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The Best American Comics 2011 (Best American Comics)

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  592 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
“If you have spent a long time resisting the status quo—whether it’s in art, society, or the political world—what happens when that status quo at last gives way?
A universe of possibility opens up.”

—Alison Bechdel, from the Introduction

Featuring: Gabrielle Bell, Joe Sacco, Dash Shaw, Sabrina Jones, Chris Ware, Jillian Tamaki, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Kevin Hu
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Drawn & Quarterly Vol. 3 by Chris OliverosAbstract Comics by Andrei MolotiuNursery Rhyme Comics by Chris DuffyProject Romantic by Chris PitzerAn Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories by Ivan Brunetti
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129th out of 145 books — 6 voters
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Graphic Novels I'm Gonna Read
75th out of 77 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,055)
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Kwesi 章英狮
I read few comics and graphic novels but I appreciate those times I read and feel pleasure and disappointment with them. With its glossy and expensive paper, comic artists had become sensational or some may be inferior because of their short and minimal strips and limited paper to draw in. From that small piece of paper, they shared their experiences, happiness, corniness and everything from them that they want to share from every individual.

The Best of American Comics 2011 is a collection of co
I love taking my comics-knowledge temperature by reading this collection every year. This year, I was thrilled to see not only that it was edited by Alison Bechdel, but the cover was illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, a rising star who hasn't done nearly enough yet.

This year I'd read and reviewed many of the choices (and reviewed them here on GR), but here are some new-to-me pieces and creators I really loved. I'll be seeking out more by each of these creators:

- John Pham's piece about his elementar
Dani Peloquin
May 11, 2012 Dani Peloquin rated it liked it
I have to be honest that I'm not a great lover of comic anthologies. While I can read excerpts from novels or long essays, I have a hard time getting absorbed into a sample of a comic that is only a few panels long. At the same time, I love graphic novels. Last year I devoured about 15 if not more...I lost track. However, this year I have been lacking in the graphic novel department. It is for this reason that I thought reading this collection would point me towards some of the best comics from ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Karl rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics-manga
about 15% good. there are four or five stories in there with some heart, and maybe a few more with interesting or innovative artistry ... but for the most part this collection is just pandering to people who still think it's cool that comics can have swearing and boobs.

luckily this isn't my review of that actual state of American independent comics, just of this collection that's more interested in appearing 'out there' and 'cutting edge' than actually seeing what IS out there. this failing is

This is not the best "Best American Comics", but, like the others, it offers lots of good stuff for a variety of comics fans.

Below are my favourites, or at least the ones I found the most interesting. If you want to go in blind, like I usually do, don't read them, and just know that you'll probably find something/s/ you like in this collection.

True Rating: 3.6 Stars

My Notables:

Gabrielle Bell -- "Manifestation"
- Very feminist. About a mother, a daughter, and telling everyone that men are horrible
Jul 19, 2012 Stephen rated it did not like it
The worst of the series. Unreadable and disturbing. And I'm gonna lay this one right at the door of guest editor Alison Bechdel -- you ruined it. Alison, YOU chose some mighty disturbing excerpts that validate your alternative world views, but you simply did NOT choose the best comics of 2011.

Damn near every heterosexual act is depicted as a perversity in this tome, heterosexual men are the target of every insult, but there is plenty o' celebration over gay butt slammin' to be found herein. Don
Nov 13, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
It's pretty much impossible to truly collect the "Best" comics of the year, but series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden do an admirable job of casting a wide net, and the guest editor made a lot of good choices this year (I'm not just saying that because two of my friends made the cut). I read a lot of comics, so at least half of the book was stuff I'd seen before, but there were also a lot of impressive stories that were new to me, especially "Little House in the Big City" by Sabrina Jones, ...more
Dec 08, 2011 Penelope rated it really liked it
I thought this collection started out strong. The introduction by Alison Bechdel is great and she really revs you up and gets you excited about reading "the best" comics of the year. Maybe my excitement just wore off as I moved through the collection, but it seems like it ended on a much weaker note than it started. There are quite a few colorful comics in this installment, but most of them are clustered toward the beginning, with things becoming generally monochrome around the middle and end. A ...more
Feb 15, 2013 Ott rated it really liked it
Shelves: koomiksid, own
Kogumikega on alati see jama, et nad on veidi eklektilised. Heast asjast saad ainult maitse suhu, igav staff on aga alati liiga pikk. Samas, võrreldes mõne muu kogumikuga, on BAC ikka päris hea sari, sest sinna valitakse üpris suurest hulgast koomiksitest tõesti parimad. Seda tunnistab juba see, et koomiksite puhul, mis mulle seal eriti ei meeldi, saan ma siiski aru miks nad seal on. St nad on millegi poolest, kas siis joonistuslaadi, loojutustamise vms poolest originaalsed, kuigi ma väga huvita ...more
Nov 16, 2013 Ollie rated it really liked it
I credit the Best American Comics (BAC) series with expanding my horizons of what comics are doing these days. The more I read them, the more obvious it becomes that conventional superhero comics are boring in comparison. Volume 2011 has some great entries edited by Alison Bechdel and it's nice to see Bechdel include both male and female creators after briefly touching on how women are underrepresented in comics today, and also in this collection. I guess it's not up to Bechdel to disrupt the ba ...more
Andy Shuping
Sep 10, 2011 Andy Shuping rated it liked it
ARC provided by netgalley

This continuing series is a great chance to get a look at some comics that you might not otherwise see. While it does have some big names, such as Jeff Smith, other names such as Robert Sergel, Allison Sayers, and Kate Beaton are lesser known names that have a chance to be introduced to a wider population. The introduction to this volume is written by the effervescent Allison Bechdel and as always provides an enlightening look into the comic book industry from a differen
Oct 10, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it
This is a real good edition, definitely my favorite of the six produced in this series thus far. Alison Bechdel did a fine job of choosing a diversity of comics and creators here, with an eye towards innovative work that pushes the boundaries of the medium. No out-and-out clunkers for me here and several real winners.

One of the best things about these BAC collections is that they can expose even alt-comics junkies like me to creators they’d never heard of. Two fine examples this time around are
Aug 17, 2011 Jackie rated it it was ok
I definitely didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would (hence the 2 stars), which is not to say that it won't be appreciated by the majority of readers. While I generally enjoy comics and graphic novels because they're fun, unreal escapism, the majority of these comics were, well, harsh. There was a tendency for the stories to be very sad or ugly, sometimes in way that was beautiful, but more often in a way that was just depressing.

The Best American Comics 2011 (unsurprisingly) showcases wh
Mar 26, 2012 SA rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2012
To be honest, I pick these up mostly for the guest editors and for the off chance of discovering something wonderful I haven't read yet. A lot of the work in here just doesn't resonate with me at all. It's like a survey more than anything else, seeing what's out there for 2011. Kate Beaton was the reason I picked it up, and it was worth it to read Alison Bechdel's introduction and for the discovery of Refresh, Refresh: A Graphic Novel, which was what I liked best of what I had not already read. ...more
Eleanor Schmidt
Feb 22, 2016 Eleanor Schmidt rated it it was ok
I know that comics take up a lot of roon because they are made in panels and most stories are now book size, but My complaint is this book was just full of excerpts that made most stories not make much sense. Most of them would be better in it's entirety and some would just be better taken out because the art and story were just not there for me.
May 14, 2013 Marissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: comix
I did enjoy this anthology, especially Alison Bechdel's introduction which added some interesting context and color commentary to the selections. I thought that the pieces were well chosen and I particularly enjoyed Chris Ware's piece. He does such an incredible job of bringing subtle pathos into graphic novels and he is one of the few current artists who uses the full power of interesting layouts and different drawing styles to make an intense emotional impact that would be impossible to achiev ...more
May 11, 2012 J. rated it liked it
There are some solid-to-good things in here, but nothing that really makes me want to check out more, except for the usual (Jeff Smith, say.) I like it when these collections turn me on to artists and works I don't already know about, but this one didn't do it. Also, each BAC makes frequent use of excerpts from longer works, but in this volume, they weren't excerpted well. The bits we get don't seem even partly self-contained, and they lack significance on their own. I'm not sure what to make of ...more
Tommy Bat-Blog Brookshire
If you love Graphic Novels then these "Best American Comics" Annuals are fun to read ( Obviously, from the title, this is the one for 2011, ha! But I'm just saying that I have read a few of these in the past and have always liked them ). What I like, besides the great art/stories, is the variety. You really get a lot of different points of view here plus many different styles of art.

OK, "Three Stars" seems kinda bad but overall it was very enjoyable and really worth reading. My only complaint i
Aug 12, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
A mixed bag for me.
Stand outs were Up Up Down Down by Robert Sergel, Nov. 3, 1956 by Joe Sacco, Little House in the Big City by Sabrina Jones, Jordan W. Lint by Chris Ware, Anatomy of a Pratfall by Peter and Maria Hoey, Weekends Abroad by Eric Orner
Margaret Sankey
May 04, 2014 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
From memoirs to literary humor, this is a curated sampler of the most innovative and provocative graphic novel and comic work available in print and online (and it certainly added to my reading list--like the Best American series always does).
Nov 26, 2014 Joy added it
I think I'm becoming addicted to Alison Bechdel's quirky perspective. Her editorial selections introduced me to several new-to-me artists that I want to read further.
Dec 16, 2011 Davey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
All across the board. Read it first in a borders surrounded by local crazies taking advantage of the cafe and the pervasive smell faded in deference to the flashing of worlds across the pages. It's like if all the talented people you know came to perform/display in front of you in rapid succession. All next to each other, all different, I ended up comparing them esoterically. Apples are oranges, right? It's all fruit.

Inspirational and humbling (though I've been using that to describe a lot recen
Feb 18, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
Hm, seems like other reviews are pretty harsh on these anthologies, and Alison Bechdel's selections. I thought this anthology did step out in the direction of more disturbing/disjointed stories, but I like it when comics push me out of my comfort zone a bit. Except war stuff. Sorry Joe Sacco, your stuff is great but I can't stomach real life stories of horrible trauma. I think of these anthologies more like those old Reader's Digest books that used to the crowd the resale book table at the libra ...more
Sarah Laing
Feb 23, 2013 Sarah Laing rated it really liked it
This book is a bit of a tease (as are many Best of collections) but it gave me some pointers on who I want to read next. An excellent introduction from Alison Bechdel, of course. So now I've got to look out for Kevin Mutch (zombies!), Gabby Schulz (herpes!), Angie Wang (psychedelic drawings!), Dash Shaw (botany professor drug fiend poet!), Joey Alison Sayers (cat!), Sabrina Jones (NYC!, Julia Gförer (beautiful demonic illustrations!), Brendan Leach (again beautiful pterodactyl illos!) Also it in ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Andy rated it it was ok
Least enjoyable collection so far. Not into the styles of most of these comics.
Nov 24, 2014 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
My least favorite collection of The Best American Comics. I was not into 2011.
Mar 07, 2012 Krysten rated it liked it
I feel like Bechdel edited a way better best-of than Neil Gaiman and a lot of the other people who have edited these books. But. It still wasn't all there for me. At least there wasn't any R. Crumb, and at least the obligatory Chris Ware was mercifully short. For maybe the second time ever, I didn't skip any of the comics in this edition, for better or for worse. I didn't love the anti-Israel comic or the omg-I-has-the-herpes comic or... most of them, really, but the ones that were good were REA ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Amazing collection of short stories!
Sep 24, 2014 Marianna rated it really liked it
Always good. A wonderful mix.
Mar 10, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
The 2008 BAC, with Lynda Barry as editor, is still my favorite, but this one was a welcome addition to the series. Bechdel's intro was self-deprecatingly funny but also insightful into both the selection process of this anthology and the comics world in general, and her selections were diverse and exciting. In a welcome change from last year's predictable offering from Neil Gaiman, I appreciated that Bechdel included a mix of longer excerpts and shorter standalones, and works from both well-know ...more
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Alison Bechdel is an American cartoonist. Originally best known for the long-running comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, in 2006 she became a best-selling and critically acclaimed author with her graphic memoir Fun Home.
More about Alison Bechdel...

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