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An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories (Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories, Volume 1) Hardcover – October 23, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Brunetti's stated criteria for what made the cut for this hearty and hefty volume comes in his refreshingly honest introduction: "Ultimately... these are comics that I savor and often revisit." Luckily Brunetti's got a fabulous eye for an artist's signature work. The selections are difficult to argue with, hitting not just the expected luminaries (Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes) but lesser-knowns like surrealist Mark Beyer and Richard McGuire, whose "Here" breaks down the time-space continuum with mind-bending ease. Brunetti includes usually just one work from each artist, but makes exceptions for the likes of R. Crumb, and he isn't above putting his own work in, a move that's somehow more charming than obnoxious. Any fallow patches are more than made up for by, say, Jaime Hernandez's cinematic miniepic "Flies on the Ceiling." Unlike other recent anthologies, women cartoonists are represented with some of the best work in the book, like Debbie Drechsler's horrific "Visitors in the Night." While one may question the need for another comics anthology in a year unusually heavy with them, Brunetti has gone beyond the obvious to create an anthology of what is truly the finest in comics. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Editor Brunetti sets himself a daunting task: an overview of the art-comics movement, complete with a handful of the classic newspaper strips that informed today's creators. He finds room for such established veterans as R. Crumb, Lynda Barry, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Gary Panter, and Chester Brown as well as many less-familiar creators. Given the stellar lineup, high points are hard to isolate, yet a consistently brilliant set of tributes to Peanuts creator Charles Schulz by Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Seth, and Robert Sikoryak is especially impressive. Brunetti admits that his selection criteria are highly personal, but as a cartoonist himself, whose work combines a socially transgressive spirit and impressive formal capability, his idiosyncratic approach is based in professional expertise. If his choices are sometimes arguable, his iconoclasm makes the book livelier and less predictable than such anthologies are wont to be. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Ironically what got me interested in independent artists was a collection from DC comics called `Bizarro Comics' which featured alternate-comic creators doing their takes on the DC characters. Inspired by the unique stories in Bizarro I purchased `McSweeney's Issue 13' which absolutely blew me away. However, my next purchase, `The Best American Comics - 2006' was a big disappointment and led me to wonder if there just weren't enough quality alternative comics produced in a single year to create an entire 300+ page book. Some of the stories were entirely too long and left me wishing they were over. `An Anthology of Graphic Fiction' is an out of the park home run. The author presents comics going back to the 1940's but leaning decidedly towards current stuff. They run the gamut from Aline Crumbs primitive scratchings to Chris Ware meticulous works that look like they came straight from a graphic design class. The writing is much more profane and a helluva lot more gloomy than what you find in mainstream graphic fiction. Someone should do a study on why alternative artists are so depressed.
One final point. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement you DEFINITELY get your money's worth with this one. It's 400 pages jam packed with great material. Get this one... get `McSweeney's Issue 13' but skip `Best American' and if you still need more grab up the vastly underrated Bizarro Comics. If you've never experienced some of the alternate comics out there you really should give it a try. It's certainly different and definitely more intimate, honest and thought provoking.
Much of the book is made up of graphic novel excerpts, which irritate me slightly, as they tend to end just when they've captured my interest. However, there are also a lot of "short stories" and single-page or single-spread comics.
It should also be noted that this book is not intended for children. There is a good deal of what is often referred to as "language" and a number of depictions of sex and/or nudity.
One last thing...this book includes two "farewells" to Charles Schulz by Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, which will no doubt interest Peanuts fans.
First of all, most of the artists and writers featured in An Anthology of Graphic Fiction are cream-of-the-crop when it comes to independent (read: mainly self-produced) material. A cursory glance through this book will expose the eye to the free-flowing styles of James Kochalka, Mark Beyer, and John Porcellino mingling merrily alongside the relatively more stringent Seth, Chester Brown, and R. Crumb. However, there are a few wild cards, such as the unknown "secret" (almost pornographic) work of reclusive Henry Darver, discovered in his cluttered apartment shortly after the deranged man's death, and a dated magazine cover illustration by the late Gene Deitch. Though much rarer amongst the bigger name talent, these "outsiders" add a definite flavour to the more popularly known artists.
Secondly, the book itself is quite stylishly designed. An elegant tri-colour dust jacket by Canada's own Seth graciously invites the reader to investigate the outside of the book as well as the inside. For a book of its size compiled by one of the big names in the business, one might expect to pay a premium, yet it retails for less than $30 (American).
And thirdly, while Mr. Brunetti makes no bones about this not being a "definitive" collection of independent cartoonists and comics, he (along with the likes of Tom Devlin, Kim Thompson, Chris Ware, Fantagraphics' Gary Groth, and several others) does a fine job of selecting some of the best pieces and excerpts by the artists featured therein. Many of the excerpts are from significantly larger sources, yet (for the most part) work perfectly for the format in which they are offered.
There are, of course, a few instances where a snippet feels incomplete (due to exactly this issue), however this does not hurt the book's appeal.
In fact, a few of the stories seem at a glance to be thematically linked (the disturbing nature of Phoebe Gloeckner's "Fun Things to Do with Little Girls" is introduced by an excerpt from Justin Green's equally dysfunctional Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, and glides into a moving passage from Chester Brown's I Never Liked You). A coincidence, perhaps? Nobody's giving away any secrets.
On a down note, the table of contents for this book is lacking (nor was there an index). Comprised of miniature (yet not unattractive) caricatures of a primary character from each story or comic, with a numeral below signifying the page on which said character can be found, this book presumes some familiarity with the artists or stories. In fact, very few of these selections were "new" to me - but in this new context, I felt as if I had been re-introduced to some of my old favourites, as well.
For a book that could be considered Mr. Brunetti's personal collection of favourites, it is fortunate for the reader that - should this, in fact, be the case - Mr. Brunetti has a fine eye for selection.
Most recent customer reviews
...was happy to see certain artists showcased but it really seemed more like a sampler to me.Read more
The choice of selections and their arrangement are outstanding, allowing this...Read more