From Publishers Weekly
This yearly anthology is always something to look forward to, with its impressive editors, juicy forewords, and superabundance of comics genius between its two covers. Series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden start off with a brief history of the burst in comics' popularity and readership over the past decade; luckily for us, they include an extensive list of "Notable Comics" that didn't make the final cut. Gaiman, in turn, agonizes entertainingly over the accuracy of the title Best American Comics and finally suggests that the volume instead be called A Sampler: Some Really Good Comics, Including Extracts from Longer Stories We Thought Could Stand on Their Own. It's a wealth of fine storytelling: extracts from Lagoon, the gorgeously strange fairy tale by Lili Carré; Carol Tyler's great You'll Never Know; Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe; and Fred Chao's Johnny Hiro. Some stand-alone gems include Todd Brower and Steve MacIsaac's "Ex Communication," in which two bearish men meet for a drink and chat uncomfortably about what they've been up to since their split; Peter Kuper's two-page takedown of the Bush legacy in "Ceci n'est pas un comic"; and Gabrielle Bell's "Mixed Up Files." A thrilling and varied journey from start to finish.
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For this fifth iteration of The Best American Comics, series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden made the initial selection, then gave the final say to this year’s guest editor, Neil Gaiman, who banked several lifetimes’ worth of comics cred for his seminal Sandman, among others. Many of the 25 pieces are graphic-novel excerpts, and as Abel and Madden attest in the introduction, “they are all focused on the narrative.” Which isn’t to say that there isn’t some outstanding cartooning going on here, from formalist tinkerers like Chris Ware and David Mazzucchelli to the always-entertaining Gilbert Hernandez (abetted by brother Mario) to a chunk from Robert Crumb’s artistically triumphant Book of Genesis. In addition to such annual usual suspects and newcomers as Josh Neufeld (with an excerpt from his terrific A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge), fan favorite Bryan Lee O’Malley shows up at last, albeit in a curiously flat selection from Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. As always, the expanded selection list is a great place to find even more top-notch comics. --Ian Chipman