Robot 6

The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade, Part Two

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Continuing our countdown of (in our opinion, obviously) the most important and influential comics of the past ten years, here’s the second half of our list, from #15-1. If you missed it, you can read part one over here, with an explanation of how we put the list together and the (admittedly somewhat arbitrary) ranking. Can you guess what made number one? (hint: it’s not one of the books sampled in the collage above.) Read on to find out!

Complete Peanuts, Vol. 10

Complete Peanuts, Vol. 10

15. The Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics)
If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the Golden Age of Reprints, chances are The Complete Peanuts is your Exhibit A. Now that we’re some six years and twelve volumes into it, it can be difficult to remember just how controversial the project was. A publisher best known for its co-founder Gary Groth’s shot-to-the-kidney critiques in The Comics Journal and a roster of edgy alternative and underground talents from Crumb to Clowes, republishing 50 years of history’s most acclaimed, beloved, and lucrative daily comic strip, in order, in a series of 25 hardcover volumes, designed in understated fashion by cartoonist/nostalgist Seth, to be released over the course of twelve years? You can count me among the skeptics … to my shame. The series set the standard for how such strip reprints are done — if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, reprint projects from Dick Tracy to Hagar the Horrible should make Groth, Seth, and the Schulzes feel flattered as hell. It also put prime Peanuts back in the public eye just as both the series and the life of its creator came to a much lamented-end, vindicated Seth’s iconic design choices, and not incidentally saved the financial bacon of arguably the most important comics publisher of the last 30 years. Good ol’ Charlie Brown! — Sean T. Collins

Kramers Ergot #4

Kramers Ergot Vol. 4

14. Kramers Ergot, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
Like Blankets, the fourth volume of Sammy Harkham’s avant-garde anthology Kramers Ergot was a big fat powder-blue brick of a book that debuted at the 2003 MoCCA Art Festival in New York City. And like Blankets, it was something many in the comics industry had simply never seen before. From its Mat Brinkman-illustrated cover, a textless piece featuring two massive monsters clashing on a crudely drawn rainbow bridge, to its dizzyingly drawn contents, featuring a cream-of-the-crop collection of young alternative-comics talents spearheaded by members and associates of Providence, Rhode Island’s Fort Thunder underground art, comics, and music collective, Kramers was arguably the boldest, most influential, and most clearly generation-defining comics anthology since Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly’s RAW. The presence of collage, fine art, and non-narrative comics gave Kramers a reputation for privileging joyous, anarchic markmaking over storytelling. To a certain extent, that rep is both deserved and something to be celebrated, as it injected renewed attention to visually driven work into an altcomix scene then dominated by the literary comics of Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly stalwarts like Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Chester Brown, and Adrian Tomine. But Kramers has always been about more than eye-melting art — some of the decade’s most memorable alternative-comics stories, from Kevin Huizenga’s “Jeepers Jacobs” to David Heatley’s “My Sex History” to Harkham’s own “Poor Sailor,” appeared in its pages. By the time the gigantic, Little Nemo-inspired seventh volume hit the stands (and made waves on the Internet for its price tag), readers who’d really been paying attention weren’t surprised to see such stalwarts as Ware, Clowes, Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, and Matt Groening right alongside the underground enfants terribles who’d been there from the start. — Sean T. Collins

Art Out of Time

Art Out of Time

13. Art Out of Time, edited by Dan Nadel (Abrams)
The book that launched a thousand other books! (Granted, many of them were independently in the works, as their editors will no doubt point out, but still.) Prior to the release of this Abrams-published hardcover anthology, most comics’ readers impressions of the medium’s past divided it between the enjoyable but creatively anonymous work of a legion of journeymen and the stand-out breakthroughs of a small of legends. But beyond the established canon of Kurtzmans and Kirbys and Crumbs, Segars and Schulzes and Spiegelmans, there flowered a fertile field of forgotten talents from throughout comics history, cartoonists who’d carved out comics whose artistic ambitions and personal touches were overlooked at the time but were unmistakable to observers today. Ogden Whitney, Rory Hayes, Boody Rogers, Milt Gross, Gene Deitch, Fletcher Hanks: The authors included here read like a murderers’ row of weird, wild, “where the heck did that come from?” comics collections that would emerge in its wake. And they’re joined by many more besides, represented by astutely curated, frequently breathtaking work selected by Nadel. He would go on to produce other riches via his art-comics company, PictureBox, but his place in comics would already be cemented by this great act of reclamation of our lost history. — Sean T. Collins

Daredevil

Daredevil

12. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (Marvel)
The breakthrough book for the decade’s biggest and most influential superhero-comics writer. Yes, Brian Michael Bendis made his Marvel debut with 2000′s Ultimate Spider-Man, a “scrap it all and start over from scratch” effort conceived by Marvel’s then-President Bill Jemas that proved influential not just in terms of the decade’s many fresh-continuity reimaginings (we wouldn’t have the MAX, All Star, and Earth One lines without it) but also by giving Bendis and his Ultimate cohort Mark Millar the hit-making power they’d eventually use to commandeer the Marvel Universe proper. And yes, he also combined superheroes and crime in his creator-owned series Powers. But Daredevil, along with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, was the definitive book of the “Nu-Marvel” era, in which Jemas and Joe Quesada okayed a range of series in which talented creators from the edgier reaches of the Direct Market comics industry — your Vertigos and WildStorms and Onis and Images and Calibers — swapped out the traditional, and by that point poorly selling, Marvel Comics feel for as personal a batch work as giant corporate icons are likely to produce. In the case of Bendis and Daredevil, this meant a series in which he was free to explore his creative obsessions: his passion for observing and reproducing contemporary society’s staccato speech, his love of crime fiction, his portrayal of superpowers and costumes as the outward manifestation of deeply personal traumas and life choices.

It also meant he could totally upset the apple cart, unceremoniously deposing the Kingpin and outing Matt Murdock in the tabloids. Yet all the while the book remained of a piece with the storied runs of such creators as Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Ann Nocenti, and the still-fresh Kevin Smith, seeming to be a continuation of Daredevil’s story as well as a holy-crap upending of it. Meanwhile, Maleev’s memorable art — a sort of naturalist noir that was dark but never murky, realistic but never stiffly beholden to photoref — became, in a slightly cartoonier form promulgated by everyone from Steve Epting and Mike Perkins to Michael Lark and David Aja, a whole new Marvel house style. And in much the same way, Bendis’s conflation of superheroics and supervillainy with urban crime, and, later, black-ops espionage, would soon become the default setting for the entire Marvel Universe, and beyond. — Sean T. Collins

Blankets

Blankets

11. Blankets, by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf)
Blankets dropped like a bomb upon 2003′s MoCCA Art Festival in New York City — the sort of smash debut you might use to illustrate the “book of the show” entry in a comics-convention dictionary. And for good reason: Clocking in at just over 580 pages, none of which had ever been serialized anywhere, it was the largest original graphic novel North American comics had ever seen. But while the novelty of its size might have made the first impression, what was found in its pages made the lasting one. An unabashedly emotional memoir, Blankets told Thompson’s own story of first love and fundamentalism, romance and religion, as both discovered and lost by him while a teenager in the snowy northern Midwest. Drawn in a sweeping, inviting style, its sheer loveliness attracted readers from beyond comics’ traditional audience, while the universality of its subject matter and the specificity of Thompson’s experience of it kept them turning the pages. More than any other book this decade (excepting, perhaps, Jimmy Corrigan), it cemented the thick “graphic novel” format as the publishing method of choice for artistically ambitious literary comics, proving that forgoing the more immediate critical and financial rewards of serialization could lead to unprecedented success. Fun Home, Persepolis, Stitches — more so even than Maus, Blankets paved the way for the crossover success of the mainstream-friendly comics memoir. — Sean T. Collins

Fruits Basket, Vol. 22

Fruits Basket, Vol. 22

10. Fruits Basket, by Natsuki Takaya (Tokyopop)
Sailor Moon got the phenomenon started, but Fruits Basket was the most popular shoujo manga of the 00. The graphic novel market quadrupled between 2001 and 2007, and that growth was driven in large part by girls who were getting comics of their own for the first time. Fruits Basket is a good twist on a classic setup—the lone girl in a houseful of boys—but it brought in girl-friendly themes—emotional truth, the importance of friendship, and of course, a love triangle with two very different, but equally hot, guys at the outer corners. — Brigid Alverson

9. Penny Arcade, by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (self-published)
Penny Arcade started in 1998, but its influence spread far and wide in the 00s, thanks to the attention Holkins and Krahulik paid to turning their audience into a community. The daily strip runs on a combination of in-jokes and topical humor, although many gags are comprehensible to the non-gamer. In addition to making their living from it, Holkins and Krahulik have created the Childs Play charity, which provides toys to children’s hospitals, and the annual Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. They have also been known for their biting commentary on events within the comics and gaming world, making Penny Arcade not just a comic but an opinion leader as well. — Brigid Alverson

Watchmen

Watchmen

8. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC)
We at Robot 6 have little doubt that eyebrows will rise at our designation of Watchmen as one of the past decade’s most important comics. Indeed, various collected editions of Watchmen have been popular virtually since their first printings twenty-odd years ago. However, the fact that Watchmen sales not only increased, but practically snowballed, through the worst economic climate the world has seen in several decades — arguably since the birth of the superhero itself — is a testament to the book’s staying power. Most comics publishers hope that a movie adaptation will produce a modest bump in sales, but the Watchmen movie’s trailer inspired DC to order an additional 900,000 copies into print. When the movie itself premiered, Watchmen was No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list — not just for comics and graphic novels, but overall. Because it garnered so many new readers, no doubt including some new or returning to comics, we honor Watchmen accordingly. — Tom Bondurant

Fun Home

Fun Home

7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
I’m not sure anyone expected the sort of acclaim and attention that greeted Fun Home, least of all Bechdel herself. Riding on a populist wave of interest in both memoirs and graphic novels (not to mention a growing interest in gay rights), Fun Home swooped in and quickly became the “must-read” book of 2007. Somehow this story of the author’s awkward relationship with her troubled (to put it mildly) father garnered the sort of mainstream attention that creators and publishers have been yearning for years to attain (the fact that a big house like Houghton Mifflin was behind it might have helped matters — in itself a notable feat). Perhaps most notably of all, it was named the Book of the Year by Time Magazine. Not “Best Graphic Novel” or “Best Memoir.” Best. Book. Whether or not you think it deserved that title, I remained stunned to this day that this comic — or any comic mind you managed to attain such a lofty award from an otherwise staid and deliberately average magazine. Fun Home is an important reminder of just how much the times have changed. — Chris Mautner

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

6. Identity Crisis (2004) by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales and Michael Bair (DC)
Written by suspense novelist Brad Meltzer and drawn by Rags Morales and Michael Bair, this seven (double-sized-) issue miniseries was billed as the other kind of crossover hit — namely, the one which would bring normal folks into the comics shop. Looking back in late 2005, Meltzer told CBR “it was supposed to be a small, emotional story.” Nevertheless, when Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns saw what Meltzer was doing, elements of IdC’s plot were spun out into their own storylines, including other DC events like Infinite Crisis, 52, and Countdown. Thus, DC kicked off a cycle of line-wide Big Events which stretch arguably through Blackest Night. Marvel similarly used the contemporaneous “Avengers Disassembled” arc to cultivate its current string of events, and the result has been an ever-escalating battle over the top spot in the sales charts.

On its own, though, Identity Crisis came to symbolize a new, and not entirely welcome, revisionist approach to fictional superhero history: explaining the old goofiness by retroactively inserting “realistic” elements. Ironically, today’s event comics may well be charged with restoring a calmer, more gentle status quo — one which might not demand the sort of fix Identity Crisis provided. — Tom Bondurant

Jimmy Corrigan. The Smartest Kid on Earth

Jimmy Corrigan. The Smartest Kid on Earth

5. Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
And here is the straw that broke the proverbial noncomics-reading public’s back. Maus and Watchmen had sung their siren songs on the rocks and managed to entice the occasional wayward sailor back in the ’80s — someone who had perhaps heard they were doing interesting things with them thar funnybooks — but by and large the great unwashed — or more accurately, the cultural elite and the media at large — remained unimpressed. These were flukes; comics were still the stuff of children and maladjusted nerds. It took Ware’s masterpiece, which he spent years serializing in the pages of Acme Novelty Library throughout the 1990s, to show critics that yes, comics could be just as elegant, knotty, rich, satisfying and emotionally devastating as your prose novel.

Praise was quick to follow. The book won the Firecracker Alternative Book Award, the American Book Award and the Guardian First Book Award, the first comic ever to do so, a move that was met with some mild astonishment in the U.K. The book threw Ware to the forefront of the art-comix movement (much to his chagrin no doubt). Now he was no longer simply Chris Ware, but now CHRIS WARE, GREATEST CARTOONIST ON EARTH, and has had to deal with all the resulting backlash that unwanted title has come with. That’s not to mention the wealth of imitators, disciples and kids who studied Corrigan like the Bible, hoping to gleam some insight from its pages. Corrigan showed its readers new ways to make comics, new ways to think about comics (flowcharts! timelines! awkward silences!) and the ensuing years saw a rash of inspired cartoonists wearing Ware on their sleeve like a Led Zepplin patch on a jean jacket. In the end though, Corrigan proved without a shadow of a doubt that comics could be literary. The flood gates were let loose and it was anybody’s game from here on in. — Chris Mautner

Naruto Vol. 1

Naruto Vol. 1

4. Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto (Viz)
Naruto is the alpha comic; it is the top-selling manga in the U.S. (both in terms of individual volumes and the franchise as a whole) and it outsells most graphic novels as well. Because they were so confident of its popularity, publisher Viz made a radical move in 2007 and again in 2009: They sped up the release schedule, churning out three volumes a month for several months. The flood of Naruto volumes had a noticeable effect, squeezing the sales of other manga but also bringing the U.S. edition closer to the Japanese releases — a strategy that is likely to become more common among manga publishers in the decade to come. — Brigid Alverson

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
What is it about Satrapi’s memoir of her childhood during the Iranian revolution that earns it such a high place on our list, above arguably more groundbreaking books like Jimmy Corrigan and Blankets? Well, certainly the subject matter plays a role.

Persepolis

Persepolis

The book was introduced to North America at a time when an interest in the Muslim world was at an all-time high due to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror. For many it’s offered a glimpse and insight into a world that heretofore has seemed alien and mysterious to many. On a much more important and political level, however, Persepolis has served as an inspiration for Iranians living abroad and in their home country, as the recent mash-up created by dissidents about the recent election shows.

But Perspolis’ success — indeed, it’s continued success — in a large part is due to Satrapi’s simplistic, bare bones style and direct, unfussed storytelling. The very elements that turn off some, more experienced comics critics are the very things that make it perfect for the unwashed masses. It’s simply a very easy book to engage, about a subject that interests a great many of us. Perhaps I can best sum it up this way: Very few of my non-comics reading friends — family members, co-workers, etc. — ask to borrow my comics. They don’t want to read Watchmen (even if they’ve seen the movie), they don’t ask about Captain America getting shot or even express an interest in Maus. Everyone asks if they can borrow Persepolis. — Chris Mautner

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon

2. Sailor Moon, by Naoko Takeuchi (Mixx/Tokyopop)
Naruto is a bigger seller, and it certainly commands respect, but Sailor Moon changed people’s lives. I have seen a lot of women talking online about how it was the first comic they could relate to. Having grown up knowing that girls’ comics existed in other countries (Britain) but that there were none for me in the U.S., I know exactly how powerful that discovery can be. Until Sailor Moon came along (first the cartoon, then the comics), it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone that girls might like comics written specifically for them. After the initial success of the anime on American television, Tokyopop (then Mixx) started publishing the graphic novels, and a genre was born. Although the series was first published in 1997, new volumes continued to come out in the early years of the 00s and the manga spread virally among fans, creating one of the earliest fan communities based around shoujo manga; in 2004, according to Wikipedia, there were over 3 million websites devoted to Sailor Moon. Despite its popularity, Sailor Moon was out of print in the U.S. by 2005.

Sailor Moon affected the way people thought, both inside and outside the industry. This whole trajectory I’m on now was launched when I found some of the books at a garage sale and picked them up for my kids, still not really sure what they were — but what the heck, they were 5 for a dollar. That’s the most expensive bargain I ever got, because it set the girls rocketing off into manga-land — they quickly discovered Kodocha, Tokyo Mew Mew, Fruits Basket, even Megatokyo. Suddenly my house was filled with these really foreign, sort of sketchy-looking books. So I started reading them, and next thing I knew, I was writing about manga on the internet. For me, as well as a number of other women and young girls, Sailor Moon was a paradigm shift. — Brigid Alverson

The Muhammad cartoons

The Muhammad cartoons

1. The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons
Here’s the thing about all the other comics on this list: They didn’t cause anyone’s death. No one got severely injured because they read them. None of their creators were persecuted or received death threats. No one rioted over Fun Home.

Not so here. In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whether to simply provoke or to engage in a discussion about censorship and religion, published a collection of 12 editorial cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Not all of the depictions were irreverent or nasty, some were respectful, but that hardly mattered to most Muslims since any visual depiction of the prophet, respectful or otherwise, is considered a sacrilege.

Things quickly went downhill from there. Danish embassies in Lebanon, Syria and Iran were set on fire. Some protests resulted in riots and violence, with police firing into crowds and more than 100 total deaths worldwide. Death threats were issued to the people involved.. The whole affair became Exhibit A in the ever-deteriorating relationship between the Western world and the Middle East. And its after-effects continue to plague us today, as the recent attempt on the life of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard proves.

There are many, many lessons (or at least discussion topics) we can draw from the Muhammad cartoons — about the power of images to provoke, issue of religion and free speech, and so forth. — but I think most importantly they should serve as a reminder for the bulk of us, who live comfortably in North America and elsewhere that the price we pay for making and reading comics is only a few dollars and not our lives. — Chris Mautner

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Comments

29 Comments

Uh oh, you guys just posted a small thumbnail of the questionable cartoon. If I were you, I’d axe-proof your houses.

Interesting list, I do not agree with all the choices, but I certainly respect it.

Surprised by your 1st choice, here’s my version…..

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/2008/02/mohammed.html

Bosch, nobody cares about your choices.

Wow, a great list here. I think the order is good, but there are probably one or two things I wish would have made it, and probably at the expense of a few nominees. Thoughts in order…

Peanuts. I’m not sure I would have put that up there in its collected edition incarnation. I think, given the death of Shulz in 2000, the release of, and subsequent controversy surrounding, his biography in 2008, and the endurance of the strip in syndication, it would have been more appropriate to simply say Peanuts by itself. It did enough in its own rite to earn a stand-alone spot. Insofar as collected editions, it would have been more accurate to say “Collected Editions” and leave it at that. I think a great deal of their success lies in the talent and creativity of the people who made them. Making Peanuts the “poster child” mutes that achievement and lumps Shulz into a category that he will always stand head and shoulders above.

I missed “Kramer” and “Art”. What can I say… I’m a shlub.

All hail Bendis! Yes, the book deserves its spot on the list. This was truly the beginning of a much-needed revolution, and Jemas, Joe Q, Millar, and big B all deserve their ticker-tape parade. For as much as was done with the entire Marvel U, especially the Avengers and Spidey, this is a profound monument to how it all started. As good as Bendis’s DD run was, it’s been somewhat forgotten amid the deluge of high-quality work he’s done on more popular titles. Picking this title is like the small stone monument the ancient Greeks erected at Thermopylae in honor of the Spartans who died there– small in stature, profound in symbolism.

Blankets. Read it. Loved it. Never realized that it wasn’t a serial originally. There’s only one way to describe an accomplishment like that. UN-BE-LEEV-ABLE. Lots of courage on the part of the creator who wrote it and pitched it as a one-shot, the editor that took it seriously, and the publisher that spent to money to print it. People in this industry still have guts, and anyone who thinks it’s dying should look at how well this did before they write it off.

Fruits Basket. I have to give props to anything that brings kids or girls to comics. If we’re just a medium for 12-year-old boys and socially unadjusted 30-year-olds, we’re not really a medium. Even Playboy has columnists, political writers, and headlines. That we tell stories that appeal to all cross-sections of society is imperative. That Fruits Basket accomplished it is a good sign. That there aren’t similar titles making it to mainstream publication in the U.S. indicates room for improvement.

Watchmen. Don’t even stop to consider it as odd. If it’s truly the timeless classic that we say it is, then it SHOULD be on this list every decade or so. Congrats (if not film royalties) to Alan Moore.

Fun Home. Missed it. Shlub again.

Identity Crisis. I was stunned and enthralled by the storyline. Several friends of mine who didn’t read comics got hooked on a copy that was being passed around by another buddy and wound up buying it in hardback. That is the power of good story-telling.

Missed Jimmy too. Quadruple-shlub.

Naruto. Man. That hurts. I think, like the Obama Spider-Man issue, this title says more about the comics market than it does about comics in general. This is probably the biggest reason for my dislike of a lot of manga. To me, this is the senseless-beat-em-up manga that launched a thousand others. I don’t think anyone will dispute that the story never approaches the substance of the others on this list. The sad thing is that there were lots of other titles out there to read. I discovered the collected series of “Death Note” and devoured it in two weeks. “Tegami Bachi” is a relative newcomer, but already demonstrates more plot than a rude kid simply roaming from one fight to the next. But the kids buy it, and that’s why Naruto deserves its spot on the list. It pandered to a market, and the market ate it up. Therein lies the significance. However, as goes Naruto so goes Shonen and the rest of the manga industry. Right now, it’s trending down. That it’s the leader of a genre that owned the decade says something. That the market’s ownership of the next decade is questionable says something as well, though.

Persepolis. It’s like the anti-Naruto. Engaging, entertaining, and relevant, it’s a comic that has something to say and says it well without being preachy. That it supercedes Naruto says more about comics than it does the comics industry– content is king. Let’s be thankful for that.

Sailor Moon. Like Fruits Basket, I don’t read it but I respect it and appreciate its contribution.

The Muhammad Cartoons. Wow. A shocking and appropo pick. This one does it all for this list. It characterizes the power and value of comics, the changes they made (both to themselves and society) in this decade, and the decade itself. As Chris says, the discussions to be had about this are legion. For as much as BMB rocked the Marvel Universe with dozens of issues, Kurt Westergaard rocked the whole world with a dozen drawings. The Muslim world hasn’t voiced that kind of uproar over something put in print since “The Satanic Verses” was published in 1988.

My “wish list”:

I would have liked to see “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” on here. I think it really contributed to bringing kids into comics, had an incredibly refreshing style and a method of relating to its audience that few people rivaled.

To be fair to manga, I would also have liked it if “Pluto” or “Death Note” had made it on here. Their strong narratives and complex themes demonstrated that manga is a form that can tell great stories. “Vagabond” is a strong candidate as well.

If we recognized the rise of the internet as a force in the medium with the Waid/Marvel battle, a webcomic should have made it on here. I don’t think anyone can argue that the web-comic was THE biggest leap for the medium in this decade. The “line-wide event” was a big deal, but what we’re talking about here is the difference between breaking the sound barrier and the Wrights’ first flight. The event was a big innovation in story telling, but web-comics were a revolution. There are lots of viable contenders. Again, Bendis could have won the “pioneer’s spot” for the Spider-Woman motion-comic, but I think something from Zuda deserves the helm because web-comics are all about the expansion of options to both readers and creators. “Bayou”, “Bottle of Awesome” and “I Own The Night” are incredibly good stories, and could have probably made it with a print-publisher like Image or Dark Horse, but the fact the creators went to Zuda says something about the direction indie creators may be going. Once again, the internet is handing power to the people, and those three titles demonstrate the potential for that power. It’s a boon to everyone.

I sort of have to call shennanigans on your #1, if only because it has nothing pertaining to comics, and by that I mean it could have just as easily been a movie or an album cover.

@ Tim O’Shea
RE: Bosch’s choices / Alan Coil’s response

Ha! There’s the whole ball of wax in much shorter order than either of us described it.

- Internet exposure
- Public voice
- Start of a flame war

Tell ya what, I’ll bet you that beer I owe you that Bosch’s blog readership increases by at least 5 people.

i’m actually surprised that Jonathan Hickman’s work was not ranked in the top 30. still, this is a very intriguing list and discussion.

Ah those Mohammed cartoons… During my uni years I wrote for the student newspaper, when the editor made the oh-so clever decision to print those infamous cartoons (we were the only British newspaper to do so), thus causing all hell the break loose loose for weeks as the national media rushed down to look at us, and security guards were set up outside the offices to frisk people going in.

Good times…

I’m a little shocked All-Star Superman wasn’t on this list, but I guess “Important” and “Best” are two different things.

Not surprised about Watchmen, I notice non-comic book readers have copies of it in their home now.

Chris — Actually, I would argue it has a lot pertaining to comics, or at least to cartoons, or editorial cartoons, if you prefer. Certainly there are no end of cartoonists who have been jailed/persecuted because they drew a funny picture of someone in authority.

Jim — I actually like Naruto. I think it’s got a bit of heart, and some endearing characters, though it is very formulaic. I can see why it’s been so popular. I did think about adding Death Note, but ultimately felt the other choices were more significant.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an interesting choice, but ultimately it falls too close to the “not-comics” line for me to include it, as much as I like the series and am impressed by its success.

And we did have a Webcomic up there! Several in fact. Penny Arcade isn’t chopped liver after all.

Jon — You hit it right on the head. All Star Superman was a fantastic series. But in the end I don’t know if it was as influential as the other books on this list. That could change in the coming years though ….

Chris,

I agree with your choice of Naruto, and probably even your reasons. Like I said, it was the standard-bearer for a significant genre this decade. There’s no debating that. I suppose I just wish it WASN’T a standard-bearer.

I THOUGHT I saw PA in there, but when I checked back to make sure I didn’t see it. Apologies.

I’m very intrigued by the previous “pamphlet/comic/American floppy” argument in the first half of this piece combined with your reasoning for including the Mohammad cartoons while excluding Diary. Altogether, it’s a fascinating demonstration of art existing in the eye of the beholder. Where does Emmanuel Guibert’s “The Photographer” fit in your mind? Is it comics or an illustrated pop-culture read? I can’t remember correctly, but I thought Bendis once said he used photography to help his artwork on “Jinx”. Would that make it any less of a comic?

I’m not asking those questions to accuse you of poor judgment, but rather to ask everyone where they draw the line. From my point of view, it’s much like free speech– if we’re going to call the Mohammad cartoons “comics”, then we have to allow as liberal an interpretation of “Wimpy Kid”, not to mention every other political cartoonist out there. It’s the difference between being selective and being picky.

And, as a Spawn fan, I suppose I have to accept Diary. After all, I can hardly fault Jeff Kinney for his sections of prose if I don’t hold it against Todd McFarlane for slapping eight hundred words of narration across beautifully-illustrated splash pages! =p

I suppose if we accept the strict McCloud definition of comics then the Mohammad cartoons are not comics, just cartoons. I’ve never been one for strict interpretations however. I certainly understand why folks consider the Diary books comics and I don’t think it’s worth going to war over, I just tend to consider them illustrated prose books due to the disproportionate amount of … well, prose. It’s completely subjective though. I don’t have any hard and fast rules.

I do consider The Photographer comics because Guibert uses the photography as if they were panels. Though, perhaps tellingly, he never uses any dialogue during those sequences. I think if you’re arranging photos or what have you in some sort of sequential fashion, it counts.

Chris,

I think you hit the nail on the head by asking the question: Who is McCloud to tell us what comics are or aren’t? While you’re right that it’s not going to war over, it’s also right to let everyone have their interpretation. Wimpy Kid didn’t make your list because it’s your view and it’s your column. Good on ya for standing by that so confidently.

I think your statement “what have you in some sort of sequential fashion” will become more profound in the years to come as the online format grows. “The Killer” in semi-motion format is a neat hybrid. The future is wide open, and whatever our views are today, it’s obvious that creators are going to challenge, change, and redefine those views over time.

Thanks for fostering the discussion and your inputs. This has been a great forum. I’d say I owe you a beer, but you can take the one I got back from Tim O’Shea. Bosch’s blog readership seems to have met my prediction.

Y: the last man?

Great story, didn’t change anything. Pride of Baghdad resonated more.

Gelman, I mentioned in a reply to Jim in the other post, that I made some suggestions for the list that I could not justify to the rest of the gang. Y: The Last Man was one of my suggestions that did not gain traction, but it was considered.

Where is “The Ultimates”? Millar/Hitch’s comic was every bit the backbone of Nu-Marvel as Bendis/Maleev’s Daredevil and Morrison/Quitely’s New X-Men.

Besides, it inspired the casting of Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in the Avengers movie franchise. The series has actual influence on a multi-billion dollar movie series.

So a collection of editorial cartoons, have nothing to do with comics…
Ok, sure.
What?

Y: The Last Man got people that didn’t ordinarily read comics to read comics. There are lots of non-superhero fans that discover that book in trade.

“Chris — Actually, I would argue it has a lot pertaining to comics, or at least to cartoons, or editorial cartoons, if you prefer. Certainly there are no end of cartoonists who have been jailed/persecuted because they drew a funny picture of someone in authority.”

That’s what I mean, though-those repercussions didn’t have to come from a comic of any kind. All of your other choices couldn’t have made the same impact they did as anything other than comic books. This last one could have just as easily been on a movie poster or a book cover and it would have had the same impact.

I don’t know what was in that Muhammed Cartoon, but it’s not enough to kill over. It’s really hard to see people in any medium try to make fun of Jesus because of this. It makes them look weak and not really edgey because hardly anyone seems to mention this cartoon controverse. It’s like ‘Why don’t you make fun of Mohammed you think you’re so clever.’ There was a lot of feelings like that after 2001.

Great list. Manga doesn’t have the market share it has in the US over here in Ireland so I don’t feel qualified to comment to those titles either way.

Some excellent points made about Daredevil in the article (Maleev has certainly set a tone for the universe as a whole) but I’d place Ultimate Spider-man in the same general area as one of Bendis’ and the decade’s most important and influential works. It had the longest uninterrupted run by a creative team ever. It established a whole new universe of comics. It brought countless people into comics or back into comics (like myself) with it’s fresh continuity re-boot.

I also have to put my vote in for Y: The Last Man. This has been a gateway for 20-somethings in the same way the Scholastic copies of have been for kids.

Watchmen deserves it’s place on your list. When I look at the amount of money I’ve spent seeing the movie in the cinema, buying all the different DVDs an all the books that came out around the time of the movie I’ve probably spent more money on it than any other comic this year.

It’s a good list, but considering the reasons (and rank) given for Sailor Moon, I was surprised to see neither Y: The Last Man nor Fables make the list. I think both were very effective at attracting non-traditional readers (non-superhero, attractive to both genders, conducive to “trade waiting” and sale at bookstores) and telling genuinely good stories. Personally, I’d have considered both of them “important” enough to make a top 30 list.

“Nana” is a manga that outsells “Naruto.” I’m telling you, it’s better than pretty much everything I’ve read. Pretty sure it outsells Fruits Basket as well.

It’s about 2 girls named Nana. They’re roomates, 1 sings in a local punk band. Her bass player/boyfriend leaves her and the band to join a signed band in Tokyo playing guitar. She moves to Tokyo a year later to kick his bands ass.

It’s like Scott Pilgrim & Strangers In Paradise, only better than both.

NANA doesn’t outsell Naruto, either in North America or Japan.

Sadly all of sailor moon licensees were pulled by the company in 2005. It wasn’t just the manga though the show is still popular over here. Try going to almost any convention without seeing cosplayers as the characters. I’m sure if Funimation brought back anime and did it right it do very well.
And nana outselling Naruto? WTF are you thinking david? Does this look at monthly sale chats or see the fact Nartuo almost everytime a volume comes out it’s #1 or in the best sellers list.

I feel horrible that I bring this point up so late in the game, but after it occurred to me I couldn’t help but post it.

What about Crumb’s “Book of Genesis Illustrated”? When it dawned on me that I’d completely overlooked it, I couldn’t help but completely reassess the choice of the #1 pick of the decade.

Consider it– the Mohammad cartoons were chosen because of their socio-cultural statement, and the statement made in the response to them. They conveyed deep messages about the world’s perception of Islam in a decade characterized by conflict between western civilization and the arab world. The west believed that it was fighting against militant islam only. The cartoons were meant as an assertion of the freedoms and principles of western civilization. However, the greater population of arabic, persian and muslim civilization didn’t necessarily see it that way, and their widespread protest demonstrated that. Even (some) moderate muslims closed ranks with their more radical peers. It took physical attacks to cause the western powers of NATO to invoke the “attack on one means an attack on all” clause. For muslims, it required a metaphysical attack.

These concepts are hard for westerners to understand, but the message is amplified by the reception of “Genesis Illustrated”. It made the New York Times Bestseller list, got some attention from the news media, and was hailed as a comics achievement, but then the hype died out. It wasn’t the sequential art equivalent of Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”, that’s for sure. Why? It has nothing to do with the concept or the construction, that was wonderful. It’s just that it was aimed at the wrong market. Western civilization, on the whole, isn’t as passionate about religion as it used to be or as islamic civilization remains.

Think I’m wrong? Ask yourself– out of the hundreds of cartoons drawn of Bush, Cheney, Jesus, the Pope, etc., has there been a national outrage in America or any other western country? Sony’s inclusion of Manchester Cathedral in “Resistance: Fall of Man” came close, but more people play video games than read comics and it still went nowhere with public opinion. British gamers even nominated it for a “best of the year award”.

I have no doubt that if Islam wasn’t so averse to depictions of Mohammad that R. Crumb could have become an overnight millionaire by illustrating the first chapter of the Koran. The only thing that would sell better is an illustrated history of humanity according to the Scientologists. EVERYONE would read that because, you know, evil space warlords imprisoning souls in volcanoes would probably rock harder than ‘Avatar’. I jest, but there’s truth in humor. Even that canonical comic would bear significance regarding how we as individuals and societies view the beliefs of others, and it’s probably a message in which we’d find much truth but very little humor.

At the end of the day, I understand why “Genesis” didn’t make the list– it didn’t make a huge impact. At least not one that was immediately evident. I think we should set this one aside for consideration in the years to come. If other artists follow Crumb and make a kind of project out of illustrating the entire text, then this could become something incredibly significant indeed. In the meantime it might have served to let it share the top spot with Mohammad, if only to serve as a post-script that underscores what Westergaard accomplished.

Good choices, but I think at least one comic from the Ultimate line should’ve made the list, instead of just getting brief lip-service in the Daredevil entry. While they may not be as prominent as they once were, the Ultimate titles had a tremendous impact on the industry in terms of sales (for a long time, Ultimate Spider-Man was Marvel’s highest-selling title), storytelling (decompression, anyone?) and how Marvel characters are generally perceived. The Ultimate line even affected the core Marvel Universe, no doubt because many of the major Marvel events in recent years have been crafted by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, the original Ultimate writers.

Also, you can see the fingerprints of Millar’s The Ultimates all over the recent Marvel films. Samuel L. Jackson cast as Nick Fury, Tony Stark’s flamboyant personality, and even little things like Bruce Banner (spoiler alert) being chucked out of a helicopter in Incredible Hulk to induce a Hulk transformation. Oh, and the revelation that (spoiler #2) Banner became the Hulk due to a certain serum originally concocted during World War II, instead of a gamma bomb…

The list is out so saying this book or that book wouldn’t matter now, however with the last dozen+ countdown lists that have I’ve reading on comicbookresources.com I would like to bring up one book NO ONE has talked about.

Spider Girl! Yea, Marvel’s Spider Girl. Is it the best book? No. Is it the most important book? No. Is it at the level of Fables, Y The Last Man, or All Star Superman? No. BUT what it is is a book that was saved BY THE COMIC BOOK FANS more than once. Why? It didn’t have Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman backing it. It wasn’t the next “cool” thing. And there clearly won’t be a movie about her anytime soon. This book should serve as a reminder that fans still count. In a day where the Big Two have to think about their stock portfolios this book would be saved by fans writing to Marvel, and I don’t mean emails either. That should’ve been something that someone should have brought up in all these countdown lists. This, to me, is more important then Comic Con selling out because this is about the fans that stuck up for the little book that is surrounded by large company events like Civil War and such. Just my two cents.

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