Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fourth roundup of best comics and graphic novels of 2008 lists

This is a long time coming; sorry for the delay. I had planned to publish this roundup shortly before Christmas, but things just kind of got away from me. So instead, we have an extra-long list with entries from a variety of well-respected comics folk. This is strictly from my RSS feed; I'll be doing a Google search sometime soon to see what else I can turn up for the fifth roundup. And there are still a few notable internet-based lists outstanding, plus the Comics Journal's year in review. So there's plenty of time to get your lists in before I publish the final meta-list.

Of note this time: I've changed around the "will not use" list, in that I'm not cataloging every unusable list anymore. It just sort of seems pointless, and maybe a bit petulant, to catalogue lists merely for the sake of saying I won't include them. I'll continue to provide links to lists which I think are worth your time, even though I don't feel like I can use them for the meta-list project. Yes, that includes Wizard's list. It's not an endorsement so much as an acknowledgment of their place in comics discourse. Er, maybe their historical place in comics discourse, given the way things are going there.

Also: at the request of Marc-Oliver Frisch, I now have labeled every post related to the meta-list project. (Actually, I had already labeled these posts, but hadn't figured out how to get labels back on the posts after I apparently removed them at some point. Don't ask me, I just type here.) There's a link on the sidebar for this year's project, as well as last year's. And I've also included my own best of 2007 list and my ongoing 2008 workbook posts.

Observation: is Kevin Huizenga the new Chris Ware, ie, the alt/whatever cartoonist most likely to show up on lists otherwise exclusively concerned with assembly line comics? If so, will he be facing a backlash similar to the one currently afflicting (if that's the right word) Chris Ware? I'm guessing that the less morose tone of his books will guard against such a reaction, but I'm keeping my eyes open for it in 2009. Not that it really matters on anything beyond a discursive level, but many of you know how I feel about discourse by now.

Remember, if you know of a list not included below, please email me or leave a comment pointing me in the right direction. And please, don't rush getting your lists in on my account. I wouldn't want anyone to do this in this in the first place, but it's totally unnecessary besides. The Comics Journal won't publish their best of 2008 issue until February (I think), and I won't be doing one anytime soon either. I've got about 8-10 books I want to consider that haven't come in the mail yet. Among them: Kramers Ergot 7. Anyone know what's going on with Amazon's distribution of this book?

Criteria for inclusion in the Meta-List:

-list must contain no fewer than five items and no more than fifty
-list must be a general best-of list, not a series of categorical awards like "best superhero book," "best children's book," etc.
-list must not be limited to superhero comics, manga, major publishers, etc.
-I don't include votes for things like "everything Warren Ellis wrote in 2008"
-when a list includes a vote for a title which came out in a year prior to 2008, I usually tally everything like I normally would; it's rare that there are enough votes for an out-of-date item for it to crack the top 100
-no overt sleaziness (like voting for your own work; will be determined on a case-by-case basis)

New lists are in green.



Daily Vanguard (Portland State University)

New York Magazine

OC Weekly (OC Weekly is not the periodical for me--anyone other than my brother likely to get that joke?)

Oklahoman: Part 1 (graphic novels); Part 2 (periodicals)

Publishers Weekly

USA Today

Village Voice (RC Baker)

Village Voice
(a different list, this one by Richard Gehr; notable for stretching the definition of "comics" to include an animated film)

Washington Post


Bacardi, Johnny

Badman, Derik

Andrew Neal (Thanks, Leigh!)

Clough, Rob

Cronin, Brian

Doane, Alan David

Graphic Novel Reporter

Harbin, Dustin

Hickey, Andrew

Hipster Dad


Lockefeer, Wim

Lorah, Michael

Meehan, Bram

Mozzocco, J. Caleb
(Unless Caleb specifically asks me not to, I'm going to use his top 20 only, since that's what he posted at Blogorama. However, I'm linking to his more exhaustive post because, well, it's more exhaustive.)

Ostrander, Ben

Robot 6 folks (Not all will count; see criteria above. BTW, since I haven't said it yet, welcome back, dudes.

Sobel, Marc

Stone, Tucker: Part 1; Part 2

Tomio, Jay


Reynolds, Eric

Smith, Jeff

Various (not all will be used, as some fail to meet the standards enumerated above; also, this includes what seems like the 217th Dan Goldman list I've seen, and, if my memory is holding up, there's less overlap than you might expect among the lists)


Amazon.jp (The Japanese branch of Amazon's best comics and "light novels." Interesting, but I'm not sure what to do with it since much (most?) of this is not available in English yet, and the light novels are definitely not comics. On the other hand, those aren't necessarily good reasons to exclude this list. Any thoughts?)

Associated Content (Written by Russell Burlingame of the new Blogorama crew. Framed as "the best and worst of 2008," I took this to be more of a year in review kind of list. Plus it might be too narrow (Echo is the only not-at-the-front-of-Diamond title listed). We'll see if Burlingame posts a best of 2008 list at Blogorama.)

Boyd, Robert (Boyd admits this is a "best of things I read this year, but which were not necessarily published in 2008." But most of this list does consist of 2008 releases, so I'll almost certainly count it when the time comes. UPDATED: I've included it.)

Callahan, Timothy (It's a list of the top 20 collected editions of 2008. Callahan has promised a separate list of the top 10 original comics of 2008, and I'll combine and tally the two lists once he publishes that list.)

Drawn!, part one (Matt Forsythe) (This contains one comic which is definitely not 2008 (Tekkon Kinkreet) and one which is either a 2007 entry if you consider it a book or a 2008 entry if you consider it a webcomic (Fart Party). My Brain is Hanging Upside Down and Cul de Sac are definite 2008 comic releases. I'm not sure what you would consider the Nicholas series. The rest are things which not everyone would agree are comics. My inclination is to count this list anyway, since (a) the non-comics stuff won't accumulate enough other votes to place, and (b) I'll disqualify any non-2008 titles when I finalize the meta-list. Do note that I'm not trying to denigrate the list because it doesn't fit into this project; I like seeing unconventional lists, and it's not like Drawn! is a comics-only blog. UPDATE: I have included this list.)

Drawn, part two (John Martz) (See comments above, except that this list a greater number of 2008 titles that most would classify as unambiguously comics. UPDATE: I have included this list.)

The Independent (Seems to have an awful lot of books from before 2008--Sleepwalk? Embroideries?--which might reflect new British editions, but I'm skeptical. Comics and Sequential Art seriously never came out in the UK before 2008? Just seems like a lazy list.)

Nicholson, Brian (I don't have any problem with it, but Brian suggests he doesn't "read enough to be considered a serious critic." I'm inclined to include it, unless Brian asks me not to.)

NPR (UPDATED: They've made two lists so far: one for "graphic novels" and one for superhero books. I'm not sure if there are any further lists coming or not; I'm holding off on distributing this vote until I'm reasonably sure there are no more lists forthcoming For now, I've removed all the points distributed for the original graphic novels list.)

Reed, Brian (Delimited to single issues; he says other categories will be coming later)

Some dude on Amazon (Do I really want to include Amazon lists? I mean, it's not a bad list, aside from being a little long, but really...)

St. Louis Today (Includes one from 2007, which reduces the list down to a total of four, below the minimum threshold. I'll probably include it in the final tally, and ignore the votes for Laika. UPDATE: I've included it.)

Douglas Wolk (I think this is a gift guide, not a best-of list?)

Various message board posters (Most of these fail to meet my minimal criteria (ie, they're all Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image). And I haven't decided whether or not to include a bunch of hastily compiled message board lists. I mean, if this were Abhay Khosla or something, I would reconsider, but these are a bunch of basically anonymous dudes on a Hellblazer forum.)


Comic Book Resources (too many entries; on a qualitative level, I do share Marc-Oliver Frisch's bemusement over the whole thing, but I certainly would have counted it, had it been slightly less gargantuan)

Comics Should Be Good/Danielle Leigh Readers' Choice (too short, categorical, and delimited to manga)

DCBS blog (self-described as "a semi-random list")

Ferraro, Dave (Delimited to superheroes; Ferraro plans to make an overall best-of list which will include some of these titles. Didn't know that Echo was a sci-fi/fantasy comic.)

Kethylia (delimited to manga)

Patriot News/Chris Mautner (this is a an awards list, plus it's just easier to use Chris' list from Robot 6 (see above); I will change this, of course, at Chris' request)

Pop Culture Shock (delimited to manga)

School Library Journal (I think this is limited to comics for kids. If that isn't the case, please let me know and I'll include it in the project.)

Sequential Tart (Two lists, but neither meets the minimum number of entries for inclusion.)

Smith, Shannon (specifically delimited to mini-comics and web comics; well worth your time, though)

Various cartoonists at Forbidden Planet (Forbidden Planet is conducting a series of interviews with cartoonists, asking for a top three list from each. This is below the minimum threshold for this project, but you should check out this link, which should take you to all of the interviews conducted so far. Bryan Talbot is the most prominent interviewee to date.)

Wizard (Not the official list, at least not yet. This is a categorical awards list, and thus ineligible. What a strange list--a bunch of superhero comics, plus Kramers Ergot 7.)


Dick's Brother said...

This is for you Fullerton!

Alan David Doane said...

I'm curious what the signs are of a backlash against Chris Ware, Dick. In 2008 he turned out the single most impressive volume of the Acme Novelty Library ever, which seemed to get rave reviews wherever it was covered. I admit I don't read as many blogs and sites as I once did, so I am interested in what spurred your comment.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Oh, you know, comments section at Blog@Newsarama backlash. People using Chris Ware as a synecdoche for boring, anti-fun comics. I'm not talking about people you should take seriously, and it's not exactly a recent phenomenon.

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

Ooo, tags. Bootiful!

Alan David Doane said...

Gotcha. I thought you might have seen negative comments from grown-ups, which would be interesting to read at least.

Chris Mautner said...

Hmmm, I dunno. They are two completely different lists, the Robot 6 one mainly being "stuff I forgot I read/didn't read in time."

I kind of figured that doing it as an awards thing would probably keep you from including it, and that's fine if it does, but I probably prefer the Patriot-News version. It's more emblematic of my actual 2008 reading habits.

Leigh Walton said...

Hey Dick,

1) the Chapel Hill Comics guy's name is Andrew Neal. Fine chap!
2) have you seen this one? Joe Gordon at Forbidden Planet did his own Faves list: http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/?p=10976
3) Working on my own now, promise!

Dick Hyacinth said...

Thanks for the information, Leigh. I've added Joe Gordon's list to the next roundup, and I've updated the current list with Mr. Neal's full name.

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