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The Best American Comics 2007

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Guest editor Chris Ware and series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore have sought out the best stories to create this cutting-edge collection. Contributors include Lynda Barry, R. and Aline Crumb, Kim Deitch, Gilbert Hernandez, Seth, and Art Spiegelman.

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Guest editor Chris Ware and series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore have sought out the best stories to create this cutting-edge collection. Contributors include Lynda Barry, R. and Aline Crumb, Kim Deitch, Gilbert Hernandez, Seth, and Art Spiegelman.

30 review for The Best American Comics 2007

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ori Fienberg

    While The Best American Comics of 2006 had an admittedly liberal-bias (not so much a problem for me) the comics ran the gamut from conventional to wildly experimental narrative in a variety of artistic forms, so nebulous that it was difficult to categorize some of them as styles. There was fiction and nonfiction, reportage and memoir, with varying degrees of whimsy and seriousness. While there were some obvious gaps, these were acknowledge and explained by Harvey Pekar in his introduction, and o While The Best American Comics of 2006 had an admittedly liberal-bias (not so much a problem for me) the comics ran the gamut from conventional to wildly experimental narrative in a variety of artistic forms, so nebulous that it was difficult to categorize some of them as styles. There was fiction and nonfiction, reportage and memoir, with varying degrees of whimsy and seriousness. While there were some obvious gaps, these were acknowledge and explained by Harvey Pekar in his introduction, and over all it felt as though he really had read through endless stacks of comics and selected the ones he felt were best. Sadly the same cannot be said for the 2007 edition edited by Chris Ware. While the artistic style does vary somewhat, with few exceptions most of the strips are stultifyingly similar panel based endeavors. More than a few forray into less than exciting biographies of "how I became a writer/comic-stripper" and other meta-navel-gazing. While I do find writing about writing interesting, and appreciate that navel-gazing has produced great art, and this volume does include fine examples of both, it's hard to believe that quite so many could have been "the best" produced last year. More glaring is the sort of hipster cronyism that pops up in several of the pieces. This is the sort of expression that made the second half of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" feel to so many people like a self-aggrandizing bore, despite the fact that Dave Eggers is a good writer, and possibly also, a good person. Many comics reference other comic artists that are included in this edition, and indeed many feel similar to the point of lacking originality. Overall, whereas the 2006 edition felt, whether true or not, as though comics were coming in from across a broad intellectual landscape, the 2007 edition feels more as though the editor pulled together a group of his best friends. And there's little doubt that these are talented friends, but the scope is still seems sadly limited. I hope future editions will return to the precedent set by the 2006 edition as well as perhaps becoming even more open to other avenues that have been largely ignored by the last two editions including nationally syndicated newspaper strips (is anyone going to argue that "For Better or For Worse," is not deserving of praise every year?), traditional, but innovative hero-based comic books (like "The Last Man"), reinterpretted manga (the adventures of Scott Pilgrim), and self-published web-comics (Get Your War On, or xkcd).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leah Wohl-Pollack

    All you haters need to calm down. I read this book with the expectation of it being sort of a comics/graphic novel sampler, and I was not in the least disappointed. If you are so on top of the graphic novel scene that you've already read all the full length works sampled from in this book, what were you expecting to gain from reading a collection that so obviously tries to give a broad perspective of what graphic novelists out there were doing in 2007? I think these "Best of" series are a great All you haters need to calm down. I read this book with the expectation of it being sort of a comics/graphic novel sampler, and I was not in the least disappointed. If you are so on top of the graphic novel scene that you've already read all the full length works sampled from in this book, what were you expecting to gain from reading a collection that so obviously tries to give a broad perspective of what graphic novelists out there were doing in 2007? I think these "Best of" series are a great way to dip your toes into the realm of comics and graphic novels and see what you like. That's what it did for me, anyway, and I look forward to following up on the artists I liked (specifically David Heatley, Anders Nilsen, and Adrian Tomine, among a few others). Yes, some of the work in here was abstract and over my head, and yes, some of it was "amateurish" in terms of artistic technique. But I think we can all appreciate that writing a good comic or graphic novel has less to do with an artist's technical skills and more to do with his or her ability to convey a story or feeling, or dream (as David Heatley does so spectacularly) with success, through a combination of words and illustration. Whether the illustration is "beautiful" or showcases artistic "talent" is, for me, not necessarily what makes or breaks the success of the strip.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave-O

    A solid collection that is organized very well. The anthology has works ranging from the autobiographical (which in his introduction, Chris Ware notes is a staple of these kinds of collections) to the fantastic to the esoteric. Each piece is graphically beautiful in its own way, sort of like different dialects of the same language. Introspection and inner dialogues are the chief modes of communication in these stories, which if you think about it is pretty logical for the comics medium. Favorites A solid collection that is organized very well. The anthology has works ranging from the autobiographical (which in his introduction, Chris Ware notes is a staple of these kinds of collections) to the fantastic to the esoteric. Each piece is graphically beautiful in its own way, sort of like different dialects of the same language. Introspection and inner dialogues are the chief modes of communication in these stories, which if you think about it is pretty logical for the comics medium. Favorites of mine include: C. Tyler's sad reflections on raising her daughter in the eighties when she says "your time was completely mine", Anders Nilsen's minimalist forest fantasy in which birds comment to each other on the actions of a human wanderer, Gilbert Hernandez's sordid tale of sexy people, Ben Katchor's telling of the metaphysical prowess of shoehorns, Ron Rege Jr.'s love rectangle as only he can tell it, and C.F.'s insane story of a boy who morphs into beams of color after being pursued. While each of the works is impressive some of the artists are guilty of being too repetitive, of not leaving their comfort zones. There's also something thematically distinct in each of the stories that make them "American" comics. I mean, there's a war going on and there's not a single comic addressing that fact. Tales of human suffering, tragedy and sacrifice are instead tales of personal shortcomings, quiet reflections on the human condition, or nostalgia for times past. Which is fine (art doesn't have to address war or any of that), just noteworthy to me for some reason. Personally, I would like to see more storytelling risks and more fiction rather than biographical uniformity. This goes for comics in general, not only the ones presented here.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Todd N

    Got this at the library because my family was out of town this week and I wanted something easy to read in my sudden extra hours. I got this mainly because it has a long-ish story by Gilbert Hernandez. This is a wildly uneven collection. A few were good but most weren't. Aside from the Hernandez one, there is a hilarious piece by R. and Ailne Crumb visiting their daughter at her squat in NYC. The aging counterculture hippies trying to understand their daughter's counterculture was nicely done. I Got this at the library because my family was out of town this week and I wanted something easy to read in my sudden extra hours. I got this mainly because it has a long-ish story by Gilbert Hernandez. This is a wildly uneven collection. A few were good but most weren't. Aside from the Hernandez one, there is a hilarious piece by R. and Ailne Crumb visiting their daughter at her squat in NYC. The aging counterculture hippies trying to understand their daughter's counterculture was nicely done. I really liked Jeffrey Brown's piece. I'm going to look for more of his stuff. Gary Panter is still awesome. Oh and it ends with an interesting story about a guy checking out a flooded Louisville in a homemade boat. The rest read like someone's unedited diary or -- worse -- dream journal.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nihal Vrana

    I think that Chris Ware is a generational genius and Jimmy Corrigan is in my top 10 list of thebest books I have read. But I found his taste in comics kinda...crappy. Comics are boring when they are only about Superheroes, but they are equally, or even more boring, when they are about the innanities of daily life. One existential BS after another (there is even an existential BS about how many existential BSs are out there; it was that bad) and it kinda choked me. There were gems of course here I think that Chris Ware is a generational genius and Jimmy Corrigan is in my top 10 list of thebest books I have read. But I found his taste in comics kinda...crappy. Comics are boring when they are only about Superheroes, but they are equally, or even more boring, when they are about the innanities of daily life. One existential BS after another (there is even an existential BS about how many existential BSs are out there; it was that bad) and it kinda choked me. There were gems of course here and there but this is the weakest collection of this series that I have read. I also took a bit of offense about the inclusion of Crumb's daughter. If her surname was Kromp, would she be in this collection? I strongly doubt that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I love these collections. I usually get to find new artists/comicstrippers to try out and scope the tried but true favorites. These anthologies are also usually a great introduction for friends unfamiliar with the indie comic world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    When you buy a book with a title like The Best American Comics 2007, you're obviously going to go into it with a certain preconceived notion of the book's quality. In fact, you might even set your expectations for the stories contained within its pages so high that you set yourself up to be let down. I feel that this scenario might have indeed been the case with a few of the critics whose personal biases led them to pan the book, but in my estimation it does not disappoint. Some have quibbled wi When you buy a book with a title like The Best American Comics 2007, you're obviously going to go into it with a certain preconceived notion of the book's quality. In fact, you might even set your expectations for the stories contained within its pages so high that you set yourself up to be let down. I feel that this scenario might have indeed been the case with a few of the critics whose personal biases led them to pan the book, but in my estimation it does not disappoint. Some have quibbled with this book for something as simple as its title, claiming it is somewhat of a misnomer. That the contents of the book are quite excellent is not a matter of debate, but these stories being designated "the best" has gotten under some people's skin when in their mind other, more outstanding works were left out. I admit there were one or two selections that left me scratching my head as to why they were given a place in this collection. For my tastes, the more esoteric works like those of C.F. or Paper Rad left me feeling cold; they seemed to be sketchily drawn and nonsensical simply for the sake of being "out there," that the emperor had no clothes. But that choice of word, "taste," was very apt, for by its very nature, an anthology such as this one cannot please everyone. It cannot include every great story of the past year (which is why the publishers include a list in the back of the book of 100 Distinguished Comics not included in the anthology), and not every story is going to be one you will personally enjoy. But that simple fact does not mean that the things you don't like don't deserve to be included. Surely such a compilation as this one is designed to create controversy, to spark debate about what the best of the best should be, and I have no doubt that a desire to invite discussion was factored into the decision to place certain stories on this list. In the end, I think any one of us would be hard-pressed to find better comics released in the past year that fit all the criteria for inclusion, such as length, geographical location of the creators, or the time period in which it was published. The logistics of creating a "best of" anthology also factor into another criticism: an overabundance of stories in the vein of autobiography. Admittedly, as a fan of that genre, the prevalence of that type of story did not affect me, and I still felt it had enough variety, with stories of real life being told with humor, as philosophical exercises, or with a historical bent. But I also wondered if that genre-specificity might not just be reflecting a trend in the industry at present. If that's the case, you cannot fault a yearly anthology for echoing the year in which it was released. Additionally, the perceived genre bias of this book might be an issue of publication rights. Autobiographical stories tend to be creator-owned, and thus the people that created the stories gladly submit their work for inclusion in such an anthology as this one and are grateful to be included. Many of the noteworthy stories in other genres such as science fiction, fantasy, or superhero are published by the most mainstream of publishers and are thus most likely off-limits, since corporations hold the rights to them. A final criticism I've read is that the book is filled with the usual suspects, that most of the creators featured in the book are the same artists we saw in last year's anthology. It's true that many of the names in the table of contents might be familiar, names like Adrian Tomine, Alison Bechdel, Seth, and Art Spiegelman. But does the presence of these creators really illustrate a problem that the same artists are too often the recipients of what little critical and media recognition comics get? I don't think so. The simpler answer would be that these artists clearly deserve to be highly regarded, since they repeatedly create works that are noteworthy. That notion brings me to my only actual problem with the book, that because of my familiarity of some of the artists, I had read many of the pieces before. Having come across approximately a third of the book in other forms already, it failed to have the same impact on me that it might have had to a reader coming in with fresh eyes. Despite some familiar contents, there were still stories in the book that I hadn't read which I enjoyed, such as the pieces by local St. Louis artists that were included, Dan Zettwoch's historical "Won't Be Licked" and Kevin Huizenga's philosophical "Glenn in Bed." Yes, many of the inclusions in the book do come from the same sources. Eight of the 39 pieces came out of the Fantagraphics anthology Mome, and another five came from Buenaventure Press' Kramer's Ergot. If you're already a reader of those anthologies, you might come up a bit disappointed, but they are still quality pieces deserving of a place in this book. Jonathan Bennett's "Needles and Pins" was a story I had already read in Mome, but I was happy to read it again here. Even if you read a large variety of indie books, there's sure to be something to surprise and delight you. At the very least, a long-time fan of indies could read and enjoy the introduction by this year's guest editor Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library), which contains musings on the artform and a discussion of the difficult tasks involved in putting together an anthology (including some points which address the critiques I've outlined here). Also, the authors' notes provide us with insight into what was going through each of the artists' heads during the creative process. In the end, whether you come to this book with firmly established firsthand knowledge of the works included therein or you're completely a blank slate, you will find your purchase of The Best American Comics 2007 to be money well spent. If nothing else, it'll be an excellent addition to your bookshelf: you'll have all these great stories in one volume that is easy to loan out to friends to prove that there are quality comics out there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Martinez

    This book is now 12 years old, which: (1) makes me feel old and (2) means that I have, by the grace of public libraries now read a surprising fraction of the authors included here, and even the specific works. However, for the longer graphic novels, it's nice to be reminded of some striking panels as well as details I had forgotten ("Wimbledon Green," the diary of Alison Bechdel as a child): for books I have read, I still enjoyed rereading the samples. This book unfortunately is coming across my This book is now 12 years old, which: (1) makes me feel old and (2) means that I have, by the grace of public libraries now read a surprising fraction of the authors included here, and even the specific works. However, for the longer graphic novels, it's nice to be reminded of some striking panels as well as details I had forgotten ("Wimbledon Green," the diary of Alison Bechdel as a child): for books I have read, I still enjoyed rereading the samples. This book unfortunately is coming across my eyes at the very weeks that I am realizing that I probably need reading glasses, and as a result some of the shrunken, intensely colored panels tried my patience. Favorites: R. Crumb - Winta Wundaland C. Tyler - Bad Seed Lauren Weinstein - John & I Go to The Movies Gabrielle Bell - California Journal Jonathan Bennett - Needles & Pins *** love the disappearing foot Sammy Harkham - Lubavitch, Ukraine, 1876 Dan Zettwock - Won't Be Licked! The Great '37 Flood in Louisville *** makes me want to go there

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dakota Morgan

    Solid edition of the yearly comics collection, although, as always, it was a grab bag of genres, so if you're not particularly interested autobiographical comics (fictional or non-fictional), this edition might not have much for you. There were only two real history comics, plus a handful of completely off-the-wall comics that met the series editor's assertion in the intro that comics are great because anything can happen. I would say I was 75% pleased with what was in the collection - par for t Solid edition of the yearly comics collection, although, as always, it was a grab bag of genres, so if you're not particularly interested autobiographical comics (fictional or non-fictional), this edition might not have much for you. There were only two real history comics, plus a handful of completely off-the-wall comics that met the series editor's assertion in the intro that comics are great because anything can happen. I would say I was 75% pleased with what was in the collection - par for the course.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon Hewelt

    Solid collection, reflecting not only the "best" comics of 2007, but the "best" of those that reflect the sensibilities of Chris Ware: a comic artist I quite admire.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    In what is perhaps a deliberate contrast to editor Chris Ware's own precise and mannered work, most of the pieces in The Best American Comics 2007 display a certain... looseness of style. This is not a bad thing, but it does imply that some adjectives beyond "Best" and "American" should apply to the comics collected here. Series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore recognizes this as well...Even with 39 stories, and my list of 100 Distinguished Comics, this volume seems insufficient to provide a true sli In what is perhaps a deliberate contrast to editor Chris Ware's own precise and mannered work, most of the pieces in The Best American Comics 2007 display a certain... looseness of style. This is not a bad thing, but it does imply that some adjectives beyond "Best" and "American" should apply to the comics collected here. Series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore recognizes this as well...Even with 39 stories, and my list of 100 Distinguished Comics, this volume seems insufficient to provide a true slice of the actual best American comics from the past year. —p.xvYou will find no CGI stars from summer spectaculars in this anthology, no musclebound super-heroes presented other than ironically, nothing created strictly according to a house style by a team of pencilers, inkers and letterers... What you will see in The Best American Comics 2007 are snapshots from some of the finest creators of sequential art that Ware and Moore could bring together—independent artists, whether individuals or small collectives, whose work is often intensely personal, emotional and raw. There's an excerpt from Alison Bechdel's amazing autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home. Eisner and Pulitzer award-winner Art Spiegelman makes an autobiographical appearance as well. Lynda Barry is here, with some of "Ernie Pook's Comeek." The Crumbs show up, too—Robert, Aline and daughter Sophie. Other names to conjure with—at least for those who pay attention to these things—include Ben Katchor, Ivan Brunetti and Adrian Tomine. Sammy Harkham's "Lubavitch, Ukraine, 1876" blends almost seamlessly with Miriam Katin's "Untitled (The List)." Gilbert Hernández of "Love and Rockets" brings us "Fritz After Dark," a graphic (in multiple senses) entry that has a few things to say about the power of the male gaze, and of she who is gazed upon. The anthology ends with a compelling and well-drawn biography from Dan Zettwoch called "Won't Be Licked! The Great '37 Flood in Louisville," which for me—as someone who grew up in the shadow of a similar floodwall along the Ohio River, and who has seen boaters in flooded streets much more recently than 1937—struck very close to home. Don't miss the credits that roll at the end of the book, either; each one contains a paragraph or so of autobiography—usually self-deprecating and funny—from the artists who appear. Early on, The Best American Comics 2007 helped cement the reputation of this ongoing series, and it remains worth reading nearly a decade later. Recommended, both individually and collectively.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    ok... i'm going to add my voice to the din of complaints that this book has received thus far in its brief shelf life...although i think my problem with it will not be the same as what other curmudgeonous types might think... as far as i know the issues that have been raised already revolve around the fact that all the selections in the book are excerpts from larger works and not enough shorter complete pieces were included... this is not my issue... my issue is the comics SUCK!!.... ok, i'll back of ok... i'm going to add my voice to the din of complaints that this book has received thus far in its brief shelf life...although i think my problem with it will not be the same as what other curmudgeonous types might think... as far as i know the issues that have been raised already revolve around the fact that all the selections in the book are excerpts from larger works and not enough shorter complete pieces were included... this is not my issue... my issue is the comics SUCK!!.... ok, i'll back off that stance and be a little more articulate... the comics STINK!!!! just kidding... here's the deal...there's a term in art i want to discuss...the term is "naive"...it isn't meant to describe a gullible simpleton... in art, it merely means someone who is not schooled in any way or is self taught or has simply never picked up a brush or pencil before... usually the work is primitive, sometimes harshly simple, raw, and very minimalist in nature, but will have some distinctive charm that serves to raise it above the teeming masses of talentless multitudes... now, there is definitely a place for this kind of work in the comic world just as there is in the art world...rousseau comes to mind...and jeffrey brown.. my problem with 'best' american comics 2007 is that this the only school of thought that is being represented...the entire book is basically comprised of naive artists...in a publication that is meant to highlight the work of an entire medium for an entire year should be much much much more discerning in the choices it makes... i don't mind looking at and reading naive work, but i also want to see work that is done by artists who feel aesthetics are important...because they are!!... i think chris ware, the fellow who edited the collection, was nervous about the job because of the hyper detailed and highly aesthetically driven quality of his own work...he must have freaked and overcompensated to the opposite end of the continuum... so if you were thinking of picking this book up understand that its very naive...if you dig that sort of thing then fine, but if you don't buy the ivan brunetti edited 'anthology of graphic fiction'...volume 2 is about to come out as well...i found it much more satisfying than either of the best comics series....(the first was 2006 and was edited by harvey pekar...it was marginally better, but didn't make a lasting impression on me...)

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    after two years, the best american comics series is definitely off to a good start, and i hope that they keep publishing these because it's about time that comics got the recognition that they deserve in the literary world, but let's call this edition the sophmore slump. after the wide variety of stuff (happy, sad, introspective, funny, superhero, autobiography, etc.) that guest editor harvey pekar put together for the first edition, chris ware's (guest editor this time) decision to pick a lot of after two years, the best american comics series is definitely off to a good start, and i hope that they keep publishing these because it's about time that comics got the recognition that they deserve in the literary world, but let's call this edition the sophmore slump. after the wide variety of stuff (happy, sad, introspective, funny, superhero, autobiography, etc.) that guest editor harvey pekar put together for the first edition, chris ware's (guest editor this time) decision to pick a lot of weird art/film school-style f^(%ery this time around was rather disappointing and while the art is captivating 80% of the time the text starts to feel a little repetitive after 300+ pages. i'd actually feel much more comfortable giving this a 3.5 but that is sadly not an option. even the exerpt found here from the horror-of-teenage-life-meets-the-horror-of-david-cronenberg black hole focuses more on the teenage-angst part than anything else. of course, what's the purpose of anthologies like this if you don't discover something/someone new, and that's certainly the case here. where before i knew i only really wanted to read charles burns's black hole now i have to read it; art spiegelman's all-too-brief "portrait of the artist as a young %@?*!" is heartwarming, funny, and above-all, slightly skewed and twisted; the excerpt from jeffrey brown's little things is endearing in an indie-rock-doofus kind of way; gilbert hernandez's "fritz after dark" is a love/lust letter to russ meyer, r. crumb, and ed wood, jr. all rolled into one; and kim deitch's "no midgets in midgetville!" is particularly of interest to the weird n.j. crowd. the rest? eeehhh...the rest isn't necessarily my thing, but that doesn't mean i'm not looking forward to next year's edition.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Trane

    Chris Ware's 2007 selections for The Best American Comics are as good as I could possibly imagine them to be, though there are few surprises if you're already tapped into the underground/alternative comics scene. Work included in this volume includes comics by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Crumbs (of all sorts), the absolute genius Lynda Barry, Ron Regé Jr., Sammy Harkham, Adrian Tomine, Ben Katchor, Gilbert Hernandez (but no Jaime!), Charles Burns, Seth, and many, many, much much more. The Chris Ware's 2007 selections for The Best American Comics are as good as I could possibly imagine them to be, though there are few surprises if you're already tapped into the underground/alternative comics scene. Work included in this volume includes comics by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Crumbs (of all sorts), the absolute genius Lynda Barry, Ron Regé Jr., Sammy Harkham, Adrian Tomine, Ben Katchor, Gilbert Hernandez (but no Jaime!), Charles Burns, Seth, and many, many, much much more. The volume is beautifully printed and the cover alone is just about worth the price of admission. If you're unfamiliar with the amazing underground/alternative comic work that's being produced today, then you owe it to yourself to have a look at this volume. If you're already familiar with this work, then this is a nice collection of disparate pieces that you can turn to from time to time (and you probably don't already own everything by all of these authors). I basically only have two complaints about The Best American Comics 2007: (1) Since the criteria for inclusion is publication between August 31, 2005 and September 1, 2006 this means that none of the comics in the "best of" 2007 are from 2007. Worse still, many of these works were produced much earlier (some of the Regé work is labeled "97"). All of the work is great, but it's strange to see work a decade old showing up in a "best of 2007" collection. (2) Many of the pieces printed are excerpts and because of this they feel (necessarily) incomplete. I don't think there's much that could have been done about this, but I still don't love it. There does seem to be a logic to the order that the pieces were put in, but sometimes the transition between these pieces feels like an unnatural splice rather than a well-planned jump cut.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    It was pretty good. Had some home runs and some total duds. There was a decent amount of variety. The abstract ones were most interesting to me, mainly for the illustrations. "C.F"'s "Blond Atchen and the Bumble Boys, and Paper Rad's "Kramer's Ergot" both seemed psychedelic inspired, and were some of the most experimental comics in the book in addition to David Heatley's comic dream diary. I was seriously taken in by his Heatley's portrayal irrational things are going on which make total sense a It was pretty good. Had some home runs and some total duds. There was a decent amount of variety. The abstract ones were most interesting to me, mainly for the illustrations. "C.F"'s "Blond Atchen and the Bumble Boys, and Paper Rad's "Kramer's Ergot" both seemed psychedelic inspired, and were some of the most experimental comics in the book in addition to David Heatley's comic dream diary. I was seriously taken in by his Heatley's portrayal irrational things are going on which make total sense at the time. His several entries were my top picks for the book. The main flaw IMHO is that there isn't much excitement in this. Where are the space machines and supernatural demon gods or ghosts or ANY cool thing which you can display in the visual medium? Most of the comics were of this tired indie comic trend of making graphic style memoir stories or boy problem/ girl problems tales. ---However, some of those were pretty good as well so I cant complain too much. Other positives: Historical pieces, newspaper style comics, high relative proportion of jews, extremely well put together book. Related to that last bit, the cover price was $22.00?? Like I said, its a beautifully made book which supposedly justified such a price. High quality binding and printing. Even better: if you remove the dust jacket you'll find 2 bonus Heatley comics on the inside and a cool panoramic image spread across the front and back of the uncovered book. But the stories aren't $22.00 proof. Why did I read a book from 2007? Because it was on sale at Borders for less than 5 dollars, possibly at their closing sale. Well worth that price if you can find it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tony Laplume

    Enjoyable, inasofar as these indy comix tend to be. And "indy comix," insofar as Chris Ware (and probably everyone else) is concerned, is mostly autobiographical and/or gonzo storytelling. So that's the short form of what to expect here. The long-form includes an excerpt from Alison Bechdel's Fun House, which was the most notable release of the "grading period" for Best American Comics 2007. Depending on if you know what I'm talking about even with that, you may or may not be further interested in Enjoyable, inasofar as these indy comix tend to be. And "indy comix," insofar as Chris Ware (and probably everyone else) is concerned, is mostly autobiographical and/or gonzo storytelling. So that's the short form of what to expect here. The long-form includes an excerpt from Alison Bechdel's Fun House, which was the most notable release of the "grading period" for Best American Comics 2007. Depending on if you know what I'm talking about even with that, you may or may not be further interested in this collection. There's also work from Charles Burns (Black Hole), R. Crumb (plus assorted family members), Gilbert Hernandez, and Art Spiegelman. As editor Ware is another measuring rod. Do you know who he is? Because he's one of the biggest and most respected names in this field, along with Spiegelman (Maus) and the late Harvey Pekar. Some of the material and creators slightly more people will have heard of are listed at the back of the collection (but not otherwise represented in excerpts), including Sergio Aragones, Brian Azzarello, Kyle Baker's Plastic Man, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez's Love and Rockets, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, Brian K. Vaughan's Y the Last Man, and Brian Wood's Local. As someone who likes their titles to be accurate, a collection with that work would have been more accurate. The stuff actually included can be entertaining, and it can also seem very, very random, and hopefully not uniformly the best Chris Ware was able to find. Still, it was mostly fun reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

    After reading Alison Bechdel's Fun House, I thought I would give more graphic novels a try. I feel like an old man for not giving graphic novels/ comics a shot a while ago, but I think I'm starting to get it. As an inherently self-reflexive (and often self-deprecating) form of art, comics are, in many ways, a powerfully suitable art form for these times. These are good, and the book does what its suppose to do, attract new people to this art form. It takes splices or chapters out of larger works After reading Alison Bechdel's Fun House, I thought I would give more graphic novels a try. I feel like an old man for not giving graphic novels/ comics a shot a while ago, but I think I'm starting to get it. As an inherently self-reflexive (and often self-deprecating) form of art, comics are, in many ways, a powerfully suitable art form for these times. These are good, and the book does what its suppose to do, attract new people to this art form. It takes splices or chapters out of larger works in order to give you a taste of the best comic writers out there. Unfortunately it's a bit of a cocktease and I'm not sure most of the books would be stand up to a full book. Many of them read like a lap dance; it is entertaining for the short and shallow run, but you are pretty sure you don't wanna go all the way through with it. Often times, the self-embraced nerdom of the comics was honest and refreshing, sometimes it smacks of annoying competitive cultural relevance (multiple entries referenced ultracool bands like Pavement, Smog, or even Andrew Bird). Other times, there were new ways of giving sincere emotive power to things as trivial as teenage angst as well as to thing as large as the Holocaust. Long story short, there is a huge field and alot of talent out there, this book is a pleasant, but fragmented, dip into graphic novels. Not sure if I am gunna go out and buy anymore, but it was a pleasant escape from "normal" books anyway.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    There are at least two things wrong with this title. First, these comics are not all from 2007. Second, if this is the "best" 2007 has to offer, then America might as well pack it in when it comes to comics and only rely on artsy French imports and cheap generic manga. This collection lures you in with promises of Alison Bechdel! Charles Burns! A Hernandez brother! R. and Aline Crumb! Lynda Barry! Art Spiegelman! But anyone who would be interested in the Bechdel will have read Fun Home already, t There are at least two things wrong with this title. First, these comics are not all from 2007. Second, if this is the "best" 2007 has to offer, then America might as well pack it in when it comes to comics and only rely on artsy French imports and cheap generic manga. This collection lures you in with promises of Alison Bechdel! Charles Burns! A Hernandez brother! R. and Aline Crumb! Lynda Barry! Art Spiegelman! But anyone who would be interested in the Bechdel will have read Fun Home already, the Burns piece is one of the more boring sections of Black Hole and the Hernandez brother is Gilbert (the Crumb, Barry and Spiegelman pieces are good, though). Chris Ware, whose work I usually love, inexplicably focused on autobiographical comics for much of the book, and even worse, included some of those awful faux-autobiographical comics about boring people with boring lives. A lot of the artwork is substandard, which is sometimes slightly acceptable when the writing is good, but the writing is bland and awful. I can only hope that this is a massive prank on Ware's part, sort of a Dadaist anti-art project, because I don't want to see this kind of stuff-scribbled-in-a-tenth-grader's-math-notebook praised as the "best" and encouraged. Sequential art has the potential to be so much better than this.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul Schulzetenberg

    This book is 100% dedicated to its art form. This is evident as soon as you examine the dust jacket and realize that every available space, even the inside of the dust jacket, is covered in comics. And the love with which the volume was put together shows. These are indeed great comics, without a superhero comic among them. This is the kind of comics that I love, the kind that read like a drama, rather than an action movie. The strong comics just keep coming. Some of the artists I knew, like Art This book is 100% dedicated to its art form. This is evident as soon as you examine the dust jacket and realize that every available space, even the inside of the dust jacket, is covered in comics. And the love with which the volume was put together shows. These are indeed great comics, without a superhero comic among them. This is the kind of comics that I love, the kind that read like a drama, rather than an action movie. The strong comics just keep coming. Some of the artists I knew, like Art Spiegelman, R. Crumb, and Lynda Barry, but others I was completely unfamiliar with. Many of the strongest pieces came from artists I had never read before, and will be glad to check out. The juxtaposition of styles is also quite fascinating, from the lushly drawn, sparse dialogue mood pieces, to the word-heavy, story-driven pieces. Seeing how various artists tackle the same emotions and moods is definitely worth studying. This is an excellent gateway to comics. It has given me a whole list of names that I will be pursuing, and I will definitely be checking out the other collections in this series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Penelope

    For some reason it took me forever to get through this book. Thumbs up: "The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death" (excerpt from Fun Home) by Alison Bechdel "Just a Bad Seed" and "Once, We Ran" by C. Tyler "Glenn in Bed" by Kevin Huizenga "No Midgets in Midgetville" by Kim Deitch "Won't Be Licked! The Great '37 Flood in Louisville" by Dan Zettwoch Thumbs down: "Fuc 1997: We Share a Happy Secret, But Beware, Because the Modern World Emerges" by Ron Rege Jr (loved the aesthetics, but so tedious to read) "Untitl For some reason it took me forever to get through this book. Thumbs up: "The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death" (excerpt from Fun Home) by Alison Bechdel "Just a Bad Seed" and "Once, We Ran" by C. Tyler "Glenn in Bed" by Kevin Huizenga "No Midgets in Midgetville" by Kim Deitch "Won't Be Licked! The Great '37 Flood in Louisville" by Dan Zettwoch Thumbs down: "Fuc 1997: We Share a Happy Secret, But Beware, Because the Modern World Emerges" by Ron Rege Jr (loved the aesthetics, but so tedious to read) "Untitled (Discrete Operations Vehicle--Burning Gall) by Gary Panter (I'm sorry--I just don't "get" Gary Panter's comics...ugh) "Meet the Dropouts" by Tim Hensley There are some others that I just felt "meh" about..."Kramer's Ergot" by Paper Rad was definitely one those. The style is cool, trippy, and interesting but ultimately it just made me think "ok...but who cares?" Definitely some good pieces in this collection though.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    this book did exactly what i wanted it to do for me: get me started on comics/graphic novels. i had no idea where to begin, so i started here. it contained work i liked, and work i didn't. i followed up on the ones i liked, getting works by the same artists/authors (what is the proper term for someone who creates comics??), and i'm going from there. i don't really care whether or not this book contained really the "best" comics of 2007... that's such a subjective endeavor, anyway. i enjoyed read this book did exactly what i wanted it to do for me: get me started on comics/graphic novels. i had no idea where to begin, so i started here. it contained work i liked, and work i didn't. i followed up on the ones i liked, getting works by the same artists/authors (what is the proper term for someone who creates comics??), and i'm going from there. i don't really care whether or not this book contained really the "best" comics of 2007... that's such a subjective endeavor, anyway. i enjoyed reading this book, and it's a fun one to have on my shelf. NOTE: don't miss the info at the end of the book, providing bios of each author, including a little description/overview/interpretation of the comic which is in the collection. it was very interesting and i wish i had read them all before, or immediately after, i read each comic in the book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sundry

    If it were more consistent, I would easily give this collection 4 or 5 stars. Some of it is just wonderful. But the stuff I don't like I don't like almost passionately! It shouldn't surprise me given that I recently read Chris Ware's book Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth, and I wasn't too taken with that. The strips I don't like in this collection are the ones that deal with dreams, which was part of what I found disconcerting in JC. That said, this collection did turn me on to a few artists If it were more consistent, I would easily give this collection 4 or 5 stars. Some of it is just wonderful. But the stuff I don't like I don't like almost passionately! It shouldn't surprise me given that I recently read Chris Ware's book Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth, and I wasn't too taken with that. The strips I don't like in this collection are the ones that deal with dreams, which was part of what I found disconcerting in JC. That said, this collection did turn me on to a few artists whose work I am definitely going to find more of. Especially Miriam Katin, Dan Zettwoch and Seth. Lynda Barry I already knew, and it was good to see her included. Also enjoyed R. Crumb's contribution and the R. Crumb-like Kim Dietch's strip.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Almost gave this 3 stars, but there was some really great, near genius sequential art/storytelling in here. But there was also some absolute crap that I can't understand how it got published, let alone got into the BEST American Comics anthology. It doesn't have to have great art to be worthwhile, but some of the artwork was very disapointing with pointless stories. Well, obviously I'm missing something that Chris Ware saw. Several pages of a character searching for a song he heard in a record s Almost gave this 3 stars, but there was some really great, near genius sequential art/storytelling in here. But there was also some absolute crap that I can't understand how it got published, let alone got into the BEST American Comics anthology. It doesn't have to have great art to be worthwhile, but some of the artwork was very disapointing with pointless stories. Well, obviously I'm missing something that Chris Ware saw. Several pages of a character searching for a song he heard in a record store just felt like an excuse for the artist to list some of his favorite musicians and some of their lyrics. That would be ok if the art blew mw away, or impressed me, or was at least decent. Hmmm.. maybe I'm just in a bad mood - the good stuff far outweighed the bad stuff in this anthology, though.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    I guess I need another format "shelf", as I think I said with the 2008 Best American Comics. I didn't enjoy this edition as much as I enjoyed the one edited by Lynda Barry; this anthology in general probably reveals the most about the editor's personal aesthetic than any of the other "Best American ..." collections, though each one of those shifts with the tastes of the current editor as well. My only quibble with the Best American Comic series is that so many of the comics are taken from much l I guess I need another format "shelf", as I think I said with the 2008 Best American Comics. I didn't enjoy this edition as much as I enjoyed the one edited by Lynda Barry; this anthology in general probably reveals the most about the editor's personal aesthetic than any of the other "Best American ..." collections, though each one of those shifts with the tastes of the current editor as well. My only quibble with the Best American Comic series is that so many of the comics are taken from much longer works; it's almost as if the series started a "Best American Novel Excerpts" or "Best American Full-Length Memoir" collection and then only published a chapter. It's odd and jarring. Again, these comic/graphic collections probably serve best as a way to discover new artists and not exactly as a stand-alone representative of the best American comics/graphics of the past year.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This book is a compendium of (mostly) entertaining comics. There are some obvious inclusions, such as excerpts from the acclaimed Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Art Spiegelman’s Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!. There is some truly lovely artwork here, and some that is amateurish and poor. Likewise, the plotlines range from engaging to totally nonsensical and pointless. My personal favorite was a delightful historical story called Won’t be Licked! The Great ’37 Flood in This book is a compendium of (mostly) entertaining comics. There are some obvious inclusions, such as excerpts from the acclaimed Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Art Spiegelman’s Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!. There is some truly lovely artwork here, and some that is amateurish and poor. Likewise, the plotlines range from engaging to totally nonsensical and pointless. My personal favorite was a delightful historical story called Won’t be Licked! The Great ’37 Flood in Louisville.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    The tricky thing about anthologies is that they contain such different texts. I think what really made me lose my focus on this anthology was that the comics presented were so unrelated that it felt jarring switching from one writer/artist's work to the next. Some of the works caught my attention completely (John Porcellino's, Art Spiegelman's, Jonathan Bennett's, and most of all the one about watching loved ones sleep). However, there were enough that didn't fit with my taste (notably the Krame The tricky thing about anthologies is that they contain such different texts. I think what really made me lose my focus on this anthology was that the comics presented were so unrelated that it felt jarring switching from one writer/artist's work to the next. Some of the works caught my attention completely (John Porcellino's, Art Spiegelman's, Jonathan Bennett's, and most of all the one about watching loved ones sleep). However, there were enough that didn't fit with my taste (notably the Kramer's Ergot trippy strange work near the end of the anthology) that kept me skimming rather than enthralled. This is a good collection for puttering around and occasionally flipping to a work, but reading it end to end can made me feel less appreciative of the individual works.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    chris ware edited this. He points out that art used to be sequential, illustrative, and "sentimental". (At least christian art throughout the ages.) Then only recently art became conceptual. But comics brings it back to something more primal and real and intimate. I love good comics. david heatley, anders nilson, and c.f. stand out in this collection, but most of the other stuff, you couldn't read to your kids as bedtime stories. In fact you probably shouldn't read them at all. Its all aesthetic chris ware edited this. He points out that art used to be sequential, illustrative, and "sentimental". (At least christian art throughout the ages.) Then only recently art became conceptual. But comics brings it back to something more primal and real and intimate. I love good comics. david heatley, anders nilson, and c.f. stand out in this collection, but most of the other stuff, you couldn't read to your kids as bedtime stories. In fact you probably shouldn't read them at all. Its all aesthetically gorgeous, but the aesthetics don't trump my moral queasiness. Art has nothing at all to do with morality.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    As has been mentioned this collection feels woefully limp and padded by the most expected comics artists. Do we really need any story Crumb tosses off anthologized? Chris Ware's introduction really does clarify that the book is more concerned with personal tastes than representation, so suppose I can't fault it in light of such a goal. However, to the extent that he all but apologizes for not throwing Clowes in as well shows exactly how insular this collection comes off. That all said I enjoyed H As has been mentioned this collection feels woefully limp and padded by the most expected comics artists. Do we really need any story Crumb tosses off anthologized? Chris Ware's introduction really does clarify that the book is more concerned with personal tastes than representation, so suppose I can't fault it in light of such a goal. However, to the extent that he all but apologizes for not throwing Clowes in as well shows exactly how insular this collection comes off. That all said I enjoyed Huizenga enough that I'll finally start picking up more of his stuff, so its certainly worth a browse.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Two Readers in Love

    “A reader never knows when she or he has fallen into solipsism and mistaken the familiar for the great.” (Preface, p. xv) As series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore says in the preface, anthologies are designed to both challenge and expand your taste; for me, this anthology succeeds on both counts. Someone who has already read more deeply in the genre will want to check the Table of Contents before buying, to make sure that it contains enough new material for it to be worthwhile for him or her. Also, “A reader never knows when she or he has fallen into solipsism and mistaken the familiar for the great.” (Preface, p. xv) As series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore says in the preface, anthologies are designed to both challenge and expand your taste; for me, this anthology succeeds on both counts. Someone who has already read more deeply in the genre will want to check the Table of Contents before buying, to make sure that it contains enough new material for it to be worthwhile for him or her. Also, be aware that this book includes experts from longer works, which will leave you hungry for more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    I enjoyed reading this, but I have to admit that I thought that the exerpts could have been better selected. The one that I had read before picking this up--Black Hole by Charles Burns--didn't seem well represented. A couple were very cool; a futuristic and really confusing color comic by the mysterious "CF", and one man's memoir of the great flood of...St. Louis? (will fix later). Most of the others didn't make me want to run out and find the other full length comics, even though I would probabl I enjoyed reading this, but I have to admit that I thought that the exerpts could have been better selected. The one that I had read before picking this up--Black Hole by Charles Burns--didn't seem well represented. A couple were very cool; a futuristic and really confusing color comic by the mysterious "CF", and one man's memoir of the great flood of...St. Louis? (will fix later). Most of the others didn't make me want to run out and find the other full length comics, even though I would probably enjoy them...

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