One More Best of 2009: Comic Criticism

In an attempt to recognize and encourage good writing about comics, five critics have decided to recognize the best online comic criticism of 2009. Noah Berlatsky, Frank Santoro, Tucker Stone, Matthias Wivel, and Ng Suat Tong got together and determined what they thought were worthy exemplars of the year. Thankfully, they attempted to avoid conflicts of interest:

Articles by the 5 jurors were disqualified from the entire process. I made it a point not to ask a number of prominent online critics to participate in the process because of this last point.

Those recognized range from the obvious — Tom Spurgeon, Jog — to the very unusual, including Robert Alter, a Biblical translator who comments on Crumb’s Genesis. Since this is labeled part 1, I think another post is coming with nominees that didn’t receive as much consensus. I hope that one includes some female writers, because I think some of the most insightful critics currently are women talking about manga.

Note: Hooded Utilitarian, please put a credit line at the top of your posts! I shouldn’t have to examine tags to figure out that Ng Suat Tong wrote this particular entry.

Update: As noted in the comments, Noah has now posted his list, if you’re looking for more great pieces to read.

Update 2: (1/16/10) Brigid Alverson, who was asked to participate but wasn’t able to, shares her thoughts and preliminary list as well.

14 Responses to “One More Best of 2009: Comic Criticism”

  1. NoahB Says:

    Hey Johanna. The poster is listed at the bottom of each post (Posted by: Ng Suat Tong). Getting that up top is a good idea, though. I”ll work on it.

    The lack of female writers, and the lack of manga, are both unfortunate, I agree. My list addresses the latter, but not the former, I hate to say.

    Suat did have an additional judge who might have helped balance things out at least a little as far as manga was concerned, but unfortunately she had scheduling conflicts and had to drop out at the last minute.

  2. Johanna Says:

    There is no Posted by line on the single post page. It just says “Tags: Best Online Comics Criticism, Ng Suat Tong, Reviews
    This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 at 5:00 am and is filed under Utilitarian Review.” The name credit line at the bottom only appears if you view the main blog page, not if you go directly to a specific post. (Me = Software Tester) So that would be an additional tweak, if you can make it.

    Thanks for the additional background on the process. I look forward to seeing your list.

    I admire all of you attempting this, but I think it does reflect a little bit of “I read what I know” bias (which may be a factor in types of critics and criticism reflected). I don’t know how you really overcome that, though.

  3. NoahB Says:

    Oh; it’s not on the permalink page. Crap. Thank you for pointing that out. I’ll try to get it fixed.

    You try to overcome the bias by getting folks who come from different areas of interest, basically. I think we could have done better with that…though, as I said, we sort of got tripped up by last minute problems too.

  4. Bret Stinston Says:

    “I hope that one includes some female writers, because I think some of the most insightful critics currently are women talking about manga.”

    Can you provide links to writing you think is the best of the year?

  5. Johanna Says:

    Noah, I’m impressed that y’all could put this together at all, so don’t take my kibitzing more seriously than you should, ok? I know how much work these kinds of things can be, and I admire you all for doing it.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Bret, she mostly does link posts, but I’m always impressed when Brigid Alverson posts a review, like the one she did of Yotsuba. I also really like Melinda Beasi’s insights, such as her post on why you should read Nana (which, yes, is 2008, but it’s an excellent, easy-to-find overview).

  7. Shaenon Says:

    Jason Thompson and I can write better comics criticism drunk than any of these guys can do sober. We filmed ourselves doing it once, but we never aired it because of all the swears.

  8. Tom Spurgeon Says:

    Like I’ve ever written a goddamn thing sober.

  9. NoahB Says:

    Jason’s piece on Moe is on my list. Shaenon’s awesome Acme Library koan made my honorable mentions.

    I was originally going to include Shaenon’s list of ten comics that made her cry as one of my best of this year — I love that piece. But then I found out it was from 2008. But it’s still awesome.

  10. 5 Female Voices in Manga Criticism | Manga Bookshelf Says:

    […] a great read with some fantastic links to follow. Johanna Draper Carlson linked to this at Comics Worth Reading, mentioning that she hoped the next installment would include more manga and more women, because […]

  11. Choice words from 2009 « The Manga Curmudgeon Says:

    […] for the Best Online Comics Criticism for the year. I won’t claim I psychically predicted that Johanna Draper Carlson would notice that there are no articles by women on the final list, but I was sitting next to her […]

  12. Meta: Comics criticism and a confession « MangaBlog Says:

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    […] Melinda Beasi reminded me (in her piece about her participation), I got involved this year because last year I complained about the lack of both women writers being recognized and manga coverage. That’s […]




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