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As we mentioned earluer today, NPR’s Glen Weldon has organized aa titanic survery to name the 100 FAVORITEE Graphic Novels. After soliciting more than 7000 nominations, an expert panel comprising G. Willow Wilson, C. Spike Trotman, Maggie ThompsonEtelka Lehoczky, and Glen Weldon sifted through these and came up with the list of 100. And it makes a nice companion piece to the sales data on GNs that ICv2 and Comichron released earlier today. 

The survey includes a nice titel rgaphic by Shannon Wright which I’ve ganked.

Of some note to me, by my rough count, the list is split about half and half between comics published BEFORE the “graphic novel/manga” era (Watchmen, Peanuts, Akira) and since then (Nimona, Amiercan Born Chinese, Fun Home.) It’s also VERY light on what one might call art comics/literary comics, i.e. Fantagraphics, D&Q and so on.  (Gunnerkrigg Court but no Wally Gropius)  It’s definitely a reader’s list, and a list that a librarian might find a good starting place for a collection.

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I think the titans – Bone, Persepolis, Pogo – aside, you could probably make five more lists of 100 favorite comics and GNS that was valid and relevant. But that’s a very very good thing and shows what a vibrant and powerful – healthy even – medium this is.

BUT the comments are for fighting! So have at it!

 

 

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17 COMMENTS

  1. The list is okay, but I wish writers in the mainstream could learn to write about comics without all the back-handed snark. Superman succeeded greater than anything these writers will ever do, and it doesn’t really make someone one of the Kewl Kids to make sure everyone knows they think his costume is a “patently ridiculous circus strongman outfit.”

  2. Wow — this *is* pretty good.

    Sure, there’s things I disagree with, and a number of things I would have traded — but there’s nothing here that you can’t put up a good argument for its inclusion.

    Particularly pleased to see things things like MARY PERKINS ON STAGE, BAD MACHINERY and HARK! A VAGRANT. Plus, GOTHAM CENTRAL and PLANETARY. Good deal.

    {But the little devil on my shoulder says, “Where’s PRINCE VALIANT?”]

  3. I’ve been listening to Wheldon on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour for years, and always appreciate his take. He is into art comics until they hit the boring wall. I feel the same way, but tend to blame myself more when I don’t like them. He is confident enough in his own tastes to simply not like what he doesn’t like.

    Maggie Thompson is the mother of another person on the podcast, so I know her by reputation and the odd appearance, but she has massive credentials. Though I’m a longtime reader, I only know her name through this podcast, which is a real shame, but she has great credentials (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Thompson)

  4. I’d put about 40% of this list in my own top 100 and like almost everything else listed that I’ve read, so pretty good job, NPR readers! Nevertheless, I have to pick at least one nit about their categorization of “Watchmen” and “Daytripper” as graphic novels rather than comics.

    Pleasant surprises:
    – Peter Milligan/Chris Bachalo “Shade.” Not Milligan’s best work in my opinion (I’d go with Enigma or X-Statix myself), but I’m glad he was represented.
    – Nextwave and Astro City
    – American Born Chinese. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I truly think that this book was an instant classic, and when I didn’t see it in the “Graphic Novels” category at the top I was worried that it was not going to be included.

    Unpleasant surprises:
    Usually, these survey-based affairs tend to be highly skewed toward recent comics, but I was a little shocked that there was no:
    – OG Amazing Spider-Man or Fantastic Four (I read some issues of these comics as a kid, but I didn’t read most of them until I was 20 or 21, and I was actually pretty shocked at how fresh they seemed. They really hold up, in my opinion).
    – Walt Simonson
    – Jim Steranko
    – Matt Kindt. I think that Super Spy is one of the best things that anyone’s ever done; is it not as widely-read as I thought?
    – Black Hole

    Also, no disrespect to Ta-Nehisi Coates, but his Black Panther run has got to be at best the third-best run on the character. It’s good, but it’s not even top-800 for me yet.

    Dark horses that I wish had made it:
    – Concrete
    – Almost anything by Steve Gerber
    – Luther Arkwright
    – Casanova (instead of Sex Criminals)
    – Nexus
    – Stuck Rubber Baby (maybe in lieu of Fun Home, which I liked OK, but didn’t feel was that interesting)

    I also saw that NPR chose not to list some high vote-getters such as Cerebus, Preacher, and The Spirit because of offensive content. I’m glad they acknowledged these exclusions in a separate article and it makes sense if their list is intended as a good primer for those who haven’t read a great volume or breadth of comics, but it’s a little disappointing nonetheless.

  5. Oof, some real glaring omissions on here:

    Steven Grant and Mike Zeck’s original mini-series for The Punisher, Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.’s run on Amazing Spider-Man,

    Kraven’s Last Hunt.

    The original, unedited version of New Gods: The Hunger Dogs (probably the last “great” comic from Jack Kirby).

    Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear mini-series.

    Judge Dredd: The Judge Child

    Walt Simonson’s run on Thor.

    The Fantastic Four issue where Invisible Woman goes into labor and Dr. Octopus has to help out.

    The list goes on and on and on.

    Wilson and Trotman, in particular, I’m curious of how “aware” they are of Shooter-era Marvel and all the great titles that came out during that period.

    I have to wonder how much Gerard Jones’ arrest on child porn had to play in the list, b/c there is no way in hell Green Lantern Mosaic and The Trouble With Girls shouldn’t be on this list.

  6. The lack of Judge Dredd aside (or Button Man, for something Wagner-written but less SF), I think that’s a really solid list.

    I’ll never have much fondness for seeing The Walking Dead as a top comic, as it’s one of the most overrated books out there, barring Adlard’s still stunning art.

    You can nitpick, but as a primer for someone new or looking to expand their horizons away from Marvel and DC, it’s excellent.

  7. Not a bad favorites list, albeit chronologically biased… in a few years, nothing old will have aged as badly as most of their recent ephemera picks (“Sensation Comics Wonder Woman” anyone?). Big lose excluding Ditko/Lee’s “Amazing Spider-Man” and/or “Dr. Strange” and EVERYTHING by Kirby… but props at least for Segar’s “Popeye”.

  8. Very nice list! But please please please take out Satrapi, Blacksad and the Incal and just call it ‘the 100 best AMERICAN graphic novels’ … (and manga).

    How else can you explain not including anything by Sfar, Blain, David B, Tardi, Blutch, Gipi, Baru and a loooong etc. What about Quino??? Are Eurpoean and South American comics really that ignored in the US?

    I mean that’s the international consensus: that 98% of American readers only read American comics (and manga). There is no proof one way or the other but when entities like NPR publish lists like this one, one can only wonder.

  9. With everybody complaining about “Concrete” missing from the list, keep in mind Chadwick hasn’t written a new issue in over 12 years now.

    As much as I was complaining about a bunch of 1980’s Marvel titles not being on the list, Concrete’s omission is definitely a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

    I find it particularly troubling that Chadwick announced a new series back in 2015 and it’s now July 2017 and still no solicitations for issue #1.

  10. Can’t argue with the quality of most of these picks but it’s heavily biased toward comics of the last 30 years. NPR loses credibility by not including Lee-Ditko’s Spider-Man, Lee-Kirby’s Fantastic Four, Eisner’s The Spirit, Cole’s Plastic Man, or anything from EC.

    “I also saw that NPR chose not to list some high vote-getters such as Cerebus, Preacher, and The Spirit because of offensive content.”

    I guess this means the comments about women in Cerebus, and the Ebony character in The Spirit.

  11. Ah, I see the Mad Archives made the list. So there is something from EC in there.

    R. Crumb’s work was excluded for “sexist and racist” content (which also kept Cerebus and The Spirit off the list.) And the panel didn’t feel “Preacher” has aged very well.

  12. Following up on Giancarlo Roman’s comment: Heck, where are Herge and Goscinny? While I can’t complain about anything that NPR chose (and I’m happy that Usagi Yojimbo made it), I’d say that “Destination Moon/Explorers On The Moon” and “Asterix & Cleopatra” belong on there as well..

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