Graphic Lit: Best of 2007
Overall, 2007 could be called a banner year for comics as the medium continued to garner mainstream traction.
The death of Captain America won major newspaper headlines, Naruto dominated the best-seller landscape, and Stephen King and Buffy the Vampire Slayer attracted scores of people who had never set foot in a comic shop before.
It was also a great year for high-quality books. Here’s a list of some of my own personal favorites:
Best Graphic Novel of the Year: “Exit Wounds” by Rutu Modan. Few books this year had the emotional heft and warmth that Modan’s story of romance and estranged family set in Israel did.
Runners Up: “Shortcomings” by Adrian Tomine; “Laika” by Nick Abadazis; “Alias the Cat” by Kim Deitch.
Best Nonfiction Comic: A tie between Bryan Talbot’s “Alice in Sunderland” and Larry Gonick’s “The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part One.” The former takes a scattershot, stream-of-consciousness approach to relating history. The latter offers a more straightforward and comical take. Both are stellar, immersive reads.
Runners-up: “Red Eye, Black Eye” by K. Thor Jensen; “Spent” by Joe Matt; “American Elf Book Two” by James Kochalka.
Best debut: “The Blot” by Tom Neely. Neely’s unsettling, accomplished work is the kind of book that makes you shake your head in disbelief that you’ve never read anything by this author before.
Runners-up: “Percy Gloom” by Cathy Malkasian; “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan; “Escape From Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross.
Best comic pamphlet: “The End” by Anders Nilsen. This is one of the most moving accounts about grief over the death of a loved one that I’ve ever read.
Runners Up: “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; “Casanova” by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.
Best Superhero Book: “Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil” by Jeff Smith. So many people have attempted to update the Big Red Cheese and failed. Only Smith proved up to the task.
Runners-up: “World War Hulk” by Greg Pak and John Romita Jr. The rare big crossover event that was actually readable.
Best Manga: “MW” by Osamu Tezuka. Even Tezuka’s lesser works are head and shoulders above most of the manga being published today.
Runners-up: “Death Note” by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata; “Uzumaki” by Junji Ito.
Best European book: “Aya” by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. An African expatriate and a Parisian artist tell charming slice-of-life story set in the Ivory Coast.
Runners-up: “Notes from a War Story” by Gipi; “Garage Band” by Gipi.
Best book I didn’t get around to reviewing in this column: “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms” by Fumiyo Kouno. An emotionally wrenching manga about a family marked by the bombing of Hiroshima that deserves a wider audience.
Runners-up: “Chance in Hell” by Gilbert Hernandez; “I Killed Adolph Hitler” by Jason.
Best Kids Book: “Tiny Tyrant” by Lewis Trondheim. A hilarious, slyly subversive collection of stories about the world’s youngest — and brattiest — king.
Best reprint: “Rodolphe Topffer: The Complete Comic Strips.” One of the medium’s originators gets his due, and surprisingly proves to have aged rather well.
Runner-up: “I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks.”
Biggest Disappointment: “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. One of the most anticipated books of the year turns out to be a muddled, dense, overly referential mess.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007