The Best American Comics 2006 - ed. Harvey Pekar & Anne Elizabeth Moore

Houghton-Mifflin publishes a "Best American" series of books, from short stories to travel writing to essays. One of their newer series is the "Nonrequired Reading" aimed at young adults, but this is the first time they've tackled comics. Moore (the series editor) admits that maybe comics can finally be considered "literature."

Of course, selecting the "best" comics is a tough job, particularly when you have to lump all genres of comics into one group. It does make for a pretty broad collection although you won't find anything from Marvel or DC Comics in the bunch. I suppose the thought that comics can be serious literature stops short of superheroes (unless they're satires). Still, if this book introduces any readers to comics and encourages them to dig a little deeper, that's a good thing.

A few of my favorites from this collection:
- "The Amazing Life of Onion Jack" by Joel Priddy: a stick-figure story about Onion Jack, the superhero who just wanted to be a chef
- "Complacency Kills" by Joe Sacco: meticulously illustrated nonfiction about American soldiers in Iraq
- "Rabbithead" by Rebecca Dart: an innovative multi-timeline wordless story with all manner of bizarre creatures
- "Portrait of My Dad" by David Heatley: a collection of "comic vignettes" about Heatley's dad, brutally honest but sweet

In the back of the book there's also a list of 100 Distinguished Comics (from January 2004 to December 2005) selected by Moore, which would be a good jumping point.

Overall verdict: heavy on the indie-type comics, but a pretty good cross-section of the genre.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 10, 2007 | Comments (0)


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