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The Best American Comics 2011 by Alison…

The Best American Comics 2011

by Alison Bechdel, Jessica Abel (Editor), Matt Madden (Editor)

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"The Best American Comics 2011" is a solid entry in the The Best American Comics series – the anthology features a range of works in both the graphic fiction and non-fiction camps. The selection comprises both established (Joe Sacco, Jeff Smith, Chris Ware) and upcoming artists.

As always, the excerpts are hit or miss, but the "The Best American Comics 2011" does not fail in giving a taste of what's out there and leads for what to buy more of. ( )
  jasonli | Jul 27, 2013 |
This is an ok collection. Perhaps I had built too much in my mind ahead of time, but it wasn't as great as I had expected. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that I think there is a lot of terrific work out there that doesn't involve rape, incest, or violence, whereas this year's editor (Alison Bechdel) seems to disagree... ( )
  ScoutJ | Mar 31, 2013 |
I expected this volume to be a bit more political and feminist in nature, given Alison Bechdel was the editor, but I was a bit disappointed in this regard. While there are selections that certainly both political and feminist, it doesn't strike me as any more so than other years. I also found the GLBT content to be quite lacking. It was still an interesting collection, but not as great as I was expecting from Bechdel. ( )
  ironicqueery | Jun 17, 2012 |
THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2011 is the first comic anthology I’ve read. It convinced me that the comic medium is not well suited for “best of” anthologies, unless the comic is intentional written to be ingested as a very short piece, like David Lasky’s six-panel “The Ultimate Graphic Novel.” An excerpt from a graphic novel just doesn’t do the work justice. What this anthology did was show me I need to get these graphic novels and read them in their entirety.

Comic fans will be familiar with the best, and most obvious, selections: an excerpt from Joe Sacco’s FOOTNOTES IN GAZA and Chris Ware’s JORDAN W. LINT TO THE AGE 65. Joe Sacco is a master of investigative journalism in the comic medium. His excerpt in the anthology details a massacre of Palestinian men by the Israelis in 1956. He then questions the reliability of memory when trying to discover the facts of the event. Chris Ware is doing some of the most stylistically imaginative work in comics while examining the sad mess people make of their lives.

There are some great surprises in this anthology too. Angie Wang’s short piece “Flower Mecha” is artistically beautiful and strange. Pollen is ruining a woman’s picnic and she fights it off in a hallucinatory mix of art deco and manga. Michael Defarge’s “Queen” is even stranger. A black glob of a creature walks through a strange alien world picking up pieces of mushrooms, flora, and landscape to turn itself into a freakish woman. Both of these pieces are surprisingly interesting, but I’m not sure they are the best of the past year. Looking at the notable mention list at the end of the anthology makes me wonder if there isn’t something better that tells a story using the full capabilities of the comic medium.

The mix of history and memoir in “Little House in the Big City” by Sabrina Jones was intriguing. The mix of history and fictional mystery in “The Mad Scientist” excerpt from RASL by Jeff Smith made me immediately want to read the entire series. “Winter,” an excerpt from Refresh, Refresh by Danica Novgodorrodov, Benjamin Percy, and James Ponsoldt has a great abstract watercolor dream sequence in the middle, but the excerpt simply doesn’t give enough of the story to stand on its own. It’s another one I want to read in its entirety. Kate Beaton’s take on The Great Gatsby is hilarious.

Alison Bechdel is the guest editor for this year’s anthology. She mentions in her introduction that there is a metafiction theme in many of the selections. The best example would be “Pet Cat” by Joey Alison Sayers. Sayers documents the history of a comic strip in its many incarnations until finally God takes over the writing of the strip. The satire comments on how artists are disrespected and exploited.

The anthology was an interesting read, and it pointed me to some works that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I do have a gripe, and I’m sure I’ll get ripped by someone for it, because Bechdel is well respected as a writer and artist. The problem is there’s no hiding her subjectivity or agenda in this anthology. Many of the chosen selections highlight an obvious feminist and gay perspective. “Flower Mecha” and “Queen” are perhaps overt feminist symbolism. Other selections, like “Manifestation” by Gabrielle Bell (which opens the book) and “Weekends Abroad” by Eric Orner, are manifestly feminist and gay, respectively. Again, I look at the list of notable mentions and wonder if there isn’t quite a few on that list that are better comics overall. When the subjectivity is so obvious, I think we have to question is this really an anthology of the best comics in 2011? I understand that an anthology of this sort with a guest editor will never completely escape subjectivity, but I’d like to see some semblance of trying to find a true “best” based on the quality of the work and not some other criterion. Don’t get me wrong. There are quite a few selections in this anthology that deserve to be here. ( )
  wilsonknut | Sep 25, 2011 |
I have to be honest that I'm not a great lover of comic anthologies. While I can read excerpts from novels or long essays, I have a hard time getting absorbed into a sample of a comic that is only a few panels long. At the same time, I love graphic novels. Last year I devoured about 15 if not more...I lost track. However, this year I have been lacking in the graphic novel department. It is for this reason that I thought reading this collection would point me towards some of the best comics from this year. While I thought the anthology was a mixed bag, I certainly found some favorites that I need to read before the year is out.

Being that this collection is called "The BEST American Comics", I thought that I would make superlatives of my own in this review.

- Most heartbreaking is Joe Sacoo's two part series on the Israeli killings of Palestinians in 1956. Just when the content seems too much to handle, Sacco throws in an interesting twist in which he questions people's memory and the validity of their remembrances.

-Most heartwarming is Eric Orner's "Weekends Abroad" which is a beautiful story about a Hebrew school drop out who finds himself working in Israel for two years without knowing Hebrew. The characters are endearing and I know I will be looking to this author for his other works.

-Most stunning illustrations goes to "Flower Mecha" by Angie Wang. The story is basically about a superwoman who can defeat pollen from interfering with her picnics and outdoor plans. Though it seems a bit thin, the graphics are gorgeous and her use of color is beautiful. It reminded me a great deal of the graphic novel "Skim".

- Most bizarre comic is "Queen" by Michael Deforge which depicts a woman (I think...?) made out of brightly colored mucus. There is no text and while I sometimes like that technique, I don't think it suited this comic because I had not idea what was going on. The female mucus dresses herself up for makeshift lipstick, a tube top, and plenty of cleavage. It might be a commentary on beauty and society...but I didn't get it.

-Most humorous goes to "The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in six panels)" which is just what its title states. These six panels are the cliff notes to almost every graphic novel: boy meets girl, there's a way, boy has daddy issues, boy is misunderstood by his family, boy fights in war in which there are casualties, boy never gets the girl but they remain friends. It pokes fun at graphic novels in a very endearing way and makes for the perfect conclusion to the collection as every comic in the collection falls into one of the 6 categories described.

-Best story is John Pham's comic about his classmates from high school. The illustrations are beautiful and he uses a very unique arrangement that I found to benefit both his graphics and his story. Though it is short, it is tender, funny, and heartbreaking.

-Best overall comic is "Little House in the Big City" which is downright fantastic!! The illustrations are like political cartoons. The author basically tells the story of the different buildings in NYC from the 1920s to the height of suburbia and how the differing/changing buildings changed the entire city. She also discusses Jane Jacobs and the problems with urban renewal. There is certainly a history lesson in this story, but you would never know it because it is so good!

With Alison Bechdel as the featured editor and writer of the introduction, you know that you're in good hands. While there are a certain amount of duds, I would definitely spring of a copy because there are some comics in here that should not be missed!!

www.iamliteraryaddicted.blogspot.com ( )
  sorell | Aug 11, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alison Bechdelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abel, JessicaEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Madden, MattEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547333625, Hardcover)

“If you have spent a long time resisting the status quo—whether it’s in art, society, or the political world—what happens when that status quo at last gives way?
A universe of possibility opens up.”

—Alison Bechdel, from the Introduction

Featuring: Gabrielle Bell, Joe Sacco, Dash Shaw, Sabrina Jones, Chris Ware, Jillian Tamaki, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Kevin Huizenga, and others

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:00 -0400)

Collects original comic strips from American authors and illustrators published in 2011 in graphic novels.

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