The Best American Comics Criticism

Overview

An immediate perennial, documenting the critical rise of the graphic novel.
Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. The Best ...

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Overview

An immediate perennial, documenting the critical rise of the graphic novel.
Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. The Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary movements of the last 60 years.
This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring. Originally serialized as “alternative” comics, they went on to confirm the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers’ guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting edge of today’s artists. This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit’s creator), Gerard Jones’ (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille (Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks, “tongue-in-cheek,” if cartoonists are the new literati, what must their critics look like?

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Editorial Reviews

Ken Parille - Blog Flume
“While there’s a great deal to be learned by reading any such collection, Schwartz’s editorial approach makes The Best American Comics Criticism far more entertaining than I would have thought a collection of criticism could be.”
Erin Polgreen - Attackerman
“Editor Ben Schwartz did a great job selecting pieces that comprise a vibrant narrative of the industry. From graphic novels with literary aspirations to comics about capes, the breadth of content in here is really fantastic.”
Tom Spurgeon - The Comics Reporter
“There's a lot of good work in the book and one or two absolutely inspired choices. Anyone with an interest in comics should at least give it a flip-through, and anyone with an interest in writing about the medium should use it as a springboard to discover a host of excellent new favorites.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606991480
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,194,977
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Schwartz is an essayist and screenwriter who has written for The New York Times, Bookforum, LA Weekly, and TV shows too embarrassing to mention. He is working on The Lost Laugh, a history of American humor set between the world wars, for 2011 from Fantagraphics Books.

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Table of Contents

APPRAISALS

The Walk Through the Rain: Will Eisner and Frank Miller in conversation (excerpt from Eisner/Miller) 86

Will Eisner and Frank Miller: The Raconteurs (excerpt from Reading Comics) Douglas Wolk Wolk, Douglas 93

"A Great Bamboozler": Howard Chaykin on Will Eisner Bob Andelman Andelman, Bob 104

"There Is White and There Is Black and There Is Nothing in Between" (excerpt from In Search of Steve Ditko) Alan Moore Moore, Alan 114

Spider-Man Sucks Peter Bagge Bagge, Peter 117

Letter of the Law: Ditko's Mr. A Period Donald Phelps Phelps, Donald 122

Like a Prairie Fire, Even Hotter: Harold Gray, Politics, and the Not-So-Funny Funnies Ben Schwartz Schwartz, Ben 129

Drawn from Life Jeet Heer Heer, Jeet 133

George Herriman: The Cat in the Hat Sarah Boxer Boxer, Sarah 144

Thurber's Art (excerpt from Introduction to Is Sex Necessary?) John Updike Updike, John 154

John Stanley's Teen Trilogy Seth 157

Schulz's Gifts Jonathan Franzen Franzen, Jonathan 176

"A Mozart of Zaniness" Daniel Clowes Clowes, Daniel 179

"What's This One About?" A Re-Reader's Guide to David Boring Ken Parille Parille, Ken 182

A Child's Garden of Detritus: The Cartoon Chronicles of Lynda Barry Donald Phelps Phelps, Donald 207

Diary of a Teenage Rake: An Appreciation of Phoebe Gloeckner's Masterpiece Donald Phelps Phelps, Donald 208

What Went Wrong with the Masters Show Dan Nadel Nadel, Dan 214

REVIEWS

Topffer in English Chris Ware Ware, Chris 222

Epileptic: Disorder in the House Rick Moody Moody, Rick 228

Fun Home: Literary Cartooning in a Graphic Novel Robert C. Harvey Harvey, Robert C. 232

Epics (Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus; Kirby: King of Comics; Age of Bronze; Y: The Last Man on Earth) John Hodgman Hodgman, John 240

Was This Review Helpful To You?: Joe Matt's Spent Amazon.com Readers 248

C. Spinoza's Pacho Clokey Nate Gruenwald Gruenwald, Nate 254

INTERVIEWS

Persian Miniatures: Marjane Satrapi David Hajdu Hajdu, David 274

"It Keeps Ending Up Looking Like It Was Drawn By Me" An Interview With Chester Brown Darrell Epp Epp, Darrell 283

"I Feel My Zaniness Is Based on Truth" An Interview With Will Elder Gary Groth Groth, Gary 295

"My Strategy Was To Create The Opposite" An Interview With Yoshihiro Tatsumi Gary Groth Groth, Gary 310

"It's Gotta Be Real To Me, Somehow" An Interview With Kim Deitch Gary Groth Groth, Gary 320

"I Could Relate Very Closely To Your Alienation" A Conversation Between Daniel Clowes and Jonathan Lethem 331

New Art Comics Panel Dan Nadel Nadel, Dan 343

Acknowledgments 349

Art Credits 351

Index 354

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