Time’s nerd site, Techland has named its top ten comics of the decade,, or at least contributor Mike Williams has, and it’s pretty depressing.

1. The Ultimates
2. 100 Bullets
3. Planetary
4. All Star Superman
5. The Walking Dead
6. The Authority
7. Mouseguard
8. Blankets
9. Invincible
10. Y The Last Man

Not that all of those books don’t deserve a serious, thoughtful consideration, but, talk about…ONE DIMENSIONAL. “Best Books Published by DC and Robert Kirkman with one book each from Top Shelf, Archaia and Marvel.” Plus, MOUSE GUARD? It’s cute as hell but the storyline is very underwritten. And THE AUTHORITY? Would that be the glory days of Ellis and Hitch (1999-2000)? Or the highly censored, still pretty cool days of Millar/Quitely (2000-2002)? OR the” Oh, right” days of Robbie Morrison and Dwayne Turner (2003-2004)? OR the “This is the real glory days except it lasted all of two issues because everyone hated it so much” Grant Morrison/Gene Ha spurt (2006-7)? OR the current, somewhat average Abnett/Lanning/Coleby run (2008-20??)

Williams does lay out his criteria for the list:

Great art and the test of time. First, great story telling can support poor art but c’mon, these are comics and I run column called Panel of the Week. Great art is a must (usually). Next, I favor a lot of complete runs here. There’s something to be said about letting a writer and an artist tell a complete story without having to hand it off to the next team. Stand alone tales that have no tie ins, no crossovers, and need no other issues to tell a story. These are what stand the test of time.

Stand alone issues, eh? Mr. Williams, we have a new invention called the “graphic novel” which you may want to explore.

Bonus; Rich Johnston didn’t like this list either:

This isn’t a best comics of the decade list, this is a library recommended reading list for newbies with an incredibly limited taste range. It shows no sense of exploration, examination or comprehensivity.


  1. I stopped reading the list after:

    “Y was one of those books that made you think. Something not always appreciated by the unwashed comic reading masses.”

    Way to endure yourself to your audience…

  2. Didn’t Time name Fun Home their Book of the Year in 2006?

    Doesn’t Time name a book of the year every year, so to point, their Top 10 of the decade would just be those 10 again anyway.

    What I really want is re-evaluations of past decade lists. Like the Top 10 of the 90s re-evaluated. The 80s. So forth. Seems like something the Second Pass should be working on actually.

  3. I think I would have preferred another “Bam! Pow! Comics ain’t for kids any longer!” article to this thing. Lot of good books there. Best of the decade? Not even close.

  4. The best way to critique a list is to make another list– why on earth would anyone take one list as “definitive” (even if its hyperbolic title asks us to)? I’m not sure this is the best list, either, but if it’s worth writing a blog post about, it’s worth responding to in a more productive way. Otherwise it’s just hipster blather.

  5. Williams supposedly included “stand alone graphic novels” in his list of candidates for the ten slots, but it’s hard to think that there were very many GNs in the list, given what he chose.

    Going with his “gut” reactions to the series might have been a mistake. Like the people who assembled the “A.V. Club” list, he has serial superhero comics competing against non-superhero comics for positions on the list, even though the creators have completely different goals, and effects on the reader, in mind.

    In his description of BLANKETS, Williams refers to a list of the all-time best GNs assembled by Andrew D. Arnold. Five of the other GNs on the list are:

    Berlin: City of Stones by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly; 2000)
    Bone by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books; 2004)
    The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (DC Comics; 1986)
    Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Pantheon; 2000)
    Watchmen written by Alan Moore / drawn by Dave Gibbons (DC Comics; 1986)

    In his description of JIMMY CORRIGAN, Arnold wrote, “Confronting race, history, and family this book proved incontrovertibly that the form could be as deep and complex as any prose novel.” If that’s the case, then his standards for excellence are inconsistent, as are Williams’s. Striving for depth and complexity has little to do with striving to entertain.

    A review of MIGHTY AVENGERS #10 by Douglas Wolk indicates that Wolk, and probably other critics, use standards for superhero comics that they wouldn’t consider using for serious GNs or novels. If the premise of the story is badly flawed, as Wolk states, then the execution of the plot doesn’t matter, since the characters’ goals are meaningless, if not impossible to achieve. The story shouldn’t have been published, much less complimented.

    Arnold actually defines how GNs should be judged with his reference to depth and complexity. Judge them the same way one would judge ambitious prose novels, with the goals mattering as much as the creator’s success in reaching them. If those standards result in practically all superhero comics being consigned to a literary ghetto, that’s too bad.


  6. “Best of” lists, in any medium, are kind of an exercise in futility. Are the “best comics” judged by the meaning gleaned from a critical read? Or those one enjoys the most, a visceral thrill? Or something else?

    Art and its consumption being subjective, I have a hard time with the criticism of the past few weeks, including that heaped on the AV Club. Are “Techland” and “AV Club” the sorts of opinion-makers or universally looked-to critics that are serving as figureheads of sorts need to embody the best of the industry? No. They need to entertain their audiences, not anoint the new canon of comic books.

    I would expect that sort of list — of depth, breadth, and awesomeness — may come from the likes of Douglas Wolk or Jog. Fingers crossed (and apologies if they exist and I missed them).

    I’m with Brian. If people can’t take these “Best Of” lists for what they are worth, I’d encourage them to write their own lists. Especially if they are going to criticize such in a public forum. I’d love to see what Rich and Heidi — and commenters from both sites — have to say. Seriously.

  7. quick folo: didn’t realize Techland was part of Time. I take it all back. Get ’em!

    (no, kidding, but yeah, expectations can be slightly higher than for “random blog”, which I assumed it was. sry)

  8. I agree with Jeremy.

    And let’s be honest – any list coming from the Beat or any other “news source” is going to just as biased or one dimensional. How many free copies does the Beat get? How many copies are placed in Rich’s hands or CBR’s mailbox? Of course their lists are going to have a wide scope – because they have access to it. But if all you have, are those books from your collection that you’ve paid for AND read, then that’s all you can comment on.

    I think it’s far more dishonest to include Asterios and 3 Story and whatever else on your list just because they are the biggees of the year. Half the time, when a list IS so widespread with superheroes/manga/OGNs, etc, I question if the compiler even read them all.

    So yea – put up or shut up.

  9. People who say that “Best of” lists for comics are too subjective, too hard to assemble, etc., might not be taking their reactions to the artwork separately from a story’s content into account. However nice a comic’s artwork might be, it doesn’t determine the content. The writer’s plot, dialogue, etc., do that. Evaluating the content and ambitions of the writer, in combination with the success of the artwork in serving the content, should lead to roughly the same conclusions among informed critics that “Best of ” genre novels and movies lists do.

    The best people to do the lists would probably be editors currently or recently working in the comics field.


  10. The idea is to get people all riled up. If Heidi and Rich are already talking about it, the writer of the article did his job.

    No Fables? heh.

  11. Synsidar, I think “Best of genre novels and movies lists” usually stink or are similarly limited as well. I have trouble putting much stock in those too. Which isn’t to say they have no value, just that some comprehensive, end-all, be-all list is something of a pipe dream.

    I’m with you on who would have about the best chance for taking a stab at it.

  12. Not the list I would have made, but a good group nonetheless. I think I agree with half, which for a “best of” list is actually pretty damn good.

    But… why the Mouse Guard hate?? I think in 10 years we’ll all be speaking of it in the same way as we do “Bone” now. It’s that good. And the art is even better. I’d say, to my taste, that of the 10 books listed here Mouse Guard has THE best art (and I say that realizing they are all very good).

  13. Techland’s “best sci-fi” films of the decade was similarly blinkered, accompanied by plot interpretations that make me wonder if the writers had seen the same films I had.

  14. there is no empirical list of what makes good or bad. ’nuff said.

    You’re conflating two different things: pure enjoyment of a story, based on identification with the hero, pleasure at a happy ending, etc., vs. admiration of technique and craftsmanship.

    If someone writes a historical novel and does enough research to get small details right, avoid anachronistic word usage, etc., his novel will obviously be superior to a novel done by someone who figures that his readers won’t know much about the nnth century and does minimal research.

    If someone novelizes a TV series and doesn’t write the dialogue for the actors appropriate to their on-screen personas, fans will recognize that he did a lousy job.

    If someone is writing about superheroes, thinks about their powers, and realizes that if a power has this effect, then it can also be used for these three other purposes, and the power can only be countered through the use of a particular type of particle beam, the story will be much more satisfying than a story by someone who takes the attitude that the powers are all fantasy junk and relies on the artwork as special effects.

    When editors compile “Best of” anthologies, I doubt that they spend any time trying to decide how the stories they select differ in terms of quality. They’ve surveyed the fields they work in, have decided that those stories were the best ones published during the year, and that other stories weren’t necessarily bad, but that the authors displayed less command of technique — wrote for less effect (while also providing the readers with variety in subject matter and writing styles).

    Authors might write for themselves, or write to please others, but they have to write to satisfy editorial standards first. Arguing that those standards don’t matter, that any reader, regardless of the quality of his intellect, can set himself up as a judge, belittles the work of editors generally.


  15. @SRS –

    “If someone writes a historical novel and does enough research to get small details right, avoid anachronistic word usage, etc., his novel will obviously be superior to a novel done by someone who figures that his readers won’t know much about the nnth century and does minimal research.”

    You either haven’t read or don’t like Kazuo Ishiguro. His earliest novels take place wholly in a Japan that is represented as the true, historical Japan but are really and self-admittedly just the fabrication of his slight memory of the place bolstered by idealization and fantasy. And the novels wouldn’t have been made better for painstaking research. All of his novels function in this way and he’s pretty roundly considered one of the best contemporary British novelists out there.

    I think you have a good point that editors could have a deeper insight into the level of craft demanded by any particular work than say the average reader. But critics might have an entirely different set of criteria that is just as valid a measure. And different kinds of critics will grade on different measures. And then readers will be all over the map with their criteria.

    Sure, an editor’s list of Top 10 Best-Author-Crafted Books from the Aughts could be a cool thing, but it wouldn’t get any closer to defining the flat-out Best of Decade than this present list or the AV list or anybody’s personal list might get. The criteria for these things is all over the map and everybody means something different when they say a comic is Good or One of the Best.

  16. I doubt that comic book readers, and readers of superhero comics specifically, are representative of prose genre readers generally. Why read a “locked room” mystery if one isn’t interested in trying to solve the puzzle before the author reveals the solution? Why read a historical novel instead of a modern novel, if one isn’t interested in that historical era? Are you familiar with how SF fans reacted to Larry Niven’s Ringworld?

    You seem to be assuming that the readers of genre novels generally are reading only for enjoyment — as if they’re watching reruns on TV — and don’t give a damn about details. Writers who do research on any given topic they’re writing about, and take pride in doing research, do so because their readers react positively. They appreciate authors who work to provide the best stories possible. Editors appreciate that extra effort too.


  17. Oh no, I don’t make any assumptions about the readers of genre novels or any other kind of reader. That’s why I suggested that readers’ criteria for what makes a good book will be all over the map.

    You ask, “Why read a historical novel instead of a modern novel, if one isn’t interested in that historical era?” Because some readers want to be taken where the author would like to take them and see what he has to say. Not all readers, obviously. Some really are deeply focused on the perceived verisimilitude of the historical environment the author creates. Others are more interested in what the author does in and with the environment than in whether he accurately represents the environment to their satisfaction. Again, I’ll point to Ishiguro here. As well, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. These are novels whose action take place in particular historical settings (such that one might call them historical fiction), but their purpose is more literary than historical and so to presume them to be a failure because of their inaccuracies would be to mistake their intention. Still some readers might include them on a Best Of list and others, citing reasons to which you allude, would not.

    My point is that either criterion seems fair to each particular judge. “An Artist of the Floating World was crap because the author couldn’t be bothered to even research the Japan he was talking about” vs. “An Artist of the Floating World was great because the author succeeds in treating the idea of personal responsibility and the question of creator’s value in just the way he set out to do.” These are very different question still from the simple criterion of “Did I enjoy the book?” and no less (and perhaps no more) valid for its difference.

    There is no one way to judge the value of a comic book. Everyone of these lists, no matter how carefully compiled, are going to be monuments to the subjective concerns of the list compiler. And that’s alright. When we get upset by a publication’s list, we’re really only getting upset that either a) their taste is different from our own taste, or b) that they don’t appear to have read as much of the stuff that we like as we would like them to have read (as with the AV list and manga). Or some combination of the two.

  18. There is no one way to judge the value of a comic book.

    No, there isn’t. However, a comic book that has story content approximating that of a prose story, with all of the required elements, is much more satisfying to a demanding reader than one which relies purely on the artwork, accompanied by dialogue as content.

    You’re ignoring the existence of stories — entire genres — in which the author sets out to engage the reader’s intellect in the course of reading the story. That extends from beginning with a solid premise, to eliminating plot holes, to developing and portraying characters convincingly, to examining a character’s power and having it work in a way that’s surprising but logical, to setting up situations that appeal to intelligent readers more than to stupid ones.

    Englehart’s VISION & SCARLET WITCH maxiseries serves as a case study on how a comics writer goes about using details about how magic could work, and powers work, to create a structured fantasy that reads as an episodic novel, in which the story elements mesh excellently — only to have others later reason, “Geez, a robot and a woman having kids! What kind of stupid shit is that?!”, and ignore everything that the maxiseries was about.

    If one’s going to argue that everything’s relative, and everyone’s opinion is equally worthless, he has to make a reasoned argument for that, based on comparative intellect, and not just make an assertion and act as if he’s self-evidently correct. Intelligent people and unintelligent people think differently. They have different tastes. Publishers might target the least intelligent portion of a comic’s readership to maximize sales, but justifying that strategy on an intellectual basis is impossible.


  19. Bad form on slamming Mouse Guard Heidi. David Peterson is a good guy and know you didn’t mean it in that context but MG is a beautiful book.

    Dino and Jimmy have it right about Best 10, Best 25 lists: It’s all subjective, and that’s the fun of it… We’ll never agree on everything, and we’ll all have something to take away from these lists to consider, read and add to our collections.

    I hope we’ll be getting away one day from the status-seeking, all-knowing lists that imply how well-rounded media are, and just take ’em for what they are: Guides and nothing more than that.

  20. “If one’s going to argue that everything’s relative, and everyone’s opinion is equally worthless.”

    That’s not exactly my argument. My understanding is more nuanced than that, but essentially where I come down is that even if there was some objectively weighted set of criteria by which the quality of books were to be measured, I believe that it’s well and far beyond our ken to grasp such criteria. Perhaps critics can get closer to these if they really devote themselves to their pursuit, but I’m skeptical that anyone can really get all that close.

    Here’s an example of my problem: which is better, Asterios Polyp, Yotsuba&, BPRD: Garden of Souls, Tintin: The Land of Black Gold, Usagi Yojimbo: Grasscutter, or Town of Even Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms? Now using your very particular set of criteria established above (one that probably works fairly well for a particular sort of superhero comic), one might be able to arrive at a conclusion, but I suspect it wouldn’t be very satisfying. The books are so very different in their intents, purposes, and execution (and in Tintin‘s case, its era of production), that I’m not sure how one could begin to make anything other than a wholly subjective choice between them.

    While one may be able to judge more sure-footedly between overtly similar books (say, Uncanny X-Men #184 vs. Uncanny X-Men #198) it doesn’t seem fair to expect any level of objective discernment between All-Star Superman and Walking Man.

    To be clear, I definitely prefer (like, I presume you do) stories that tax my intellect and prompt me to think in new ways, to consider things and puzzle out the author’s intention. But that doesn’t necessarily make such a work objectively better than Azumanga Daioh, The Goon or The Amazing Screw-On Head.

  21. I call TOTAL bullshit on all this “It’s all somebody’s opinion!” stuff, especially from people who know better.

    Aesthetic criteria ARE personal, no doubt, but a general cultural consensus is reached through ongoing examination, discussion and education. Film, books and other media have lots of lists and Top 38s and so on. Why should comics be any different? However, such lists are usually arrived at through a process with criteria.

    We were all getting on the AVClubbers a little while ago for leaving out this and that, but at least the people who made the list were there to step up and explain their thinking and criteria. Sean T. Collins got on them for a rudimentary and incomplete critical process … but it is clear they have a critical process, however flawed.

    People who put together “best of lists” are expected to have some kind of authority — based on a width or depth of knowledge. For instance, we know that Roger Ebert has seen countless films, and spoken to countless filmmakers, and has created his own criteria via experience and analysis. He has become a “trusted source.”

    Comics critics such as Jog or Douglas Wolk have shown (through many reviews) that they read many comics and have developed their own criteria in a rigorous and well thought out way.

    I really have no problem with Mike Williams and his list of favorite comics. Like I said, everything on there IS a good comic. (And yeah MOUSEGUARD is a very very good comic with some of the most appealing and well done art out there.) But has Williams read and rejected Persepolis, Asterios Polyp, Exit Wounds, Scott Pilgrim, Lucky, George Sprott, Wednesday Comics, Shortcomings, American Born Chinese, etc etc etc etc? We do not know. There is no, haw haw, “authority.”

    Seth, you could rank those books in different ways…DEPENDING ON CRITERIA. Asterios Polyp engages themes of identity and personal growth — it’s a grown up bildungsroman. Tintin is great storytelling and imaginative but psychologically stunted. So yes, AP is a much better book than Tintin at exploring the human condition.

    However, Tintin would win if you were just talking about exploring in general.

  22. Heidi, I think you’re right in pointing to the need for the compilers of these lists to make known their criteria (or at least that it would be helpful to readers to have access to the criteria). You’re also right that people make lists of Top books, movies, and whatever else (though I would argue subjectivity here as well, and I have drawn up a great many of such lists myself).

    Too often though, the criteria remain un-noted. When EW publishes a book of the Top 100 Films of the Century, they don’t explain their criteria (and with groups, the whole selection-by-committee aspect of things just complicates it for the reader).

    You’re right that Asterios Polyp beats Tintin for best book if the criterion is best use of character development. But for the most part, these lists have only one criterion made apparent to the lists’ readers—and that is What is the best comic book? The question is so vague that its hard to argue when someone includes All-Star Superman (which I personally did not find to be a compelling use of the medium) because if they included that book then I either didn’t see what they saw or their criteria for judging a book is much different than my own.

    I would never argue that one book isn’t better than another. And even objectively so. I’m more just arguing that when it comes to the best examples of the medium, it becomes radically more difficult to discern between degrees of quality when the work in question varies so greatly in style, content, and purpose. I mean as far as craft goes, that Animal Crossing strip that went around a while back had terrible (though cute) art; but, in the end, reading it had a far more profound effect on my soul than 90% of anything making it into these lists. Was it objectively better than All-Star Superman? By some standards, yes, and by other standards, no.

    It’s in the weighting of these myriad standards that subjectivity comes to reign over the whole proceedings.

  23. I used to love list making.

    Now, I can’t stand them. Maybe ew burned me out on them, given how awful (to me) they usually were.

    (This prob means heidi will ask me for one here. :) )

  24. Here are the comics chosen by the PW staff as the best of 2009:

    Parker: The Hunter
    Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark (IDW)

    Driven by Lemons
    Josh Cotter (AdHouse)

    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
    Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou with art by Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna (Bloomsbury)

    The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders
    Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefèvre (First Second)

    Asterios Polyp
    David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe
    Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

    Footnotes in Gaza
    Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)

    A Drifting Life
    Yoshihiro Tatsumi (D&Q)

    You’ll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man
    Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)

    Naoki Urasawa (Viz Media)

    You’ll have to click the link to see the descriptions, but the list is certainly eclectic, and not indicative of personal biases.


  25. Hey Synsidar,

    Just did a Google search on all the books except Scott Pilgrim (sorry don’t care), except for the ones I had seen in stores or bought which amounted to 3: Parker (bought), You’ll Never Know (probably will) and Asterios Polyp (probably not).

    Doubt you’d see Lemons, Logicomics, A Drifting Life and The Photographer in 90 percent of the comics stores in America unfortunately. I’m pretty sure Pluto is around at Borders and “fine” comics shops. And Footnotes in Gaza… well how can it be a “best book of the year” when Amazon says it ain’t going on sale until 12.22???

    Not a bad year-end list, but how many folks actually had a chance to see them all, outside the PW/New York crowd? Maybe, not many…

  26. Synsidar, I have to disagree with your entire premise: lists like this are ALL ABOUT personal biases. That’s why we have critics. Anyone is free to be a critic, but you are just wrong if you think you can in any way leave “bias” out of a critique, let alone something so arbitrary as a Top Ten list.

    Personally, MAYBE one or two of those books would go on my own top ten list, because I haven’t read most of them and the ones I read, I mostly didn’t care for. That doesn’t mean I have “bias”, just different taste. I strongly assert that simply being “eclectic” does not a good list make.

  27. “Footnotes in Gaza” is on sale now. I just saw it in a bookstore the other day. And even if it wasn’t on sale yet, there exists a thing called “advance copies.” That’s how reviews of things are published on the day something is released.

  28. With all due respect, ‘Ultimates’ was my pick for the number spot too.

    Now before you all run for your pitchforks, yes I do read a wide range of comics and the fact is that book WAS a game changer.

    I consider it to be the modern equivalent of Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams’ work in the early 70s. It set the tone and visual language for this decade’s mainstream comics (hell, even some indies have swiped Hitch’s ‘widescreen’ art style). You don’t have to like it, but it’s hard not to appreciate the impact that series had and continues to have on the industry.

  29. I have to admit, despite his protestations, that scene where Joe Sacco points at his hat and screams “Do you think this B stands for Bani Suheila?” before taking out that tank was straight from The Ultimates.

  30. Hey CBrown:

    It’s the very same thing as movie critics listing movies in their year’s top list that haven’t opened nationwide. Siskel and Ebert did it a lot over the years.

    However, aren’t books a different animal entirely, even with advance copies going to plum reviewers (I own what I think was a NYT reviewer’s proof copy of an Erica Jong book)?

    Who would you consider to be the “plums” in comics? There’s very, very few folks in the known world of comics critics whose opinions I trust. T Spurgeon, Sean Collins and Douglas Wolk come to mind quickly. And, that’s just about it…

  31. Wayne, sorry, but I honestly am missing your point. Why are advance reviews of books different than advance reviews of movies? It sounds like you didn’t mind Siskel and Ebert’s listing of unreleased movies on their best-of list, but do mind it when it comes to books, because they’re a ‘different animal.’

    I also didn’t get your point in your previous post. The books on that PW aren’t obscure, to me, at least. I do live in NYC, so I do get to see most of what’s released. Maybe 90% of America’s comics stores won’t shelf The Photographer or A Drifting Life, but so what? If the criteria for these lists is based on what’s most readily available in the majority of Direct Market comics shops, the pool would consist of DC and Marvel event comics and some manga.

    I guess Spurgeon, Colllins, and Wolk are “plums.” I’d also consider Jog a “plum.” Heidi MacDonald’s pretty plummy, too.

  32. Hey CB:

    I grew up in Texas with “Oscar-nominated” movies not making it until way after the NY and LA release dates, so I was used to that process. Not so much with books. That’s all. But that’s even changing here too.

    Background: Worked in the BTB trade magazine world following retailing for the better part of 14 years and have worked in and generally been around comics retailing/publishing for 35 years. You’re right on the money that about 10 percent of the comics stores in America even consider shelving books that don’t have a superhero on or in them.

    But even for those retailers in the know, it’s tough to stock a decent number of them due to the all the corporate comics they must stock and all of their suffocating tie-ins — Dark Reign, Blackest Night, et.al. They’re drowning in multi-colored GL rings and multiple Obama/Spider-Man covers that they forget about ordering The Photographer or A Drifting Life. (My son may be deployed to Afghanistan early next year, so The Photographer is of great interest to me.) And, who can blame them?

    The PW list books shouldn’t be obscure but they are to too many folks. I welcome the day I see PW’s top 10 list sitting on a table in front of my fav comic book store waiting for me to look at them… a fantasy that’ll never happen.

    In fact, as a reader of fine comics who has smart and great retailer friends, it’s hard for me to find comics worth reading, as I’m seeing tons of corporate comics (a few good but most are mediocre), reprints of silver age classics (reminding me how bad most of them really were and how faulty my memories were of them) and not nearly enough comics or books (as my pal Eddie Campbell would say) of substance present at many fine comics shops.

  33. Parker

    Parker: The Hunter
    Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark (IDW)


    Driven by Lemons
    Josh Cotter (AdHouse)


    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
    Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou with art by Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna (Bloomsbury)


    The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders
    Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefèvre (First Second)

    Asterios Polyp

    Asterios Polyp
    David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)

    Scott Pilgrim

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe
    Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

    Footnotes in Gaza

    Footnotes in Gaza
    Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)

    A Drifting Life

    A Drifting Life
    Yoshihiro Tatsumi (D&Q)

    Yiou'll Never Know

    You’ll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man
    Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)


    Naoki Urasawa (Viz Media)

    I’m impressed by the list because it’s not tilted toward “name” creators or major publishers, and selective. Sacco’s book was a monumental effort; the selection of the subject matter in LOGICOMIX (the interaction of mathematics and philosophy) was daring. Using comics to impart information, whether it’s factual or biographical (Doxiadis, Sacco, Tatsumi, Guibert, Tyler) and to make intimidating topics more accessible are what comics excel at. The creators are being honored for their achievements, not being rewarded for success. That’s what a “Best of” list should do.