Well, the year is winding down, and with it comes the annual “Best Of” lists from various websites and media. Publishers Weekly led the charge, issuing an actual graphic novel listing within their greater big list, with Chris Ware’s Unbuilding making the overall “Best Books” listing.
Yesterday, the Washington Post released their list, and it includes quite a few graphic novels! Here is a quick listing of the graphic novel titles, by slide number (if you wish to avoid those boring books without pictures):
11. Building Stories, by Chris Ware.
12. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco.
13. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier.
14. Drawn Together, by Aline and R. Crumb.
15. Sailor Twain, or: The Mermaid in the Hudson, by Mark Siegel.
16. Pearls Freaks the #*%# Out: A (Freaky) Pearls Before Swine Treasury, by Stephan Pastis.
17. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, by Ellen Forney
18. District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, D.C., edited by Matt Dembicki.
19. DC Comics: The New 52, by DC Entertainment.
20. The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, by Daniel Clowes, edited by Alvin Buenaventura.
First of all, congratulations to all! It’s an interesting list, with a few surprises. The first surprise: Pearls Before Swine, a collection of comic strips! While I have not read this particular treasury edition (I just noticed it yesterday while shopping), the strip is quite funny and biting at times. For those who argue that comic strips aren’t comic books, that a collection of strips isn’t a “graphic novel”, I suggest one view a comic strip as a paragraph or poem, using the confines to present condensed ideas and stories. (And really… there’s not much difference between a one-page comic book story and a Little Nemo Sunday comic.)
The other surprise, given that it has not received much press yet, is Ellen Forney’s memoir about her life with bipolar disorder, and how it affects her creativity. Readers will gain a better understanding of bipolar disorder (previously known as manic-depressive disorder), as well as how it affects creativity.
And DC… I’ll let others debate this title. I understand why the Washington Post included it, but there are probably five other titles (and at least one superhero title) with more merit. If it appears on other “Best of” lists, then perhaps the inclusion is justified. But it’s not on my shopping list.