Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Best American Comics 2013 Review

Jeff Smith is not a woman it's just a cover
The Best American Comics 2013

I've eyed the previous volumes at Earth 2 by Nordhoff for a few years now, putting them back after a few mintues of cycling through them.

Did you know Evan Dorkin was alive still, neither did I. I thought he died of anger and more anger years ago. Evan happens to be one of my favorite comic comedy writers and like many of the writers in this book I thought he had died years ago.

Many different cartoonists are still alive doodling fantastic nonsense and more making creation myth stories.

What I hate about this book is not being able to finish the stories presented in it. Just excerpts of longer tales are given. It's already 400 pages of comics and it couldn't contain full stories. Many of the tales will lead me to find the work of the artist.

Some of the artist I already remember from past comic reading. A short story by Brandon Graham, The Speaker, has someone's voice escaping them and enjoying life. The voice comes back and the story shifts to a film noir setting with self-doubts as hit-men. Skipping to Adventure Time's own Micheal DeForge's weird Manananggal, that is really what he called it, about things mating and giving birth and a headless creature taking their offspring away. Dipped into jokes with Evan Dorkin, who slides in Batman to boost sales as we learn from his meta comic "Fun Strips". Kate Beaton's Velocipede, a strip mocking new-fangled bicycles instantly puts a smile on my face.

Newcomers or at least people who are new to me fill the book to. At least two stories about gay relationships or to me, like I've never seen that before in indie comics, ooohh. I couldn't care less about those ones.

It's not all gay relationships and comedy some of it is intense creepy horror, futuristic society handling death, even an excerpt from, "My Friend Dahmer" a comic artist who was at least somewhat friends with the infamous Jeffery Dahmer. Historical anecdotes end the book with Paul Pope going over a moon landing a how NASA managed to smuggle in some Playboy picutres for the astronauts. I didn't expect a Helen Keller comic either.

A wide range of topics are explored, just for an instant. The styles are very different, each cartoonists developed their own look. Sadly, my review copy is not in color, so I'm missing a bi part of the experience. Color comes with a real copy of the book.

One comic that stood out was "Top Five" by Malachi Ward. A man in a spacesuit stuck with dinosaurs recounts the top five episodes of Star Trek all series dealing with time travel. It's so freaking meta, a time traveler stuck back in time thinking about Star Trek time travel episodes, for a trek fan it's ridiculously funny.

Craig Thompson's Habibi was filled with action, comedy and artsy dream sequences about a young woman who want her freedom and has to earn through some unsavory actions. This was one of the stories left on a cliffhanger that made me turn the page and go, "damn".

The book let me delve into some old favorites and new titles to check out. Some I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole and that pool could shoot fire. Jeff Smith of Bone fame and editor of this book could have done a better job placing comics in sections that matched the mood. You go from happy to creepy, story about how the universe was created to happy times with kids, like someone already sifted through comic pages and put them together randomly.

The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.