Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Best Comics of 2005 or gad this made me tired

Gloryoski but this was a good year for comics. An amazing amount of quality work came out in a variety of genres. So much so that I had serious trouble narrowing it down to 10. Anyone who's read this blog over the past few years shouldn't be too surprised that my picks skew to the "artsy-fartsy"/alternative milieu, with Pantheon taking up the top three slots. In any other year many of the books that got booted off would have easily garnered a top spot, however.

All that being said, here are my 10 favorite books of 2005. At least for now.

10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley. I'm always a little wary when large groups of people start exclaiming any particular creative work as the bee's knees. Everyone and their aunt was saying that Scott Pilgrim was greater than great, so I figured there was no way it could actually be that good. It's nice to be wrong once in awhile.

9. Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman. Any year which sees the debut of a new, ongoing series by Kupperman has to be a good one for comics.

8. Cromartie High School by Eiji Nonaka. In many ways Kupperman and Nonaka share similar comedic sensibilities, so it's only natural that they'd be back to back on this list. Plus, this was my favorite manga of the year.

7. Walt and Skeezix by Frank King. While I wasn't too crazy about Chris Ware's cover design for this first volume, the loving devotion shown to the strips inside, as well as the wealth of background material on King make this the best collection of a classic comic strip in a year that saw some pretty heavy competition. It doesn't hurt that King's strip itself is delightful, capturing a time and place that has long since faded from public conciousness.

6. Pyongyang by Guy Delisle. Whereas most travel books (and comics, duh) provide you with a taste of a particular culture, country or way of life, Delisle book gives you the opposite: a country so closed off, so totalitarian that even the author cannot even access it when visiting it. It's a chilling reminder that there are places in the world where "1984" is not science-fiction.

5. Wimbledon Green by Seth. Seth has produced work of greater emotional weight and impact, but he's never been as funny or as much fun as he is here.

4. 676 Apparitions of Killoffer by Killoffer. Now here's a fellow how makes Ivan Brunetti look like Norman Vincent Peale. Self-loathing has rarely been so artfully rendered or as brilliantly laid out as it is here. The cartoonists of tomorrow will mine this book for ideas (if they're smart that is).

3. The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar. Sfar tackles subjects that no one else in comics seems to have the guts to, namely religion, tradition, family and the purpose of life itself. That he does so with such warmth, good humor and effortlessness only makes the feat that much more stunning.

2. Black Hole by Charles Burns. Anyone who has been following the serialized version of this story knows how good it is. To the rest of you, I submit Charles Burns' masterpiece, an eerie, humane and often heartbreaking look at adolescence as seen through a horror film filter.

1. Epileptic by David B. It's hard for me to talk about this book without lapsing into fanboyish enthusiasm. Suffice it to say that David B's memoir of how his family was all but driven apart by his brother's severe epilepsy is a cathartic work; an unsparing look at illness and disintegration that takes no prisoners and asks for little sympathy, though much understanding. To watch the author's fluid, dark images snake across the page is to know you are in the hand of a master.

Books that almost beat out Scott Pilgrim for that No. 10 spot (and may yet if I start feeling cheeky):
Yotsuba by Kiyohiko Azuma
Dennis the Menace Vol. 1 by Hank Ketcham
Or Else by Kevin Huizenga
The Secret Voice by Zack Soto
Sleeper: The Road Home by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

The Best of the Rest:
The Quitter
Top 10: The 49ers
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
Seven Soldiers
Dr. Slump
Love and Rockets
Burying Sandwiches

Books that probably would have made my best of list had I actually gotten around to reading them:
The Push Man
Night Fisher
Spiral Bound
Sexy Voice and Robo
We All Die Alone
Salamander Dream
Why Are You Doing This?
BJ & Da Dogs
Worn Tuff Elbow
Acme Novelty Library Report to Shareholders
Acme Novelty Library #16

Don't like my list? That's OK, there's plenty more where that came from.


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