Publishers Weekly’s Best of 2005
Publishers Weekly has posted their list of the Best Comics of 2005 (link no longer available). Overall, it’s a pretty accurate portrait of the year’s trends and what was talked about. Here’s my groupings of the items on their list (and I apologize for overusing the word “good”):
Read It, Loved It
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press) — Took me a while to get it, then I was smitten.
Gemma Bovery by Posey Simmonds (Pantheon) — Several years ago, actually. I need to reread it. I wish we’d get more of her work available in the US, it’s so beautiful.
Teenagers from Mars by Rick Spears and Rob G. (Gigantic Graphic Novels) — Although some of the criticisms of the ending are valid, it’s still a powerful work by (at the time) new creators.
Yotsuba&! by Akira Toriyama (ADV Manga) [nb: Author is really Kiyohiko Azuma] — One of the many interesting manga choices on this list. Note that no Viz books were listed, and the only Tokyopop were OEL.
Good, But Not THAT Good
WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo) — Fundamentally, it’s one of those cute animal movies dressed up in SF trappings.
Astonishing X-Men Volume 1: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel) — To really love this, it required that you also be a X-Men fan, since a lot of it was “yeah, that was cool back then, wasn’t it?” The actual new stuff was predictable and not very good. Also, my memories of this series have been damaged by how quickly it took a nose dive.
Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Marucca (Slave Labor Graphics) — I want to reread this now that everyone and their dog isn’t trying to push it. I suspect this won’t be one for the ages, but it wasn’t intended to be.
Own It, Looking Forward to Reading It
The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar (Pantheon) — Thanks, Sequential Swap.
Salamander Dream by Hope Larsen (AdHouse Books) — It always takes me forever to get to the good stuff, so I wind up praising good work months after everyone else is done with it. I need to work on that.
Tricked by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf) — Given this one’s length and scope, it’s going to require some time set aside for it.
Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova (Tokyopop) — I hope this one is as good as I expect it to be.
Night Fisher by R. Kikuo Johnson (Fantagraphics) — This comment isn’t inspired by this title, but around this point, I started noticing how interesting it was that all the expected publishers got at least one book listed. Maybe that’s part of their point, that there are so many consistently good releases from the usual suspects. Yet even Marvel got a nod (see above).
Read It, Thought It Overrated
Epileptic by David B. (Pantheon) — I guess I need to develop more patience for primitive art styles to be a true comic critic.
Ex-Machina: The First Hundred Days by Brian Vaughan and Tony Harris (DC/Vertigo) — The concept is much more interesting than the execution we get every month. And while I admire Vaughan’s ability to spin out plotlines, I’d like to see more actually resolved without sudden stops.
Walt and Skeezix : Book One by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly) — One of those books that’s more interesting when you hear people talk about it than when you have to get through it yourself.
Didn’t Read It, Not Interested
Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon) — I don’t do horror.
King by Ho Che Anderson (Fantagraphics) — What I’ve seen of the artist’s style I’ve found hard to read.
MBQ Volume 1 by Felipe Smith (Tokyopop) — Too much good manga, too little time.
Why Are You Doing This by Jason (Fantagraphics)
What, Are You Kidding Me?
Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface by Shirow Masamune (Dark Horse) — Go look at that cover and tell me it says “worthwhile, meaty read.” No. It says “chick in bodysuit so tight it looks like painted skin.” If this book is really that good, it’s been severely undercut by the marketing (or lack thereof, given its publisher).
The Genshiken Volume 1 by Kio Shimoku (Del Rey) — I can see why geeks like this — it’s a more even-handed portrayal of their hobbies and fetishes than the usual stereotypes — but still. Best of the year?
Here’s my list of books I really enjoyed reading in 2005 that were not included. These are the works that kept me excited about comics. (Please note, I used my database as a reminder, so there may be great stuff out there that I’m blanking on and haven’t filed yet.)
Avigon: Gods and Demons
Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards
Capote in Kansas
Owly: Just a Little Blue
Tramps Like Us (books 4-7 out in 2005)
True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to 11
Wet Moon: Feeble Wanderings
And Planetes, which concluded in 2005.
Since PW only covers graphic novels, left out from the lists above are Finder #38 (although I expect to see the eventual collection, Five Crazy Women, get high praise next year) and Hopeless Savages: B-Sides.