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Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasing Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. The Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary movements of the last 60 years. This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring. Originally serialized as “alternative” comics, they went on to confirm the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers’ guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting edge of today’s artists. This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit’s creator), Gerard Jones’ (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille (Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks, “tongue-in-cheek,” if cartoonists are the new literati, what must their critics look like?


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Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasing Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. The Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary movements of the last 60 years. This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring. Originally serialized as “alternative” comics, they went on to confirm the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers’ guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting edge of today’s artists. This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit’s creator), Gerard Jones’ (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille (Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks, “tongue-in-cheek,” if cartoonists are the new literati, what must their critics look like?

30 review for The Best American Comics Criticism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Articles and essays on the social history of comics; on classic comics like Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, and Little Orphan Annie; on graphic novels like Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic; and on major comic book artists like Will Eisner and Jack Kirby. Some of the articles are by novelists like Rick Moody and John Updike; others are by cartoonists and comic book writers like Alan Moore, Seth, and Peter Bagge. I am a fan of Will Elder, so I like the inclusion in Articles and essays on the social history of comics; on classic comics like Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, and Little Orphan Annie; on graphic novels like Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic; and on major comic book artists like Will Eisner and Jack Kirby. Some of the articles are by novelists like Rick Moody and John Updike; others are by cartoonists and comic book writers like Alan Moore, Seth, and Peter Bagge. I am a fan of Will Elder, so I like the inclusion in the book not only of an interview with the cartoonist, but also an article in appreciation of Elder's work by Daniel Clowes (Ghost World). I like, too, how the essay by Clowes is immediately followed by an essay in which another writer, Ken Parille, analyzes some of the representational and thematic techniques in Clowes's David Boring (this latter essay had me returning to Clowes's graphic novel for a closer re-reading). There are other things I found to like about this book, including Jonathan Franzen writing a perceptive consideration of Schultz's Peanuts and Donald Phelps writing lyrically of Lynda Barry's work. One of the more amusing inclusions is an article entitled "Was this review helpful to you?" that reprints some readers' reviews on the Amazon.com website of Joe Matt's Spent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt Carton

    Picked this up when I went to the Fantagraphics bookstore. There are some wonderful essays here. I began to lose interest when it got to the interview sections at the end. This came out in 2010. I would love to see a Second Edition with more recent criticism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Some excellent stuff in here: R. Fiore's sometimes-acerbic assessment of the various 9/11 benefit comics; Robert C. Harvey's thorough examination of Alison Bechdel's masterpiece Fun Home; John Hodgeman's super-smart reviews of some of Jack Kirby's epic sci-fi fantasias; a collection of reader reviews culled from Amazon.com of Joe Matt's most recent graphic novel Spent (proving that there are a lot of really smart amateur reviewers out there amongst the easily-bored-and-want-the-world-to-know-it Some excellent stuff in here: R. Fiore's sometimes-acerbic assessment of the various 9/11 benefit comics; Robert C. Harvey's thorough examination of Alison Bechdel's masterpiece Fun Home; John Hodgeman's super-smart reviews of some of Jack Kirby's epic sci-fi fantasias; a collection of reader reviews culled from Amazon.com of Joe Matt's most recent graphic novel Spent (proving that there are a lot of really smart amateur reviewers out there amongst the easily-bored-and-want-the-world-to-know-it dolts); an inspiring interview/profile of Marjane "Persepolis" Satrapi from Book Forum; Dan Nadel's take on what went wrong with the Masters of American Comics museum exhibition; and a funny, right-on rant from Peter Bagge called "Spider-man Sucks." Lowlights include everything by Donald Phelps, a writer who writes ponderously and pompously about Lynda Barry (completely missing the whimsy and spirit of her work), Phoebe Gloeckner, and Steve Ditko, managing throughout to confirm every negative stereotype about the windy pretentions of critics. In the end this is a worthwhile & enjoyable collection, but somehow just doesn't feel like a book I'll need to refer back to.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    Most comics criticism is sycophantic plot summary, so it's nice that there are one or two essays in here that are *not* that. But there is still a fair amount of that, and averaging this stuff together feels like reading a college freshman's paper. R. Fiore's essay on post-9/11 comics is good, and the most biting (coincidence?)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christian Lipski

    A good selection of writing about comics, from all different sources.

  6. 5 out of 5

    nnmhj

  7. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Møane

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robert Boyd

  9. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Stimach

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fantagraphics Books

  13. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sean Condon

  15. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  16. 4 out of 5

    Yoel Izsak

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarahfitzpatrick

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Estey

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin Polgreen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Simeon Berry

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alonso

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Long

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Asciigod

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cardner

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike Briggs

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lexxi Kitty

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