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The Best American Comics 2017

2.88  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  37 reviews
“Every last page is worth a look.” —Bustle

Ben Katchor, “the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip” (New York Times Book Review), selects the best graphic pieces of the year. The Best American Comics 2017 showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors and highlights both fiction and nonfiction from graphic novels, pamphlet com
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2017)
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David Schaafsma
This year’s iteration of The Best of American Comics is notable in several important ways; first, it is co-edited (with continuing series editor Bill Kartalopoulos) by MacArthur (“genius”)-award-winning comics guy, Ben Katchor (Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, The Jew of New York, The Cardboard Valise), a completely unique outsider voice in comics, not for everyone; 2) it has a cover with the year/title 1984 featured prominently on it, signaling the political era we are now living in; 3) ...more
Stewart Tame
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think this is the first volume of this series that hasn't had a story by Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, or Robert Crumb in it. Is that even allowed? In general, I recognize very few of this year's artists, not that that's a bad thing.

Under Ben Katchor's guest editorship, this volume seems to skew even more heavily in the direction of art comics than normal. Take the endpapers, for instance, done by Oscar Azmitia: photos of US coins painted so as to turn the familia
Dov Zeller
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
These anthologies are pretty hit or miss, and a lot depends on the aesthetic/curating choices of the guest editor.

Ben Katchor is editor for this anthology and after reading it I am even less interested him as an artist and thinker than I had been (I occasionally really appreciate his work, particularly his sense of humor and of the absurd. But he's not an artist I find I connect with much.)

I skipped half the comics in this book because I found them to be illegible or found the aesthetic to be o
Ian Hrabe
Dec 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
One of the worst installments of the (usually) pretty solid Best American Comics series. We all make mistakes, and the big mistake here is entrusting Ben Katchor as editor. I don't THINK I'm some crank that thinks underground comix need to be straightforward and narrative, but this volume is sorely missing cohesion. A vast majority of the comics were produced by middle aged men (Hey! Just like Katchor!) and the majority of the comics by younger artists are the sort of groan-inducing, navel gazin ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comix
Wow. Really disappointing collection this year. I skimmed many of the entries -- some were illegible (tiny print, blurry colors that may have been registration errors or just... maybe that was the artist's choice, I guess), and some were just violence, farting, and dick jokes that didn't interest me at all. This is probably what happens when almost all (30/34) of the selected artists are men and the editor is someone like Ben Katchor, who seems to have an extremely specific aesthetic that I just ...more
Rod Brown
Oct 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Guest editor Ben Katchor has terrible taste. This is the worst volume I have read in this series.

There are maybe three dozen pages in this 400 page brick that are worth reading. Kudos (and exemption from the one-star rating) go to Joe Sacco, Bjorn Miner, Eli Valley, Sam Alden and Bill Griffith. Everything else suffered from illegible lettering, horrible art, gibberish writing and/or pure crappiness.

I think this volume makes a good case for having a committee choosing the entries so there is more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
*I am writing a different review here than I did initially because I didn't get it quite right in my initial assessment*

I had high expectations for this. I have read many of these compilations, and look forward to their publication. I usually read them in a day or two, and come away from them with a whole laundry list of artists to check out.

This one did not do that for me. And it wasn't that the comics were too weird or surreal, because they weren't (and anyway, I like surreal. Michael Deforge
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This volume was very hit or miss for me. When I finished it, I read through the "Notable Comics" list at the back of the book and I was surprised by those works that didn't make the main collection of entries. I own and have read the comics on notable list by Chester Brown, Nick Drnaso, Jordan Crane, Al Columbia, Daniel Clowes, Sammy Harkham, Tom Hart, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Kevin Huizenga, Dash Shaw and Jillian Tamaki. All of these deserved to be included in the volume. I did enjoy Tim La ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I *hated* this volume and don't understand how ANY of these could possibly be the best comics had to offer in the last year. I had to force myself to read through the whole thing and would not recommend that anyone read this, ever.
Bonnie G.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Looking over what I thought- and this is not an exhaustive list I just didn’t care enough about the other stories to have a strong enough opinion of them- I guess I am grateful to rediscover some greats and interesting voices. I am also grateful o borrowed this book and didn’t buy it. Wtf is going on in this volume, indeed.

Outstanding contributions:
Bill Griffith’s Invisible Ink
Conor Stechschulte’s Generous Bosom Part 2
Sam Alden’s Test of Loyalty
Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall’s John Wilcock, Ne
Jun 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is a really interesting collection, and I didn't like most of it. I think it's fine for those two things to co-exist, and I appreciate how outside my comfort zone a lot of the contributions were, even if I didn't like them.

As I was reflecting on how little I liked the collection, it occurred to me to take a cursory look at how many contributors were not male - and it appears to be a very small fraction. I did enjoy a look into "outsider" comics.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sequential-art
The comics were a little hit and miss for me. Last year there were a few I didn't like as much, but this year it seems the rule rather than the exception. Of the 30 odd comics, I really enjoyed 9 of them. Those I thought were really good. There were a few that were just bad. I didn't feel that way about any of the entries for 2016. Overall I was pretty disappointed.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is the first year I've read this collection and not wanted to put myself on hold for at least one artist's work. Is this really the best we could do in 2017? It seems like most of these entries are included because of their original and creative art, which often translates to unreadable stories with a heavy influence of genitalia. Did I just forget how to appreciate comics?
Savannah Tracy
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Tbh only really wanted to read about half of these but so it goes with collections
Jen Jones
Have been reading Best American Comics for years, and was very disappointed with this issue. Was the theme that 2017 is the new 1984? Or was the theme to expose “undiscovered” artists? I don’t think guest editor Ben Katchor had a unified vision for this s issue. Also, shouldn’t the undiscovered artists be—at minimum—legible? A couple of the artists were basically indecipherable. Inclusion for the sake of inclusion alone is unwise and disrespectful to other artists who have the skill, vision, mes ...more
Oliver Bateman
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The usual mixed bag of comics, with a very indie-INDIE heavy focus this year. Many of the selections linger long after they've been read (particularly Kim Deitch's "Shrine of the Monkey God" and Ben Duncan's eerie "Get in Where U Fit in" and "Molt").

I interviewed the editor of this edition, Ben Katchor (my all-time favorite comic artists), for a profile published by Pacific Standard:

People never seem to enjoy these "Best of..." collections, but that's par
Feb 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I only liked 1 or 2 comics in the entire collection. Most of them were just too small and illegible to even try reading.
May 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Incredibly disappointing. Not just for the fact that the comics aren't to my personal taste, but for the complete and utter lack of diversity in the included contributors.
Wise Cat
Oct 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: crap, humor, light-reading
Holy crap, LOL. If this is the "best", I'd hate to see the "worst". Again, I wanted to stretch my comfort zone and read something different, another book in the "Best American" series. I thought it might be fun reading for when I had a bad day...

Before checking it out of the library, I flipped through it and thought, "What the ___?" Then, "Okay....keep an open mind." I checked it out days later when ready and I just finished it. I had it 2 weeks but it feels like 2 months.

I didn't get dissing Ca
Alex Melnick
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
36 pieces here (including the introductions). Some I liked a lot, some not so much. Suffice to say that I don't entirely share the editors' taste.

Ideally, comics aren't simply art and words put together but an alloy that's stronger than either. I feel that too many of the pieces here were chosen more for their artistry than for the interplay of art and story. It's so completely subjective, though, that I hesitate to say if these are "good" or "bad" comics.

Highlights (for me): Ben Katchor, Gary P
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I always look forward to this anthology every year. I read this year’s collection all in one sitting and set the book down with disappointment. 2017 “best” comics are overwhelming male-driven and seemingly bizarre just for the sake of oddity? Some of the comics seemed more slapped together and sloppy than artful. Some comics I really enjoyed (shout out to Ben Duncan and Michael DeForge) but this edition very much feels like someone picking random comics they didn’t fully understand and confusing ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Huh, I finished this anthology a while ago and could've sworn I wrote a review. Now I don't remember specifics, but I can say it was not my favorite in this series. Obviously, this anthology changes year to year according to the guest editor's selection (and what comics were produced throughout that year). I love Ben Katchor's comics, but I guess I don't always agree with his curation. There were a few comics I truly enjoyed, but many of them just didn't do it for me. But hey, it's always intere ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I can't say I'm very impressed with anything here- especially the scribbles that make me feel like the harsh critics of my millennial generation have a valid point in saying that we all think we deserve participation ribbons for anything we happen to spit out. Then out of the blue I was jolted- by something weirdly personal. I think the girl who wrote the bit about Southern Illinois is the daughter of my mom's ex-husband. Sup fam!
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was joking that perhaps this title should change its name to "The Best (and Worst) American Comics." There were a couple in this book that were so bad that they were near impossible to read ("The Future of Art 25 Years Hence", "Time TO Get Paid", "2010") even the lettering was barely readable("I Am Better Than Picasso", "Love With Family Love"). There were also a couple very good examples of comics
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I feel like this series has been headed a little downhill. The 2017 volume was very disappointing. Nothing struck me as wonderful. And the tone was very negative (perhaps due to the political climate of today - which provided a theme for some of the works). I didn't enjoy as much as I should have.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Some of the comics in this collection were great, but many were too dense to read and drawn so badly that I found myself judging and frowning....which is sad because I Fear No Art.But I could not live with agreeing that these were the best comics of 2017.
Ian Carpenter
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first of these and at first I was put off by a lot of a the art as I flicked through but in the read, I really enjoyed so many of these. Heavy on the outsider, small press comic - tons of refreshing approaches that I would never see.
Karrie S
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
For some reason this issue had very small print that was hard to read. Most of the stories didn't appeal to me, but it's a great book for people that may like those comics. The illustrations are beautiful. Just wasn't as good as others I have read in this series.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Go big or go home.
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Ben Katchor (born 1951 in Brooklyn, NY) is an American cartoonist. His comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer paints an evocative picture of a slightly surreal, historical New York City with a decidedly Jewish sensibility. Julius Knipl has been published in several book collections including Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay and The Beauty Supply District. Other serialized c ...more

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