Saturday, November 6, 2010

Amazon announces their Top 10 Comics of 2010 (editor and customer)

Dang, I really need to pick up that Charles Burns comic.  Maybe next week.

Amazon has released their Editor's list of their favorite comics of 2010.

These days I don't tend to burn a lot of cycles criticizing these lists (unless the list is just really dopey) as I believe the motives behind the "best of" lists are pretty good, especially from editorial staffs.  By January I always find two or three things to read by comparing and contrasting who said what was worthy, and I think if you look at a few particularly non-biased sources, you can actually get a pretty good picture.  I am not going to complain that my favorite comic didn't appear, superheroes are underrepresented, etc... because that's not what's going on here.

I will say:  it's the wild west out there, and you're very likely to find someone who has spent days and days assembling a list intended to give them impeccable and inscrutable credentials, but those lists generally cater to a very niche audience of about 20 people who all do the same thing and generally disagree with each other, anyway.

Instead, I'm just going to tell you what I know about the items on the list.  Maybe there's no benefit there, but...  what is life if I can't editorialize?

1)  The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death
I'll be honest, I've picked up two very expensive Love and Rockets collections, and I'm just not a Love and Rockets guy (the comic, not the band.  I quite liked the band circa 1988- college.)  I don't know why Love and Rockets doesn't click for me.  Perhaps if I'd read these as monthly or quarterly installments as they were released, then the Hernandez Bros. tendency toward an overtilt for character and design at the cost of story might be lessened ...  but as a massive tome...  it can get straight up tedious.   That said, Jaime Hernandez is an amazing artist, so this is worth a look.

2)  Batwoman: Elegy
I'm just a huge, huge fan of this book.  When I talk about design and character balancing with story...  I can't think of a better example.  The art is absolutely mind-blowing, and the development of Kate Kane is the most satisfying origin for a DC hero in decades.  This is likely a great superhero comic for folks who look down their nose at superheroes.

3)  X'ed Out
This is the newest work by Black Hole auteur Charles Burns.  Horus said some pretty great things about this, so it was on my reading list, anyway.  And I allllllmost bought it two weeks ago at Austin Books.  Probably next time.

4)  Market Day
I've read and enjoyed one or two of Sturm's other books, and something about Market Day has sounded right.  I've been waiting for a paperback release.

5)  King of the Flies: Hallorave (Vol. 1)
So help me, I've never heard of this book before.

6)  40: A Doonesbury Retrospective
Well, its 40 years of one of the sharpest comics aimed squarely at adults you're going to find.  That said...  I'm not a huge Doonesbury nut.  It always felt like it was aimed at my folks' generation, and so when I was likely old enough to really tune into Doonesbury, frankly, I wasn't reading a paper anymore.  Thanks, internet.

I'm busily picking up the awesome IDW collections of  Bloom County, which started off as a Doonesbury knock-off, if that helps.

7)  Hellboy Volume 9: The Wild Hunt (Hellboy (Graphic Novels))
I am very, very surprised to see this book on the list.  Hellboy is ten years gone from making big waves in comics either in sales or being the "hot new thing".  Huh.  This must be pretty good.

8)  Acme Novelty Library #20
Another year, another list containing containing this year's Chris Ware offering.  I haven't read any Ware since Quimby was released.  I know I'm missing a decent experience by not picking up Ware's stuff, but its odd...  I feel I get far more out of how Ware executes than what he ever actually has to say.  (Yes, life can be lonely and depressing and we fill our lives with illusion.  Got it.).  But he does it so well.  Its hard to argue with editors supporting the guy as one of the top 5 or 10 masters of the craft currently working, but... somebody give Mr. Ware a hug.  Its going to be okay.

9)  Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book
Ah.  Here's #3 of what I was going to pick up.  This book has received some pretty darn good notices, but it looks like it wasn't even for sale to the mainstream market.  My issue is that I'm not particularly a huge fan of Barry's strips, so...  I dunno.  Maybe in paperback?

10)  Wednesday Comics
It won't be the same as picking up DC's weekly newsprint-based comic from the summer of 2009, but this was such a great grab bag of some of today's best artists and writers just going nuts.  You won't love every part of it (Caldwell's Wonder Woman left me cold), but you'll find old favorites (for me, Metamorpho by Gaiman and Allred), and new favorites (Paul Pope on Adam Strange).

What's fascinating about the Customer Top 10 is that its obvious from looking at the list how easily numbers are swayed by other media making its way into comics. 

In fact, I find that list mostly just really funny.  (A)  Because the stuff us comics geeks gripe and complain about in comics is a small blip on the radar in general when it comes to sales, ie:  the biggest fans of comics apparently don't matter when Stephanie Meyer turns her eye, Sauron-like, upon the comics market and brings her legion of fans along.  (B)  Scott Pilgrim still kicked everyone in the shins this year.  Which means something along the lines of:  I am ooolllllllldddddddddddd.  (C)  I've never heard of "The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel".  Frankly, it sounds like the worst fan-fic title ever.

Noting what sort of stuff is actually selling (and amazon would know), no wonder DC has decided OGNs are the way to go for the Earth One effort.  I'd want a permanent place in that market, too.

For Hollywood, its got to be an interesting lesson.  Scott Pilgrim was/ is a massive success in print, but at the cinema...  didn't exactly set the world on fire.   The folks who loved it as a comic loved it as a movie.  And a whole lot of other people took a pass.  So I wouldn't expect movie deals to peg to either of these lists.


horus kemwer said...

Some notes:

1. I'd take Bloom County over Doonesbury any day.

2. ACME Novelty Library #20 isn't released until tomorrow - no fair putting it on a best of list before you've read it!

3. King of the Flies: Hallorave is a European comic (Belgian, I think) which knocks of Burns' style, featuring many of the same themes, but nowhere near as original or interesting. Still, it's pretty fun, dark, and twisted. I'll certainly check out Vol. 2 if they ever release it this side of the Atlantic. Strangest thing about it is the setting, kind of a pseudo-Burns style America, but in Europe, pretty "off."

Simon MacDonald said...

I recently lent my copy of Batwoman: Elegy to a friend here at work and he loved it. He's just starting to be a comic reader and he was very impressed by JH's art. I also lent him All Star Superman so he'll be a fan for life now.

I honestly don't know why I'm not getting those IDW collections of Bloom County. That is one of my all time favourite strips along with Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side. Probably because all the soft covers are sitting in a stack back in my Dad's place in Nova Scotia.

As an aside I've just started reading "Looking for Calvin and Hobbes" by Nevin Martell. So far it's okay but it's not lighting my world on fire. Ultimately I think it will suffer from the author not being able to get an interview with the reclusive Bill Watterson.

I've only heard good things about the latter Hellboy volumes. Apparently there is a pretty big twist in his story which takes things in an exciting direction. My reading stalled out at volume 7 as it was the last one my library had. However I just did a quick search and 8, 9 and 10 are now available so they've been requested. I'll let you know how they are.

I broke down and bought Wednesday Comics the HC this week as I had a 35% off coupon for our local bookstore. I have all the single issues but I had to have Ryan Sook's art collected as a book. I'm not disappointed in my purchase at all.