12.20.2005

Top 10 of 2005 - Part 2

Top 10 Graphic Novels

Battle Hymn (Image): Completely enjoyed this Invaders-esque, JSA/Watchmen hybrid that takes familiar archetypes and makes ‘em all topsy-turvy-dirty-uncomfortable. Seedy underbelly and political posturing juxtaposed against the idealism and hope common of the WWII era genre. Very powerful, highly under-rated and under-noticed work by B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun. Easily the best mini-series of the year, sure to be collected. (with Cindy Crawford for anyone who’s paying attention ;-)

Why Are You Doing This? (Fantagraphics): The epitome of emotion and existential dilemma possible from the library of Jason’s ostensibly cartoony characters.

Tricked (Top Shelf Productions): In the vein of the film Crash, Alex Robinson crafts up an intriguing tale of a handful of lives that intersect at a precarious moment.

Project: Superior (AdHouse Books): Killer book. As I said in a previous review, “one of the best comic book anthologies of all time.” I even got my hands on the limited edition hardcover that was only supposed to go to AdHouse staff and contributors. Heh.

The Fountain (DC/Vertigo): Darren Aaronofsky (of Requiem For A Dream and “Pi” fame… is there no “Pi” symbol on my laptop? You know, 3.1415 blah-bitty-blah…) crafts up a time jumping love affair with beautiful paintings courtesy of Kent Williams that serves as an accompanying piece to the film starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. While enduring production delays, he feared the film would never be made and moved ahead with this cool, oversized project from Vertigo.

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume 2, Absolute Edition (DC/Wildstorm): Best 75 bucks I ever spent on comics. We knew from those opening shots on Mars that we were in for a treat. This is really a unique pedigree from Moore and O’Neill that’s well worth the price of admission.

Art of Yusagi Yojimbo HC (Dark Horse): Dark Horse has put out a few of these high quality editions and this one is the best by far. I’ve never even read Stan Sakai’s opus regularly, but was blown away by this book. The vellum style paper, watermarks, and autobiographical story about making comics are all wonderful on their own, but make an even more impressive package as a whole.

Street Angel (Slave Labor Graphics): Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s blender of all things hip. Take some 70’s, some wacky references, and all the little pop culture razzle dazzle that strikes their fancy, shake, and pour. Wonderfully eclectic and the best thing Slave Labor Graphics has ever put out.

The Clouds Above (Fantagraphics): Jordan Crane’s latest offering is many things. Whimsical, layered, charming, at times thoughtful and intense, and masterfully executed in a really cool, odd-sized, hardcover format. Check out a great review over at Big Brother Dan’s: www.wackyhijinx.com

War’s End: Profiles From Bosnia (Drawn & Quarterly): Any work by Joe Sacco is worthy of praise. Equal parts travelogue (read Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage for a real treat!), CNN update, history lesson, and funny autobiography. Love those thick inky lines.

Honorable Mention

Damn this was tough, lots of worthy contenders here…

Flight: Volume 2 (Image): Ok, the ranking here means something too. This book was really close to cracking the Top 10, but there were just a couple pieces I didn’t like in this wonderful anthology. Unfortunately for it, there were some pieces in Project: Superior that blew it away and that ultimately won the “Battle Of The Anthology Books” this year.

The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition (Dark Horse): Hands down one of the funniest books around and this edition is a very slick package.

Blacksad (iBooks): Ok, not technically released this year, but I *read* it this year and it was great. So there. Very European feel without being too metaphysical, very grounded and socially charged work.

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train TPB (Viper Comics): Flight Editor/Contributor Kazu Kibuishi masterfully crafted this “Western” that blends robots and pseudo-retro technology over a bickering love affair. Awesome intro piece that serves as a primer for Texas Hold ‘Em! Love the spunky attitude of the protagonist.

The Gift Of Nothing (Little, Brown & Company): Technically it *is* a comic in that it pairs words with images, and I *did* buy it at a comic shop, but the literati out there will disagree with it’s inclusion due to it’s “real book” format (ugh! hate that!), but this Patrick McDonnell book is a real gem. Totally appropriate for kids or grown ups and underneath the simple drawings and good natured prose is a real comment against materialism. Ironically makes a good Christmas gift!

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