From Publishers Weekly
The idea of Houghton Mifflin's distinguished Best American series turning to the comics would once have seemed unlikely, but the powerful narratives in this collection prove why it's a good idea. Editors Pekar (American Splendor) and Moore (Punk Planet magazine) concentrate on the graphic equivalents of literary fiction and essays, and the best results are haunting. The contents range from the fantastic (Rebecca Dart's "Rabbithead," which channels Topo Gigio and Clint Eastwood) through fiction (an excerpt from Alex Robinson's graphic novel Tricked) to serious nonfiction (Joe Sacco's account of a Marine unit in Haditha). The longer chunks of story tend to be the most effective, like Justin Hall's "La Rubia Loca," an engrossing story about a bunch of hippie slackers stuck on a bus tour through Mexico with a crazy woman. Although there are strong offerings from established comics greats like Crumb, Jaime Hernandez and Lynda Barry, the editors also showcase newcomers like Jesse Reklaw (his touching "13 Cats" is the story of a fractured childhood told through the author's attachment to a series of doomed kittens. A few of the shorter pieces are almost amateurish by comparison, but in general this volume shows the Best American Comics concept to be a showcase for thought-provoking and evocative work. (Oct.)
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For the inaugural volume in Houghton's newest Best American Series annual, American Splendor auteur Pekar made the final selection of 30 pieces from 150 that comics maven Moore, who shows an impressive grasp of the current scene, culled from graphic novels, alternative newspapers, self-published minicomics, and the Web. The choices expectedly include the medium's most prominent names, all near the top of their form, but Moore also unearthed first-rate contributions from artists likely to be known only to the most dedicated comics mavens. There's nary a dud in the bunch, although Justin Hall's account of adventure travelers in Mexico, David Heatley's powerful portrait of his father, and Rebecca Dart's formally accomplished, wordless fantasy tale are especially outstanding. The tyros may be raw in spots, but they sit comfortably alongside their more accomplished colleagues, and the high standard this edition sets heightens expectations for future series installments and the talent they may introduce. Gordon Flagg
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