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“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 “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


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“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 “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

30 review for The Best American Comics 2011

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kwesi 章英狮

    I read few comics and graphic novels but I appreciate those times I read and feel pleasure and disappointment with them. With its glossy and expensive paper, comic artists had become sensational or some may be inferior because of their short and minimal strips and limited paper to draw in. From that small piece of paper, they shared their experiences, happiness, corniness and everything from them that they want to share from every individual. The Best of American Comics 2011 is a collection of I read few comics and graphic novels but I appreciate those times I read and feel pleasure and disappointment with them. With its glossy and expensive paper, comic artists had become sensational or some may be inferior because of their short and minimal strips and limited paper to draw in. From that small piece of paper, they shared their experiences, happiness, corniness and everything from them that they want to share from every individual. The Best of American Comics 2011 is a collection of comics and excerpt from different graphic novels taken online to support webcomics and self-published comics; they manage to collect the best art, story and plot of artists that sent their works and to reproduce to be called as real comics. I don't have any idea of those artists or the editors that manage to conduct and scanned all mistakes but the best thing about this book is the forward that inspires everyone to write and publish their own comics. 'Comics is a printed medium. And now it’s also a digital medium. What it isn’t is a direct medium, like drawing or painting: there is no “original” comic to read. The pages that have the ink on them may be beautiful to look at and they may offer loads of information for fans and researchers, but most people will agree that it’s not really a comic until it has been reproduced.' Below are the best among best webcomics and self-publishes comics reproduced, those are the strips that manage to fall my tears, give me laughs and inspire me to draw colorful things inside my head. 1. Manifestation by Gabrielle Bell - This comic made my day, swear, everything blown away and I fall asleep dreaming of the Scum manifestation. An artist, drunk, talks about making a comic strip about the book and she made a huge impression to the public. The problem is how? She called her mom and she learned something, something important that I don't like to spill. Which everyone already have the answer inside. 2. Queen by Michael Deforge - I love this metaphysical story of an alien looking for weird plants and animals, pulling everything she needed to become a queen. In the end, she got the filial look of an ugly queen with weird skinless animal. Weirder than what I've thought. 3. Flower Mecha by Angie Wang - Vintage style art, very clever and had intelligent plot. She uses science of pollination to create a very powerful female superhero that can control a huge flower. Kudos for the art! 4. November 3, 1956 by Joe Sacco - I cried when I read this 2 part comics. This is a collection of true to life story about what happen in November 3, 1956 and the innocent Arabs that had been killed by the Israel soldiers. Remembering the past with the memories that we want to forget but no matter how hard we erase them, they keep on coming back. Hunted. 5. Little House in the Big City by Sabrina Jones - In 1950 housing renovation and real estate is getting better and businessmen, architects, etc. are planning to change everything. They don't know, they destroy happiness from every home and every neighborhood they lured. And Jane Jacob save the day! 6. Anatomy of a Pratfall by Peter and Maria Hoey - Wordless. Pure boxes with things that we usually seen in our everyday life. Pictures that tell there own stories and a map of a pure tragedy, action and epicness. 7. Winter by Danica Novgodorrodov , Benjamin Percy and James Ponsoldt - I did not understand the whole story, it was an excerpt from a graphic novel which I'm not familiar with. I include this in my favorites because the watercolor art is very amazing, it was an abstract and never imagine that things will happen vividly like a dream. 8. The Ultimate Graphic Novel by David Lasky - This is the most challenging part of the comic artist, giving them only six panels to draw and David Lasky did a great job. I was so shocked that I finish this page in just a second and I admit that I want more. I remember when I was in Elementary my teacher force us to make a comic strip in 3 panels and I got a big 'D' on the top corner of my work. Better luck next time for me. The disappointing part is that I can't read some of the comics because they are pixilated, words are too small and lastly some are very confusing. They have different style, different story and different concept but in the end of the day, everything sets at the same time. Photo taken from the book on page 7 in Manifestation by Gabrielle Bell. Click the photo to enlarge. Thanks to NetGalley and to Mariner Books for sharing a copy of the book and accepting my request. You guys rocks! Review posted on Old-Fashioned Reader . Rating: The Best American Comics 2011 by Alison Bechdel (Editor), Jessica Abel (Editor) and Matt Madden (Editor), 3 Sweets Challenges: Book #242 for 2011

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I've been enjoying the Best American Comics series for quite some time—having previously read, in no particular order, the 2007, 2012 and 2016 editions—but I think Alison Bechdel's The Best American Comics 2011 may be the best I've encountered of the bunch (so far). Bechdel's own achievements as a graphic artist are enduring ones; "Dykes to Watch Out For" was first published in 1983, and Fun Home blew me away (along with pretty much everyone else) when it came out in 2006. Her contributions to I've been enjoying the Best American Comics series for quite some time—having previously read, in no particular order, the 2007, 2012 and 2016 editions—but I think Alison Bechdel's The Best American Comics 2011 may be the best I've encountered of the bunch (so far). Bechdel's own achievements as a graphic artist are enduring ones; "Dykes to Watch Out For" was first published in 1983, and Fun Home blew me away (along with pretty much everyone else) when it came out in 2006. Her contributions to The Best American Comics 2011 show that she also has a great editorial eye, and can write a mean Introduction, too. (Seriously—while I found the Foreword's history of comics by series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden to be, you should pardon the expression, a little dry, Bechdel inks and draws her way fluidly through the process by which she selected these particular comics for us, and it's fascinating.) The selections this time seem to me to be a little more focused on narrative—moving the slider more towards the text-with-illustrations side than the pictures-with-text side of that spectrum. There were relatively few of the wordless sequences I'd seen in other years' volumes. That focus worked really well for me—your mileage may vary, but if so there is also a long list of strongly-recommended "Notable Comics" (pp.329-331) at the end, which most likely contains more of what you seek. The Best American Comics 2011 starts off very strongly, with the intensely self-referential "Manifestation," by Gabrielle Bell, about Bell's efforts to create a drawn version of Valerie Solanas' The S.C.U.M. Manifesto. I can see why Bechdel would like Bell's piece, too—their work shares a penchant for autobiographical soul-searching and self-deprecating humor, as well as "a graceful lucidity of both thought and line" (Introduction, p.xvii). Next is Kevin Mutch's "Blue Note," a full-color excerpt from Fantastic Life. I'm not sure whether this one is strictly autobiographical—people do often act like zombies, after all, even if they aren't actually undead—but it does capture the anxieties of dating while broke, drunk and stoned, mixed with some interesting (albeit unscientific) speculation on the Everett-Wheeler many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory. "New Year's Eve, 2004," from Monsters by Gabby Schulz (AKA Ken Dahl) continues the themes of introspection and substance abuse, both of which extend into the morning after. Ken's awakening with a literal smoking hole of regret in his chest is the sort of powerful visual metaphor that is most effective when drawn, in the abstract yet visceral middle ground between excessive photorealism (which can be distracting) and the mental images created by the written word alone. John Pham's "St. Ambrose," from his Sublife series, is autobiographical and finely-drawn, ingeniously using triangular panels to suggest scattered shards of memory. Its limited palette fits right in with the previous works here. In abrupt contrast, "Queen," by Michael DeForge, is a riot of color and barely-contained shapes, entirely wordless and surreal. It has a point to make too, I think, but also makes a welcome break from the more sober introspection of its predecessors in this volume. By this time it's plain that The Best American Comics 2011 has established a certain rhythm, an ebb and flow to its carefully-placed selections. Angie Wang's "Flower Mecha," from MySpace Dark Horse Presents Volume 4, is another colorful, dreamlike fantasy. It's not altogether wordless, but its sparse, curvaceous speech balloons are definitely subordinate to Wang's lush yet delicately-drawn images. "Up Up Down Down," by Robert Sergel, from Eschew #2, takes us back to a mundane, monochrome world; a constricted reality of basement laundry facilities and flat-screen TVs, of game controllers and flashbacks to an entirely avoidable tragedy... In physical position, length, and overall emotional weight, though, the centerpiece of The Best American Comics 2011 has got to be Joe Sacco's searing "Nov. 13, 1956 (Parts One and Two)," plus "Memory and the Essential Truth," from Footnotes in Gaza. The work Sacco's been doing is prima facie evidence of how straight journalism can be drawn as well as written—it has more in common with court reporting, where cameras aren't allowed, than with the funny pages. If you're reading these in order (and Bechdel herself says you don't have to), then you're going to need a break after Sacco's section. Chapter Three of BodyWorld, by Dash Shaw delivers—it's a sardonic, scrofulous and decidedly non-journalistic tale of a down-and-out professor on the make—something like Breaking Bad as written by Charles Bukowski and visualized by Richard Linklater, if you can imagine such a horrendous mashup... And then there's "Pet Cat," by Joey Alison Sayers, from Papercutter #16: "'The first internet was invented in 624 B.C. by the primitive Bavarians. It was made from reeds and mud. It's true!' ...Another top-notch 'Pet Cat' in the can." (p.147) David Lasky and Mairead Case's "Soixante Neuf" is a biographical strip about Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, which is printed correctly here, just as the title implies, though it took me a few pages to realize that. "Little House in the Big City," by Sabrina Jones, from World War 3 Illustrated turns out to be an exuberantly-drawn paean to Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Chris Ware's "Jordan W. Lint to the Age 65" shows us a man with a lot to regret. Ware's clean lines and multimedia savvy help tie together this heartbreaking excerpt. "Domestic Men of Mystery," by Jillian Tamaki is just two pages long, but—like Chris Ware's piece, in a way—it dives deeply into the way kids see their fathers, and their friends' fathers. "How could we believe a father's love is so tenuous?" (p.193) Jaime Hernández' "Browntown (Excerpt)," from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 was one of the hardest pieces for me to read—it made me feel lucky that I was never one of the club, growing up... "Fear of Fire," by Julia Gfrörer, from Flesh and Bone pairs lush panels, entirely wordless to start with, and a tale of unrequited love, a love that reaches beyond the grave... Dave Lapp's excerpt from People Around Here is just one page long, but it packs a lot of intergenerational feeling into that short span. "Great Gatsbys," by the inimitable Kate Beaton, from Hark! A Vagrant, isn't exactly the classic novel in comic-strip form, but it definitely carries more than a whiff of the same spirit. Noah van Sciver's "Abby's Road," from Blammo #6, has a 21-year-old guy dating a girl still in high school—and no, it doesn't work out well. The intricate "Anatomy of a Pratfall," by Peter and Maria Hoey, from Coin-Op, rewards careful examination of its many nearly-identical panels. Jeff Smith's "The Mad Scientist," an excerpt from RASL, reaches back into Nikola Tesla's biography to explain the abilities of a certain master art thief... "1977," by Paul Pope, from THB: Comics from Mars, blends in almost seamlessly with Smith's excerpt, traveling back to that titular year to explore the impact of the late David Bowie on popular culture and on one precocious young man in particular. Brendan Leach brings us an excerpt from the Pynchonesque The Pterodactyl Hunters (in the Gilded City)—in 1904, the last pterodactyls to have invaded New York City are being hunted down by intrepid men in balloons. "Winter," by the team of Danica Novgorodoff, Benjamin Percy and James Ponsoldt, from Refresh, Refresh, has guys on bikes and fighter jets in the air, a mixture of media (including some watercolor sequences quite unlike the hard-edges art of the rest), and a clever plan to avoid responsibility for an unspecified transgression. Kevin Huizenga's "Glenn Ganges in 'Mind and Body'," an excerpt from Ganges, is another of those only-in-comics sequences where reality and dreams can merge seamlessly. "Weekends Abroad," by Eric Orner, from the debut issue of Three, goes back to autobiography, with an American Jew in Israel trying to make ends meet. Its inclusion here starts tying the book together again... And David Lasky again, by himself this time, finishes off this anthology with "The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in Six Panels)," from The Stranger in Seattle—which provides pretty much exactly what the title says. I ran across The Best American Comics 2011 by chance, at a well-timed porch sale near a street fair this summer, and picked it up for a couple of bucks—which I shouldn't have to draw you a picture to tell you was a very lucky find...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    I love taking my comics-knowledge temperature by reading this collection every year. This year, I was thrilled to see not only that it was edited by Alison Bechdel, but the cover was illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, a rising star who hasn't done nearly enough yet. This year I'd read and reviewed many of the choices (and reviewed them here on GR), but here are some new-to-me pieces and creators I really loved. I'll be seeking out more by each of these creators: - John Pham's piece about his I love taking my comics-knowledge temperature by reading this collection every year. This year, I was thrilled to see not only that it was edited by Alison Bechdel, but the cover was illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, a rising star who hasn't done nearly enough yet. This year I'd read and reviewed many of the choices (and reviewed them here on GR), but here are some new-to-me pieces and creators I really loved. I'll be seeking out more by each of these creators: - John Pham's piece about his elementary school is beautiful, complex, and affecting. I felt like I got inside his brain in his piece about his elementary school. The drawing is detailed and intricate, and the use of peach tones gives it a really striking aesthetic. This feels like a piece of art with commentary written upon it, in an awesome way. Personal, lovely, and made me want more. The part where he describes the futures of his four main friends really made me think, too. I feel like we could draw conclusions of some kind about culture, locale, or just the social circles comics creators run in by paying attention to the lives of their friends. - Joey Alison Sayers' piece about the appropriation of a comic strip was insightful, clean, and funny. Normally I like a little bit more pretty in illustrations, but that wasn't necessary here. Brings up creator rights, technology, trend-chasing, product placement, branding, and oh yeah, theories of heaven and hell. Dug it. - Sabrina Jones' Little House in a Big City, which is part love-letter to the Big Apple, part history of urban planning, part biopiece of Jane Jacobs, and part teeny memoir. This is the one that I found myself thinking about on my walk at 6:30 this morning. I'm really fascinated by the things she brings up, like our unsung pioneers in every field who happen to be women, like the reasons that mixed-use city blocks are more condusive to community than projects, like Eleanor Roosevelt's role in the "Bunch of Mothers," like the politics of changing the way normal people live. Great piece. I don't always love Jones' illustration style, but this is a story that made me want more. Makes me want to geek out and write a research paper. - Eric Orner's Weekends Abroad was totally fun. Orner is a gay jewish guy and this chronicles some of his adventures living in Israel. He lived in Jerusalem and went to Tel Aviv for weekends, staying up all night hooking up with strangers, and sleeping in rented beach chairs. This is definitely a side of Israel I hadn't seen before. Orner's drawing is accessible and makes particularly good use of shadow. It's quite surprising that he hasn't done more well-known comics. I really want him to come out with a book-length story about his time in Israel. I really love using anthologies to find new comics creators to drool over. The only problem with that is, most of the time the ones I haven't heard of don't have anything out that I can easily get ahold of. Time to start bookmarking more websites.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim Scott

    A hit or miss collection that obviously is mostly a tool to pique interest so that the full referenced graphic books will be purchased, this was still an enjoyable read. You've win. Time to go shopping.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    I was really into non-superhero comics for a long time, but then hit sort of a wall in terms of comic artists I should be reading. This is a solid, varied collection that introduced me to some fantastic work; I've got a whole list of new things to read. And Alison Bechdel's thoughtful, funny introduction is worth checking out on its own merits.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dani Peloquin

    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 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

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    about 15% good. there are four or five stories in there with some heart, and maybe a few more with interesting or innovative artistry ... but for the most part this collection is just pandering to people who still think it's cool that comics can have swearing and boobs. luckily this isn't my review of that actual state of American independent comics, just of this collection that's more interested in appearing 'out there' and 'cutting edge' than actually seeing what IS out there. this failing is about 15% good. there are four or five stories in there with some heart, and maybe a few more with interesting or innovative artistry ... but for the most part this collection is just pandering to people who still think it's cool that comics can have swearing and boobs. luckily this isn't my review of that actual state of American independent comics, just of this collection that's more interested in appearing 'out there' and 'cutting edge' than actually seeing what IS out there. this failing is ultimatly that of the years guest editor Alison Bechhdel, best known for her self obsessive writtings and near masturbatory back pats from the far left 'culture creators'. Considering the material presented I'd sooner call this 'Best American Catharsis for Alison Bechdel's Sexual Frustrations of 2011'

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    The worst of the series. Unreadable and disturbing. And I'm gonna lay this one right at the door of guest editor Alison Bechdel -- you ruined it. Alison, YOU chose some mighty disturbing excerpts that validate your alternative world views, but you simply did NOT choose the best comics of 2011. Damn near every heterosexual act is depicted as a perversity in this tome, heterosexual men are the target of every insult, but there is plenty o' celebration over gay butt slammin' to be found herein. The worst of the series. Unreadable and disturbing. And I'm gonna lay this one right at the door of guest editor Alison Bechdel -- you ruined it. Alison, YOU chose some mighty disturbing excerpts that validate your alternative world views, but you simply did NOT choose the best comics of 2011. Damn near every heterosexual act is depicted as a perversity in this tome, heterosexual men are the target of every insult, but there is plenty o' celebration over gay butt slammin' to be found herein. Don't believe me? Let's take a casual tour, shall we? Right off the bat we get Gabrielle Bell attempting (and failing) to adapt the horror that is Valerie Solanas' S.C.U.M. Manifesto. For those of you who do not recall, Solanas was the mentally challenged prostitute who wanted women to intentionally fail at their jobs so as to undermine capitalism (Really?), she wanted to stop all natural pregnancies, and she tried to kill Andy Warhol because he wouldn't produce her play, 'Up Your Ass'. Men are supposedly suffering from pussy envy and are emotional cripples. Heterosexual couples were to be forcibly broken up by S.C.U.M. members. We are talking about a real unhealthy mind, right up there with Manson. Next, in Kevin Mutch's Blue Note, a woman is transformed into a drooling mindless zombie the minute she attempts to orally pleasure a man. (What other woman would consider lowering herself in such a way, right?) In Gabby Schulz's Monsters, a man wants to kiss and make love to a woman...and in doing so he gives her a communicable disease. Message? Hetero sex = disease. It's dirty, I guess. In John Pham's St. Ambrose, an elementary school boy is described and partly depicted sucking his own cock for the amusement and admiration of other boys. Yeah, you read it right. Next up is Queen, by Michael Deforge. This "Queen" is some sort of alien thing with a penis who likes to smack a lot of powder on its face, smear on lipstick, apply fake boobs, corset tight dresses, wig and alien fuck-me boots. There is no dialogue, but at the end the thing looks like it's ready to belt out a few show tunes. Chris Ware's Jordan W. Lint can only be described as Chris Ware's worst work to date. If one can follow the storyline chronologically (the artist was too busy making flow charts to give us the courtesy of a chronological story), it's about a man who writes an award-winning book about surviving child abuse. The author is sued by his own father and the father wins. But apparently there was some sort of mental abuse in the household in the mind of the child who couldn't handle being questioned about watching a male family member in the bathroom or realize the oddity of his bathroom fixations. The 'abuse' haunts the father even more than the son. The father has gay sex in his old Alzheimer's dimentia, either because men will fuck anything or possibly confusing the long-haired man with a younger woman from his youth (?). None of it is clear. And none of it is good, sadly. Based on this little snippet alone I decided against buying the new $50 3-D Chris Ware effort about houses and buildings that is supposed to be coming out in a few months. Joe Sacco gives us some more pro muslim shit he's been giving us for the past decade. It's not perverse. It's just the same ol' shit. Dash Shaw's Bodyworld looks like he tried to copy Archie comic characters and Beavis & Butthead while he was drunk. When the main female character in this odd little piece says she wants to sleep with a man, she is beaten by another woman. The message: If a woman wants to be with a man she will be punished and physically abused, even if the abuse comes from the hand of a woman. Also, a man who is a self-described 'real man' is depicted as unable to perform sexually and he has man boobs -- you know, because all real men are full of shit and are physically repulsive. Jillian Tamaki's Domestic Men of Mystery is not vulgar in any way, but its selection here is very telling. It's all about young women who cannot seem to connect with or even find their fathers. It's good stuff, but it's only part of the story by not asking the artist to look hard enough to see the men right there in front of them and to look beyond the surface nonsense. Jaime Hernandez's Browntown is my favorite art in this book (absolutely masterful expressions), but sadly some of this art is rendering men who are so out of touch with their sexuality that they fear it and are uncomfortable with any physical contact with their daughters. We also see forced teen-on-boy sodomy. Who the hell wants to see this? Is this really your best storytelling, Mr. Hernandez? Julia Gfroer's Flesh and Bone starts out with a witch sucking a goat devil's cock and finishes up with a man jacking off on his dead lover's grave. Classy. Abby's Road by Noah Van Sciver is about an adult deflowering a 17 year old woman. Yep, statutory rape is the subject of this slice of life. Winter, by Danica Novgorodoff, isn't particularly gross, it just sucks. The art is high school quality...special ed high school. The story is about a small group of teens who only go into the military to get out of some trouble. Serving one's country is not for any patriotic or personal growth reason, it's just depicted as the last resort. It's more than a little insulting to this veteran. Finally, Weekends Abroad by Eric Orner is about a gay guy who walks around Israel...and has gay sex with strangers. Would this piece have been in this collection if not for the word 'gay' in the last sentence? It's a rhetorical question, but you know what the answer is. These are simply too many of these instances in this book of only 27 excerpts for this to be a fluke. Examine thyself, editor. And the next time you want to make The Best American Gay Pervert Comics, feel free to do so, be my guest, it is a free country. And you and I both know that no one will buy such a book except two feminist bookstores that only exist because of someone's trust fund. I love comics, graphic novels, and sequential art of all kinds. Comics have introduced me to books and world views I never would have known about otherwise. But this book of yours...this is just garbage.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Caverhill

    BEST AMERICAN Comics 2011 can only be described as THE BEST. One submission describes in graphic format ( apologies), the 1956 deadly invasion of Palestine by Israelites. Another provides memories of a lousy funk of a date gone wrong while yet another creates poignant slides of a sexually deviant neighbour. They are raw and descriptive yet curiously mesmerizing. Allison Bechdel was the editor and she alone is a gift to the world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Sherman

    Some of the pieces here are brilliant, such as a writer losing control of her daily newspaper strip, and the Ultimate Graphic Novel ("This is also about my father."). Others, much less effective, but I think that's partly the format — a lot of the excerpts from larger works didn't click with me because I didn't have the context to follow the story (or there wasn't enough payoff where it ends). Worth reading, even so, but very much a personal-taste, YMMV kind of collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Penelope

    I thought this collection started out strong. The introduction by Alison Bechdel is great and she really revs you up and gets you excited about reading "the best" comics of the year. Maybe my excitement just wore off as I moved through the collection, but it seems like it ended on a much weaker note than it started. There are quite a few colorful comics in this installment, but most of them are clustered toward the beginning, with things becoming generally monochrome around the middle and end. I thought this collection started out strong. The introduction by Alison Bechdel is great and she really revs you up and gets you excited about reading "the best" comics of the year. Maybe my excitement just wore off as I moved through the collection, but it seems like it ended on a much weaker note than it started. There are quite a few colorful comics in this installment, but most of them are clustered toward the beginning, with things becoming generally monochrome around the middle and end. At first I was really excited to see such great color-work but it's still in the minority. I also noticed that quite a few pieces had title pages, which I really liked. It provided a nice divider between each comic and made the title/author clear. Not all the selections have one, but I thought it was a nice visual resting place between each selection. But anyway. Some favorites and not-so-favorites: Favorites: "Queen" by Michael Deforge I liked this one because it seemed really different from most things that are chosen for the "Best of" series. It's colorful and wordless, with a simple character-driven plot. The visual puns and unexpected uses of parts of the environment are funny and bizarre. Also, the combination of morbid and cute was just...right up my alley. "Flower Mecha" by Angie Wang I like the visuals of this one more than anything else. I obviously think about things too much because the ending line ("the world is once again safe from pollination!") just bugged me. Why would you "save the world" from pollination? EVERYTHING WOULD DIE. But anyway, don't think about it. Just look at the pretty pictures. "Nov. 3, 1956 (Parts One and Two, plus Memory and the Essential Truth" by Joe Sacco I skipped this one at first, because it seems like Sacco is in EVERY release of "Best of American Comics" and his pieces are always REALLY LONG and have a similar tone/subject. This one is also long (34 pages) but very much worth reading. It stands alone well (from the complete work, "Footnotes in Gaza") and tells a compelling, violent story with a twist: although the violence is certainly a central point of this story, Sacco zeroes in on how individual memory plays a part in how these events are remembered. It's really interesting and brilliantly captures an unpleasant but true (as true as memory can be) historical moment. "Domestic Men of Mystery" by Jillian Tamaki For some reason this comic is printed HORRIBLY in this book; the colors don't line up and everything looks fuzzy. It's a real shame because this is a great piece. At only two pages, plus the bad printing, I feel like it kind of gets lost in this collection. You can see a much better version of it on Tamaki's website: http://jilliantamaki.com/comics/domes...) "Little House in the Big City" by Sabrina Jones Great illustrations and a wonderful, well-told story. At first you're not sure where Jones is going with this, but then she suddenly delves into Jane Jacobs' story, a writer, editor, and activist who who was opposed to poorly planned urban renewal projects in the 1950's and 60's, arguing that neighborhoods grow and change and develop into a community with an internal order, and bulldozing that to impose an artificial "tidy-looking" order is wrong. Just read the comic--she explains it way better. "Glenn Ganges in 'Mind and Body'" an excerpt from "Ganges" by Kevin Huizenga I love Huizenga's Glenn Ganges comics...they're just awesome and this is an excellent excerpt that stands alone really well. It's both aesthetically and conceptually beautiful (and a little funny). Not-so-favorites: "Soixante Neuf" by David Lasky and Mairead Case French for "69", the title is a play on words that is reflected in the design of the comic. One half is told from the female character's perspective, and the other from the male's perspective. One half is upside down and they begin from opposite ends, with their story-lines meeting in the middle. The design is interesting but I couldn't get into the story or characters, and I kept thinking of "House of Leaves" and how bizarre formatting can be used in so many other, better, more interesting ways. I also didn't realize right away that the story lines MEET in the middle, so you have to flip the book over and go back a few pages to get to the beginning of the other half of the story. So...yeah...I dunno, not that great. "Jordan W. Lint to the Age 65" by Chris Ware I think Ware's design work is great but this was just really difficult to read (although I loved the "flash-back" pages printed in red). "Fear of Fire" an excerpt from "Flesh and Bone" by Julia Gfrorer This one started off kind of interesting and weird (in a good way) but ends abruptly, with absolutely no character development or...anything, really. Two different scenes are presented over the course of 9 pages but only loosely, just BARELY, connected. It's just not a good excerpt and leaves me with no desire to pursue the complete work, which is too bad because the artwork is great. I don't want to end on a negative note so I'll say...I think this is one of the better "Best of American Comics" collections released in recent years. It's definitely worth checking out.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Horvath

    I wish I liked this collection more than I did, as a fan of Bechdel's work in general, and also because cishet dudes were being such assholes about the stories in it being "feminist homosexual propaganda". They're not, broadly speaking--I would have liked it better if they were, probably.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This is a real good edition, definitely my favorite of the six produced in this series thus far. Alison Bechdel did a fine job of choosing a diversity of comics and creators here, with an eye towards innovative work that pushes the boundaries of the medium. No out-and-out clunkers for me here and several real winners. One of the best things about these BAC collections is that they can expose even alt-comics junkies like me to creators they’d never heard of. Two fine examples this time around are This is a real good edition, definitely my favorite of the six produced in this series thus far. Alison Bechdel did a fine job of choosing a diversity of comics and creators here, with an eye towards innovative work that pushes the boundaries of the medium. No out-and-out clunkers for me here and several real winners. One of the best things about these BAC collections is that they can expose even alt-comics junkies like me to creators they’d never heard of. Two fine examples this time around are Michael DeForge, with his grotesque gender-bending “Queen,” and Angie Wang, who drew the gorgeous, magical “Flower Mecha” - the latter featuring perhaps my favorite art in the entire book. Moving on, Joey Alison Sayers’s “Pet Cat” is a very funny, brilliant satire of daily comic strip production. One of the best things she’s done yet, IMHO. Like everyone else, I think Kate Beaton is really funny, so happy to see she got some space here. David Lasky’s one-page “The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in six panels)” makes light of tried and true comics tropes in quite delightful fashion. Jillian Tamaki’s “Domestic Men of Mystery” is lovely memoir and the excerpt from Julia Gfrörer’s dark tale of sex and black magic “Flesh and Bone” is good, creepy stuff. The excerpt from Jeff Smith’s RASL is entertaining and I appreciated the biography of Nikola Tesla integrated into the narrative. The best excerpts make you want to read more of the work and this one did the trick. The long excerpt from Dash Shaw’s Body World is wonderfully wild and weird. That Dash Shaw is some kind of genius, I’d wager. Joe Sacco’s story from his longer work Footnotes in Gaza is superbly rendered and absolutely painful and heartrending to read. Ditto the excerpt from Jaime Hernandez’s “Browntown.” “Little House in the Big City” by Sabrina Jones is a fine example of WW3 journalistic-reportage comics and taught me a little bit about an important woman from mid-century American history, writer & activist Jane Jacobs. As Eric Orner’s exquisite “Weekends Abroad” first appeared in my anthology THREE last year, I was naturally really happy it was chosen for BAC. Eric is one of many tremendously talented creators out there who doesn’t often get the recognition he deserves. Comics by Dave Lapp, and Chris Ware are finely rendered, just not to my taste, I guess. “Soixante Neuf,” a piece by David Lasky with Mairead Case, was my least favorite in the book – nice to look at but ultimately took more work to read and decipher than I cared to make, to tell the truth. Happily, in the end that’s the worst I can say about this volume - that a handful of the work just isn’t my thing. In past editions there were selections made that I suspected were based more on friendships or associations cartoonists had with the editors, or fueled more by a creator’s reputation than the quality of the work itself. In the end, Bechdel’s collection is cohesive and feels put together with real care and integrity. Four and half out of 5, sez me, and whoever next year’s guest editor is they have a tough act to follow.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dani Shuping

    ARC provided by netgalley This continuing series is a great chance to get a look at some comics that you might not otherwise see. While it does have some big names, such as Jeff Smith, other names such as Robert Sergel, Allison Sayers, and Kate Beaton are lesser known names that have a chance to be introduced to a wider population. The introduction to this volume is written by the effervescent Allison Bechdel and as always provides an enlightening look into the comic book industry from a ARC provided by netgalley This continuing series is a great chance to get a look at some comics that you might not otherwise see. While it does have some big names, such as Jeff Smith, other names such as Robert Sergel, Allison Sayers, and Kate Beaton are lesser known names that have a chance to be introduced to a wider population. The introduction to this volume is written by the effervescent Allison Bechdel and as always provides an enlightening look into the comic book industry from a different viewpoint. I love the variety of different styles of story telling and colors found in this volume. For example, I really enjoyed looking at the artwork of Robert Sergel because it reminds me a lot of the starkness and simple detail that you can see in Chris Ware’s work, but with his own unique twist on it. Although I don’t really enjoy the story so much, the line quality and design aspect of his work is fantastic to look at. I also really enjoy the fact that people get to see the work of Kate Beaton, whose webcomic I often enjoy because she has a talent for making aspect of history come alive and takes such a different viewpoint of the world around her. Her drawing style is loose and light on detail, but is still captivating and the characitures of famous people make reading the comic enjoyable. My biggest issue with this volume is that there aren’t clear transitions between some of the selections of comics. In some places they just bleed together making it difficult to know which artist it is without going back to the index. I wish that they had taken a bit more care to put even just a blank page in between the comics, just so that it was clear where it ended. My second issue deals not with the volume itself, but with trying to read an ebook version of it. It just really does not work well, especially for some of the comics that are printed horizontal instead of vertical. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying it’s the fault of the editors, but it is something that the publishers will want to take into consideration if they release it as a regular ebook. While you might not enjoy all of the comics in this book it does give a nice look into a great variety of artists, some of whom you might just look up to read again. The one big drawback I see to the series is that it’s up to the artists/author to submit their work for consideration and then it’s based upon author preference so sometimes you get stuff by popular artists--such as Jeff Smith, that don’t really need more exposure. I wish that it would have a few more indie works than it does.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This is not the best "Best American Comics", but, like the others, it offers lots of good stuff for a variety of comics fans. Below are my favourites, or at least the ones I found the most interesting. If you want to go in blind, like I usually do, don't read them, and just know that you'll probably find something/s/ you like in this collection. True Rating: 3.6 Stars My Notables: Gabrielle Bell -- "Manifestation" - Very feminist. About a mother, a daughter, and telling everyone that men are horrible This is not the best "Best American Comics", but, like the others, it offers lots of good stuff for a variety of comics fans. Below are my favourites, or at least the ones I found the most interesting. If you want to go in blind, like I usually do, don't read them, and just know that you'll probably find something/s/ you like in this collection. True Rating: 3.6 Stars My Notables: Gabrielle Bell -- "Manifestation" - Very feminist. About a mother, a daughter, and telling everyone that men are horrible and should be the slaves of women. Parents teach 'unworking' to escape the system and not define gender. Kevin Mutch -- "Blue Note" (from "Fantastic Life") - Features a bizarre date in a bar with a punk show in the background. The main character is on various drugs, zombies start appearing, there's an awkward run-in with a smart a-hole and a war of intellectual proportions commences... Gabby Schulz (AKA Ken Dahl) -- "New Year's Eve, 2004" (from "Monsters") - Seems to be an artistic take on the negative stigma associated with herpes. Michael Deforge -- "Queen" (from Arthurmag.com) - This is messed up. A creature harvests its bizarre world, so as to resemble a dolled-up woman. Joe Sacco -- "Footnotes in Gaza" (excerpt) - The sad slaying of Muslims by Israeli soldiers is portrayed. It really shows that the true victims of war (and elite policies) are the common people. Dash Shaw -- "Bodyworld" (Chapter 3) - F#cked-up, bizarro-Archie drugged out weird. Joey Alison Sayers -- "Pet Cat" - A funny, sarcastic parody of the cartoon industry and "Garfield". Sabrina Jones -- "Little House in the Big City" - A graphic look at Jane Jacobs and the Urban Planning history of New York. Julia Gfrorer -- "Fear of Fire" (excerpt) - Provocative. Features witches worshipping Satan in raunchy ways and a man who longs for death. Peter and Maria Hoey -- "Anatomy of a Pratfall" (from Coin-Op) - So simple, yet so cool. Multiple panes depict an overall picture of small-scale disaster. Jeff Smith -- "The Mad Scientist" (excerpt from "RASL") - Bizarre main character design with an interesting story (including a short history of Nikola Tesla). Brendan Leach -- "The Pterodactyl Hunters" (excerpt) - Early 1900s New York, except with Pterodactyls and the modifications to city life that come with their existence. Eric Orner -- "Weekends Abroad" - A gay tour of Tel Aviv, Israel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    I definitely didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would (hence the 2 stars), which is not to say that it won't be appreciated by the majority of readers. While I generally enjoy comics and graphic novels because they're fun, unreal escapism, the majority of these comics were, well, harsh. There was a tendency for the stories to be very sad or ugly, sometimes in way that was beautiful, but more often in a way that was just depressing. The Best American Comics 2011 (unsurprisingly) showcases I definitely didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would (hence the 2 stars), which is not to say that it won't be appreciated by the majority of readers. While I generally enjoy comics and graphic novels because they're fun, unreal escapism, the majority of these comics were, well, harsh. There was a tendency for the stories to be very sad or ugly, sometimes in way that was beautiful, but more often in a way that was just depressing. The Best American Comics 2011 (unsurprisingly) showcases what are theoretically the best comics of 2011. The downside here is that although some of the comics tell a fairly complete story from start to finish (like Nov. 3, 1956 Part 1), others give so little information that I finished the comic having absolutely NO idea what was going on. To me, this isn't show-casing the comic, its discouraging me from ever picking up the comic. For instance, the excerpt from Flesh and Bone (by Julia Gforer) tells the story of a man asking a witch-esque lady to kill him, because he wants to die but is afraid of being damned if he commits suicide. Oh, and there's also a man with the head of deer receiving oral sex from several women. This actually may be a GREAT series, but I can't tell from the short piece I've been given, and on top of that I'm annoyed that I can't tell. I did have some favorites throughout the book, namely 1) Nov. 3, 1956 Part 1, 2)Weekends Abroad by Eric Orner and 3) Manifestation from gabriellebell.com. Browntown, an excerpt from "Love and Rockets: New Stories" gave me nightmares, and should not be read by any children. So again, I certainly didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped, and I won't be recommending it to anyone anytime soon. That being said, many of the comics were well done, they just didn't leave me particularly happy. I received an advanced copy of the book via Net Galley. My thoughts are my own...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ollie

    I credit the Best American Comics (BAC) series with expanding my horizons of what comics are doing these days. The more I read them, the more obvious it becomes that conventional superhero comics are boring in comparison. Volume 2011 has some great entries edited by Alison Bechdel and it's nice to see Bechdel include both male and female creators after briefly touching on how women are underrepresented in comics today, and also in this collection. I guess it's not up to Bechdel to disrupt the I credit the Best American Comics (BAC) series with expanding my horizons of what comics are doing these days. The more I read them, the more obvious it becomes that conventional superhero comics are boring in comparison. Volume 2011 has some great entries edited by Alison Bechdel and it's nice to see Bechdel include both male and female creators after briefly touching on how women are underrepresented in comics today, and also in this collection. I guess it's not up to Bechdel to disrupt the balance. If most of the entries are by men, you're going to end up with a collection of comics mostly by men. Some highlights include the great Joe Sacco and his stories on victims' recollection of Palestinian/Israeli conflicts, Brendan Leach and his hysterical story of pterodactyl hunters in what seems to be the turn of the century, David Lasky's ultimate graphic novels which perfectly encapsulates what epic superhero comics are like in 6 panels, and Kate Beaton because anything she does is amazing. Really all these entries are fantastic and different and have their own voice and craft a unique and interesting story. It's also good to see how BAC has evolved from this 2011 edition and now includes a little bit about the artist and plot of the comic before the comic instead of putting all this information in an appendix at the end. This is a great element that wasn't included yet in this collection and has been improved on since. No matter. Another good one. Very recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    It's pretty much impossible to truly collect the "Best" comics of the year, but series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden do an admirable job of casting a wide net, and the guest editor made a lot of good choices this year (I'm not just saying that because two of my friends made the cut). I read a lot of comics, so at least half of the book was stuff I'd seen before, but there were also a lot of impressive stories that were new to me, especially "Little House in the Big City" by Sabrina Jones, It's pretty much impossible to truly collect the "Best" comics of the year, but series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden do an admirable job of casting a wide net, and the guest editor made a lot of good choices this year (I'm not just saying that because two of my friends made the cut). I read a lot of comics, so at least half of the book was stuff I'd seen before, but there were also a lot of impressive stories that were new to me, especially "Little House in the Big City" by Sabrina Jones, and the beautiful Kevin H piece. My only complaint is that the book leans a little too heavily on excerpts from graphic novels, which can sometimes be frustrating to read (you go into the excerpt without knowing what's going on, and just when you start getting invested in the story it ends abruptly). But my guess is the editors had little choice, now that graphic novels are becoming the dominant format for comics. This book works best as a sampler to introduce you to new comics and cartoonists you might've missed, so I recommend reading it at the library, and using your $25 to buy more comics from the artists in here you like best.

  19. 4 out of 5

    SA

    To be honest, I pick these up mostly for the guest editors and for the off chance of discovering something wonderful I haven't read yet. A lot of the work in here just doesn't resonate with me at all. It's like a survey more than anything else, seeing what's out there for 2011. Kate Beaton was the reason I picked it up, and it was worth it to read Alison Bechdel's introduction and for the discovery of Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel, which was what I liked best of what I had not already read. To be honest, I pick these up mostly for the guest editors and for the off chance of discovering something wonderful I haven't read yet. A lot of the work in here just doesn't resonate with me at all. It's like a survey more than anything else, seeing what's out there for 2011. Kate Beaton was the reason I picked it up, and it was worth it to read Alison Bechdel's introduction and for the discovery of Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel, which was what I liked best of what I had not already read. But I seriously could have done without some of the creepy shit in there. I don't think books should necessarily come with warnings, but there's just some things I don't need to read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    I did enjoy this anthology, especially Alison Bechdel's introduction which added some interesting context and color commentary to the selections. I thought that the pieces were well chosen and I particularly enjoyed Chris Ware's piece. He does such an incredible job of bringing subtle pathos into graphic novels and he is one of the few current artists who uses the full power of interesting layouts and different drawing styles to make an intense emotional impact that would be impossible to I did enjoy this anthology, especially Alison Bechdel's introduction which added some interesting context and color commentary to the selections. I thought that the pieces were well chosen and I particularly enjoyed Chris Ware's piece. He does such an incredible job of bringing subtle pathos into graphic novels and he is one of the few current artists who uses the full power of interesting layouts and different drawing styles to make an intense emotional impact that would be impossible to achieve in any other form. On the other hand, I feel like trying to anthologize full length graphic novels in brief sections is kind of weird? This is cool as kind of a sampler if you don't follow comics all that closely and it did introduce me to a couple people I hadn't read, but some of the chops felt a bit awkward.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Bat-Blog Brookshire

    If you love Graphic Novels then these "Best American Comics" Annuals are fun to read ( Obviously, from the title, this is the one for 2011, ha! But I'm just saying that I have read a few of these in the past and have always liked them ). What I like, besides the great art/stories, is the variety. You really get a lot of different points of view here plus many different styles of art. OK, "Three Stars" seems kinda bad but overall it was very enjoyable and really worth reading. My only complaint If you love Graphic Novels then these "Best American Comics" Annuals are fun to read ( Obviously, from the title, this is the one for 2011, ha! But I'm just saying that I have read a few of these in the past and have always liked them ). What I like, besides the great art/stories, is the variety. You really get a lot of different points of view here plus many different styles of art. OK, "Three Stars" seems kinda bad but overall it was very enjoyable and really worth reading. My only complaint is that I only liked about 70% of the stories. Then there were some that were not so good. My favorite story was titled "Browntown" done by one of the guys who does "Love and Rockets", Jaime Hernandez. I've always loved the clean simple minimal line of his art.

  22. 4 out of 5

    J.

    There are some solid-to-good things in here, but nothing that really makes me want to check out more, except for the usual (Jeff Smith, say.) I like it when these collections turn me on to artists and works I don't already know about, but this one didn't do it. Also, each BAC makes frequent use of excerpts from longer works, but in this volume, they weren't excerpted well. The bits we get don't seem even partly self-contained, and they lack significance on their own. I'm not sure what to make of There are some solid-to-good things in here, but nothing that really makes me want to check out more, except for the usual (Jeff Smith, say.) I like it when these collections turn me on to artists and works I don't already know about, but this one didn't do it. Also, each BAC makes frequent use of excerpts from longer works, but in this volume, they weren't excerpted well. The bits we get don't seem even partly self-contained, and they lack significance on their own. I'm not sure what to make of that. Anyway, if you're not a big comics reader, this is probably worth checking out, but if you read a lot, this one isn't going to really offer much--there may be something in here you'd like, but most of it seems average. Surely this wasn't actually the best of 2011?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Davey

    All across the board. Read it first in a borders surrounded by local crazies taking advantage of the cafe and the pervasive smell faded in deference to the flashing of worlds across the pages. It's like if all the talented people you know came to perform/display in front of you in rapid succession. All next to each other, all different, I ended up comparing them esoterically. Apples are oranges, right? It's all fruit. Inspirational and humbling (though I've been using that to describe a lot All across the board. Read it first in a borders surrounded by local crazies taking advantage of the cafe and the pervasive smell faded in deference to the flashing of worlds across the pages. It's like if all the talented people you know came to perform/display in front of you in rapid succession. All next to each other, all different, I ended up comparing them esoterically. Apples are oranges, right? It's all fruit. Inspirational and humbling (though I've been using that to describe a lot recently). Plenty to work towards. Plenty that I don't want to work towards. Overall, a bunch of souls more dedicated than I am, doing work that I'm happy to read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Hm, seems like other reviews are pretty harsh on these anthologies, and Alison Bechdel's selections. I thought this anthology did step out in the direction of more disturbing/disjointed stories, but I like it when comics push me out of my comfort zone a bit. Except war stuff. Sorry Joe Sacco, your stuff is great but I can't stomach real life stories of horrible trauma. I think of these anthologies more like those old Reader's Digest books that used to the crowd the resale book table at the Hm, seems like other reviews are pretty harsh on these anthologies, and Alison Bechdel's selections. I thought this anthology did step out in the direction of more disturbing/disjointed stories, but I like it when comics push me out of my comfort zone a bit. Except war stuff. Sorry Joe Sacco, your stuff is great but I can't stomach real life stories of horrible trauma. I think of these anthologies more like those old Reader's Digest books that used to the crowd the resale book table at the library. A sample of this, a little of that: a smorgasbord to stretch the palate. And one that finally featured offerings from a few more women authors.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Krysten

    I feel like Bechdel edited a way better best-of than Neil Gaiman and a lot of the other people who have edited these books. But. It still wasn't all there for me. At least there wasn't any R. Crumb, and at least the obligatory Chris Ware was mercifully short. For maybe the second time ever, I didn't skip any of the comics in this edition, for better or for worse. I didn't love the anti-Israel comic or the omg-I-has-the-herpes comic or... most of them, really, but the ones that were good were I feel like Bechdel edited a way better best-of than Neil Gaiman and a lot of the other people who have edited these books. But. It still wasn't all there for me. At least there wasn't any R. Crumb, and at least the obligatory Chris Ware was mercifully short. For maybe the second time ever, I didn't skip any of the comics in this edition, for better or for worse. I didn't love the anti-Israel comic or the omg-I-has-the-herpes comic or... most of them, really, but the ones that were good were REALLY GOOD, at least for this sort of anthology.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The 2008 BAC, with Lynda Barry as editor, is still my favorite, but this one was a welcome addition to the series. Bechdel's intro was self-deprecatingly funny but also insightful into both the selection process of this anthology and the comics world in general, and her selections were diverse and exciting. In a welcome change from last year's predictable offering from Neil Gaiman, I appreciated that Bechdel included a mix of longer excerpts and shorter standalones, and works from both The 2008 BAC, with Lynda Barry as editor, is still my favorite, but this one was a welcome addition to the series. Bechdel's intro was self-deprecatingly funny but also insightful into both the selection process of this anthology and the comics world in general, and her selections were diverse and exciting. In a welcome change from last year's predictable offering from Neil Gaiman, I appreciated that Bechdel included a mix of longer excerpts and shorter standalones, and works from both well-known and relatively obscure artists.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Laing

    This book is a bit of a tease (as are many Best of collections) but it gave me some pointers on who I want to read next. An excellent introduction from Alison Bechdel, of course. So now I've got to look out for Kevin Mutch (zombies!), Gabby Schulz (herpes!), Angie Wang (psychedelic drawings!), Dash Shaw (botany professor drug fiend poet!), Joey Alison Sayers (cat!), Sabrina Jones (NYC!, Julia Gförer (beautiful demonic illustrations!), Brendan Leach (again beautiful pterodactyl illos!) Also it This book is a bit of a tease (as are many Best of collections) but it gave me some pointers on who I want to read next. An excellent introduction from Alison Bechdel, of course. So now I've got to look out for Kevin Mutch (zombies!), Gabby Schulz (herpes!), Angie Wang (psychedelic drawings!), Dash Shaw (botany professor drug fiend poet!), Joey Alison Sayers (cat!), Sabrina Jones (NYC!, Julia Gförer (beautiful demonic illustrations!), Brendan Leach (again beautiful pterodactyl illos!) Also it included some of my old favourites including Gabrielle Bell, Jillian Tamaki and Kate Beaton.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maria Rowe

    I was excited to read this because I love Alison Bechdel's work and was looking forward to reading what she'd chosen for the BAC 2011. I was disappointed. I just didn't enjoy most of the comics either because I didn't like the writing or the art, or sometimes both. Definitely my least favorite in the series so far. There were a few standouts I really enjoyed: Joe Sacco (Nov. 3, 1956) Sabrina Jones (Little House in the Big City) Dave Lapp (People Around Here) Jeff Smith (The Mad Scientist) Matt Orner I was excited to read this because I love Alison Bechdel's work and was looking forward to reading what she'd chosen for the BAC 2011. I was disappointed. I just didn't enjoy most of the comics either because I didn't like the writing or the art, or sometimes both. Definitely my least favorite in the series so far. There were a few standouts I really enjoyed: Joe Sacco (Nov. 3, 1956) Sabrina Jones (Little House in the Big City) Dave Lapp (People Around Here) Jeff Smith (The Mad Scientist) Matt Orner (Weekends Abroad) David Lasky (The Ultimate Graphic Novel)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    The 2011 edition of the 'Best American Comics' anthology is curated this time around by indie, comic scribe Alison Bechdel and as one expect the material leans heavily toward angsty, slice-of-life type morsels. The material seems to be better edited this time around as most of the snippets provide coherent narratives as opposed to confused fragments plopped into the anthology with little regard for context. As always, these hardback tomes are beautifully constructed with high quality paper stock The 2011 edition of the 'Best American Comics' anthology is curated this time around by indie, comic scribe Alison Bechdel and as one expect the material leans heavily toward angsty, slice-of-life type morsels. The material seems to be better edited this time around as most of the snippets provide coherent narratives as opposed to confused fragments plopped into the anthology with little regard for context. As always, these hardback tomes are beautifully constructed with high quality paper stock to boot.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    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.

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