Did You Miss Me? Best of 2006

Published On January 9, 2007 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

My colleague Kenny Penman, co-founder of Forbidden Planet International, discovered that he read more comics in 2006 than he has for around ten years; he is unsure if this is a sign of age progressing or the quality of the comics produced in the last twelve months or so (his family physician, Dr Seuss, is looking into this). Whatever the true reason (and it may well be Something Man Is Not Meant To Know) it has prompted him to launch into the New Year with this Giant-Sized special edition of his Did You Miss Me? column, ranging across a variety of titles, some from famous creators, others someone you may not have read yet (but maybe now you will look for them), so settle down for some of Kenny’s selections from 2006, then please feel free to have a browse through some of the titles on our webstore – we’re doing an extra 5% on top of the regular discounts for a number of the comics listed here for the next four weeks to give you an added incentive to try something new:

I thought I’d follow everyone else’s lead and give you my favourite comics and related reading from last year. I haven’t picked a winner – although if pressed I think I got more reading pleasure from Fun Home, Shenzhen and New Frontier than from most others – I’m simply listing all the things I liked and thought were worth pointing others towards. I’m not sure I thought 2006 was a better year than 2005, but I guess on balance it was.

What was for sure was that there is more and more material of real quality emerging and that comics are now covering subject matter so broad that there may just be something for everyone. There will be a load of stuff I’ve missed out – some because I haven’t read them yet – “Lucky” and “American Born Chinese” spring to mind – and others because I’ve simply forgotten them. So here we go:

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Fun Home

Totally involving, it has an extra layer of depth that made it compelling for those who want their GNs to show some overt (literary) ‘intellectual’ trappings. A heartfelt story, cleverly and honestly told. Picked by Time magazine as ‘Book of the Year’ (ahead of all the other literature published in any field) this has put Bechdel to the forefront of comics. It will be a tough act to follow.

Absolute New Frontier

I rarely read monthlies now (I’m not the only one and that has got to be a worry for the old comic shop model) so I came to this cold in the enormous 406 page version (plus extras). Perhaps because it deals, mainly, with fairly secondary DC characters who inhabited the pages of the Brave and the Bold, Showcase and the likes in the ’50’s, it seemed the freshest treatment of this material for years. Most astonishingly it was pretty much one man’s vision and not part of the usual comics factory process still the norm at the majors. Darwyn Cooke’s story is a superhero masterpiece that also provides a lot of social context reflecting the times it’s set in. Probably the best long-form reworking of such characters since Watchmen.

It’s not without faults – covering so much history inevitably means certain passages are preachy or occasionally trite, and the display of heroism a little over the top at times. It’s been called “The Right Stuff” for Superheroes and that pretty much nails it. The art is confident and understated with a beautiful fluent, animation style line – and the covers were surely some of the most experimental ever used on a DC comic book. If you ever loved superhero comics you will love this. Terrific.

Shenzhen

Guy Delisle’s travelogue from China is a book I suspect many will have missed; don’t – go back and find it. The art is all in pencil and whilst it looks cartoony and simple at first, the skill of Delisle (a professional animator – it’s the reason he was in China in the first place) brings faces and situations to life. It’s both a very interesting view into China from a Westerner’s point of view and one of the funniest books I read this year.

150 pages of pleasure that makes you applaud D&Q for translating what would appear a fairly non-commercial book – the English speaking comics market has no real history of wanting material like Travelogues, unlike the French market where it was published first by ‘L’Association’, attempting to further broaden the comics market. I laughed out loud at times – and not many comics can make me do that.

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Night Fisher

Strictly speaking a 2005 book but one I didn’t read until early in ’06. Basically a coming of age story – perhaps even, in part, the young R. Kikuo Johnson’s own (this, remarkably, is his first graphic novel – and first comic work of any significance as far as I can tell) – convincingly portraying some of the decisions some of us will have made as we drifted through our teenage years towards more adult concerns.

It was drawn over a period of 4 years between 2002 and 2005 and whilst the line becomes cleaner and more assured as the book progresses it is never less than excellent. The control of the story and art joins into a fine narrative structure driven more by character than the loose plot. A kinda slacker coming of age comic. Very, very fine piece of work. There was an excellent medium length interview with the artist in the Comics Journal 30th anniversary edition.

Curses

Collects all Kevin Huizenga’s strips featuring Glen Ganges (also appearing this year in his own book as part of the Ignatz range) and some other material. It shows him to be a major new talent and the book shows the evolution of his art nicely. Mostly these are slices of (imagined) life stories – with the odd infomercial thrown in. “The Curse” will tell you more about Starlings than you would ever have expected to know (it’s fascinating though). The strips are also often very funny like in “28th Street” where we discover the unlikely way Glen and his wife Wendy are finally able to have a baby. A great book from D&Q.

My Boy

This is a wonderful looking graphic novel translated into English by Ria Schulpen’s underexposed Bries imprint. The book is essentially a homage/pastiche of the early 20th century newspaper comic strip – specifically artistically the work of Windsor McCay on Little Nemo by artist Olivier Schrauwen. The art as in Nemo is simply breathtakingly beautiful and the amount of love and time that has gone into getting the right look to the pages is amazing (for instance all the whites look yellowed with time). The stories are short and episodic and reminiscent of old strips whilst having their own modern veneer. Essentially they don’t need to make sense, they merely exist as they are. An excellent review of the book in its original French by Bart Beaty (a reviewer you all should follow) can be found on Tom Spurgeon’s excellent Comics Reporter site here.

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The Comics Journal Library Vol. 7: Harvey Kurtzman

Another large format repackaging of previous Comics Journals features and interviews (and probably some new stuff too, I can’t be bothered to check). Covers Kurtzman’s career in some depth and is loaded with wonderful comics pages and illustrations. If you feel Kurtzman was one of comics greatest creators, this deserves a place on your bookshelf. Whilst I’m on the subject of Comics Journal Library though, what was with volume 6 “The Writers” – a beautiful series of large format wonderfully illustrated books suddenly got an ugly sister thrown into their midst. Hardly an illustration in sight – sure it’s about writers but this dramatically spoils what, otherwise, is an excellent series.

Hugo Pratt Periples Imaginaires

An amazing book from Casterman (Pratt’s French publisher) covering 30 years of his watercolours. This is a large hardcover book – measuring just under 12″ square and running to over 450 pages – and as well as the enormous number of watercolours reproduced here, there is a fairly comprehensive, if short, biography as well as 3 critical articles which appraise Pratt’s work. All the written passages are in 3 languages – French, Italian and English – and with the exception of the first piece in the book the translations flow pretty well (as for that first piece – not sure what happened there but it is hard to read as the translation – presumably literal – is pretty appalling). The watercolours are glorious – Pratt has always been one of my favourite comics artists as he had no fear of experimentation – just as his pencils at times could be reduced to the most minimal so these paintings at times are sometimes reduced to semi-abstract daubs of colour. With Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese books due to return to print in English this year this is a book that every Pratt fan new or old will cherish.

Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man

I’m probably one of the last people in the world to read John Porcellino’s work – having never picked up a copy of his King Cat mini comic (if you want to you can subscribe here) – when I finally did I loved this. What starts out as a scratchy, barely able to draw, punk diary taking joy in the destruction of the hated bugs ends with Porcellino converting to Buddhism and regretting his destruction of any lifeform. Over the years he has also learnt how to draw in a charming, attractive style which suits the stories and his beatific new personality. There will be more King Cat collections in 2007, including this D+Q hardcover this spring – I’ll be buying them.

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Leviathan

My British comic of the year is the collected edition of this out of character 2000AD strip. Ian Edgington’s script is all a bit sub-Lovecraft but hints at many stories still to be told of the liner trapped in a world not their own. The feel of the turn of the century action is beautifully drawn by D’Israeli whose art is outstanding. I’m not sure if more adventures are planned but the look at the care that went into the making of the strip which is an additional feature at the end of the book makes one wish to see the story played out on a larger stage.

Blacksad

Ame Rouge/Rote Seele (Red Soul) is the third Blacksad book and it maintains the very high quality of the first two. The story set as ever in the late 40’s early 50’s this time deals with the coming of the Atomic science and the effect that will have on the world and the powers seeking to harness it. Of course there is a murder mystery at the heart of the book and that’s where Blacksad comes in. The Noir storyline is again a loving pastiche of the best of 40’s Hollywood and Raymond Chandler.

As always the art is amazingly detailed and some of the most beautiful in comics. I read this in the German version from Carlsen (well ‘read’ is an overstatement – stumbled through it) and to date it is available in a number of other foreign languages. I-Books translated the first two volumes so it’s to be hoped that someone does the same soon for this one, and if you haven’t read the first two you should. There’s a preview (with text in French) on the Blacksad Gallery blog.

The Ticking

Probably Renee French’s most ambitious work to date and a beautiful book in itself – Top Shelf really lavished some effort on the look and feel of the product. The story deals with adversity and hope springing eternal through the interaction of a deformed child with his father and environment. As with most of her work though it is the art that sets it apart, being a series of (often) small pencil drawn panels which show an amazing level of detailing worthy of a Victorian miniaturist.

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In the Studio

Todd Hignite creator of the magazine Comic Art (mentioned again below) got to really fly with this wonderful book from Yale University Press. Basically it consists of visits and interviews with some of today’s most important cartoonists. Many of the interviews had appeared (at least in part) in previous issues of Comic Art – but they were all allowed a lot more space to breathe here with stacks of illustrations from each artist. Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, Gary Panter, Charles Burns, Art Spiegelman, Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Seth, and Ivan Brunetti. The Panter and Brunetti ones appear for the first time and every interview shows that Hignite has a deep love of these creators’ work whilst letting them basically talk for themselves about their influences, technique and much more. The best book about comics this year by a country mile.

Chicken with Plums

Satrapi’s latest book to get an English translation revolves around a musician and his loss of true love. The story is fairly slight – feeling like a folk tale (although according to the author based on true life) – but in the melancholy of someone in effect dying of a broken heart quite affecting. Satrapi’s bold, pared down, art is effective at telling her tale. Better than Embroideries, not quite up there with Persepolis.

The Beast Mother and Matti and Dodi

Eleanor Davis is one half of the cartooning team that are Little House Comics. Along with Drew Ewing they produced a lovely comic called Bugbear which carried samples of both their work. But for me the stand out comics were Eleanor’s two solo books. Each is self-published and both have the kind of innovative covers you only usually see in the small press comics world (Beast has a die-cut cover and M and D a cover with a sticker) and I thought both were excellent.

Davis surely will be picked up soon by a publisher who could do worse than collect together a book of her constantly improving and varied comics work. That’s not to say that she needs to improve much at all – both are drawn with an assured style and are really quite lovely. Beast at times feels a little like Sammy Harkham and M and D has some echoes in stuff like Jason Lute’s Berlin but she is a more fluent cartoonist, to my eye, than either. Do yourself a favour and check her work out here;. the comics are available to buy at Little House Comics.

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Dream of the Rarebit Fiend

In truth this is a reserved recommendation. I wanted the material – a lot. As far as I can remember there hasn’t been as complete a collection of the Rarebit Fiend Saturday strips before. However, sadly it is a Checker book. In many ways it’s a nicely put together hardcover but the strips unfortunately don’t have stellar reproduction – perhaps that isn’t entirely Checker’s fault as I’m sure they are scanning from old material but some of the black drop outs could surely have been put right in Photoshop.

Also given that it has Checker’s usual lack of background essays or bios, these make the book, in many ways, disappointing. Still I’d rather have this wonderful material than not. Checker have some really interesting classic strip projects going if only they could develop a Fantagraphics type sensibility for how they should be reprinted. Given that Sunday Press Books Nemo reprints showed that for collectors of this work price isn’t likely to be a stumbling block, Checker could have taken more of a risk and lavished the attention on this strip it deserves.

New York Times

The Funny Pages started in Sept ’05 with the serialisation of Chris Wares 30 part “Building Stories”. This year saw the 20 part Jaime Hernandez story “La Maggie La Loca” and Seth’s “George Sprott” is still continuing now. You can download a new PDF of the current story every week for free (you just have to go through a short registration process) and then print them out and enjoy – or if you can buy the New York Times buy the paper and experience them as they were intended. The Ware strip I think can be found as a zip file on the excellent Drawn (just stick his name in the search engine) and I’m sure if you look hard enough you can still find Jaime’s story kicking about the web.

The Maggie strip was in a way a throw back to the early days of Love and Rockets, or at least seemed it to me. Starring Rina Titanon and her adventures in a ‘tin-pot’ South American(?) republic it minimised word balloons with much of the story told as narrative in the form of a diary(?) (very like Love and Rockets 2). It wore its colour well and was an elegantly understated Maggie adventure which I loved. FREE comics – surely that can’t be bad and when they are from 3 of the field’s best – well done NYT.

Pre-Millennial Maakies

Just what it says in the title – a collection of all the Maakies strips from prior to the year 2000. Tony Millionaire also released the long form Billy Hazelnuts this year which was pretty good – but I still like Maakies more. I guess beautifully drawn sea going vessels and humour driven home with a sledgehammer just work best for me. Easily the funniest reprint of the year and so nice to have all that lovely madness in a hardcover edition.

Comic Art 8

Todd Hignite’s magazine turned into an annual and the transformation established it as the best magazine on the aesthetics of comics out there. I reviewed it previously here. I’m still working my way through some of the books Seth recommends in his little book and so far they have made me think I want to find and look at them all. A fantastic publication everyone who ever vaguely thought of comics as an artform should buy.

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Comics Journal

It still remains the thing I most look forward to every month. The Magazine of Comics News and Criticism it appears will be dropping the news and concentrating in the coming year on features and the amazing industry interviews the magazine is famous for. With the new perfect bound format and the addition of a colour comics section (which so far has shown some very surprising stuff) it is becoming an even better magazine than before. If you love comics you really should have a Comics Journal subscription with your local comics store. Sure it tries on occasion to get up people’s noses – but the interviews are truly invaluable, often running to up to 100 pages – and personally I’m glad it isn’t satisfied to praise but wants comics to keep becoming more. I realised with the 30th Anniversary issue that I had read every issue since 28 was published (which started the Groth and Thompson era)- as well as my favourite monthly read it now acts as father time as I get old with the Journal.

Ignatz Line

I’m not exactly sure how this works but this seems to be based around material originated editorially by Italian cartoonist Igort with him marshalling worldwide artists and a number of publishers around the world publishing versions in their native language. It is an exciting project and so far the material has been almost universally excellent. Gilbert Hernandez’s New Tales of Palomar has just joined the group and was what was expected – i.e. fantastic – of the previously released volumes I loved the stuff by Italian Cartoonist Gipi , Huizenga’s Ganges volume and Igort’s own Baobab. I remain stumped to this day by Mattotti’s “Chimera” though. A terrific line existing somewhere between comic and graphic novel – if I were you I’d collect them all.

Eightball 23

A graphic novel in all but format (if it had been presented in the same format as Ice Haven it wouldn’t be much shorter) being in a large 48 page ‘comic’ format. This was Clowes’ first Eightball in nearly 2 years but all the trademarks are there – loads of talking heads and a screwed up life – this time Andy’s – and what happens to that life when you just happen to have discovered a Death Ray – all depicted in Clowes’ effortless line. Highly enjoyable – when’s the film coming out?

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Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase

Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase – Marvel’s Essentials line drove on into the 70’s and the collecting of some really pretty bizarre comics whilst DC started out with a scattershot approach picking material hither and thither. DC came very late to the party here – but now they have they did a nice job of repackaging their old material in these black and white, phone book size, collections. Of course some of the material is pretty lame but in terms of ‘bang for your buck’ it’s hard to fault these books. 500+ pages of comics for under a tenner – bargain. Marvel finished collecting the fine Dracula stories (and frankly who cares if they doctored the art to cover the odd breast or so), gave us Mike Ploog’s inspired cartooning on Werewolf by Night and DC’s Showcase House of Mystery was packed with work by some comics greats including Toth and Adams.

Acme Novelty Library 17

I’m enjoying Rusty Brown as much as any Chris Ware. The story seems, to me, more clearly told than some of his previous work although the attention to detail and experiments continue. I often feel it is like the equivalent of an Altman film with the way sound is represented as important as what is said. The way he shows people whispering or talking at a distance almost has you moving nearer the page to hear them although in fact it is entirely visually represented – an amazing feeling. All in all a very rich reading experience with a lot of story to digest and Ware’s exceptional art and beautiful colour palette a feast for the eyes. It also reminded me I really do need reading glasses or by the next issue I might be missing half the action.

Springheeled Jack

David Hitchcock is one of the leading lights of the UK, self published, small press movement. He has collected his Springheeled Jack strip into a limited printing hardcover complete with some additional making of material. Think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, meets From Hell via Aliens and you just about get the idea. Hitchcock’s art is reminiscent of the early work of Bernie Wrightson (which can be seen in the DC Showcase House of Mystery mentioned elsewhere). Good story, well told.

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Spirit Archives

Kudos goes to DC for continuing this series until we’ll have all of the original Spirit stories in print in the lavish Archives format (certainly a long way from the original newsprint they would have appeared on). Eisner died this year and for many these comics will be as important as the later more realistic work which got him his reputation as the father of the graphic novel. In 8 or 9 page stories the writers and artists here (not always Eisner although his name is always on the strip as Bob Kane’s was on Batman for many years) prove that cracking little tales of adventure, melancholy, crime and passion can be told with some room to spare despite the format. The art for the most part is lovely and this coming year, I think , will see the reprinting of the Wally Wood Spirit stories which may be the strip’s high point.

W the Whore 2

I read this in the translated version from Bries – my girlfriend in the original German (her native tongue) – I can’t say either of us really followed it. But maybe that is the point. The Anke Feuchtenberger art is beautiful and good enough reason to put down your money for this or any of her previous/later books. With her write up in the last Comic Art perhaps someone might collect her work for the English speaking market (although a lot of previous work is actually wordless) just don’t start with the very difficult “Wenn mein Hund stirbt mach ich mir eine Jacke” – which was the basis of the CA review. How about Der Palast or Das Haus.

Judge Dredd: the Complete Case Files

For the record I’m not really a 2000AD fan. I’m not part of that UK generation of comics fans brought to the field by reading this as a kid – who view the whole comics output through rose tinted specs. However, Dredd is the major British comics creation of the last 35 years and these huge books (like the Marvel Essentials – though a little smaller on the page count) are reprinting the stories in order. Many UK comic greats started in these pages – notably Brian Bolland – so they are an invaluable (and cheap) resource for anyone interested in the last great UK comic.

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Elmer

Gerry Alanguilan’s story of the difficulties in one race accepting another, here man and chickens, of course is a thinly veiled look at such problems that have beset man forever. It is a sharply told tale and has top notch art. Self published by Gerry’s own Komikero imprint ask your local comics store to order some direct if they don’t stock it. Alanguilan is part of what appears to be a lively local comics scene in the Philippines, although perhaps one that is not really commercially self sustaining. He is aware of the great tradition of Filipino comics greats like Alcala and Redondo – the book is in English and deserves a look, and the Filipino scene warrants further examination as it has many fine artists.

Popeye book 1

Fantagraphics returned to repackage the Popeye material they previously released about 20 years ago but those 20 years have seen them learn a lot about packaging and design. This was undoubtedly one of the most superficially attractive books of the year – large format hardcover with a cut out feature and an arresting cover design. For many Popeye is still one of the great comic strips; this series looks like it will do it justice. It’s a little hard reading these early strips to foretell the immense world-wide fame the character would garner in the years to come. As well as the black and white dailies the Sundays are printed chronologically also – and in full colour (I can’t remember but I don’t think Fanta did these in this form in their first attempt at Popeye reprints – can’t check as my old volumes are stuck on a pallet in a warehouse – I need a larger house). Throughout the art is reproduced really pretty well given the likely age and condition of the source material – they seem to have lavished attention on getting it right. Excellent.

Schizo 4

Like this year’s Eightball this is essentially a graphic novel masquerading as a comic. Printed in a very large format this contained what can only be called surprising material. If all you ever read of Brunetti was Haw or even the deeply depressed Schizo 3 this was a real eye opener. Essentially a series of one page strips often biographies of people Brunetti admires told in a variety of minimalist but highly designed art styles. I though it was simply beautiful for the most part. He covers such widespread greats as Mondrian, Satie, Louise Brooks, the Marx brothers and more.

The lead in strip, a heartfelt dedication to the greatness of Charles Schultz is a standout – and if you are worried it might not be funny the last 3 panels of this first strip set the tone. Brunetti also edited the much praised “An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories” which has made many best of the year lists. Lovely book. However if you are a regular reader of ‘alt’ comics there won’t be much you don’t already know here – it is the perfect primer though if you are coming new to this part of the comics world.

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Cartoon Modern

This isn’t comics but it’s pretty closely related. Growing up I always kinda hated (what I later discovered were) UPC cartoons – they just didn’t seem finished compared to Warners or Disney. Later I’ve realised that they were not unfinished just marching to the beat of their own distinctly different drum. This amazing book covers UPC (and other studios) and the new styles and designs that invaded animation in the fifties. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the book as I’m not an animation scholar but the artwork included in this volume is absolutely incredible. If you love comics by the like of Ivan Brunetti or Chris Ware you will find much in here to immerse yourself in. An outstanding look at an outstanding art ‘movement’.

On the Outside Looking In

This was the strangest thing I read all year. Basically a diary of Kaisa’s exploration of adopting of, and immersion into, the Hare Krishna belief system. It pretty much read as a piece of propaganda for the religion but at its heart is the incredible story of Kaisa’s own decision to have her feet amputated and replaced with prosthetic feet. The cartooning is very one dimensional and the propaganda element plain boring to me (probably not to believers) but the book has great production values and again shows comics being used in an interesting ‘educational’ way. Visit Kaisa’s site here – in Finnish but the book is in English. I’ve found Jelle Hugaert to be an excellent source for Finnish comics should you want to follow their very active scene – his site is here – and he will be happy to guide you through what you might or might not like, he has perfect English.

Kramer’s Ergot and Glomp

If you were looking for the more experimental side of comics these servings from the US and Finland were the places to go. To me both were a mixed bag – Kramer’s has been written about at length elsewhere and I reviewed it earlier this year – suffice to say that not everything will be for everyone but the good outweighs the bad (well my idea of bad, I’m sure someone likes the parts I hated).

Glomp is the Finnish Kramer’s – overall quality may not be so polished but there is some interesting work here. It’s a little more narrative driven than Kramer’s and I really liked Amanda Vahamaki, Katri Sipilainen and Anna-Kaisa Laine’s contributions (amongst others). Issue 8 marked a big step forward for the title – going (far as I can tell) with all Finnish artists whereas before it had heavily used foreign (if excellent) contributions from the likes of Jeffrey Brown. The work is in Finnish, but each page has translations at the bottom. I believe it has sold out but get on Jelle’s mailing list and be ready for issue 9.

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MOME

Fantagraphics’ book format quarterly showcase of new talent seems to me the most regular gig for any new would be cartoonists. It’s packed with many who are about to or have moved on to their own longer format books – Gabrielle Bell, Anders Nilsen, Jeffrey Brown and others and those who surely will follow soon such as Martin Cendreda and Paul Hornschemeier. Less radical than Kramer’s but much more likely to be the place you discover the next crossover hit artist. They also pulled a nice move by translating for the first time some excellent David B. strips as they built their readership. Pretty much essential reading.

Complete Peanuts
Nothing really needs to be said about this. Don’t let your enthusiasm wane and make sure you buy every volume – 2 volumes a year – only another 9 years to go. Your family will thank you when you leave them in your will.

The Art of Brian Bolland

A massive retrospective of Bolland’s career to date. No matter what you think of some of the material he is making the pictures for, it is hard not to be blown away by Bolland’s mastery of the arresting image. This is told in his own words (and often photos) making it like a partial bio’ to go with all the lovely art. If you are a fan you will love this book. I would have liked a few more behind the scenes, work in progress sketches etc. but this is a big book already. One of the best books on a single comics artist ever. A similar book on Peter Craig Russell is due from Image this year, we can only hope it’s as good as this. You can read an interview with Joe Pruett who edited the Bolland book (and is working on the Russell) we had back in October here on the blog.

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Scarfe – Drawing Blood

Again released very late 2005 I didn’t get to this until March and it ended as one of my fave books of the year. A massive career retrospective of Scarfe’s cartooning. I guess he is most widely known for his work on “The Wall” with Pink Floyd but this book charts his progression from daring political cartoonist in the ’60’s through to his tackle anything with gusto position of today. All along the way there is fine cartooning and some dead on caricature – the man is a great and this a fitting book to his genius.

Disappointments of the year

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Sloth

Not because it was bad – it wasn’t – but just because it wasn’t as good as Palomar. Maybe my standards are set too high for one of my all time favourite cartoonists. It felt too much like a comic version of Girlfriend in a Coma to me.

Lost Girls

I may be being a philistine here but I didn’t quite get what the big deal was here. The production was lavish in the extreme and Top Shelf (a company who genuinely seem to care about the quality of the production they put out) did an amazing job on the print and promotion – has there ever been a more talked about comic? Somehow I just didn’t feel I was in the presence of greatness here – Melinda Gebbie’s art is fine, perhaps a little stilted, and the story romps along and some of the porn worked for me on an erotic level but somehow it just seemed minor Alan Moore. Of course it is better done overall than some of the books above I liked but relative to things like From Hell and Watchmen, for me, it remained a disappointment. Worth a read but probably not worth £70.

The proliferation of high priced mega reprints

I’m not talking about long out of print classic strips here. I just find it a little hard to see what other than purely commercial needs are met by repackaging all the New X-Men hardcovers in one mega volume or why Hush should need an Absolute edition (as a retailer I’m not complaining as these things do sell). I’m as prone to buying these things as the next collector – Absolute New Frontier is listed as one of my faves – but I do feel essentially it’s taking up spending money that might otherwise be buying something new and therefore nurturing new talent which these volumes do not. Publishers seem now to be cottoning on to something that DVD packagers have known for years that people will buy things over and over again (and remember you only probably paid for the material to be made one time) as long as you stick in a few extras and make something the ‘Ultimate’ edition. Not a good trend.

Where are the lavish editions for collectors of Cliff Sterret’s Polly and Her Pals? Surely this material must come soon – whoever does it, please resist the temptation to start with the 20’s stuff and give us the whole shooting match. As I finish writing this I’ve just come across an article on Polly in the Comics Journal 279 by Don Phelps – with any luck it will mean the powers at Fantagraphics moving towards doing those reprints.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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