Robot 6

Six by 6 | The six most criminally ignored books of 2010

Captain Easy Vol. 1

It happens every year. Amidst all the hullaballoo of the big-name releases and show-stopping events and sleeper hits there are those titles that, for whatever reason, fail to generate any reviews, discussion or sales (or in some cases all three) whatsoever. 2010 was no exception. In fact, the wealth of stellar material that was released this year made it seem like there were an extraordinary number of great comics that garnered not even a peep from the blogosphere and press.

After the jump are six books that I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. And I’m sure there are books that you read that you don’t think got enough praise as well. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.

1) Captain Easy Vol. 1 by Roy Crane. CBR rules (no reprints allowed) prevented me from including this in their breakdown of the best 100 comics of the year, which seems like a crime as I consider this to be one of the big publishing events of 2010. I seem to be alone in that regard, though, as few folks managed to put this on their “best of” list except for a noble few. Despite his comparatively crude art style, Crane laid the groundwork for adventure strips that everyone from Milton Caniff to Alex Raymond to Hal Foster would follow. Aside from the obvious historical importance, however, Crane was just a great cartoonist. The Sunday pages in this book are full of high energy, action and slapstick. Crane was one of Schulz’s favorite cartoonists and one of his biggest influences. Reading this book this book, it’s not hard to see why.

Whirlwind Wonderland

2) Denys Wortman’s New York, edited by James Sturm and Brandon Elston. The other big reprint project of the year and a complete surprise to me. Like (I suspect) most people, I had never heard of Wortman before this collection of  his gag cartoons about everyday New York folks circa the 30s and 40s came out, but I was absolutely floored by his craftsmanship and ability to portray that era as richly as he did. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a cartoonist who has been able to capture their environment and culture as well as Wortman does in these pages. He’s that good.

3) Whirlwind Wonderland by Rina Ayuyang. Apart from an interview with Tom Spurgeon, I don’t think anyone paid attention to Ayuyang’s graphic novel debut this year. That’s a shame as it’s easily one of the most notable debuts of 2010. Her art style can come off as crude at times (her Brad Pitt needs work) but she chronicles her family’s foibles, her obsessions with pop culture and her Filipino heritage with love, warmth and humor. Sparkplug published a lot of great books this year, but this one might have been my favorite.

4) The High Soft Lisp by Gilbert Hernandez. Everyone went gaga over Xaime Hernandez’s contributions to the third volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories this year, myself included, and rightfully so — it was arguably the best thing he’s ever done. Less fanfare, however, seemed to come with this collection from Beto of stories concerning Luba’s sister Fritz. Part of that may be due to the fact these stories were originally serialized in the second run of Love and Rockets years ago and fans are already familiar with them. Another part may have to do with just how raw and emotionally devastating these tales are. Those who feel that Hernandez’s work relies too much on female objectification and fetishization need to read this book to understand how self-aware he is of that fact and its real-world consequences.

The High Soft Lisp

5) Harvey by Herve Bouchard and Janice Nadeau. This is a rather touching tale about a young boy who unexpectedly loses his father that I found at my local library. Bouchard narrates the tale from the boy’s first-person perspective, getting the confusion and insecurity just right while Nadeau’s lovely off-kilter, watercolor drawings capture the rural milieu perfectly. A really lovely, sad little book that I don’t think anyone was aware of outside of certain children’s book publishing circles.

6) Dungeon Monstres Vol. 3: Heartbreaker by Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, Carlos Nine and Killoffer. The Dungeon series in general doesn’t get the attention I think it deserves, but this new collection, combining two separate stories about two very different female characters — one set in the past, the other in the future — was especially noteworthy and in some ways seemed like a decided demarcation point to me. The first tale focuses on a cast member who up till now seemed not only dangerous but rather crazed. “Heartbreaker” gives us her back story and in turn makes one of the most sympathetic characters in the series so far. “The Depths” meanwhile portrays an innocent girl who transforms herself into a deadly and heartless warrior who turns against her people  in order to survive. Each tale is uncompromising and unsentimental. Taken together, the pair mark a decisive movement away from the light humor and wisecracking of the previous volumes and into darker, more emotionally resonant material.

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Comments

35 Comments

Daytripper. Didn’t sell well enough, and no one talked about it.

@Maniacmatt — From what I can recall, Daytripper sold decently for a Vertigo book and had remarkably stable numbers for a ten-issue miniseries. It was a fantastic book (and one that will probably continue to do well in trades), but I’m not sure it was ignored, as such.

Terry Moore’s ECHO.

Dude EVERYONE talked about Daytripper. Even IGN would cover it regularly.

John Arcudi wrote a fascinating superhero deconstruction comic called “A God Somewhere” that I’ve only seen mentioned once. It added a new, unsettling spin on some pretty well-tread ground, which I always think is impressive.

I think Daytripper entered the conciousness pretty well. I’ve heard of it, it is stocked at all comic shops and I bought the first issue. The others on the list I’ve never heard of so thanks.

I only have one beef. Only six? If you have more I’d love to know about them.

I’m going to check out A God Somewhere, thanks for that.

I loved Set To Sea, but saw it on the Top 100 Comics of 2011 list so can’t complain there.

Elmer was great, even got props from Gaiman.

There were so many overlooked books this past year, but I think that has to do with the overwhelming amount of great books that came out this past year.

A God Somewhere is on my list…I asked about it at the LCS around the time of its release and they had no idea what I was talking about it. Still haven’t gotten to it. “Harvey” sounds up my ally… I dig comics dealing with loss of a parent, family drama, death in general.

I never saw it get covered aside from a review here and there, and I was the only one at our comic shop who ever read it. I know that for a fact since I work there. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the righ places.

Sixth Gun was my favorite series that just did not get any attention which is such a shame. It is constantly one of the best books I read all month.

Holy crap, an Easy collection came out and I didn’t know about it? dizamn!

Such an amazingly important part of comics history.

I thought it was interesting the re-release of Cages didn’t generate much noise. I don’t know what that meant– maybe nothing. It’s a messy book, in a lot of ways; there’s parts I love (the date) and parts I really don’t– and I’d say there were more exciting new books out, plus more interesting reprints, so I can’t fault anyone. And I guess the old collection’s never been too hard to find so most people who’d wanted to read it already did years ago…? Still– really seemed pretty quiet.

X-23 and Daken by Lui and Way

Come on, man. Am I right or am I right?

These 2 books will be looked on as major spotlights of our society at the end of 2010. We get the heroes we deserve.

One Eyed Monster

January 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

S.W.O.R.D. was ignored completely by the buyers, but it was a good book! However, websites like these have mentioned this for a very long time already.

I don’t think it can be said enough- Thor: The Mighty Avenger. With Agents of Atlas as a close second. I miss those books.

Everyone’s making good points, but what about A Sickness in the Family? Rasl? Iron Man: Rapture? Ex Machina? Mighty Avengers? Supergod?

Meanwhile.

Seriously, how does a Choose Your Own Adventure comic not get any love?

“Meanwhile” was pretty fantastic. And while you’re right it deserved more attention, we do try:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=24638

“A God Somewhere” was also really strong. I don’t think it got a lot of buzz, but I did hear several people recommend it—perhaps it fell under the radar because the premise didn’t sound terribly fresh (the fall of a hero), but Arcudi’s execution was stellar.

I agree with some of other the other books suggested. I can’t understand the lack of love this year for titles like:

Echo
RASL
The Sword
Ex Machina
Avengers Academy
Proof
Mouse Guard
Complete Alice in Wonderland
Marvelous Land of Oz

Sean T. Collins

January 8, 2011 at 8:56 am

For what it’s worth, Daytripper folks, the book ranked THIRD in CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2010 list:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=30098

Maybe y’all overlooked that it WASN’T overlooked. :)

Regarding A God Somewhere, I found it to be a worthwhile but not entirely successful exercise:

http://seantcollins.com/2010/08/comics-time-a-god-somewhere/

Ryan, we pundits simply would NOT SHUT UP about either Atlas or Thor the Mighty Avenger. It’s the buying public who ignored them!

High Soft Lisp, AND Beto’s work in Love & Rockets New Stories #3, topped my overlooked list. My other votes would go to Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions #14-15 (Drawn & Quarterly), Megan Kelso’s Artichoke Tales (Fantagraphics), Vito Delsante and Rachel Freire’s FCHS (self-published), and most especially Kolbeinn Karlsson’s The Troll King (Top Shelf). I also think that while Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley (Fantagraphics) wasn’t exactly overlooked per se, it has yet to really be recognized as the landmark it is by people in general.

A Sickness in the Family was brilliantly done. Being part of the Vertigo Crime line should not hurt it at all.

There’s a different between stuff that was criminally ignored by the media and fans, and available stuff that noone else you know liked except you.

Mouse Guard was everywhere, likewise Alice, Oz, Avengers, Thor etc.. Not underrated at all. Just not in huge demand.

Glister: The Family Tree, Andi Watson
There’s No Time Like The Present, Paul B. Rainey
Disillusioned Illusions, Greg Stump (may be 2009; can’t remember)
Katrina’s Ghost, Darrin Bell
Toys In The Basement, Stephane Blanquet
Suddenly Something Happened, Jimmy Beaulieu

I’ll see your Captain Easy and raise you the fact that I’m entirely bummed out that Titan keep delaying their reprint of MAJOR EAZY.

I’m a big fan of Richard (Boneyard, Far West) Moore’s works, so I was sad to se his CHIP and CHIP: SECOND CRACK mini-series from Antarctic ignored, much like the rest of his comics. Both minis were very funny and charming and perfect for anybody looking for a generally all ages comic in the same vein as BONE.

Never heard of them!

(thought i’d add a bit of facetiousness to the thread)

Parker the Outfit – Criminally ignored – just kidding.

Thanks for the list, now I have to go buy Captain Easy Volume 1, the other books do not interest me as much, but I appreciate the list. Material that flies under the radar is by definition something easy to miss and any publicity has to help.

Hell the heck did the word now become an ad in my last post?

Would Elaine Lee and Michael Wm. Kaluta’s STARSTRUCK from IDW qualify? It was a magnificently inventive series that did everyone involved proud. Up there with AMERICAN FLAGG! for innovation and effective and immersive world-building, I’d say.

Anyway it’s due to beTPB’ed in February 2011, I guess the mass adulation may occur then. Hopefully.

Hey, Mark Karswell: are Titan really going to reprint MAJOR EAZY? I’ll buy one. Are they doing moreof that ’70s BATTLE stuff? Like DARKIES MOB and RAT PACK?

The new Louis book by Metaphrog. About 1000% less bleak than all the other Louis books, but still a dystopian, disturbing “children’s” book.

The new Billy Hazelnuts book by Tony Millionaire. It’s got some of Millionaire’s best dialogue ever.

Hallorave by Mezzo & Pirus.

Its like a sleazier slacker verson of Twin Peaks. The only place I saw it mentioned all year was on Amazon’s best of list. Its amazing.

As for Marvel’s Oz books, Avengers, Ex Machina, Daytripper, Mouse Gaurd, etc., I wish people would stop saying stuff like that’s criminally ignored and unloved when they’re constantly advertised, promoted, reviewed on sites just like CBR. They’re not ignored by any stretch, partucularly when some of them sellout.

Falling for Lionheart by IDW (Link)
Whoever read it, loved it. Unfortunately not many people payed attention.

FWIW: I did a writeup of Captain Easy a while back: http://www.benzilla.com/?p=2267

The Denys Wortman book may not have gotten a lot of play in the comics press, but it was all over the mainstream press, including NY Times, etc.

How’s about Huizenga’s WILD KINGDOM, the Dick Briefer FRANKENSTEIN collection, and the Fanta Norman Pettingill book?

I don’t think Wild Kingdom got much because it was just a reforkmatting of an issue of Or Else.

@mr. pants I’d have to dig up my old Or Elses, but I think there were some pretty substantial changes. But, yeah, you’re right: a truly *new* Huizenga book would have gotten a lot more notice.

“As for Marvel’s Oz books, Avengers, Ex Machina, Daytripper, Mouse Gaurd, etc., I wish people would stop saying stuff like that’s criminally ignored and unloved when they’re constantly advertised, promoted, reviewed on sites just like CBR. They’re not ignored by any stretch, partucularly when some of them sellout.”

I agree with this. If something is from the front of Previews, especially Marvel or DC, it’s hard to make the argument for them being “criminally ignored.” Some lower level Image, IDW and Dark Horse stuff could maybe qualify, but if it has Avengers or “written by Brian K. Vaughn” attached to it then it’s hardly ignored.

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