The Best American Comics 2010: A Review

best american comics 2010 cover Another year, and another edition of the Best American Comics will be hitting shelves soon, bringing us the picks of this year’s honorable guest editor: Neil Gaiman. Fangirl that I am, the name alone was enough for me to find an advanced digital copy and give this 352-page tomb a read through. Gaiman’s selections are (mostly) great, and he is very funny in his introduction as he struggles along with us to come to grips with the ideas of “Best” and “American” in an international comics world.

“Best” is pretty subjective and, as my father always said, taste is all in your mouth. So to give you a flavor of what the 2010 edition has to offer, allow me to present the good, the bad, the weird, and the historical.

The Good: There is a lot of good here. Lilli Carre’s The Lagoon about a mysterious water-monster with a haunting voice has me wanting to go out and pick up the full story. 20 days of American Elf strips humorously tell the story of the birth of Jame Kochalka’s second son in 2007. And Peter Bagge’s The War on Fornication had me up in arms over people wanting to control my reproductive rights.

The Bad: Chapter 7 from Omega the Unknown (which unfortunately is also the opening selection), was so confusing I would have put the volume down right there if I hadn’t been reviewing it. Maybe I’m missing something.

The Weird: A robot bets his arm that there is no such thing as gnomes in Theo Ellsworth’s Norman Eight’s Left Arm. The story just gets stranger from there. Fred Chao’s “Lobster Run”, from Johnny Hiro is hilariously surreal.

The Historical: A nonfiction writer myself, I was pleased to see some historical comics included. Josh Neufeld took on the New Orleans flooding wonderfully in an excerpt from A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. An excerpt from Jonathan Ames & Dean Haspiel’s The Alcoholic is a touching image of the moments and days following 9/11 in New York City.

And even this small taste leaves out many of the other big names you’ve probably heard of: Robert Crumb with The Book of Genesis, and an excerpt from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe. In short, if you like narrative stories over gag-a-days, and independent creators over big name publishers, (althoug there is a mix of all of that) you will probably enjoy this volume of some of the best American comic creators out there. I did.

The Best American Comics 2010 will be released in October 2010 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


A Word for Comic Creators

This was too neat not to share: If you are a comic creator or publisher, the editors for The Best American Comics want your submission for the next volume (the 2012 one actually). Notably they’ve included a special call to webcomickers to submit their work. How awesome to see online comic creators encouraged to be a part of “literary” endeavors like Best Of books. Hopefully we’ll see more webcomics included in these titles as the medium line blurs further between web and print comics.