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The Best American Comics 2011 (The Best American Series ®) Hardcover – October 4, 2011
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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--USA Today"This year’s guest selector, Bechdel, opens with a terrific introduction that digs into the sense of awe felt by many underground vets on comicdom’s recent hyperdevelopment... The picks are a typical mix of heavy hitters in top form (Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Smith), younger art-comics darlings (Dash Shaw, Kevin Huizenga), and a nice smattering of talented newcomers."
--Booklist"Fun Home creator Bechdel selects 27 pieces for this year's Best American anthology, and though a reader can trace her sensibility in some of the entries . . . it's a pleasure to see many odd, gritty selections . . . This year's Best American is a handsome anthology with more than a few welcome surprises."
—Publishers Weekly"Another annual cornucopia of graphic narrative (and comic strips). Whether comics were ever striving for cultural legitimacy, they are now struggling with it—even resisting it—though this year’s collection suggests that the range of subject, tone and technique continues to expand. Perhaps no other graphic memoirist has achieved greater acclaim than this year’s guest editor Bechdel . . . While much of this work is at the cutting edge of contemporary culture, there is a historical perspective to some of the more ambitious pieces . . .The extended, wordless visual epiphany in 'Winter' is stunning . . . David Lasky shows the greatest range . . . Chris Ware’s inevitable selection is brilliant. The state of an art that has yet to reach stasis."
From the Back Cover
A universe of possibility opens up.
Alison Bechdel, from the Introduction
ALISON BECHDEL began drawing the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1983. She is also the author of the best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times, People, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Her second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?, will be out next year.
JESSICA ABEL is the author of the graphic novel La Perdida as well as two collections of stories and drawings from her series Artbabe. MATT MADDEN is the author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Together they are the authors of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Don't get me wrong, there's some exceptions. Kate Beaton's "Great Gatsbys" is funny enough to almost justify the whole collection, but if you are looking for your first buy of this series, buy one of the others.
If you're new to the series, or indie/underground comics: this book is good for you. There's a wide range, with a lot of pretty good stuff you can discover and expand on. That's not to say you'll love everything in here by any means, you probably won't. But where some other volumes fall a bit flat, this one has a more honed selection of intruiging, engaging, deep, or rounded stories.
There are still the comic self-portraits and journals, there are still journalism pieces, and there are still jokey comics. But as a whole, this collection comes together more for me than many other editions did.
I am not a huge fan of Alison Bechdel's, but her introduction is good (and she illustrates it) and she seems to set a more curating tone than some other guest editors have.
I can't imagine this book will change your mind if you've already heard of many of these authors and know what you like. But I think this series is more or less not interested in changing your mind anyway. This book is to show you what's happening, who is doing something interesting, and to get you started so you can go find some more books and read them. I might not strongly recommend buying a copy of this book, but if you're interested, or can't borrow a copy nearby, this one is worth it more than other volumes in my opinion.
This continuing series is a great chance to get a look at some comics that you might not otherwise see. While it does have some big names, such as Jeff Smith, other names such as Robert Sergel, Allison Sayers, and Kate Beaton are lesser known names that have a chance to be introduced to a wider population. The introduction to this volume is written by the effervescent Allison Bechdel and as always provides an enlightening look into the comic book industry from a different viewpoint.
I love the variety of different styles of story telling and colors found in this volume. For example, I really enjoyed looking at the artwork of Robert Sergel because it reminds me a lot of the starkness and simple detail that you can see in Chris Ware's work, but with his own unique twist on it. Although I don't really enjoy the story so much, the line quality and design aspect of his work is fantastic to look at. I also really enjoy the fact that people get to see the work of Kate Beaton, whose webcomic I often enjoy because she has a talent for making aspect of history come alive and takes such a different viewpoint of the world around her. Her drawing style is loose and light on detail, but is still captivating and the characitures of famous people make reading the comic enjoyable.
My biggest issue with this volume is that there aren't clear transitions between some of the selections of comics. In some places they just bleed together making it difficult to know which artist it is without going back to the index. I wish that they had taken a bit more care to put even just a blank page in between the comics, just so that it was clear where it ended. My second issue deals not with the volume itself, but with trying to read an ebook version of it. It just really does not work well, especially for some of the comics that are printed horizontal instead of vertical. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying it's the fault of the editors, but it is something that the publishers will want to take into consideration if they release it as a regular ebook.
The one big drawback I see to the series is that it's up to the artists/author to submit their work for consideration and then it's based upon editor preference so sometimes you get stuff by popular artists--such as Jeff Smith, that don't really need more exposure. I wish that it would have a few more indie works than it does, but the ones it does showcase are excellent. While you might not enjoy all of the comics in this book it does give a nice look into a great variety of artists, some of whom you might just look up to read again.