PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Comics

Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics, and Manga

Dante A. Ciampaglia

If you have little to no familiarity with any of the novels, comics or manga in the book, you're likely going to find more than a few pieces that catch your interest.

Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics, and Manga

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Length: 272
Price: $19.95
Item Type: Comic
Publication Date: 2006-02
Amazon

The concept of putting together a compilation of the year's best graphically illustrated work is fantastic. There are so many comics, graphic novels and the like released over a twelve-month period that it's inevitable that something daring or inspired will slip through the cracks. And with more and more great work coming from smaller presses and not-as-well-known creators, a volume that pulls what's deemed to be the best of the best is handy.

And on that level, Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics, and Manga succeeds brilliantly. Its 272 pages include an introduction from Neil Gaiman and write-ups on fifteen graphic novels, eleven stand-out monthly comics issues and four manga series, all designed for both seasoned comics fans and newcomers to the medium. The line-up is diverse, too. Blankets, Superman: Secret Identity, Scott Pilgrim, Blacksad, Suspended in Language, and The Original, a group of work that cuts across the spectrum of styles, moods and subject matter, are represented in the Graphic Novels section of the book. Similarly, in the Comics group, pages from Batman and Plastic Man are found alongside pages from Demo, Fables and Love and Rockets.

For a broad scoped introduction to quality work, Year's Best is a can't miss. But the book ultimately becomes a big tease.

Credit editors Howard Zimmerman and the late Byron Preiss for selecting choice cuts from the works included in the book; they've picked some great things. And if you have little to no familiarity with any of the novels, comics or manga in the book, you're likely going to find more than a few pieces that catch your interest. But reading through Year's Best is like going to a music store and listening to a 30-second sample of a great song at a listening station: the sample is predetermined, and if you're intrigued enough to want to hear the rest of the song or album you'll have to buy the album.

Those listening stations are, admittedly, selling tools. But does that mean that because you get a similar effect with this book that Year's Best is a tool to sell more copies of a group of novels, comics and manga? Possibly; after all, the writers and artists responsible for the works in the book do live in a cash-driven world.

What's more likely is that, unless you want a 1000-page behemoth, it's impossible to include every page of every work listed in the book. And that's fair enough. Like every year-end list, this one is meant to serve as a starting point to find decent works. (The fact that some of these works are from 2004 rather than 2005 and the issue of Batman included in the book, chapter three of the Hush storyline, is from 2003 is perhaps beside the point. If the Grammy's can honor albums released in 2004 as the best album of 2005, anything goes.)

Where the selections become dicey is in their length. Some snippets are only a couple pages while others are decidedly longer. Why the disparity? Is it a coincidence that the shorter pieces are from major publishers, like DC, while the longer ones tend to be more from independents? And why include manga in the book when there are only four pieces representing the genre as opposed to the 15 graphic novels and 11 comics?

These are fair questions to ask when reading through the otherwise handy guide. It's by no means a homerun as far as compilations though, more like a solid double. Hopefully this collection will enjoy the same type of success that the The Best American Series, books that highlight interesting reading readers probably missed, have enjoyed.

But perhaps future volumes of Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga would be better served by breaking it into three books, one for each genre. Grouping them together only weakens the works and their successes.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.