Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: The Best American Comics 2010

Title: The Best American Comics 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 10/05/2010
ISBN: 9780547241777

One thing is absolutely certain. Comics are more than just ink & paper, a source of superheroes & villains, or a way to amuse children. Comics can appeal to all audiences & contain all sorts of plotlines, from funny to sad to the strange. In the 2010 collection of the Best American Comics anthology, we get to see 25 comics (some of which come from larger works) that run almost the full gamut of reader emotions.

The comics collected in this volume range from the truly bizarre The Night of Your life to the Hurricane Katrina comic A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge. Along with these comics there are also ones that have gained quite a bit of widespread media attention, such as the excerpts from Crumb’s The Book of Genesis & O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. There is truly something here for just about every audience.

Rather than list each comic, I’m going to highlight a few of the ones that I personally liked the most. All of the comics were incredibly well done & Gaiman (the celebrity editor for the book) did a fine job of collecting & organizing the set- it is just that listing them all would take up too much space.

My two favorites of the book had to be Asterios Polyp & The Night of Your Life, with A.D. coming up as a close third. The Asterios Polyp excerpt had such a wonderfully fun art style that allowed artist Mazzucchelli to shift from humorous to lighthearted to sadder scenes. He isn’t nailed down to any one specific style- I was pleased to see that just as each character had their own personality, the art styles also differed.

The Night of Your Life was another of my favorites. In it the artist Reklaw illustrates various different dreams, each with their own surreal stories. The artwork was wonderful, but I especially loved how Reklaw was able to bring each dream to life without making the dream dull or too strange to relate to or understand in some format. That’s a feat that is no doubt incredibly difficult, yet Reklaw manages to make it look easy.

I also enjoyed A.D. as well as the 9-11 based story The Alcoholic, both managing to entertain as well as pull at our emotions. With A.D. I was able to feel worried for the two men trapped in the flood, refusing to leave everything they own behind & it made me wonder what I would have done, if I were in their shoes. I also enjoyed having my heart broken by The Alcoholic, an excerpt set during 9-11, with the main character having to not only figure out how to cope with such a traumatic event but to also help another deal with the loss of her husband.

Not all of the stories were my cup of tea, but I could really feel the emotions behind each one. I loved how the artwork & storytelling styles changed with each tale. This is not only a book to collect but something that you lend out to friends so they can learn to appreciate how varied the world of comics really is.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

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