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The Best American Comics 2012 PDF, ePub eBook “When I started RAW magazine in the ’80s, there were mostly superheroes, a few children’s comics, and the dirty, intentionally lowbrow, underground comix. And now, comics can tackle any topic.”—Françoise Mouly, from the Introduction FEATURING Charles Burns, Chester Brown, Joyce Farmer, Chris Ware, Gary Panter, Sergio Aragonés, Christoph Niemann, Adrian Tomine, Sarah Varon, “When I started RAW magazine in the ’80s, there were mostly superheroes, a few children’s comics, and the dirty, intentionally lowbrow, underground comix. And now, comics can tackle any topic.”—Françoise Mouly, from the Introduction FEATURING Charles Burns, Chester Brown, Joyce Farmer, Chris Ware, Gary Panter, Sergio Aragonés, Christoph Niemann, Adrian Tomine, Sarah Varon, and others. This year with a sampler of comics for kids!

30 review for The Best American Comics 2012

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It would have been better to give the editorship to someone younger who is actually interested in comics. Many of these selections aren't even comics, regardless of the book's title. And while I love Chester Brown, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, and Jim Woodring from way back in the day, there's honestly no one new out there this collection could showcase? Other selections, such as the one by Mad Magazine veteran Sergio Aragones, are simply embarrassing. I may sound like Comic Book Guy ("Worst. Coll It would have been better to give the editorship to someone younger who is actually interested in comics. Many of these selections aren't even comics, regardless of the book's title. And while I love Chester Brown, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, and Jim Woodring from way back in the day, there's honestly no one new out there this collection could showcase? Other selections, such as the one by Mad Magazine veteran Sergio Aragones, are simply embarrassing. I may sound like Comic Book Guy ("Worst. Collection. Ever.") but it might just be time to retire this series if they're just going to rehash the artists of the 1990s and earlier.

  2. 5 out of 5

    garrett

    there are some gems in here, but for the most part the comics chosen were terribly boring

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Roth

    One thing I have to say about this collection is that it says "Best American Comics," but that doesn't even begin to prepare you for the diversity of voices in this volume. Some of the contributors are from the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, some are from the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, some are from the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and, some--are you sitting down?--are even from the South Williamsburg neighborhood. In terms of age, some of the contributors are as youn One thing I have to say about this collection is that it says "Best American Comics," but that doesn't even begin to prepare you for the diversity of voices in this volume. Some of the contributors are from the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, some are from the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, some are from the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and, some--are you sitting down?--are even from the South Williamsburg neighborhood. In terms of age, some of the contributors are as young as 25, while some of them are as old as 35. All SORTS of northeastern European ethnicities are represented, and the social classes range all the way from middle class to upper middle class. And gender? Heck, there's at least one gender represented in this collection, maybe even two, though I'd have to go back and check on that one. All kidding aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. There are some comics makers in there that I didn't know about and that I will be sure to check out more from. But it's a bit distressing to see really only one small sector of the comics format represented in this collection--i.e. the cerebral, ironic "graphic novel" approach. Myself, in the course of 2012 I read some graphic novels of the type excerpted here, but mostly I read mass-market monthly comics, from Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Dark Horse, Image, etc., with an emphasis on superhero and horror. And I must say, storytellers like Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, and Jeff Lemire are doing dazzling, brilliant work that seems to be absolutely ineligible for a volume like this because it has superheroes in it or isn't knowingly, guffawingly ironic about everything. Hickman's work on SHIELD and FF, for example, or Ed Brubaker's Captain America storylines take their heroes and their topics deadly seriously, which is part of what makes them fun. They know that the superhero tradition is primarily entertainment and can and should be played with and tweaked and looked at from different angles, but they don't think it's something to be sneered at. And another thing: if stories in, say, titles by Vertigo or Dark Horse comics were drawn as shittily, yes SHITTILY, as some (some, not all) of the scrawls in this volume, people would complain, it wouldn't be tolerated, because the artists wouldn't have ironical haughtiness or studied faux-naïveté to hide behind. But it's not like this doesn't happen in music and fiction and poetry and the visual arts and everything else. People find a vibrant art form, elevate part of it to "high art" in the way the Art Spiegelman / Françoise Mouly crowd have done with comics, but what do you know: the really vibrant stuff is still going on in the part of the art form that hasn't been wrenched out of context and hung on a gallery wall for people to chew on their pipestems over. Don't get me wrong. There's some great stuff in this volume, stuff I'll be going back to and checking out more of (see, I gave it 4 stars). Charles Burns's excerpt is great, and Love and Rockets is in fine form here, really excellent. I could go on. But don't try and tell me these are THE Best American Comics of 2012. Or even any kind of cross section.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    Here's what I liked: "X'ed Out" by Charles Burns, "Jimbo" by Gary Panter, "Frank and the Gut-Worshippers" by Jim Woodring, "The Pilot Learns To Fly" by Anders Nilsen, "The Love Bunglers" by Jaime Hernandez, "Even the Giants Get the Blues" by Jesse Jacobs, and "Read a Book" by Michael J. Buckley. I had already read the Charles Burns selection because I have the complete "X'ed Out" graphic novel. I was so enchanted with "Even the Giants Get the Blues" by Jesse Jacobs that I immediately ordered the Here's what I liked: "X'ed Out" by Charles Burns, "Jimbo" by Gary Panter, "Frank and the Gut-Worshippers" by Jim Woodring, "The Pilot Learns To Fly" by Anders Nilsen, "The Love Bunglers" by Jaime Hernandez, "Even the Giants Get the Blues" by Jesse Jacobs, and "Read a Book" by Michael J. Buckley. I had already read the Charles Burns selection because I have the complete "X'ed Out" graphic novel. I was so enchanted with "Even the Giants Get the Blues" by Jesse Jacobs that I immediately ordered the complete book through Amazon. That's exactly why I like to get these anthologies occasionally, is to hopefully stumble across something new and exciting. So I guess it was worth it. But there were a LOT of other selections in the 2012 Best American Comics that left me rolling my eyes and shaking my head. Usually it's the autobiographical or reality-based selections that leave me completely unaffected or irritated. It would be nice to see more comics that are clever and engaging, that make me laugh, that surprise me with unexpected subject matter. More fantasy, horror, mystery, or sci-fi would be nice. Reading about war does not entertain or inspire me. Reading about yet ANOTHER loser guy who either lost his girlfriend or can't find one does not feed my brain. Except for a few bright spots courtesy of Jesse Jacobs, Charles Burns, the always-awesome Jaime Hernandez, and a few others, this book sort of makes me think comics are in a rut. But I am very picky.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tab

    2.5 A mixed batch of interesting stories, confusing stories and boring stories. Interesting: Charles Burns' "X'ed Out," Sammy Harkham's "Blood of the Virgin." Both excerpts made me want to find the comic and read it in its entirety. Confusing or "Why was this chosen?": "House of Debt" (really?), "A Month Of..." Boring: "The Irish Table,"Scenes from an Impending Marriage","Rock Scissors, Paper" Surprised by the Adrian Tomine piece, as it doesn't reflect his work. Anthologies are pretty much used as 2.5 A mixed batch of interesting stories, confusing stories and boring stories. Interesting: Charles Burns' "X'ed Out," Sammy Harkham's "Blood of the Virgin." Both excerpts made me want to find the comic and read it in its entirety. Confusing or "Why was this chosen?": "House of Debt" (really?), "A Month Of..." Boring: "The Irish Table,"Scenes from an Impending Marriage","Rock Scissors, Paper" Surprised by the Adrian Tomine piece, as it doesn't reflect his work. Anthologies are pretty much used as a way to introduce/showcase authors' (best) work. Also, wished the collection had artists from a variety of places. Out of around 30 artists, 1/3 were from New York (mainly Brooklyn) and another 1/3 were from Ontario and California. The comics for kids tacked on at the end was odd. One of the comics did not reproduce well; it looked blurry and out of focus (like they scaled up a small drawing instead of using a high-resolution image). Sara Varon's "Baking Failure #1" from "Bake Sale" was cute and left you wanting to know more about this baking cupcake. All in all, meh. If you are a regular graphic novel/comics reader, you most likely won't see anything new.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Best Brooklyn Comics. I've read a couple other Best American Comics editions and this was by far the worst. Leave Luck to Heaven, Charles Burns, and Chris Ware were the best parts. The children's section, while a noble idea, was just a random selection of children's stories thrown together seemingly without any sorting mechanism involved. 90% of the stories were by dudes who leave in Brooklyn. : /

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    No collection can please everyone equally, though this seems to not be a favorite generally. I found it a little more interesting if I thought of it as a collection of best American illustrators or cartoonists, because many of the selections were lacking in narrative substance. This seems typical of a branch of American independent comics that emphasizes documentation or design over story, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Selections from Charles Burns, Nora Krug, Dakota McFadzean, Anders No collection can please everyone equally, though this seems to not be a favorite generally. I found it a little more interesting if I thought of it as a collection of best American illustrators or cartoonists, because many of the selections were lacking in narrative substance. This seems typical of a branch of American independent comics that emphasizes documentation or design over story, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Selections from Charles Burns, Nora Krug, Dakota McFadzean, Anders Nilsen, Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware were my favorite. Some of them demonstrate that even the documentary style can still have some narrative drive, while others used the medium creatively even while testing the tenacity of narrative itself.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    I always enjoy reading these collections, but so far I think this is the weakest I've read. I often come away from these books with a whole list of authors I'd like to explore further, and I didn't feel that way with this one at all. I also didn't like how the kids' comics were separated out from the adults.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    The Best American Comics 2012 is a solid entry in a well-established annual anthology series that dates back to 2006. In this volume, guest editor Françoise Mouly collects an impressive variety of work from dozens of active 21st-Century graphic artists. The book's a solid package physically as well, compact and a little chunky, with nice heavy pages and clear reproductions of the art—I never felt I had to strain to read the text or pick out subtle details, despite the book's relatively small foo The Best American Comics 2012 is a solid entry in a well-established annual anthology series that dates back to 2006. In this volume, guest editor Françoise Mouly collects an impressive variety of work from dozens of active 21st-Century graphic artists. The book's a solid package physically as well, compact and a little chunky, with nice heavy pages and clear reproductions of the art—I never felt I had to strain to read the text or pick out subtle details, despite the book's relatively small footprint. Despite my relative ignorance in this area, I'd already heard of many of the featured artists—like Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernández (Love And Rockets), Chris Ware, Jim Woodring, Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle) and even Mad magazine's Sergio Aragonés, who all get spreads. Other well-known names, like Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor (one of my personal favorites) and Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman, receive only one panel each, in Mouly's introduction "Découpage." Mouly leaves most of the book, though, for engaging work from people I didn't recognize as readily, like, oh, all the rest of them; one of the best things about this anthology for me was this preponderance of unfamiliar artists. I particularly liked the excerpts from Charles Burns' X'd Out and Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, but really there weren't any works that made me wonder why they were included—no, not even the bold brushstrokes of Leanne Shapton, whose amorphous, evocative paintings are about as far away as you can get from the clean lines and serial nature of most comics. To include so many different individual pieces and still keep the work to a manageable size, the samples from each artist must be brief—sometimes frustratingly brief. The book is necessarily a broad overview, not deep analysis, but some longer-form works, even the ones I liked best, are not well served by this format. However, what The Best American Comics 2012 does well, it does very well. While The Best American Comics 2012 may perhaps be best thought of as a collection of pointers to artists of interest, that's actually a pretty good thing for a book like this to be.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    While not the strongest of the Best American Comics, I did enjoy reading most of these. A number of selections I had actually read the full versions of myself throughout the year, but I was pleased to get some of the few that I missed. The inclusion of comics for kids, though, is way overdue and I'm glad to see it here. Now we just need inclusion of material for teens. I will say, though, Mouly definitely comes at this from a particular slant. Even the selections of work for kids come from an ind While not the strongest of the Best American Comics, I did enjoy reading most of these. A number of selections I had actually read the full versions of myself throughout the year, but I was pleased to get some of the few that I missed. The inclusion of comics for kids, though, is way overdue and I'm glad to see it here. Now we just need inclusion of material for teens. I will say, though, Mouly definitely comes at this from a particular slant. Even the selections of work for kids come from an indie press background. Because of that focus, a lot of great work from publishers (Image, IDW, Archaia) that aren't typical art house presses are missed. I wish that was made clearer in the series name or introduction. That said, though, I'm glad this series continues to exist---for a lot of readers this is the only way they will ever find creators like Chris Ware in their own town.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Awesome comp of some awesome comics. I guess "American" comics means comics from U.S & Canada (and one person living in Germany) but not Mexico & South America. Six of the twenty-four featured adult creators identity themselves as living in Brooklyn, New York. Do humanity a favor the skip the Adrian Tomine section. Chris Ware remains the Borg of comics - completely heartless and evil. I've never liked it when pathology becomes confused with art. As the android Ash says of the Alien, "A p Awesome comp of some awesome comics. I guess "American" comics means comics from U.S & Canada (and one person living in Germany) but not Mexico & South America. Six of the twenty-four featured adult creators identity themselves as living in Brooklyn, New York. Do humanity a favor the skip the Adrian Tomine section. Chris Ware remains the Borg of comics - completely heartless and evil. I've never liked it when pathology becomes confused with art. As the android Ash says of the Alien, "A perfect organism. It's structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. ... I admire its purity." Joyce Farmer, Jim Woodring, and Chester Brown are all revelatory though I'm forced to note that Paying For It was an emotional let down but I admire its revolutionary spirit. If great fiction is based on characterization, Jaime Hernandez remains an American master.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

    My first collection of Best American Comics. The way these things are set up, we get excerpts from comics (both long graphic novels and short webcomic-styled entries). The comics vary from strongly art-centric, to strongly story-centric, and it's really obvious that there's going to be something for everyone here to enjoy. The great thing about these comics is that unlike your mainstream superhero comics, these deal with more realistic slice of life topics. Things most of us can relate to. So, it' My first collection of Best American Comics. The way these things are set up, we get excerpts from comics (both long graphic novels and short webcomic-styled entries). The comics vary from strongly art-centric, to strongly story-centric, and it's really obvious that there's going to be something for everyone here to enjoy. The great thing about these comics is that unlike your mainstream superhero comics, these deal with more realistic slice of life topics. Things most of us can relate to. So, it's easy to get engrossed in the story when you don't have this superbeing who is battling another superbeing for the safety of humanity. The highlights are many, but I especially liked the Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, and David Collier. 4.5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bybee

    Francoise Mouly should be the guest editor every year. This installment in the series is put together sharply and cleanly. Her editorial introduction "Decoupage" was funny and original. I especially like the Best Children's Comics addition and the authors' bios accompanying their pieces. Standouts include a selection from "Love and Rockets"; Adrian Tomine's comics about getting married that he and his wife used as wedding favors; "Kamikaze" by Nora Krug; "Special Exits" by Joyce Farmer; "The Ir Francoise Mouly should be the guest editor every year. This installment in the series is put together sharply and cleanly. Her editorial introduction "Decoupage" was funny and original. I especially like the Best Children's Comics addition and the authors' bios accompanying their pieces. Standouts include a selection from "Love and Rockets"; Adrian Tomine's comics about getting married that he and his wife used as wedding favors; "Kamikaze" by Nora Krug; "Special Exits" by Joyce Farmer; "The Irish Table" by David Collier and "Red Eye" by Christopher Niemann.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sundry

    Bravo to the series editors for moving the artist profiles into the body of the book so they function as little introductions to the artwork. I always read the artist profiles and was glad not to have to flip back and forth repeatedly to link the bios with the art. Have to admit that I wasn't thrilled by as many of the entries this year as I typically a,, but I discovered a few that I will find in their full version, and that's kind of the point for me. A lot more excerpts from longer works.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Clark

    Extremely uneven selection. A few good selections mixed in with a bunch of stuff apparently pulled out of a bottom drawer at random. Ranges from kids' stories to... uh... adult-themed stories. A lot of the pieces do not use the graphic medium well. Art is particularly uneven with some great stuff but a lot of crap. If you changed "The Best..." to "Random..." in the title, that would about sum it up for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    Standouts for me that I wasn't already familiar with this year were... 1. Dakota McFadzean - Leave Luck to Heaven Philosophical take on console gaming - and I found his drawing style approachable and 2. David Collier - The Irish Table Artist joins the military for a second time in his forties I like to read through the new edition of this collection every year to take my comics temperature. Did pretty well this year. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    This was the second "Best American Comics" collection I had read (the first one being edited by Neil Gaiman), and I think it has really shown that who the editor is has a lot to do with how much I enjoy the collection. Nothing stood out to me, and there were even a few that I just tried to read as fast as possible because I did not enjoy them at all. I wish I had more interest in this collection.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    I am neither an avid nor consistent reader of comics and graphic novels, so this sort of anthology is perfect for me. There is work here that even I am familiar with -- Charles Burns, Gary Panter, Chester Brown, Chris Ware. And I found some artists that sent me searching the library, a second hand bookstore and Amazon -- Anders Nilsen, Jim Woodring, Dakota McFadden. Perhaps if I knew more about the field, I could complain about the choices the way other reviewers have.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I've read all the Best American Comics and found this to be the best so far. It seems like the editor this time out did not purposely go out of their way to find the most outrageous, ridiculous comics, but actually judged the comics on the merits of their story.art work. The addition of the kid's comics was also an interesting addition. Had intended to drop this anthology from my list, but after this issue, I will give it one more try!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I am really trying to like graphic novels, but it isn't working so far. I loved Adrian Tomine's excerpt from "Scenes from an Impending Marriage" and Christoph Niemann's "Redeye," but they seem more akin to traditional comics or art. Did I really want to read about, much less see, Chester Brown's chronicle of hiring prostitutes? NO. Yuck.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Delaney

    As with all in this series, this is a mixed bag, depending on the individual artists. I have a bent for more realistic comics than for science fiction themes, which means I will always like some entries more than others. But that comes with the territory when you pick up an anthology. I use this series to introduce me to new people whose work I can hunt down.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    One of the weaker and less memorable volumes in this annual anthology series. This edition is curated by Francoise Mouly the art editor for the 'New Yorker,' and for various reasons I found the selections to be a real mixed bag. Still, these books are always well crafted and will certainly expose you to new material/authors that makes reading through it in its entirety worthwhile.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dana Franklin

    I love love love the "Best American" series of books: mysteries, short stories, travel writing, non-required reading, etc. The Best American Comics books are good, and there are some individual authors/illustrators whom I would like to follow, but, to be honest, a lot of these went right over my head, and I don't understand why they were chosen as the "best".

  24. 5 out of 5

    Edmund Davis-Quinn

    Pretty good but very disjointed. Either you don't have the complete context for the excerpts or you are getting interested and it ends. My favorite was "Leave Luck to Heaven" by Dakota McFadzean. That one was cool.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate McCartney

    There were a few good stories here. I have already read most of the children's selection, all of which are great. Otherwise I didn't really like this. I have read the two of newer ones and 2013 really blew me away.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Overall, not the best anthology I've read. Maybe this was a bad year for comics, but there was nothing that I thought, "I have to read this!" That said, there were a few things that were interesting and that I will look into.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kris V Bernard

    I really was quite impressed by this edition. There were artists chosen who had wonderful abstract artwork and I definitely closed the book with a list of more books to buy. Really beautiful collection to commemorate 2012.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    These were the best? I found most of them bizarre and nonsensical. Even a brief excerpt should make some kind of sense. I took away zero comics that I would want to read the complete work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaron VanAlstine

    Some nuggets of genius amidst a lot of fluff. I was glad to see Charles Burns is still working; I loved the "El Borbah" (world's greatest private eye) stories I read in Heavy Metal back in the 80s.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Not a bad collection, and a great way of setting up each artist and their work with a little bio and some context.

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