PW Comics Week just released their third annual critics' poll. Here are their picks for the best of 2008:
Bottomless Belly Button Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics) I haven't read this, but now I'm intrigued.
Disappearance Diary Hideo Azuma (Fanfare Ponent Mon) The title alone makes me think of Murakami Haruki. It just has that "feel."
The Education of Hopey Glass Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) Oh hell yes! I did read this and thoroughly enjoyed its Hopey-centric storyline. It's an especially important work now that Love & Rockets' format has changed and it's going to be a few years of Jaime's charming but perhaps self-indulgent superhero stuff before we get back to Maggie, Hopey and Ray. Sorry, Jaime-- I like the new storyline but I LOVE this one.
The Great Outdoor Fight Chris Onstad: (Dark Horse)
Omega the Unknown Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel) Usually I avoid superhero stuff, but PW Comics Week's description of this has me rethinking my initial rejection of it on those grounds. Not very fair of me.
What It Is Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly) When I first saw this title, I was hoping it was a comic adaptation of the --- film What Is It?
Zot! Complete Black and White Stories 1987-1991 Scott McCloud (Harper Collins) Weird that a 2008 best graphic novel would be reprint stuff from 20 years ago. But I've read and enjoyed McCloud's book about comics, so perhaps I should pick this up sometime in 2009.
Acme Novelty Library #19 F.C. Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
Alan's War Emmanuel Guibert (First Second) I've been meaning to pick this up (it's been in my Amazon.co.jp shopping cart for quite a while now), but in the meantime I've been reading non-graphic novel WWII memoirs and personal accounts. Those are also interesting. I would love to see a sort of anti-Sgt. Rock ultra-realistic take on the Good War, though. Not that I'm dissing Rock and Easy Company; it's just that no one in their right mind would walk all the way across Europe with the same .30 caliber bullets over his shoulders.
Aria Kozue Amano (Tokyopop) The art looks inviting!
Aya of Yop City Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie (D & Q)
Black Jack Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) More ultra-old school stuff. I guess reprints on this list are even more excusable when it's only recently been made available to U.S. markets.
Cat Eyed Boy Kazuo Umezu (Viz)
Essential Dykes to Watch Out For Alison Bechdel (Houghton)
Kramer's Ergot #7 Edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press) The title is off-putting for me. I keep thinking it's something to do with Seinfeld.
Local Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly (Oni)
Red Colored Elegy Seiichi Hayashi (D & Q)
Skim Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books) I bought this as soon as it was released and I've been trumpeting it ever since. A truly remarkable little story, insightfully and movingly written, gorgeously illustrated. Finding it on PW's list really makes my day.
Tamara Drewe Posy Simonds (Houghton)
Three Shadows Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)
Travel Yokoyama Yuichi (Picturebox)
The "Honorable Mentions" include such books as Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassady (one of my few superhero indulgences and worth it), Astro City: The Dark Age, Book 1 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson (probably worth it as well, although it's fallen off my "must have" list over the years as my tastes have changed), Joker by Brian Azarello and Lee Bermejo (probably fine but what I've seen of it hasn't really impressed me and the Joker has long since worn out his welcome and supposed "menace"), Love and Rockets New Stories No. 1 by Los Bros Hernandez (I thought it was good, especially the Duke and Sammy story by Gilbert, but it didn't grab me the way some of their other works have) and Nana by Ai Yazawa. Plus a lot more.
I'd put Nana near the top of any "Best of" list. Nana, Nana, Nana. If you don't like Nana... den to hell wid you, Crom!