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle [Drawn and Quarterly]

ACME Novelty Library #19 by Chris Ware [Drawn and Quarterly]

That's the comics and graphic novels that rocked my world in 2008. Feel free to name your own best-ofs in the comments, and hopefully we'll all still be around to do this again in a year.


Blogger David Wynne said...

Not a bad list. I'm in a funny position right now- I'm reading more of DC and Marvel's capes n tights output than I have since I was a teenager (although admittedly that's still only four or five titles), even though I have to admit that they're in a right state. This whole idea of having every book centred around successive crossover event is so bloody moronic on so many levels, from the creative right through to marketing...

Anyway, you asked for suggestions, and I have to say SCALPED SCALPED SCALPED over and over again as loudly as possible. Seriously man, I can't think of a better book out there right now. When I get my monthly wedge of comics, Scalped goes straight to the top, above Jack Staff, above Hellboy, above Criminal, because I NEED to know what happens next.

Assuming you still haven't checked it out, I urge you once more to do so- it's like Criminal, only better, because the characters (ESPECIALLY the women) are so much more believable and fully formed. Criminal is a truly brilliant pulp crime comic, but Scalped is a brilliant story which happens to be in the crime genre. I've said this before- when it first began, everyone kept likening it to the Sopranos, but the TV series they ought to have been comparing it to is The Wire.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, especialy as I'm pretty sure you've heard it before-- in my defence, I just got out of bed! Peace.

07 December, 2008 13:04  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

Pretty convincing rant in favour of Scalped...I'll certainly give it a look again the next time I am in the shop...

07 December, 2008 15:13  
Blogger Grant, the Hipster Dad said...

My book of the year was St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business by Ronald Searle (The Rookery Press)

The rest of my top ten, in publisher order, was:

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier (Abrams)
The Starman Omnibus, volume one by James Robinson and Tony Harris (DC)
The Education of Hopey Glass by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus by Fred Hembeck (Image)
Howard the Duck Omnibus by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan (Marvel)
The Bumper Book of Solar Wind, volume one by Paul Von Scott and friends. (Omnivistascope)
Slaine: The Horned God by Pat Mills & Simon Bisley (Rebellion)
Black Jack, volume one by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Golgo 13, volume thirteen by Takao Saito (Viz)

The full list is at my blog:

08 December, 2008 10:35  
Blogger l. nichols said...

I can hardly say that my reading of comics this year was extensive or exhaustive (in fact, I read fewer books this year than I normally do), but from what I did read, I would totally and enthusiastically second "Swallow Me Whole". Another book I thought was great was "Skim". Maybe one day I'll make enough money to buy comics again. [wistful sigh]

08 December, 2008 14:25  
Blogger Marc-Oliver said...

"The only other floppies I can think of off the top of my head that are worth my time and money are Buffy and Godland, from Dark Horse and Image respectively."

If you like GODLAND, I recommend giving CHARLATAN BALL a try, if you haven't already - it's just as pull-out-the-stops wacky, only with magics instead of the cosmic stuff. (And it's just 2.50 per issue.)

08 December, 2008 16:10  
Blogger Justin said...

Ditto the recommendation for SCALPED. Would also suggest WASTELAND from Oni Press.

Thanks for the list!

11 December, 2008 16:46  
Blogger Justin said...

Ditto the recommendation for SCALPED. Would also suggest WASTELAND from Oni Press.

Thanks for the list!

11 December, 2008 16:48  

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