The popularity of the graphic genre continues to rage, and The Best American Comics is a diverse, exciting annual selection for fans and newcomers alike. The inaugural volume includes stories culled from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the Web.
Contributors include Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, Kim Deitch, Jaime Hernandez, Alison Bechdel, Joe Sacco, and Lynda Barryand unique discoveries such as Justin Hall, Esther Pearl Watson, and Lilli Carré.
The idea of Houghton Mifflin's distinguished Best American series turning to the comics would once have seemed unlikely, but the powerful narratives in this collection prove why it's a good idea. Editors Pekar (American Splendor) and Moore (Punk Planet magazine) concentrate on the graphic equivalents of literary fiction and essays, and the best results are haunting. The contents range from the fantastic (Rebecca Dart's "Rabbithead," which channels Topo Gigio and Clint Eastwood) through fiction (an excerpt from Alex Robinson's graphic novel Tricked) to serious nonfiction (Joe Sacco's account of a Marine unit in Haditha). The longer chunks of story tend to be the most effective, like Justin Hall's "La Rubia Loca," an engrossing story about a bunch of hippie slackers stuck on a bus tour through Mexico with a crazy woman. Although there are strong offerings from established comics greats like Crumb, Jaime Hernandez and Lynda Barry, the editors also showcase newcomers like Jesse Reklaw (his touching "13 Cats" is the story of a fractured childhood told through the author's attachment to a series of doomed kittens. A few of the shorter pieces are almost amateurish by comparison, but in general this volume shows the Best American Comics concept to be a showcase for thought-provoking and evocative work. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.