I’ve heard some pretty strong arguments against having any “canon” in comics, and I tend to agree. What canon there is is mostly defined by the strong tradition of comics strips to superheroes to undergrounds, as exemplified by the Masters of American Comics show of a decade ago. I think a few old farts still argue about the Comics Journal’s Top 100 Comics of the Twentieth Century, but we’ve come a long way in just 15 years. These canons just aren’t diverse enough to reflect where comics have gone in just a very short time.
Thus defining a canon just of the last FIVE years, as Loser City has done with The 100 Best Comics of the First Half of the 2010s seems even more wacky. Yet, the audience for comics seems to have exploded (in a long tail fashion) in the last five years in a way that even comics makers are still processing. And yes the main reason is doubling the size of the readership by including a whole new gender. The Loser City editors seems to be addressing this directly:
At Loser City, we feel that the 2010’s have been an especially exciting time to be into comics, thanks to the wealth of incredible material being produced as well as the emergence of more and more new perspectives from creators and fans who have historically been underserved in the medium. We wanted to take this opportunity here in the middle of the decade to look back at the phenomenal material that has already emerged and anticipate where comics are going next. Comics continues to have growing pains and a number of major issues hold the medium back from its true potential, but we have chosen this time to focus on the positive and hopefully introduce you to the works we believe are currently making up the modern canon. So without further ado…
The list makers include folks such as Nick Hanover, Claire Napier, David Fairbanks, Shea Hennum, Jason Sacks, J.A. Micheline, Laura Sneddon and several others…so this is a strong representative group of knowledgable voices. I’m actually very interested to see what they come up with, as this generation of comics readers came of age far outside the Kirby-Crumb-Ware solar system. The list is only up to #80 so far, so I’ll gave to suspend all judgement until the whole thing is in (and already I’m crying that Charles Burns’ X’ed Out should be a lot higher than #100!) but this isn’t really my list to judge. Check it out for yourself, and let the arguments begin.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.