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“There’s something thrilling about seeing people invent new ways to tell their story. To me, it’s proof that the art form of comics is healthy: it lives and grows and reinvents itself. It’s alive!” –Roz Chast, from the Introduction   FEATURING Lynda Barry, Kate Beaton, Cece Bell, Geneviève Elverum, Ben Katchor, John Porcellino, Joe Sacco, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Julia Wert “There’s something thrilling about seeing people invent new ways to tell their story. To me, it’s proof that the art form of comics is healthy: it lives and grows and reinvents itself. It’s alive!” –Roz Chast, from the Introduction   FEATURING Lynda Barry, Kate Beaton, Cece Bell, Geneviève Elverum, Ben Katchor, John Porcellino, Joe Sacco, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Julia Wertz, and others   Roz Chast, guest editor, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons began appearing in The New Yorker in 1978. Since then she has published hundreds of cartoons and written or illustrated more than a dozen books. Her memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? was a #1 New York Times bestseller and a 2014 National Book Award Finalist.   Bill Kartalopoulos, series editor, is a comics critic, educator, curator, and editor. He teaches courses about comics at Parsons and at the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. For more information please visit: on-panel.com. 


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“There’s something thrilling about seeing people invent new ways to tell their story. To me, it’s proof that the art form of comics is healthy: it lives and grows and reinvents itself. It’s alive!” –Roz Chast, from the Introduction   FEATURING Lynda Barry, Kate Beaton, Cece Bell, Geneviève Elverum, Ben Katchor, John Porcellino, Joe Sacco, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Julia Wert “There’s something thrilling about seeing people invent new ways to tell their story. To me, it’s proof that the art form of comics is healthy: it lives and grows and reinvents itself. It’s alive!” –Roz Chast, from the Introduction   FEATURING Lynda Barry, Kate Beaton, Cece Bell, Geneviève Elverum, Ben Katchor, John Porcellino, Joe Sacco, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Julia Wertz, and others   Roz Chast, guest editor, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons began appearing in The New Yorker in 1978. Since then she has published hundreds of cartoons and written or illustrated more than a dozen books. Her memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? was a #1 New York Times bestseller and a 2014 National Book Award Finalist.   Bill Kartalopoulos, series editor, is a comics critic, educator, curator, and editor. He teaches courses about comics at Parsons and at the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. For more information please visit: on-panel.com. 

30 review for The Best American Comics 2016

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    So collections like this are invariably uneven and of course skewed to the taste of the editor whose choices we are dependent on. Last year’s chooser, Jonathan Lethem, was disappointing to me. I was hopeful about Roz Chast as editor this year but also suspected she would choose more mainstream stuff, as she is an older artist working with The New Yorker for decades. But I like her work a lot, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a blend of (kind of) mainstream or at least well known stuff with So collections like this are invariably uneven and of course skewed to the taste of the editor whose choices we are dependent on. Last year’s chooser, Jonathan Lethem, was disappointing to me. I was hopeful about Roz Chast as editor this year but also suspected she would choose more mainstream stuff, as she is an older artist working with The New Yorker for decades. But I like her work a lot, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a blend of (kind of) mainstream or at least well known stuff with things I might term more experimental. I knew quite a bit of it from my reading of the last year, but it was nice to revisit it. My favorites, all stuff I knew: Adrian Tomine, an excerpt from Killing and Dying; Chris Ware, an excerpt from The Last Saturday; Keiler Roberts, Powdered Milk Vol. 14; Richard McGuire, Here (excerpt); Ben Katchor’s stuff, Joe Ollman’s “Shut Your Piehole, Johnny Pinetop,” and GG’s Don’t Leave Me Alone. My absolute favorite was probably Ollman’s fictional piece (check him out!) and runner-up Keiler Roberts’s memoir comics, but there’s a lot of good stuff here, stuff Beto Rodriguez, Cece Bell. . . But I also liked new stuff I didn’t know that I look forward to reading more into such as Gabrielle Bell’s The Dishrack and Lance Ward’s Adults Only. Better than “uneven”; mostly good, this year!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    What a pleasant surprise! I've dabbled aplenty in the Best American [insert literary genre] [insert year] anthologies, but never before with comics. I had mixed feelings about picking this up, as I've read a lot of comics lately and have been dealing with some silly guilt about limping across the finish line of my annual reading challenge fueled by the energy gel of heavily illustrated books. However, I felt my brain stretching as I read through this anthology, and this reminded me that there is What a pleasant surprise! I've dabbled aplenty in the Best American [insert literary genre] [insert year] anthologies, but never before with comics. I had mixed feelings about picking this up, as I've read a lot of comics lately and have been dealing with some silly guilt about limping across the finish line of my annual reading challenge fueled by the energy gel of heavily illustrated books. However, I felt my brain stretching as I read through this anthology, and this reminded me that there is not necessarily a qualitative distinction between books with or without visual elements; both have equal potential to challenge and enlighten. I figured that if I were to explore an anthology like this, what better guide than Roz Chast, this year's editor, who proved an excellent Beatrice to my Dante on this journey and well worthy of my appreciation and trust. Many of the comics in this book had elements of the emotionally raw, unflinching, plain-spoken, laid-bare quality of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, and its dark and fleeting hints of humor as well. Roz's brief introduction (I call her Roz now) is also as excellent and funny as you'd hope, and it's preceded by a useful, concise history of comics as recounted by series editor Bill Kartalopoulos. As with any anthology, there a couple entries I didn't read or care for, but I was surprised at the percentage of the contents that I found truly compelling. I ended up adding a number of previously unfamiliar authors and works to my TBR and library hold lists. Chast includes comics from contributors who are very diverse in terms of visual style, demographics, and means of distribution, from the relative stars of Drawn and Quarterly-published volumes to new or outsider artists who share their work through self-published zines and blogs. Some comics are featured in entirety, but when excerpts are used, the editing is very well executed and allows the reader a tasty contextualized glimpse of what that longer work offers (though I was usually left wanting more of it!). Since it's the holiday season, it's worth mentioning that a couple volumes of this series would make an enjoyable and inspiring gift for the artists and graphic novel/comics readers in your life! Be aware that many of the comics have adult content, so you may want to preview before gifting. Although there are also excerpts from work suitable for quite young readers: again, the beauty of this anthology is its inclusionary eye for quality and talent above all other factors! Enjoy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    This was a nice compilation with a thoughtful intro, but also I'd read a lot of the stuff in it already. And it wasn't clear to me why there was so much work in here that had been published in 2014 (such as an excerpt from Porcellino's The Hospital Suite, El Deafo, Syllabus by Lynda Barry, Bumf by Joe Sacco, Here by Richard McGuire, a story from Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People from by Joe Ollmann, and Ware's The Last Saturday...). I guess by 2016 they mean 2014 and 2015. But it was a bi This was a nice compilation with a thoughtful intro, but also I'd read a lot of the stuff in it already. And it wasn't clear to me why there was so much work in here that had been published in 2014 (such as an excerpt from Porcellino's The Hospital Suite, El Deafo, Syllabus by Lynda Barry, Bumf by Joe Sacco, Here by Richard McGuire, a story from Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People from by Joe Ollmann, and Ware's The Last Saturday...). I guess by 2016 they mean 2014 and 2015. But it was a bit frustrating that I had already read more than half the book. And, well, I know the Foreword starts out "There is no 'mainstream' in comics" these days, but still, a lot of the stuff in here is about as mainstream as comics get I think, and there were long excerpts of fairly main-stream accessible works (thankfully, at least in the MA public library system), and I would have enjoyed it more if there were fewer long excepts of more mainstream comics and a bit more work by lesser known or not quite as available stuff. All of that said, it's still an enjoyable collection and great to see Roz Chast's tastes. Things I hadn't read before? Wendy, by Walter Scott, which I am still trying to figure out how I feel about. Here's a review I really enjoyed (contextualizes Scott's work rather Wonderfully) http://www.tcj.com/reviews/wendy/. Liana Finck's "All the Paintings Here Agree", which I thought were great! Fashion Cat by Alex Schubert, which is published in Vice https://www.vice.com/en_us/contributo... (as far as I can tell, there's no Fashion Cat book out). It's funny and enjoyable, but the humor and narcissism is a bit violent and bleak for my taste. And the Kate Beaton...well...I don't know if I've read these particular Broadside Ballads before, but I don't recall having read them, and in any case, I'm glad they were in here. I love her work a lot. Here's one that was in the anthology: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php.... Work by Sophia Zdon, Lance Ward, Dave Lap, and GG, artists I don't think I've read before, who's work I will look out for. Glad to see Chast editing this and appreciate the book she put together a lot. And am looking forward to checking out some of the "Notable Comics" at the end.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This is my third encounter with the "Best American Comics" series, and—just as in previous years—The Best American Comics 2016 is a powerful blend of the well-known and obscure, of styles ranging from clean-cut to chaotic, of artists from North America ("American" does not mean from the U.S. alone. Here, it means there are comics from both countries—the U.S. and Canada—although there are still no entries from Mexico or points farther south). All of the comics in The Best American Comics 2016 have This is my third encounter with the "Best American Comics" series, and—just as in previous years—The Best American Comics 2016 is a powerful blend of the well-known and obscure, of styles ranging from clean-cut to chaotic, of artists from North America ("American" does not mean from the U.S. alone. Here, it means there are comics from both countries—the U.S. and Canada—although there are still no entries from Mexico or points farther south). All of the comics in The Best American Comics 2016 have passed through at least two filters—series editor Bill Kartalopoulos and then this year's editor, Roz Chast (whose own work includes the impressive graphic memoir Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?). The only missing elements are the big names—the slick house brands, like Marvel and DC, that are easy enough to find elsewhere anyway. One quick complaint: I'm not sure whether it was my aging eyes or reproduction issues, but I did have a harder time reading the finer details in many of these, something that wasn't a problem for me before. Standouts for me this time started with the lead story, "Killing and Dying," by Adrian Tomine—about parenthood, improv, and always saying the wrong thing; Anne Emond's wordless "The Swim"; the near-photographic quality of Drew Friedman's "R. Crumb and Me"; kids and their contrariness in "Powdered Milk, Vol. 14" by Keiler Roberts (I could hear the giggles of the child calling her mother into the bedroom to announce, "I want some privacy"). Joe Sacco's chilling offscreen dialogue in "Milk" ("What can we conclude from the fact that she does not correspond to any signal?"). Hell, we're only about a third through and I might as well be listing 'em all—or almost all, anyway—so instead I'll stop there, with the acknowledgement that I'm short-changing quite a few artists by doing so. In The Best American Comics 2016 there are, as Chast says in her Introduction,stories by people you'll probably know, and people that I hope you will discover, as I did. There is traditional storytelling, and also comics that are unlike anything I'd ever seen, but that still work. I've included a mix of visual and narrative styles. I like variety. Also, there's something thrilling about seeing people invent new ways to tell their story. To me, it's proof that the art form of comics is healthy: it lives and grows and reinvents itself. It's alive! —p.xviiiAnd I have no argument whatsoever with that assessment.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    The Best American Comics volumes are always worth reading. Not everyone will agree with the term "Best", but these are certainly all interesting. It helps to think of it as equivalent to the difference between literary fiction and the average SF (or whatever your favorite genre happens to be) anthology, or the typical Oscar nominee versus a typical Summer blockbuster. It may not be what you usually read, but there's a certain level of quality and artistic achievement that's apparent whether it f The Best American Comics volumes are always worth reading. Not everyone will agree with the term "Best", but these are certainly all interesting. It helps to think of it as equivalent to the difference between literary fiction and the average SF (or whatever your favorite genre happens to be) anthology, or the typical Oscar nominee versus a typical Summer blockbuster. It may not be what you usually read, but there's a certain level of quality and artistic achievement that's apparent whether it fits your personal definition of "Best" or not. Roz Chast is the guest editor for this volume. While I appreciate the idea of rotating guest editors, I'm not sure how much it does for the series. Yes, each volume has a different feel to it, but it's difficult to say how much of that comes from the guest editor's taste and how much is due to the fact that different stuff gets published every year. I suppose, at the very least, it helps to preserve the sanity of the various editors by not subjecting them to a constant grind. And I suppose it helps to prevent favoritism from having much impact on the contents. Still, it's not like you can easily point to any story in here and confidently say, "Yes, that's definitely a story that everyone could predict only Roz Chast would have chosen." Some of these stories--Adrian Tomine and Joe Ollmann, for instance--were familiar to me, but I was happy to read them again. Some of them--Gilbert Hernandez, for one--are things I've been meaning to read and just haven't gotten to yet. And there are some--Alex Schubert and Lance Ward, at the very least--that I need to read because the excerpts in this book are top notch. In all, this is a high quality anthology that lives up to the promise of its title, as long as you don't take the word "Best" literally.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This should really be called Best American Indie Autobiographical Adult Comics That Are Not Graphic Novels or Ongoing Comics like Saga. I was pretty disappointed; there was a very heavy weighting towards autobiographical zine-style web comics, many with just okay craft (in other words, ugly drawings :/). I find that whole sub-genre incredibly self-indulgent and boring. Like, dudes, we can aaalll draw shitty drawings about how we feel shitty sometimes - or (EVEN WORSE) felt shitty once when we we This should really be called Best American Indie Autobiographical Adult Comics That Are Not Graphic Novels or Ongoing Comics like Saga. I was pretty disappointed; there was a very heavy weighting towards autobiographical zine-style web comics, many with just okay craft (in other words, ugly drawings :/). I find that whole sub-genre incredibly self-indulgent and boring. Like, dudes, we can aaalll draw shitty drawings about how we feel shitty sometimes - or (EVEN WORSE) felt shitty once when we were teens (OMG PLZ NO MORE ABOUT HOW EMO YOUR TEENAGE YEARS WERE). Aaghh. I feel like an asshole, since the autobio comix are often "pour your heart out about your gritty mental health issue", and so it feels especially mean to dislike it. BUT I DO. I think there's more to the craft of comix than just panel pacing and panel structure. The actual art inside, the dialogue, and A PLOT! Even the relatively better-crafted stuff, like the comic by Adrian Tomine, was centered around an excruciatingly painful family dynamic (stuttering, deluded daughter trying her hand at amateur standup while cancer-ridden mom is super supportive and cynical dad is frustrated and NOT supportive). That was one of the better ones - there was a lot of skill in how Tomine unveiled the dynamic, and the drawings were great. But I was, by the end of the book and having read N more similar emo-gutter-porn, like, JEEZ IS THERE ONLY ONE SETTING ON THIS THING?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Well, I'm getting better at this! (Or maybe these were just more mainstream choices) But I had already read a good chunk of these and I'm familiar with more than half of the cartoonists. As usual, I think these are good books to pick up from a library because there's just a nice diverse selection. Nothing really popped out to more as super awesome, and I don't feel compelled to seek out work by any of the new-to-me artists here. That being said, it was still a pleasant read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I'm so proud of Taylor-Ruth :") I read it in one sitting, it was a Christmas gift for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    Dag this may be the best Best American Comics yet.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Arnaudin

    177 pages through Roz Chast's selections, I was convinced she'd curated the best Best American Comics yet. Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Drew Friedman, Marc Bell, Keiler Roberts, Joe Sacco, Cece Bell and more had all delivered while Kate Beaton had just raised the collection's bar a notch nighter. Then came Casanova Frankenstein's messy, difficult to follow sketches, and with ten more pages left of unappealing content, I went ahead and skipped to the next author. Though Lance Ward's offering is a bi 177 pages through Roz Chast's selections, I was convinced she'd curated the best Best American Comics yet. Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Drew Friedman, Marc Bell, Keiler Roberts, Joe Sacco, Cece Bell and more had all delivered while Kate Beaton had just raised the collection's bar a notch nighter. Then came Casanova Frankenstein's messy, difficult to follow sketches, and with ten more pages left of unappealing content, I went ahead and skipped to the next author. Though Lance Ward's offering is a bit long, Geneviéve Elverum's "Blanket Portraits" are lovely to gaze upon yet low on substance, and I'm not convinced Char Esmé's and Lauren Poor's bizarre false flyers qualify as comics, things rebound well from there, especially with another terrific round from Ben Katchor. Now, off to request larger works by the above success stories from the library.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mycala

    I wanted to like this more than I did. Also, I was confused that Lynda Barry's "Syllabus" (which I adore!) was in here under 2016 when I recall reading it in 2014. Loved "The Last Saturday" by Chris Ware. Liked Dissident Years by Nina Bunjevac. "Blanket Portraits" was beautiful. The rest of the stuff to me was either unmemorable or left me cold. I can appreciate the work that goes into graphic novels, but some stories are just not for me. Your mileage may vary.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emilia P

    Half of this is like yeah duh, but you're probably write/ I'm patting myself on the back for having read it. The other half is like WTF this is super-obscure and pretty punk comix, and hey Casanova Frankenstein is from Austin, and hey why don't the coolest cartoonist get better publishers so I can read them without seeking them out on a personal basis. So, basically, well done Roz + Co. I'm weary of graphic novels and their increasing conventionality these days, but comixxx 4ever.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This series is always fun to read and find some new writers/artists to look into. And such a variety of styles, lengths, subject matter, format - demonstrates the range of graphic novels/comics.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is my favorite Best American Comics collection! Thanks to Roz Chast.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janet Harper

    You only get excerpts but the cumulative effect is weighty. And very dark.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hrabe

    3.5 stars These Best American Comics anthologies are almost always pretty good, and they are one of my favorite things to recommend to people who think comics are just dudes in tights punching bad guys. My review is less about where this book ranks on its own--because on its own, in a vacuum, it's excellent and full of incredibly interesting artists and voices--but where it ranks in the Best American Comics series. It's not my favorite, but it's better than some of the more middle of the road ent 3.5 stars These Best American Comics anthologies are almost always pretty good, and they are one of my favorite things to recommend to people who think comics are just dudes in tights punching bad guys. My review is less about where this book ranks on its own--because on its own, in a vacuum, it's excellent and full of incredibly interesting artists and voices--but where it ranks in the Best American Comics series. It's not my favorite, but it's better than some of the more middle of the road entries. There are some great artists (and some great ones I had never heard of, which is why I read these things in the first place) but there were 3 very lengthy excerpts from graphic novels that really hamper the amount of artistic diversity of the anthology. There's like, 30+pages of Cece Bell's excellent El Deafo, but at that volume you're already reading a fourth of the book and it doesn't make a lot of sense having so much of it occupying valuable space that could be showcasing other artists. The anthology also features lengthy segments of Nina Bunjevac's Fatherland and Lance Ward's Adult's Only,which, to the excerpt's credit, was my favorite discovery of this anthology. So it's a double edged sword. And yet, the selection from Ward's graphic novel could have been half as long and I still would have wanted to read the whole thing, so I'm going to stick to my line in the sand about graphic novel excerpts. It's important to include them, since that is where some of the best work is beign done, but it has to make sense and be self-contained (and probably no more than 10 pages at the absolute max). That said, guest editor Roz Chast does a great job balancing excellent new work from Best American Comics stalwarts like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, John Porcellino, and Adrian Tomine, with newcomers whose output is limited to their Tumblr or very small self-published comics (notably Anne Emond, Keiler Roberts, and Sophia Zdon, and their contributions are the sort of stuff that can make these anthologies so special). As is the case with anthologies, I didn't love everything and actively disliked a couple of entries, but hey, that's the fun of these things! Outside of the large swaths of excerpts, this is one of the better Best American Comics anthologies.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    I like to read this every year to take my temperature on the current comics scene. It's an imperfect method, but sometimes I discover new stuff I like, so at least that's a win. As with the last couple of volumes of this, all of the things I was really into I'd either read already or were from zines or other things I might have a hard time getting ahold of. The thing that's still ringing in my brain is from the very first page of the Foreward, by Series Editor, Bill Kartalopoulos: There is no "mai I like to read this every year to take my temperature on the current comics scene. It's an imperfect method, but sometimes I discover new stuff I like, so at least that's a win. As with the last couple of volumes of this, all of the things I was really into I'd either read already or were from zines or other things I might have a hard time getting ahold of. The thing that's still ringing in my brain is from the very first page of the Foreward, by Series Editor, Bill Kartalopoulos: There is no "mainstream" in comics. ... The larger book publishing industry still operates on a mass scale and can still be called a mass medium, but mainly by aggregating a large number of smaller audiences (including the audience for graphic novels). Relatively few individual books reach a truly mass audience. Television and film remain mass media, though their delivery systems and platforms (and therefore their content) are rapidly changing in response to new digital networks and technology. Video games are certainly a highly inventive and lucrative mass medium. And the Internet is the biggest global mass medium ever invented by humans. If there are any comics today that are mass media, and therefore "mainstream," they might be comics like these: [image of an Allie Brosh poop sequence]It's completely true that there are an extreme few books that truly reach a "mass" audience. That's why people need finding aids and tools and ::cough cough:: Librarians and booksellers who specialize in knowing the landscape of the publishing industry to help them find their next great read. It's an articulation of something I think we all already knew, but for me, it reframed things just enough for me to look at things in a new way. Great choice for reading during short breaks at work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Definitely one of the strongest in the series. - I laughed (Fashion Cat [Hilarious], Broadside Ballads [Chuckles]) - I cried (Mom) - I wanted more (Milk (view spoiler)[[comedic government surveillance and political humour, unique perspective of government spooks watching a woman go to a corner store] (hide spoiler)] from BUMF, the Ben Katchor comics [witty and droll]) - I developed new insights (El Deafo [the life of a hearing-impaired girl], The Dishrack [Metro acquaintance chats, a long journey w Definitely one of the strongest in the series. - I laughed (Fashion Cat [Hilarious], Broadside Ballads [Chuckles]) - I cried (Mom) - I wanted more (Milk (view spoiler)[[comedic government surveillance and political humour, unique perspective of government spooks watching a woman go to a corner store] (hide spoiler)] from BUMF, the Ben Katchor comics [witty and droll]) - I developed new insights (El Deafo [the life of a hearing-impaired girl], The Dishrack [Metro acquaintance chats, a long journey where stress is layered beneath travel time and reflection]) - I was disturbed (The Corpse, The Ghost, and the Hollow-Weenie [rough, depressing and brutal], The Hospital Suite (view spoiler)[[A tense, simply-drawn, unnerving look at a man going into surgery] (hide spoiler)] ) - I really liked it. 4.4 Stars - I'd already read Killing and Dying, which is a great work - There are some themes in here, like hospitals and dying, relationships and life snapshots - For a Best American series, there is a surprising amount of Canadian content. Indeed, I think more than half the book is by Canadians, or former Canadians.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kitchen

    Best American Comics and no superheroes? Heh heh heh. Seriously, this is my first adventure into "The Best of American Comics." It was certainly different. I wondered about the 'American' part of the title, for there were a lot of Canadian artists. At first I thought that they were Canadians published by American publishers. But no. Some of the Canadians were self-published. No big deal, just confusing. (Okay...Canada is in North America. I get it! But there is also a South America, and I didn't Best American Comics and no superheroes? Heh heh heh. Seriously, this is my first adventure into "The Best of American Comics." It was certainly different. I wondered about the 'American' part of the title, for there were a lot of Canadian artists. At first I thought that they were Canadians published by American publishers. But no. Some of the Canadians were self-published. No big deal, just confusing. (Okay...Canada is in North America. I get it! But there is also a South America, and I didn't notice any selections from natives of America south of the Equator.) There was some good stuff (like the selections by Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Drew Friedman, Liana Finck, Cece Bell, Lance Ward, Joe Ollmann, and G G) and some weird stuff (like the selections by Marc Bell, Casanova Frankenstein, Alex Schubert, Richard McGuire, Genevieve Elverum, and Char Esme). Overall, I liked it, so I'll keep an eye out for next year's installment in my monthly Previews catalog from my local comic book store.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt Graupman

    Another year, another edition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's "Best American Comics" series. After last year's giant misstep with author Jonathan Lethem, legendary New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast was the perfect choice for guest editor to get the anthology back on track. She's put together a great mix of narrative and experimental work, highlighting both established artists and new voices (and with a refreshing emphasis on online comics). There's a little something for everyone is this book and I Another year, another edition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's "Best American Comics" series. After last year's giant misstep with author Jonathan Lethem, legendary New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast was the perfect choice for guest editor to get the anthology back on track. She's put together a great mix of narrative and experimental work, highlighting both established artists and new voices (and with a refreshing emphasis on online comics). There's a little something for everyone is this book and I'd rank Chast's picks as some of the most enjoyable and readable of the series. FAVORITES: "Adults Only" by Lance Ward - An unflinching autobio piece about mental illness, confused sexuality, and working at a porno store. "Blanket Portraits" by Genevieve Elverum - A series of lovely illustrations about the (dearly departed) author's love for blankets and sleeping. "Shut Your Pie Hole, Johnny Pinetop" by Joe Ollman - A hilarious work by comic's best kept secret, about a disfigured ventriloquist struggling to realize his show biz dreams.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    Every year you can count on an exciting collection from the Best American Comics series. I enjoyed all contributions in this year's anthology, but the pieces in this volume tend to have a similar feel. There's not a whole lot of variation here -- at least when compared to previous volumes -- which may be why this one seemed nothing special to me. Still, I really liked it. Kartalopoulos's introduction on defining the "mainstream" is particularly useful here. In fact, that is one of the standout c Every year you can count on an exciting collection from the Best American Comics series. I enjoyed all contributions in this year's anthology, but the pieces in this volume tend to have a similar feel. There's not a whole lot of variation here -- at least when compared to previous volumes -- which may be why this one seemed nothing special to me. Still, I really liked it. Kartalopoulos's introduction on defining the "mainstream" is particularly useful here. In fact, that is one of the standout contributions to this year's volume. One critical observation: The "For Further Reading" section can be a place where the editors can really expand their recommendations and not have to worry about permission right for reprinting. But no, there's not much "mainstreamy" in the list. And I don't mean "mainstream" in terms of DC and Marvel, but also in terms of the outlets between the Big Two and the indie/alt, such as Image, Dark Horse, and the like.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I’m such a huge fan of “The Best American” anthologies but this was my first time reading a “Comics” one. Unfortunately, I️ don’t think these work as an anthology at all. Most of the stories are excerpts from graphic novels, or a collection of stand-alone comics from the same artist, so each story feels stilted and unfinished. There were a few standouts that I️ mentioned on my updates (Cece Bell, Liana Finck, Lynda Barry, Joe Sacco) but in general I️ disliked most of the comics. I️ think the wor I’m such a huge fan of “The Best American” anthologies but this was my first time reading a “Comics” one. Unfortunately, I️ don’t think these work as an anthology at all. Most of the stories are excerpts from graphic novels, or a collection of stand-alone comics from the same artist, so each story feels stilted and unfinished. There were a few standouts that I️ mentioned on my updates (Cece Bell, Liana Finck, Lynda Barry, Joe Sacco) but in general I️ disliked most of the comics. I️ think the word “comics” instead of “graphic novels” or a similar term misleads readers into thinking there will be at least a slight element of humor in at least some of the comics, but, be warned, there are only majorly depressing (and not in a good way) or just confusing comics in this. The two stars are for the few standouts I️ mentioned above. Would recommended just reading those ones.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Latimer

    My first immersion into comics this book was a good intro for me and I will probably read more. Having read comics when a kid in the 1950's, I only had experiences with the likes of Mickey mouse and Donald duck.I could not get enough. I was aware todays comics are any story that the author sees fit to illustrate. So not surprised at the variety of these stories only in the overwhelming theme of sadness. I would like to have ,at least, the last story more upbeat. I have just started writing revie My first immersion into comics this book was a good intro for me and I will probably read more. Having read comics when a kid in the 1950's, I only had experiences with the likes of Mickey mouse and Donald duck.I could not get enough. I was aware todays comics are any story that the author sees fit to illustrate. So not surprised at the variety of these stories only in the overwhelming theme of sadness. I would like to have ,at least, the last story more upbeat. I have just started writing reviews and am not sure if I am sticking to form. I find myself writing very self centered how I am effected and not if I would or would not recommend this book. Well I do recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Esteli

    i will forever kind of hate any kind of anthology, short story, short form anything literature because it so often feels that you are denied catharsis; or, if the cathartic moment is there, you are denied enough buildup to actually care. Or, worst case scenario: it's really good, you got invested, and then something awesome happens...but then it's over, right when you got sucked in! But i guess it's a necessary evil. I learned about some new cool comic people. I hope i can find their full length i will forever kind of hate any kind of anthology, short story, short form anything literature because it so often feels that you are denied catharsis; or, if the cathartic moment is there, you are denied enough buildup to actually care. Or, worst case scenario: it's really good, you got invested, and then something awesome happens...but then it's over, right when you got sucked in! But i guess it's a necessary evil. I learned about some new cool comic people. I hope i can find their full length comics at the library.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Werner

    Some real stunners in here, and not much that I skipped after a couple pages. I don't have it in front of me, but I remember liking . . . Adrian Tomine: Love the tiny panels, and he's come so far from Summer Blonde in terms of storytelling. Chris Ware: More heartbreaking stuff about youth and what it means to become smaller versions of ourselves. Richard McGuire: Whoa. Almost a collage-work sort of swirl through time, but not space. My favorite thing in the collection.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Clay Cassells

    This is an especially strong entry in the Best American Comics series. In past years, I've found these collections to be somewhat uneven, but this year's collection is consistently excellent, as many of the longer excerpts allow the narratives to 'breathe' more than in most of the previous BAC editions. Definitely worth checking out.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (aka WW)

    3.75 stars This book is a great way to sample current graphic work. However, graphic artists, like most artists, tend to be dark, so the variety is between slightly dark, fairly dark, dark and very dark (see the sad ventriloquist with the harelip). Thank God for Kate Beaton. What a ray of sunshine she is in an otherwise gloomy world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate Alleman

    I always look forward to the yearly Best American Comics to see what I've missed, remember what I've loved, and to just revel in the diversity of comics. My favorite comic excerpts included Killing and Dying by Adrian Tome, Last Saturday by Chris Ware, Syllabus by Lynda Barry, Broadside Ballads by Kate Beaton, and Here by Richard McGuire.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Good mix of established artists like Kate Beaton, Chris Ware, Gilbert Hernandez, and Adrian Tomine and fresh voices. Standouts among the latter for me: Powdered Milk by Keiler Roberts; Fashion Cat by Alex Schubert; Shut Your Piehole, Johnny Pinetop by Joe Ollmann; and Don't Leave Me Alone by GG. Though Fashion Cat rules.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is a fun collection, some of my favorites and some artists whose work was new to me. I really love Roz Chase, and she was the guest editor. The chapters that I enjoyed most and would read more of include: Drew Friedman's R. Crumb and me", Keilor Roberts' Powdered Milk, Joe Sacco's Milk, Lynda Barry's Syllabus, John Porcellino's "The Hospital Suite," and Nina Bunjevac's "Dissident Years"

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