The Best American Comics 2008

Overview

This newest edition to the Best American Series—"A genuine salute to comics" (Houston Chronicle)—returns with a set of both established and up-and-coming contributors. Editor Lynda Barry and and brand new series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden—acclaimed cartoonists in their own right—have sought out the best stories culled from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the Web to create this cutting-edge collection "perfect for newbies as well as fans"—The San Diego Union ...

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Overview

This newest edition to the Best American Series—"A genuine salute to comics" (Houston Chronicle)—returns with a set of both established and up-and-coming contributors. Editor Lynda Barry and and brand new series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden—acclaimed cartoonists in their own right—have sought out the best stories culled from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the Web to create this cutting-edge collection "perfect for newbies as well as fans"—The San Diego Union Tribune. This newest volume features luminaries like Chris Ware, Seth, and Alison Bechdel alongside Paul Pope's "Batman" and beloved daily cartoonists like Matt Groening.

Lynda Barry is a writer and cartoonist whose comic strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” celebrates its 30th year in print in 2007. She is a recipient of the Washington State Governor's Award for her novel, The Good Times are Killing Me, which she adapted into a long-running off-broadway play. The New York Times called her second novel, Cruddy, “A work of terrible beauty”. She received the 2003 William Eisner award for Best Graphic Album and an American Library Association Alex award for her book, One! Hundred! Demons!. She lives and works in southern Wisconsin.

Jessica Abel is the author of the graphic novel La Perdida, as well as two collections of stories and drawings from her comic zine Artbabe. Matt Madden is a cartoonist and author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Their textbook about making comics, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, is forthcoming.

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Editorial Reviews

Douglas Wolk
Most of Barry's selections are somehow unsettling; she leans toward stories that draw on the playful look of kids' entertainment to convey something much sadder. Not everything here is polished or elegantly drawn, but virtually every piece has some sort of image that can get under its reader's skin, and you can't ask much more of comics than that.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The focus of this collection is not on any particular genre or style, but on stylistic and storytelling variety. There are slice-of-life stories, historical drama, humor, political satire, absurdist fables, serious autobiography and lighthearted ramblings. The art styles range from the tight, realistic precision of Jason Lute's Berlin to the raw style of John Mejia's vignettes of life as a public school art teacher. With each story the reader is drawn into a different world or presented with another perspective of the same world. Yet despite the variety of the stories, they join as a display of the power of comics as a means of storytelling that can concisely present some aspect of human nature so the reader can digest it, contemplate it and, perhaps, understand it, as Barry, this edition's editor, suggests in her introduction. The variety conveys the continued growth of comics as a means of storytelling, growth brought about by a plethora of promising new creators and continued great work by established creators such as Jaime Hernandez, Matt Groening and Chris Ware. The book offers a strong sampling of the diversity available today and hints at more innovation and progression to come. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
The third annual anthology in this series is the best yet, with inspired work from a variety of relative unknowns mixed with that from artists who enjoy great renown in this burgeoning field. As series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden write in their preface, "Anthologies are the place where young cartoonists get a break, where they can hope to be published alongside the likes of Chris Ware and Matt Groening, and to be noticed by the likes of Lynda Barry." Though many of the best, or at least the most ambitious, graphic narratives in recent years are larger in scope, the editors opt here for shorter, self-contained pieces, of the type pioneered by Barry in her Ernie Pook's Comeek, and collected in volumes such as The! Greatest! Of! Marlys! Readers who know Groening only as the creator of The Simpsons will discover a whole new dimension to his work in the "Will and Abe" selections from his Life in Hell strip, while Ware's "The Thanksgiving Series" of covers for the New Yorker reinforces his emergence from the comix underground into the literary mainstream. Yet the explosion of energy in John Mejias's "The Teachers Edition," which chronicles the challenge of teaching art to grade schoolers in the Bronx, shows that mainstream acceptance hasn't tamed the form's more radical impulses. In the contributors' notes, Mejias writes that he "hopes to document my dealings with board of education bureaucracies as I try to make human connections in an inhuman atmosphere." Other highlights range from the wordless to the word heavy, and from the socially conscious to the dreamlike-the volume as a whole suggests the seemingly limitless variety that the format permits. Perhaps the best testament to themagic of comics is Barry's illustrated introduction, which she devotes to work that was not included, but which has profoundly affected her. A treasure trove of discovery for fanatics and initiates alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618989768
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/8/2008
  • Series: Best American Comics Series
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Abel

JESSICA ABEL is the author of the graphic novel La Perdida . MATT MADDEN is a cartoonist best known for his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style . Together, Abel and Madden are the authors of Mastering Comics and Drawing Words and Writing Pictures .


MATT MADDEN is a cartoonist and the author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Together, they are the authors of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.

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