The Best American Comics 2008
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The Best American Comics 2008 (Best American Comics)

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  814 ratings  ·  92 reviews
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, ne...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 8th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Bill
Of the three "Best American Comics" which have been released I found this one the least satisfying.

The two earlier collections were page-turners from beginning to end. While reading this I found myself putting it down and forgetting about it.

I love Lynda Barry, especially for her recent book: "What it is." The stories tended towards child like narratives, and that makes sense with Barry's work, and if I was in another mood - a mood to be enchanted by memories of my own childhood, I would have en...more
Meghan
Lynda Barry's introduction is awesome and she discusses her favorite cartoonist Bil Keane of Family Circus. But I've come to realize these anthologies are not for me - rather, they are for people who do not know what kind of comics they like or who are interested in a broad range. Everything I liked in this anthology I had already read elsewhere, and since the style of comics drawing and writing I like is somewhat specific and narrow I'm not open to many new things.
Avis Black
It was an ominous sign when Lynda Barry went on in the introduction about her love for The Family Circus, the feeblest comic strip ever. This volume only confirms that Barry, who has done some good work of her own in the past, has dreadful taste when judging other cartoonists. This collection is simply wretched. Lame page after lame page makes you wonder whether any cartoonist working today has any actual talent.
Anina
I wasn't gaga about as many comics in this year's compilation as I usually am, but the ones I liked I really liked. Favorites: "Something About Madeline", "Graveyard", and the one about the art teacher in the Bronx.
Penelope
Thumbs up:
-Excellent introduction by Lynda Barry
-"The Thing About Madeline" by Lilli Carre
-"The Monkey and the Crab" by Shawn Cheng and Sara Edward-Corbett
-"Seven Sacks" by Eleanor Davis
-"The Thanksgiving Series" by Chris Ware

I wish Seth and Ware's comics hadn't been back-to-back...I actually thought Seth's piece was by Chris Ware. Ooops.

Thumbs down/meh:
-Matt Groening strips. They were just so tedious to read, and I almost skipped the last few entirely.
-"Dykes to Watch Out For" strips by Alison...more
Meredith
Aug 05, 2009 Meredith rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not really
Shelves: graphic-novels
There were a few really great comics in here, a lot of lame ones, and whole bunch of talented artists. This book is not for kids--some of the comics have blatently sexual content. If this bothers you, you might just want to skip this book. If it doesn't, just read the good stuff.

I must however, shed light on something. One blatently disrespectful comic infuriated me so much that I nearly left the entire book unfinished. In it, the Bush administration was portrayed as a pack of crude, war-hungry...more
Ron
Thanks to new editors, the third volume of this series is a bit less obtuse than it has been in past years, and there are some wonderful stories here, like Shawn Cheng and Sara Edward-Corbett's "The Monkey and the Crab" or Jaime Hernandez's "Gold Diggers of 1969" (a "prequel" to his groundbreaking Love and Rockets stories of the '80s and '90s). There's also excerpts of larger works like Gene Yang's American Born Chinese and Rick Geary's [The Saga of the Bloody Benders], and samples from weekly s...more
Eric
After a rather disappointing 2007 edition with remote and myopic selections by Chris Ware, Lynda Barry brings this series back into high quality territory. While not all of her selections are home runs, there are a few so out-of-the-park great that they easily make up for the lesser entries. These selections also highlight the subtle difference between the intensely personal work of both Ware and Barry. Both mine the melancholy of everyday life, but Barry's work is messier, more human and hopefu...more
Todd Nemet
Catching up on some books I read earlier and forgot to enter. I managed to read this in one sitting in the library while waiting for the kids to do something.

Anyway, it's yet another wildly uneven collection of comics. The first comic about a man who wraps up his brother's loose ends is really arresting and good. And of course Jaime Hernandez is brilliant. I remember a funny one about Cupid's secretary covering for him while he takes the day off. A lot of them are excerpts so you might end up mo...more
Jason
Dec 17, 2012 Jason added it
Shelves: read-2009
Perhaps I should start by saying how much I love short stories. I love them a lot. I love them because they are snippets of lives, boiled down into the essentials of (generally) a few scenes, sometimes even just one, the dialogue as spare as can be, the narrative description avoiding the painting of sets and instead concentrating on the illumination of the characters inhabiting the scenes.

I was expecting to read a number of short stories, albeit in the graphic form. That didn't happen. This col...more
Milissa
i'm not a huge fan of comics. but somehow i got hooked in college when i was trying to buy a gift for my then boyfriend. i remember standing in the comicswap, reading comics at random because they didn't have the green lantern issue he wanted. and i remember reading this bizarre comic about an office. and there was a man and a woman going in and out of doors. and there was a cigar. and there were secrets. honestly, it did not dawn on me that i had read a comic about the clinton-lewinsky affair u...more
Jamil
Anthologies are usually hit & miss (with emphasis on the latter), but this may be the anthology to break that rule. I was surprised by how many good comics were in this thing & how many of them were actually new to me. Linda Barry deserves lots of credit, & if DC comics hadn't been a "stone cold drag" & actually allowed excerpts from Paul Pope's Batman Year 100 in here, this might have been the greatest comic book anthology of all time.

Highlights for me: Eleanor Davis' cover &...more
Randy
Dec 12, 2008 Randy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Comic lovers
Awesome. I love the idea that years from now, I will have a whole shelf from this yearly series. Lynda Barry's turn as host is something of a good decision, because she presents the book in exactly the right tone to get things moving. She returns like the friend I've never met. I am still not sure if the Batman reference was included as an in-joke or if she was serious. This was a great collection of stories that ended too quickly. Some of them I did not get, some of them (the Iraq war one) I th...more
Edwin Arnaudin
I had a fun time with pretty much all of this year's selections, though at the beginning I doubted I would. Several of the opening comics are "blink and you miss them" short and also a bit shallow, entirely the opposite of the '07 picks. With last year's book, I felt like I was given a decent glimpse into larger works (i.e. Fun Home) and thought I'd be cheated out of that experience.

Fortunately, after the slow start, the length and depth of the remaining comics significantly improves. Now I have...more
Rae Borman
It was fascinating to read the more politically oriented comics in this anthology given enough time has passed to put some distance between their potency and current events...and yet, they are still eerily relevant.
Ken
This is a beautifully bound edition that includes a diverse collection of comics from various sources around the country. The actual illustrations range from the simple, almost brutally drawn comics, to many that are incredibly detailed. The message comes through no matter the form though. These artists demonstrate again and again the power of an art form that has traditionally been considered for laughs only. There is much more happening here. Politics, death, and many other themes are cleverl...more
Tina
I only had two problems with this compilation: 1) several of the excerpts, while from excellent works, lost their impact when taken out of context; and 2) the transformations necessary to make all the disparate graphics fit into one format caused several of them to have very tiny print, which is not so good for one going slowly blind, such as myself. Otherwise, I completely loved this book and it has inspired me to read more graphics. I particularly enjoyed Burden by Graham Annable, Mammalogy by...more
Sundry
I think this may be the best in the series' short life. I enjoyed all but maybe a couple of the entries. So I guess I agree with the edition's editor, Lynda Barry.

These collections are a great way to find graphic artists that you want to read more of. I've put a bunch of books on hold at the library based on what I read here. I think I'm going to read a lot of Rick Geary's true tales of Victorian crime!

I also really love the format of the author notes at the back of the book. Sometimes I am curi...more
Liz
This is the first Best American of its kind that featured many selections that I couldn't stomach my way through. No time is wasted after Barry's discussion on how successful comics operate on many levels (like any other medium, really) before the reader is marched into a field of didactic, derivative, and worst of all, heavy-handed offerings that pad out this disappointing anthology. Is this really all the year had to offer? Tired political commentary? Poor choices in reproduction size leading...more
Elizabeth
good collection of some interesting comics from 2008! i'm not sure i would say the best of course, becvause i haven't read every comic in the world and this collection is genberally excluding longer, graphic novel-like works -- though there were definitely a few insightful and funny standalone strips in here that i really enjoyed! the first things that come to mind right now are the picasso comic, and comics about the photographer in Iraq, the one with the man paddling the other across the river...more
Jason
While the sum of its parts is not greater than the whole, there's a ton of great stuff in here. Notable entries: "The Salon", "Seven Sacks", "George Sprott (1894-1975)", "Part II. the Benders Arrive", "Graveyard", and "Burden", among others. I Read the whole thing in almost one sitting. I disliked how much of it was excerpts. It could feel like reading a publisher's sampler: they give you just enough to whet your appetite, and then you're left in the cold! Still, as a whole, this is a fantastic...more
Lindy Loo
There were some interesting comics in here (my favs were actually Matt Groening's which had me laughing out loud), but overall, I found it difficult to really engage because a) many of the comics were just parts of a larger story, so it felt like they ended abruptly or weren't contextualized in a way that made me really "get" them, and b) yeah, a) again. (I thought I had another one, but now I forget it.) It's a good book to give you a bouncing-off point to go look up some of the comics that wer...more
Peacegal
Yet another collection of mostly entertaining comics. I’m happy to report there are not as many really bad selections this go-round, unlike last year’s edition. I’m serious. I draw myself, and I find it kind of insulting when something that looks like a 6-year-old’s handiwork makes it into The Best American Comics.

Ironically, Matt Groening’s work is one of the weakest things here, so I suppose that’s saying something.

This book contained a snippet from The Saga of the Bloody Benders, an all-time...more
John
I was interested in the series after last year's edition, but this one is blah. Too many well-known artists and selections from bigger works. Nothing felt self-contained. The selection wasn't as varied as I hoped and I had already read half the work in the collection already. I did think the introduction was fantastic but that might be the only thing worth checking out in the 2008 edition if you already read graphic novels. If not check the work out to get a sampling of the best graphic novels o...more
angrykitty
even after my crazy rant of a review for the 2007 edition of this series, i'm still going to keep reading these books.....and i'm still full of excitement as i start.....

i probably enjoyed this one the most out of the three collections. lots of nudity in this one though.....so heed the warning in the intro about watching who you give this collection to to read (i'm talking to all the well meaning educators out there who are looking for graphic novels to use to generate interest in readers....don...more
Lauren
For the past 2 or 3 years I have waited impatiently for November or December for this book to come out. I love they they have finally figured out that comics are worth their own yearly anthology. AND then this year the editor is Lynda Barry - it's great book meets great editor. And her intro is a-ma-zing. I love this book even more this year because I feel like I just go invited over to Lynda Barry's house for tea and she's piling her favorite book and comics in front of me that I must take home...more
Lindsey
another awesome collection. the variety is great, although this edition seemed to have a handful of comics from people that are really, really well known already, and in previous editions that hasn't been the case; usually there's stuff from a bunch of people i haven't heard of, which i definitely prefer. favorites in this edition: joseph lambert's turtle keep it steady, lilli carre's the thing about madeline, eric haven's mammology, shawn cheng and sara edward-corbett's the monkey and the crab.
Laura
My favorite bits were Lynda Barry's intro, Rick Geary's "Part II The Benders Arrive" (must seek out his Victorian murder series), Matt Groening's Will and Abe comics (though that's a nepotistic choice), the art of Cathy Malkasian's "Percy Gloom," and Sarah Oleksyk's "Graveyard."

I just realized that as I read "George Sprott" by Seth, I thought it was Chris Ware the whole time. Hmm, I enjoyed it but not sure what to say about that confusion. Beautiful art, tiny boxes, felt like Chris Ware.
Terry
Huh, I guess this should be on the "fiction" shelf? Hmm. Anyway. I liked this book; I adore Lynda Barry and trust her taste, although I'm not sure I agree with her criteria for her choices--but I'm glad she specified what those criteria were. As ever this collection essentially serves as a sort of reference book to introduce me to new artists, whereupon I scamper off to devour more of their work, rather than acting as a stand-alone book, but that's just me.
Jenifer
The best thing about this anthology is the introduction by lynda Barry. She's eclectic and fascinating. The comics contained therein ran a gamut of oh-my-go-awesome to huh-that-was-neat to well-I-can't-even-finish-this. My favorites are "burden" which is an interesting twist on the good soon vs bad son genre and "it's all about Madeline" which made me question my concept of reality! Overall a good collection, not other best, but a good afternoon read.
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Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author, perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek.
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