Robot 6

Asterios Polyp, The Hunter top the Best of 2009 meta-list

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The hive mind has spoken! Taking a page from retired comics blogger Dick Hyacinth, Sandy Bilus has compiled a “meta-list” of the 100 Best Comics of 2009. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli took the top spot by a landslide, followed by Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke, George Sprott by Seth, Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka by Naoki Urasawa, and A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

The list was drawn from fully 130 individual best-of lists — including those of Comic Book Resources and Robot 6, independent bloggers, online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, media outlets like NPR, USA Today and Publishers Weekly. Each selection on the individual lists was assigned points through a system devised by Chad Nevett that Bilus explains at length. The point totals were tabulated, and voila — a picture of collective comics criticism conventional wisdom.

Click here to see the whole list, as well as to read Bilus’s breakdowns of how various kinds of comics — superheroes, manga, ongoing series, non-fiction, anthologies, reprints, webcomics and more — all fared.

One quick thought of my own: I wonder if all the punditry we’ve seen recently to the effect that superhero comics weren’t gettin’ it done for many critics this year helps to explain the higher-than-ever rankings of manga on the meta-list. I mean, I’m not sure if A Drifting Life is necessarily the next logical step for folks who aren’t enjoying Dark Reign or Blackest Night, but Pluto, aka “Watchmen for Astro Boy”? That makes some sense. Plus, in any given year, a limited number of manga titles break wide among the comics blogosphere — see whatever I’m reading for the conventional wisdom about manga in action, yeah, I admit it. So for critics looking for something interesting from the East, it’s usually pretty easy to find worthwhile titles, since they’re the kinds of titles other critics will be talking about.

Anyway, enough of my yappin’ — go read! There’s enough to chew on to last till next year’s meta-list.

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5 Comments

Could the apparently baffling showing of manga simply be attributed to the fact that a lot of good titles were launched in 2009?

Sean T. Collins

January 15, 2010 at 6:53 am

I dunno. Do you think there was more of a critical mass of strong manga titles this year than in past years?

It feels that way to me. Viz’s Signature line (particularly the Urasawa books) seemed to get much wider critical coverage than books of similar quality have in previous years. And the Signature line in particular did feel… I don’t know what the right word is… maybe friendlier to people who are interested in comics in general than people who are fans of manga in particular. And I do think the volume of their output was larger, and they certainly weren’t alone in publishing interesting, quality stuff.

But even more than that, it feels like there’s been a sort of category integration over the last couple of years, where people are more likely to talk about comics generally (super-hero stuff, graphic novels, comics from Japan and Europe and elsewhere) rather than one specific corner of the market. Robot 6 is an excellent example, particularly in features like “What Are You Reading?” and “Can’t Wait for Wednesday” and “Everyone’s a Critic.” They represent a cross-section of everything that’s out there, including manga, which is really nice to see.

I just don’t know that there’s quite as much of a specific causality to that — that people are dissatisfied with super-hero comics, so they’re flirting with manga. That strikes me as kind of like saying, “Well, ‘Asterios Polyp” was so well-received because David Mazzucchelli drew that one Batman mini-series.”

My only complaint about Asterios Polyp? No Batman.

I also feel that “Parker” would have been better with more Catwoman. I love the way Cooke draws her.

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