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The Best American Comics 2014

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“It’s the perfect book to pick up to restore your faith in comics or help show infinite diversity in infinite combinations on display on paper using the world’s greatest artform.” — Comics Bulletin The Best American Comics showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors and highlights both fiction and nonfiction — from graphic novels, pamphlet comi “It’s the perfect book to pick up to restore your faith in comics or help show infinite diversity in infinite combinations on display on paper using the world’s greatest artform.” — Comics Bulletin The Best American Comics showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors and highlights both fiction and nonfiction — from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, minicomics, and the Web — to make a unique, stunning collection. Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) called guest editor Scott McCloud “just about the smartest guy in comics.”


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“It’s the perfect book to pick up to restore your faith in comics or help show infinite diversity in infinite combinations on display on paper using the world’s greatest artform.” — Comics Bulletin The Best American Comics showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors and highlights both fiction and nonfiction — from graphic novels, pamphlet comi “It’s the perfect book to pick up to restore your faith in comics or help show infinite diversity in infinite combinations on display on paper using the world’s greatest artform.” — Comics Bulletin The Best American Comics showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors and highlights both fiction and nonfiction — from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, minicomics, and the Web — to make a unique, stunning collection. Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) called guest editor Scott McCloud “just about the smartest guy in comics.”

30 review for The Best American Comics 2014

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.

    (I received my copy of this collection from NetGalley in exchange for review.) Anthology titles never seem to do it for me - though there were some tremendous pieces excerpted here, the collection felt uneven and ill-conceived. Although McCloud frequently brought up his preference that the reader proceed through the anthology in order (with each interstitial essay admonishing anyone who might be "skipping around"), I don't feel that the sequencing here was particularly strong. Standout pieces from (I received my copy of this collection from NetGalley in exchange for review.) Anthology titles never seem to do it for me - though there were some tremendous pieces excerpted here, the collection felt uneven and ill-conceived. Although McCloud frequently brought up his preference that the reader proceed through the anthology in order (with each interstitial essay admonishing anyone who might be "skipping around"), I don't feel that the sequencing here was particularly strong. Standout pieces from big names like Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, and Charles Burns were a pleasure to revisit. It was great to see Raina Telgemeier featured - her work for younger readers has been wonderful - and the excerpt for Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples was a mainstream highlight. The "new to me" works that I was most excited about were Jane, the Fox, and Me by Isabelle Arsenault and Fanny Britt, "Mom" by Sam Sharpe, and RL by Tom Hart. McCloud's hand as an editor felt unfortunately heavy here. I could have done without the essays justifying the inclusion of each piece and the explanation of why each piece was placed in which section. The work included was at its strongest when it was allowed to speak for itself. I was hoping that reading this anthology would get me excited about the breadth and depth of American comics in 2014. Instead, I felt mostly bogged down and uninspired.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I don't much like comics collections like this, just snippets, but I guess it does give a sense of the year, and this was a good year, and this is after all a good collection. I read it mainly because Scott McCloud edited it and I had just heard him recently in Chicago. And I don't hunk of him as edgy, but this was more alt comics than mainstream and I liked his set up for it, his essay, his selection. The cover is great, but which I mean it is attractive and Beto Rodriguez did it and it has all I don't much like comics collections like this, just snippets, but I guess it does give a sense of the year, and this was a good year, and this is after all a good collection. I read it mainly because Scott McCloud edited it and I had just heard him recently in Chicago. And I don't hunk of him as edgy, but this was more alt comics than mainstream and I liked his set up for it, his essay, his selection. The cover is great, but which I mean it is attractive and Beto Rodriguez did it and it has all this energy. It's with a kid on the cover, true, and you just have to look at the Aline and R Crumb piece to know this is not a kid comic. And the Raina Telgemeier end papers are kid-type stuff, too; not a kid collection, definitely, but still its attractive. The range of stuff here is great. True, I had read most of it already, but I like McClouds's vision and his sense of what was great that year.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joey Alison Sayers

    What can you say about a Best American anthology? There were some great pieces, some crap ones. Some unnecessary contributors, some omissions. Some X, some Y. I didn't agree with the inclusion of every piece, but why would I. It's a subjective collection. Thatss part of its charm and what makes it interesting. I will say this, though. It has the worst cover of any book ever printed since the beginning of time. It's ridiculous. It looks like an elementary school reading primer cover. It's corny an What can you say about a Best American anthology? There were some great pieces, some crap ones. Some unnecessary contributors, some omissions. Some X, some Y. I didn't agree with the inclusion of every piece, but why would I. It's a subjective collection. Thatss part of its charm and what makes it interesting. I will say this, though. It has the worst cover of any book ever printed since the beginning of time. It's ridiculous. It looks like an elementary school reading primer cover. It's corny and cloying, and why is it a kid? These are, by and large, comics for adults. Now I have to go look at the awesome Jog, Frog, Jog cover just to wash my eyes out.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    Of all of the Best American Comics volumes to come out over the past several years, this is the one I was most looking forward to...and for two reasons. First, Jaime Hernandez did the cover illustration, which is absolutely a wonderful piece of work that really says it all. But more importantly, I was excited by the fact that Scott McCloud was the guest editor. It makes sense that McCloud finally tries his hand at compiling this collection, in that he has a broad sense of the medium, and he brin Of all of the Best American Comics volumes to come out over the past several years, this is the one I was most looking forward to...and for two reasons. First, Jaime Hernandez did the cover illustration, which is absolutely a wonderful piece of work that really says it all. But more importantly, I was excited by the fact that Scott McCloud was the guest editor. It makes sense that McCloud finally tries his hand at compiling this collection, in that he has a broad sense of the medium, and he brings more of a studious and contemplative approach than about all of the other past guest editors. I respect McCloud's assessment, even if I don't necessarily agree with him all of the time, and I've often taken his comments as a cue to seek out certain titles with which I was unfamiliar. This year's BAC is no exception, as McCloud does a good job at presenting a fairly representative overview of the current state of comics -- or at least comics published between September 2012 and August 2013, the focus of this volume. There's always the temptation to be the armchair quarterback, to take issue with the choices the editor made or feel that he left out other things that you would have included. That's always going to be the case with a project such as this. But if you keep in mind that each Best of American Comics volume isn't any sort of objective "best of" volume, but instead is prone to the same tastes, predilections, and agendas (intended or unconscious) as any other creative endeavor, then you can get a lot out of these books. (I have issues with the "best" part of the title in this series, but that's another story.) And one of the best things about the BAC series is that it introduces readers to comics that they weren't familiar with previously, or didn't even know existed. That's been the case with me, although one thing that struck me this year was how many of the entries I was already familiar with, either having read or being on my to-read list already. If I had one criticism here, it wouldn't be for this this particular volume -- although I would have liked a different webcomic to stand in as the one reproduced representative in that particular section (there, I did something I said I wouldn't do) -- but for the idea of the series as a whole. If you take a look at all of the guest editors through the years, from Harvey Pekar on down to this year's project, you see a trend and a particular kind of editor/creator. Sure, both McCloud and Neil Gaiman stand out as a little different from the other past editors -- e.g., Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware -- but they're not that different, when you think about it. One could argue that Gaiman is part of the mainstream, but even then, you'd need to qualify your definition of "mainstream" and admit that, really, Gaiman was a relatively "safe" choice in having such broad multi-media appeal. I'd be interested in seeing the BAC series choose a guest editor more enmeshed in the mainstream of comics culture -- and by "mainstream," I mean more than just superhero comics -- and see what they're able to come up with. I actually addressed this issue with the new series editor, Bill Kartalopoulos, when we interviewed him recently on The Comics Alternative, and he said that that's something he didn't think would happen. He made a comment about how HMH in-house editing has a say in the selection process, and that lead me to believe that maybe any "radical" shift from the series' tried-and-true guest editor selection process would have roots internally. Might this underscore something we've discussed many times on the podcast, a bifurcation of a comics-readling public? Are those who make decisions on choosing or approving guest editors the kind of readers who get their list of creators from The New Yorker and the New York Times bestseller lists? Perhaps I'm being to facile in assuming this kind of alternative/indie bias, but it would be a nice exercise -- and a welcomed change of pace -- to find someone more anchored in mainstream (i.e., comics-shop comics, those distributed primarily through the direct market) as a guest editor. What kind of choices would this person make for the year's "best"? What about a Rick Remender? What about a John Byrne? What about a Mike Mignola? What about an Ed Brubaker? What about Scott Snyder? Or damn, what about a Grant Morrison (I was tempted to say Alan Moore, but that would be a choice closer to that of Gaiman)? Morrison would definitely be fun to see. These are just some thoughts or speculations...although I don't assume we'll see this anytime soon. Still, this kind of speculation doesn't take away from the fact that this is a wonderful anthology, one of the best the BAC series has produced so far. Kudos to both Kartalopoulos and McCloud!

  5. 4 out of 5

    John Cooper

    I have Scott McCloud's brilliant 1990s books "Understanding Comics" and "Reinventing Comics," and thought he'd be a great editor for the 2014 best-of collection, but boy, was I wrong. What disappointed me about this book? Let me count. First, the absolute lack of surprise in the selections. He starts with the established greats: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine, and R. Crumb. But I, like everybody else, have been reading these authors for decades, and these I have Scott McCloud's brilliant 1990s books "Understanding Comics" and "Reinventing Comics," and thought he'd be a great editor for the 2014 best-of collection, but boy, was I wrong. What disappointed me about this book? Let me count. First, the absolute lack of surprise in the selections. He starts with the established greats: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine, and R. Crumb. But I, like everybody else, have been reading these authors for decades, and these selections in no way show anything new or different in their current work, with the possible exception of R. and Aline Crumb's X-rated "senior sex" piece, which I desperately wish I could un-see. (I'm 52. I don't have that long to wait. I'll wait.) Second, of all the new artists I was exposed to in this book, I can count only one that struck me as interesting enough, different enough, and well-executed enough to make me seek out more. It's no exaggeration to say that I was over halfway through the book, which I read from cover to cover, before I found a piece I enjoyed. And I wouldn't have picked up a book of current comics if I didn't enjoy comics. Everything I *dislike* about comics was here in abundance: the pathetic chronicles of depression, the sad childhood memoir, the pointless angst, the wild, ungrounded experimentation, the clichéd situations, and the weirdness for the sake of weirdness. What I like about comics was mostly missing: the shock of recognition, the unexpected perspectives, the fresh expressions of life-affirming humanity, and the just plain gorgeous art. (As I mentioned, with at least one exception.) Jaime Hernandez's wonderful cover art just doesn't match what's inside, in tone or in quality. And McCloud's frequent, annoying begging of the reader to bear with him, read straight through, and not skip over things didn't pay off. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. But be warned.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt Graupman

    I've been collecting the Best American Comics books since the series began in 2006. By design, the volumes are always uneven but enjoyable; the degree to which this is true always depends on that year's guest editor. This 2014 collection is no different. Scott McCloud, undeniably a comics fan and astute critic, has submitted a varied and intriguing set of stories and excerpts. Being a fan of formalism and experimentation, his selections tend to be a little on the wild side (much like Chris Ware's I've been collecting the Best American Comics books since the series began in 2006. By design, the volumes are always uneven but enjoyable; the degree to which this is true always depends on that year's guest editor. This 2014 collection is no different. Scott McCloud, undeniably a comics fan and astute critic, has submitted a varied and intriguing set of stories and excerpts. Being a fan of formalism and experimentation, his selections tend to be a little on the wild side (much like Chris Ware's 2007 volume) which doesn't always line up with my tastes. Overall, it's a solid collection but not quite as outstanding as past volumes. (P.S. - While I'm a fan of his older work and I acknowledge that he's a comics god, I really don't like R. Crumb's cluttered and self-reverential new comics. -10 Nerd Points for me.) FAVORITES: "RL (Excerpt)" by Tom Hart: His series of comics about the unexpected death of his 2-year-old daughter, Rosalie Lightning, are so packed full of joy and sadness. "MARCH: Book One (Excerpt)" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell: Everything that Powell draws is perfect. "Canadian Royalty" by Michael DeForge: I usually find DeForge's comics to be too quirky but this piece is delightfully weird. "Hawaii 1997" by Sam Alden: Alden is a quickly-rising star in comics and this pencil-rendered story is really remarkable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne-Erin

    Unfortunately, nothing you do is going to make me like R. Crumb. And this gross sex scene (I am not a prude, even about geriatric sex!) made me need to hide this book from my six year old. But Chris Ware! Holy crap. Has anything so completely shown the solitude of existence and motherhood (and how you can truly never know what happens when your asleep? I guess? I don't know, I was afraid of the end). And Allie Brosch, who helped me put words to my own depression what seems like so long ago. And Unfortunately, nothing you do is going to make me like R. Crumb. And this gross sex scene (I am not a prude, even about geriatric sex!) made me need to hide this book from my six year old. But Chris Ware! Holy crap. Has anything so completely shown the solitude of existence and motherhood (and how you can truly never know what happens when your asleep? I guess? I don't know, I was afraid of the end). And Allie Brosch, who helped me put words to my own depression what seems like so long ago. And now I need to go find more Michael DeForge. And Tom Hart. I have no words for Tom Hart. I admit that about halfway through I started feeling a little "Emperor's new clothes" and tried to like it even if I didn't. Experimental just isn't me. Between that and the Crumb piece I just can't say I liked the book more than a three, though the parts I loved were a ten. My son is trying to check it out again, damn that fucking R. Crumb.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    This is a great collection– there are all kinds of different comics covered in this book, which made it a refreshing read. I enjoyed that it gave me some inspiration to check out some new artists. As in all “Best” lists, there were some that I loved, some I hated. Keep in mind when you’re reading that many are just exerts from a bigger novel. Some of the standouts for me were: “Drama” by Rana Telgemeier “Jane, The Fox & Me” by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault “August 1977” by Nina Bunjevac “The Merm This is a great collection– there are all kinds of different comics covered in this book, which made it a refreshing read. I enjoyed that it gave me some inspiration to check out some new artists. As in all “Best” lists, there were some that I loved, some I hated. Keep in mind when you’re reading that many are just exerts from a bigger novel. Some of the standouts for me were: “Drama” by Rana Telgemeier “Jane, The Fox & Me” by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault “August 1977” by Nina Bunjevac “The Mermaid in the Hudson” by Mark Siegel “Saga Chapter 7” by Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples Please note: I received a free copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Who should read it? Any fan of comics or graphic novels, but also newbies to the genre. This would be a great introduction! See all my reviews and more at www.ReadingToDistraction.com or @Read2Distract

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    McCloud couldn't have been a better editor! I hope HMH/The Best American series brings him back again and again. Each introduction is a gem, and McCloud got me appreciating certain artists (Chris Ware: "...the burden of memories") in a whole new way. I especially appreciate his attempts at articulating webcomics - which is terribly hard for me to maneuver; and I laughed out loud at his hyperbolic reference to seppuku in regards to understanding this particular art form! At the beginning of the b McCloud couldn't have been a better editor! I hope HMH/The Best American series brings him back again and again. Each introduction is a gem, and McCloud got me appreciating certain artists (Chris Ware: "...the burden of memories") in a whole new way. I especially appreciate his attempts at articulating webcomics - which is terribly hard for me to maneuver; and I laughed out loud at his hyperbolic reference to seppuku in regards to understanding this particular art form! At the beginning of the book, McCloud warns readers to honor the planning of this book; I issue the same warning: read the book in sequence! The sequencing of the collection is a work of art itself!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emma Clement

    This was an interesting collection of comics. I'd read a few of them, but a great majority of the comics featured were new to me. Some were really great, and I want to read more than what was included in the excerpts in this collection. But some I did not really like at all - and I was surprised. I was expecting more - after all these are the "best American comics", I figured I'd like or at least see the merit to almost all the comics. But a good chunk of the comics I didn't like or really under This was an interesting collection of comics. I'd read a few of them, but a great majority of the comics featured were new to me. Some were really great, and I want to read more than what was included in the excerpts in this collection. But some I did not really like at all - and I was surprised. I was expecting more - after all these are the "best American comics", I figured I'd like or at least see the merit to almost all the comics. But a good chunk of the comics I didn't like or really understand. Maybe they do better when read in their whole? Not sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    tysephine

    This was more of a 2.5 stars, I think. I appreciate all the effort put into this collection, but there was some weird stuff in here, a lot of which made no sense to me. Maybe I am not the target audience for this collection. It went over my head a lot and some of the later categories, with the more abstract concepts, made zero sense to me. I feel like I need to cleanse myself with something more low-brow now.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a pretty good sampler for finding new comics and artists. I didn't read all of them because I didn't always like the art. Some of them were really weird too. I think I'll take a look at this every year though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    I'd vote in favor of fewer pieces with longer excerpts, but a great sampler of the diversity within the genre.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    "Best of" collections are always a disappointment.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Not a bad collection. Mind-expanding, with some real winners and some genre-bending craziness. Definitely skipped through a number though, including so-so comics I'd already read and some that were virtually impossible to read. Not a fan of no individual comic title/introductory pages. 3.6 Stars My Favourites - 'Crime Raiders' (Excerpt) - Hernandez Odd, interesting urban minority comedy/drama - 'Killing and Dying' (Excerpt) - Adrian Tomine I've read the full one -- amazing! - 'High Road to Schmuck S Not a bad collection. Mind-expanding, with some real winners and some genre-bending craziness. Definitely skipped through a number though, including so-so comics I'd already read and some that were virtually impossible to read. Not a fan of no individual comic title/introductory pages. 3.6 Stars My Favourites - 'Crime Raiders' (Excerpt) - Hernandez Odd, interesting urban minority comedy/drama - 'Killing and Dying' (Excerpt) - Adrian Tomine I've read the full one -- amazing! - 'High Road to Schmuck Seat' - R. Crumb and Alice Kominsky I have limited Crumb experience, and I found this rude, disgusting, half-assed, and entertaining - 'RL' - Tom Hart A very sad story (view spoiler)[ where parents lose their daughter. (hide spoiler)] Page 127 features a fascinating view of New York. - 'Mom' - (Excerpt) - Sam Sharpe Whewf. Heavy, disturbing and realistic. - 'Sailer Twain...' (Excerpt) - Mark Siegel Nice art, great use of perspective and shadow (eg page 174), and a bizarre, funny and oddly-realistic story. - 'Saga' (Volume 7 Excerpt) - Vaughan Oh yeah, I'll have to finally read this series - 'Dimensions' - Ted May Short and instructive. Take a breath -- good ideas! - 'Building Stories' (Excerpt) - Chris Ware Awesome as usual, though a strange ending choice for the excerpt. - 'Canadian Royalty' - DeForge Weeeeeird-ooooh - 'The Understanding Monster: Book 1' - Theo Ellsworth Kraaaazy. I kind of want to read more. Relationships? Epiphany? Intelligence? - 'Hawaii' - Sam Alden Powerful thesis. The boy will spend the rest of his life trying to find a girl from his youth, surely more in terms of mate patterns, but probably with an undying hope.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    I dunno, why are comics are still so steeped in misogyny? Curate better. Some of these are wonderful and some are like extra-cringey. I wanted to give this a four because there’s some gorgeous stuff in here & it was lovely to see Allie Brosh included, but it’s pretty white & hetero & lots of misogynistic themes. It’s also super male-dominated even though McCloud goes off on this tangent about “where are all the upcoming man artists.” I dunno, why are comics are still so steeped in misogyny? Curate better. Some of these are wonderful and some are like extra-cringey. I wanted to give this a four because there’s some gorgeous stuff in here & it was lovely to see Allie Brosh included, but it’s pretty white & hetero & lots of misogynistic themes. It’s also super male-dominated even though McCloud goes off on this tangent about “where are all the upcoming man artists.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    READ! MORE! COMICS!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    i have 12 new GN to read now. scott was an amazing guest editor. i learned things.

  19. 5 out of 5

    April eclecticbookworm

    A good collection of sequential art diverse in style some better than others and exposes you to work you might not have seen before.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    Helped me find authors that I now love. Highly recommend it to anyone trying to understand comics as a medium.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eternaljay

    I liked the comics, but I didn't like how vulgar most of them are.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Scott McCloud's sequencing of the selections are well done and the intros for each section are great. There's a lot of great stuff in this collection.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Preethi

    Like all anthologies, there were a few good artists and sections but on the whole the book is a pass.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hulu

    Scott got the tiniest bit overbearing at times (“see what she did there?”) but this is a great selection that was thoughtfully assembled and introduced.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tye

    There were some gems in here. And, there was also some really off the wall comics as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    I really enjoyed this year's volume of The Best American Comics, and that's due not only to the comics themselves but to the guest editor, Scotdt McCloud, who helpfully assembled the book by theme and wrote some very informative introductions. The first section has some big names in the comix biz, beginning with Jaime Hernandez and a kind of Miami noir story "Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners," and Jaime's brother Gilbert, with a story of young alienation, "Marble Season." Cha I really enjoyed this year's volume of The Best American Comics, and that's due not only to the comics themselves but to the guest editor, Scotdt McCloud, who helpfully assembled the book by theme and wrote some very informative introductions. The first section has some big names in the comix biz, beginning with Jaime Hernandez and a kind of Miami noir story "Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners," and Jaime's brother Gilbert, with a story of young alienation, "Marble Season." Charles Burns is represented with a portion of his novel, "The Hive," and R. Crumb and Aline Komisky-Crumb contribute "High Road to the Shmuck Seat." The shmuck seat, I've learned, is the seat in the restaurant that faces away from the door, and thus the occupant can't see what is going in the restaurant. There is a lovely panel where Robert is getting blown by Aline, so, NSFW. Raina Telgemeier's "Drama" is another story of the awkwardness of adolescence, and Tom Hart's "RL," about a couple that has a child that dies, is excerpted with a section that shows the perils of moving before your real estate sale is final. I liked this bit: "The New York arc requires you to either make exponentially more money--or get out. Where is up to you: New Jersey, Long Island, or Westchester, all of which require you to ruthlessly keep your attention, money, and nerves focused on New York, whose bloody, swollen billboard eyes remain fixed on you in return." "Saga, Chapter 7," by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, is a more traditional fantasy comic (there are no superhero comics included, but that is due to some sort of legal problem--McCloud declares Marvel's "Hawkeye" the best of the year). McCloud also includes a section of Chris Ware's Building Stories, which I wrote about last year. In the historical area, there are excerpts from comics about civil rights leader John Lewis, the Carter Family, and the history of hip-hop. Sometimes the comics here are very strange. I loved, loved, loved Michael DeForge's "Canadian Royalty," which must be the work of a very interesting mind, while I couldn't make heads or tails of Theo Ellsworth's "The Understanding Monster--Book One," which has a floating head through most of it. In a section McCloud calls "The Kuiper Belt," there are some very avant garde comics, which are mostly interesting because of the art, especially Victor Caro's "Bittersweet Romance," and Aidan Koch's "Blue Period." Gerald Jablonski's "Schweinhund" is so text heavy, though, that I couldn't read it, as it would require a magnifying glass. The volume ends with a daily strip, now defunct, called "Cul de Sac" which I unfortunately have never seen before. It was written and drawn by Richard Thompson until he couldn't do it anymore, because of the effects of Parkinson's disease. McCloud includes the last week it ran, which was a repeat, and I enjoyed the main character of Alice, who is kind of reminiscent of Bill Watterson's Calvin. The last strip, a Sunday colored one, talks about the dying art form of comic strips, which is sadly true. As fewer and fewer people read newspapers, the placement of those strips in them becomes a desert island of sorts. Of course comic strips can still be read on the Web, but one has to search them out. There are no funny pages anymore. But, as witnessed by this fascinating collection, the art of comics is still thriving creatively.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hrabe

    These Best American Comics anthologies are always good, but usually a bit uninspired in that you can just pick and choose what you want to read and ignore anything that looks outside of your comfort zone. For the 2014 edition, Understanding Comics scribe Scott McCloud crafts a guided tour of 2014's best, most interesting, weirdest, most heartbreaking comics and, considering the man wrote the Book on comics, you're obliged to take his hand and gawk at everything he says is good. It's curating as These Best American Comics anthologies are always good, but usually a bit uninspired in that you can just pick and choose what you want to read and ignore anything that looks outside of your comfort zone. For the 2014 edition, Understanding Comics scribe Scott McCloud crafts a guided tour of 2014's best, most interesting, weirdest, most heartbreaking comics and, considering the man wrote the Book on comics, you're obliged to take his hand and gawk at everything he says is good. It's curating as art, and the selections play together like a perfectly crafted mixtape. While I could talk all day about McCloud's sequencing of the comics, the comics themselves are, naturally, outstanding. McCloud features a diverse range of artists and styles and provides copious notes to give you the necessary context to make each particular work sing. Two selections caught me so off guard I had to put the book down and walk away. One was Tom Hart's entry from his series RL, which chronicles the tragic and sudden loss of his 2 year old daughter. I couldn't even deal. My heart broke into a thousand little pieces and I was too scared to pick up the book for half a week. As a new father I couldn't face it, and I was angry that I'd been suckered into reading something that put all of my deepest fears on display, but as it stuck to me, I felt deeply moved by Hart's bravery; of facing the most horrible part of his life head on and somehow managing to create a loving tribute to his departed daughter. The other side of that coin is the best story from Chris Ware's Building Stories, which I read before Rosie was born, but reading now made me tremble. It features a mother watching her daughter change and grow from birth to adolescence in a series of small, quiet moments. It's devastating, and evokes the terrifying prospect that Chris Ware, who is already the greatest living graphic novelist, is greater than you could even imagine. I don't think I've ever had such an emotional reaction to an ANTHOLOGY. At least not since the Ware-curated McSweeney's #13 which may as well be my Rosetta Stone in regard to my comics fandom. I could talk about this all day. Everything is excellent. While I prefer the more narrative, slice of life stuff, there's a fascinating pocket of experimental and out there stuff at the end that is incredible. In addition to the above mentioned pieces, you get a couple of great stories from the Brothers Hernandez (Jamie and Gilbert contribute a story each), a beautiful and melancholy selection from Adrian Tomine, an eye-opening and hilarious look at old-people-sex from R. & Aline-Komisky Crumb, an insane look at mythic Canadian royalty from Michael DeForge, and incredible works from folks I'd never heard of like Sam Sharpe, Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, Sam Alden (whose Hawaii 1997 was sent to me via my best friend a while ago but seeing it again conveniently reminded me that comics don't need to be polished and perfect to move your soul), Nina Bunjevac, Miriam Katin, and Brandon Graham's insane Multiple Warhead's series, which I'm fairly certain I purchased last year and need to dig out of my long box. This is a collection to shove into the hands of anyone who doubts comics as serious literature. I wish I had a truckload of these to hand out randomly to people on the street so as to spread the good gospel of sequential art.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adil

    I tend to spend much more time on each page of a comic than I would on a regular page of text. Comics bring many more elements into play than simple plot - they give the artist an entire graphic dimension to manipulate as they see fit. My favorite aspects of a comic are its stylistic choices: which colors or style did the artist use, which positions are the characters drawn in, and what is the overall "kinetic energy" of the work? If you have a similar attitude towards comics as I do, then I beli I tend to spend much more time on each page of a comic than I would on a regular page of text. Comics bring many more elements into play than simple plot - they give the artist an entire graphic dimension to manipulate as they see fit. My favorite aspects of a comic are its stylistic choices: which colors or style did the artist use, which positions are the characters drawn in, and what is the overall "kinetic energy" of the work? If you have a similar attitude towards comics as I do, then I believe that you will enjoy The Best American Comics 2014 - or probably any of the previous iterations of this series since 2006. Scott McCloud, this edition's editor, has seen fit to split the works chosen for this compilation by medium and type, stating that the entire book should be read from beginning to end as a journey of sorts. Through his use of chapters, McCloud takes us from comics with Western art styles to ones with more abstract, avant-garde visions, each of which are interesting to observe and compare. While I can't say that I understand some of the later more abstract works in this collection, I definitely appreciated having exposure to them. Unfortunately, because of printing limitations, many of the comics have had to be cut short as excerpts in the book, and others may have been reduced to a footnote in the back. Say - if The Best American Comics 2014 came with a companion website, it could serve as an excellent portal to this year's most notable works!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    As always, an entertaining read. One could argue about the use of the word "Best" in the title, since these anthologies skew rather heavily towards the artsy end of things, which may not be everyone's cup of tea. Whether these are literally the best of 2014 or not, they're certainly excellent. Guest editor, Scott McCloud, has organized this year's anthology into loosely-themed sections. Yes, there are some of the usual suspects in here. It's almost guaranteed that any year that sees new work fro As always, an entertaining read. One could argue about the use of the word "Best" in the title, since these anthologies skew rather heavily towards the artsy end of things, which may not be everyone's cup of tea. Whether these are literally the best of 2014 or not, they're certainly excellent. Guest editor, Scott McCloud, has organized this year's anthology into loosely-themed sections. Yes, there are some of the usual suspects in here. It's almost guaranteed that any year that sees new work from Robert Crumb or Chris Ware or either of the Hernandez brothers or Adrian Tomine will see an excerpt from it in this book. There are some new faces, too. Some of them I had read during the year, while others are books I knew about and just haven't seen yet. One surprise for me was the excerpt from Drama by Raina Telgemeier, which was good enough to make me immediately put in a request for the book with my local library. I definitely want to read more of her work. It may just be my imagination, but the percentage of artsy/surreal/weird/boundry-pushing comics seems higher than usual this year. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Although Jessica Abel and Matt Madden are no longer editing this series, it seems to be in capable hands. Looking forward to The Best American Comics 2015!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kel Munger

    The “best American” annual series can be uneven, with the singular exception of the Best American Comics. That’s because so much is happening in the comics/graphic novels format—it can’t really be a genre of its own any longer, with such variety in the offerings. But the combination of art and words is a compelling form, and The Best American Comics 2014 has a crop includes some giants in the field (Jaime Hernandez, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine) as well as newbies. The “best American” annual series can be uneven, with the singular exception of the Best American Comics. That’s because so much is happening in the comics/graphic novels format—it can’t really be a genre of its own any longer, with such variety in the offerings. But the combination of art and words is a compelling form, and The Best American Comics 2014 has a crop includes some giants in the field (Jaime Hernandez, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine) as well as newbies. Editor Scott McCloud, best known for his Zot! comics and his criticism of the form, has written smart introductions for each section and arranged the book so that it makes sense in order—which means browsing will diminish the payoff. He’s also included webcomics—like Allie Brosh’s magnificent Hyperbole and a Half, which was then adapted into a graphic memoir—and some really wild, surrealistic work that most of us don’t run across down at the local comic shop. If you’re not reading comics yet—WTF? Why not?—use this volume to get a good start. (Reviewed on Lit/Rant: http://litrant.tumblr.com/post/104082...)

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