Alphabetical Index of IDW / Top Shelf

Polly and Her Pals 1933

Polly and Her Pals 1933 reprints that year’s worth of the daily comic strip often described as surreal. Without the Sundays, you won’t see cartoonist Cliff Sterrett’s most imaginative layouts, but the characters and situations are still funny, if not as artistically accomplished in the smaller space. It’s in the Library of American Comics Essentials format, which means the book is short and wide, the shape of a comic strip, with each day’s entry getting a full page. The series […]

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The Comic Book History of Comics

It’s been an astounding year for non-fiction comics, with such exceptional works as Economix, Science Tales, and Dirt Candy (also drawn by Dunlavey) released — and I haven’t even mentioned memoir! Probably the most fun of any such book — as well as the most self-referential in subject matter — is The Comic Book History of Comics by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey. It’s an incredibly dense book, with packed panels and wide-ranging coverage. It begins with the credited […]

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Underwire

Jennifer Hayden‘s autobiographical slice-of-life comics fall into a well-known genre, but her position — as the middle-aged mother of two — provides a viewpoint we don’t often see expressed in comics from such a position of knowledge. Underwire began as a webcomic, and this Top Shelf collection includes 22 of those stories, plus 17 new pages. She tells tales about her family, influenced by sitcom structure. How can you not enjoy cartoons by someone who compares being middle-aged to “like […]

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Love and Capes: Wake Up Where You Are

The third Love and Capes collection reprints the five-issue Ever After miniseries and the 2010 Free Comic Book Day issue (aka #13), but that’s not the important thing. What’s important is that, in Wake Up Where You Are, Abby and Mark are now married. This book covers them starting their life together — after a world-spanning Hawaiian honeymoon. You see, Mark is the Crusader, a superhero, and Abby knows his secret — and enjoys some of the perks, like having […]

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Chester 5000 XYV

This is the kind of book that makes me ecstatic to read comics. Just the fact that it — a wordless porn comic about a Victorian woman and her robot lover — exists is a wonder. That Chester 5000 XYV turns out to be quite accomplished in its art is even more pleasant. (Note: this is an adults-only book with explicit illustrations.) Although story isn’t the point, the premise is simple enough: a scientist’s wife is indefatigable in bed. Since […]

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Polly and Her Pals

This extraordinary volume, first in a series, is impressive in both content and sheer size. It’s the same shape as the traditional newspaper comic page from its original era, making it humongous by current standards. At 12″ x 16″, you’ll need a table or other flat surface to enjoy it, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be totally taken in by the color pages filling your entire field of vision and beyond. Polly and Her Pals is a strip revered […]

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The Dreamer

Cartoonist Lora Innes does an excellent job balancing both halves of her story in the first volume of The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale. When we first meet the lead character, Beatrice is waking suddenly from a sexy dream about kissing a Revolutionary War soldier. At high school, she’s trying out for the play and wondering about going to the upcoming Halloween dance, but when she sleeps, she’s another person, helping the brave Alan Warren fight against the redcoats […]

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Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume 3: 1984-1986

Here’s where Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County hits its peak, covering the 1984 election by having the various animals enter politics as members of the Meadow Party. (This was also about the midpoint of its run, since the strip ran from 1980-1989.) Bill the Cat is running for President in spite of his scandals, bad habits, and state of mortality — dead. Today, when politics have become so nasty and fragmented and hateful, it’s quite amusing to read the satire of […]

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