Dani Peloquin's Reviews > The Best American Comics 2011

The Best American Comics 2011 by Alison Bechdel
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Aug 22, 2011

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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 this year. While I thought the anthology was a mixed bag, I certainly found some favorites that I need to read before the year is out.

Being that this collection is called "The BEST American Comics", I thought that I would make superlatives of my own in this review.

- Most heartbreaking is Joe Sacoo's two part series on the Israeli killings of Palestinians in 1956. Just when the content seems too much to handle, Sacco throws in an interesting twist in which he questions people's memory and the validity of their remembrances.

-Most heartwarming is Eric Orner's "Weekends Abroad" which is a beautiful story about a Hebrew school drop out who finds himself working in Israel for two years without knowing Hebrew. The characters are endearing and I know I will be looking to this author for his other works.

-Most stunning illustrations goes to "Flower Mecha" by Angie Wang. The story is basically about a superwoman who can defeat pollen from interfering with her picnics and outdoor plans. Though it seems a bit thin, the graphics are gorgeous and her use of color is beautiful. It reminded me a great deal of the graphic novel "Skim".

- Most bizarre comic is "Queen" by Michael Deforge which depicts a woman (I think...?) made out of brightly colored mucus. There is no text and while I sometimes like that technique, I don't think it suited this comic because I had not idea what was going on. The female mucus dresses herself up for makeshift lipstick, a tube top, and plenty of cleavage. It might be a commentary on beauty and society...but I didn't get it.

-Most humorous goes to "The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in six panels)" which is just what its title states. These six panels are the cliff notes to almost every graphic novel: boy meets girl, there's a way, boy has daddy issues, boy is misunderstood by his family, boy fights in war in which there are casualties, boy never gets the girl but they remain friends. It pokes fun at graphic novels in a very endearing way and makes for the perfect conclusion to the collection as every comic in the collection falls into one of the 6 categories described.

-Best story is John Pham's comic about his classmates from high school. The illustrations are beautiful and he uses a very unique arrangement that I found to benefit both his graphics and his story. Though it is short, it is tender, funny, and heartbreaking.

-Best overall comic is "Little House in the Big City" which is downright fantastic!! The illustrations are like political cartoons. The author basically tells the story of the different buildings in NYC from the 1920s to the height of suburbia and how the differing/changing buildings changed the entire city. She also discusses Jane Jacobs and the problems with urban renewal. There is certainly a history lesson in this story, but you would never know it because it is so good!

With Alison Bechdel as the featured editor and writer of the introduction, you know that you're in good hands. While there are a certain amount of duds, I would definitely spring of a copy because there are some comics in here that should not be missed!!

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