115 greatest comics of all time?

Published On August 29, 2011 | By Joe Gordon | Comics

Back in the spring we blogged about how the Hooded Utilitarian site was asking readers for their lists of the best comics of all time. The acceptable range was very broad, pretty much covering the entire spectrum of comics and cartooning from newspaper strips to the floppy issue comics, graphic novels and more. Somehow I missed noticing that the HU had actually posted up the results until BoingBoing flagged it up. Here’s what emerged as the top 25 titles:

(Peanuts by Charlese M Schulz, (c) the Schulz estate)

1. Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz [50 votes]
2. Krazy Kat, George Herriman [46 votes]
3. Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson [45 votes]
4. Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons [31 votes]
5. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman [28.125 votes]
6. Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay [25.5 votes]
7. The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez [24.5 votes]
8. Pogo, Walt Kelly [24 votes]
9. MAD #1-28, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al. [23.75 votes]
10. The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al. [22.333 votes]
11. The Fourth World Stories, Jack Kirby, with Mike Royer, et al. [22 votes]
12. The Donald Duck and Uncle $crooge Stories, Carl Barks [20 votes]
(tie) From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell [20 votes]
14. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware [17.25 votes]
15. Tintin, Hergé [17 votes]
16. Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard [16 votes]
17. The Counterculture-Era Stories, R. Crumb [15.167 votes]
18. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley [15 votes]
(tie) The Spirit, Will Eisner, with Jules Feiffer, et al. [15 votes]
(tie) Thimble Theatre, starring Popeye, E. C. Segar [15 votes]
21. The Palomar Stories, Gilbert Hernandez [14.5 votes]
22. The Sandman, including The Death Stories, Neil Gaiman, et al. [14 votes]
23. The Jimbo Stories, Gary Panter [13.125 votes]
24. Black Hole, Charles Burns [13 votes]
(tie) Fun Home, Alison Bechdel [13 votes]

(a scene from Fun Home by and (c) Alison Bechdel)

Somehow I am not surprised to see Peanuts top the list as it seems to consistently feature on many people’s all-time faves list in many countries round the world, and Calvin and Hobbes likewise one of those series that so many simply adore (and it is such lovely cartooning). Now obviously a poll of a few hundred people isn’t an enormous sample, but even if the voters numbered in the thousands I’m fairly sure we’d still all be debating or arguing the list, the inclusions, omissions and the ranking. But it’s still quite an achievement and a great list for anyone to get suggestions for their quality comics library. And it is even more impressive when you consider that the HU has posted up an essay about each of the top ten titles along with the publication history and voting account. That’s not all – HU will be posting essays discussing the results, with several already on the site, including Shaenon Garrity’s HU Lady List, Manga and the Best Comics Poll by Kate Dacey and more.

There are a lot of works in there which are in my own library and more that I really should have read. Looking down the list I do find it interesting how the ranking has come out – for example Moore and Gibbons’ Watchman being in the top ten is hardly a surprise, is it? And Moore is back again in that top twenty, this time with Eddie Campbell with From Hell (on a sidebar, glad to see Eddie’s solo work ranking high in the remainder of the list, at 26 for the Alec work). And yet Moore and Lloyd’s V For Vendetta is way, way, way further down the ranking from those two, right down in the 90s, which I have to say I find astonishing, not just that it isn’t higher ranked but that there would be such a huge gap between the ranking V took and that of Watchmen and From Hell, not to mention it scoring far lower than, say, Elektra Assassin (which is a great work, glad to see a nice new hardback of it coming from Marvel soon, but is it better than V For Vendetta??). I’m also quite surprised that Gaiman’s mangificent Sandman series didn’t make it inside the top twenty and that Sacco’s Palestine was way down in the 70s. I’d also suspect that although a lot of these titles would come up from most international readers anywhere the likes of Tintin, Asterix and Corto Maltese would have been a bit higher up if it were only Europeans voting, for instance.

But that’s the nature of these lists, some of the entries (or those titles missing from the list) will always be different from the personal ones each of us has – I’m sure for everyone of you who nodded your head when I said how odd I thought it that the Sandman didn’t place a bit higher there were others who still wonder why some of us make such a fuss over that series; such is the nature of reading and personal taste. I’m also delighted to see some entries like Alison Bechdel, not only for her compelling Fun Home memoir, but for her wonderful Dykes To Watch Out For too. And it is pleasing to see Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons getting a nod, although once more it leaves me wondering when we will see a decent big deluxe collection of Addams Family and other related works? But away from these considerations, it is a great job by the HU crew (especially given all the essays about the list and the individual series) and it offers up a great starting point for a debate on good comics, not to mention a great suggested reading list for anyone, be they new to the medium or old hands. Kudos to the HU gang.

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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.

4 Responses to 115 greatest comics of all time?

  1. Thanks so much for this note. Your concluding sentences sum up just about everything I hoped to accomplish with organizing the poll and the presentation of the results.

  2. Softboy says:

    From continetal Europe only Hergé, nor even a single manga (even Tezuka)Any list without Breccia is a bad one. Bad list

  3. Joe says:

    Robert, it’s a great achievement, especially with all the accompanying essays, well done.

    Softboy, in the rest of the 115 there are manga and more from continental Europe elsewhere in that list

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