EW Releases List of 10 Greatest Graphic Novels With One I’ve Never Heard Of

Last week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly took a summer vacation by skipping out on most of its content and instead running lists of the All-Time Greatest movies, books, TV shows, etc. Each medium got a list of 100 items, each with a few sentences of description.

Entertainment Weekly #1266 cover

It seems like quickly assembled, low-effort discussion bait, meant to increase hit counts as comments debate what was left out. (And as a double issue, that meant no fresh content for two weeks, so I wasn’t a happy subscriber.) I skimmed through it quickly, until I hit the sidebar addition of “10 Greatest Graphic Novels”. They are as follows, credits as listed in the magazine and my kibitzing in parentheses:

  1. Maus by Art Spiegelman (also appears as #33 on the overall book list)
  2. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn by Herge
  3. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  4. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (and some artists they don’t bother to name)
  5. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  6. Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi (not as well known as her Persepolis, but a shorter, stronger book)
  7. Blankets by Craig Thompson
  8. Mendel’s Daughter by Martin Lemelman
  9. Stitches by David Small (a horrible book, badly paced, and not living up to the revelations it promises, but it’s trendy graphic memoir with a shocking real-life event)
  10. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

I have no quibbles with most of this list; heck, it resembles mine. Most of the choices are safe, praised and acclaimed by the literary circles that have dabbled in graphic novels. I was stunned, though, that they’d name something I’d never even heard of to the list, since I do try to keep up, even if I don’t like the book. Yet Mendel’s Daughter was a complete surprise to me. Has anyone read it? Or even heard of it?

Based on its Amazon description, it sounds like a wannabe Maus, a son’s memoir of his mother’s experience with the Nazis in 1930s Poland. It resembles illustrated text as much as comics, but some readers (particularly those not as familiar with comics) like that sort of thing more, since they always know which direction to read and don’t get confused by the panels. It’s text-focused, which to me, doesn’t have the full impact of the comic integration of word and art. Not something I need to run out and read, and not something that seems to belong on this list, which is already memoir-heavy (six of the ten).

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7 Responses to “EW Releases List of 10 Greatest Graphic Novels With One I’ve Never Heard Of”

  1. Comics A.M. | Australian comics scene; Hewlett teases return | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    [...] most detailed analysis at Comic Riffs, while Johanna Draper Carlson has a shorter, snarkier take at Comics Worth Reading and Heidi MacDonald invites her readers to make their own nominations at The Beat. [Comic [...]

  2. Mike Rhode Says:

    I’d never heard of #8 either, which makes me pretty suspicious of its inclusion. Cavna of Comic Riffs had to look it up as well. The situation reminds me of the fake comics listed in the Overstreet Price Guide to catch imitators.

    I liked Stitches though.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I’m sure it exists — and it’s likely that someone in NY print media circles, such as those who work at EW, got a review copy or knew someone at the publisher or something. It would have to be extraordinarily exceptional, though, to belong here.

  4. Mike Rhode Says:

    I’m sure it exists too. I just wonder if it was put on the list to either drive sales for a friend, or to make the list super-trackable online.

    I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s read it.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Oh, interesting theories! I’d like to hear from someone who’s read it, too. Just to see how it compares to how it’s described.

  6. hapax Says:

    FWIW, you made me curious, and our library has it, as do nearly 500 other libraries according to WorldCat; so it must have received some gobsmacking reviews in the library press. Here’s a sampling: http://www.mendelsdaughter.com/reviews.html

    It hasn’t circulated hardly at all, though.

    I’ve just flipped through it; it isn’t what I’d call “sequential / narrative art”, being more illustrated personal anecdotes about the Holocaust. I will probably take it home and look at it later.

  7. Johanna Says:

    I’d be curious what you think after you read it in more depth. Really interesting figures comparing the reviews and purchases to library audience demand, thanks for sharing.

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