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The past ten years have been significant — indeed some might say phenomenally good — for the comics industry and the medium as a whole. While our economy collapsed, the Earth got hotter, and general chaos and disaster reigned, comics finally started to crawl out of its red-headed stepchild status. People started acknowledging comics as a legitimate form of art. Librarians and teachers started showing an interest in comics, arguing that it could help generate an interest in reading among children. And lots and lots of really great books came out in a variety of genres and styles. Comics, it could be argued, finally came of age.
When thinking about how to look at the past ten years of comics — and also celebrate our one-year anniversary — we wanted to do something different. Rather than try to list just our favorites or grade them on some aesthetic, subjective scale, we thought we’d look at the comics that mattered, the ones that, for better or for worse, changed the industry, changed how people thought about comics, and changed the way comics were read and bought. Here then, is our list of what we feel to be the 30 most important (or if you prefer, influential) comics of the decade. These aren’t necessarily the best comics of the past ten years — in fact you may find a few clunkers — but rather the comics that, for one reason or another, changed things.
Here’s how we put this thing together: I came up with a basic list that I then threw to the rest of the Robot 6 crowd, who proceeded to suggest other titles and question some of mine. Once we had hashed it out and came up with a final list, we divvied up who would talk about what book. The ranking was pretty much done solely by me, so if you’re upset that comic A got ranked lower than comic B, I’m the guy to yell at.
Because our list got so long, we decided to break this into two parts. The first 15 are after the jump. The second part will appear tomorrow around the same time. Be sure to let at us know about whatever books we omitted in the comments section. And enjoy! Here’s to another decade of great comics.
Sandy Bilus of I Love Rob Liefeld, the Comics Internet tips its collective hat to you. Picking up the torch from the sadly discontinued blog of Dick Hyancith, Bilus has compiled a “meta-list” of the 100 best comics of 2008, as tabulated from the personal best-of lists of dozens of critics and commentators. Behold the Top Ten:
1. Bottomless Belly Button, by Dash Shaw
2. Acme Novelty Library #19, by Chris Ware
3. All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
4. Too Cool To Be Forgotten, by Alex Robinson
5. What It Is, by Lynda Barry
6. Ganges #2, by Kevin Huizenga
7. The Alcoholic, by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel
8. Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua Cotter
9. Kramers Ergot 7, by various
10. Capacity, by Theo Ellsworth
The point system used to tabulate the list makes it easy for books that made it onto a lot of individual lists but didn’t top them to put in a strong showing; perhaps that explains the blowout victory of Bottomless Belly Button, which I recall as being widely liked but few people’s #1 pick.
For you front-of-Previews types out there, DC’s All-Star Superman is the highest ranking superhero comic, coming in at a strong #3. DC/Vertigo’s The Alcoholic is the Big Two’s next-highest representative at #7, while its labelmate Scalped comes in at #12. The top Marvel book, and second-highest superhero comic, is Omega the Unknown at #13. Manga’s top-ranking title is Travel at #16. Click the link to see what else made the grade.
Me, I’ve got some quibbles here and there, as is to be expected. But overall, if you’re looking to do some shopping this holiday season and don’t mind being a year behind, you’d be hard pressed to top this for a wishlist.
No doubt inspired by his arrival to Comic-Con, Tom Spurgeon has made up a list of what he feels are 10 properties that should be fast-tracked into movies or TV shows. No. 1 on the list is Dr. Strange, and Tom has an interesting suggestion as to who should don the Eye of Agamotto:
While some folks reading that original post thought I was hinting at Johnny Depp being best suited for the role, the actor I was thinking of was actually Leonardo DiCaprio. A number of you probably just vomited, but DiCaprio is already 34, he can act, he’s as believable as Downey Jr. — albeit in a different way — as someone who once had a glamorous career, lost it and has seen tough times since, he’s a major motion picture star, he has considerable onscreen charisma it’s fun to see him embrace rather than flee and he’s adept at playing romance. But so many actors would do.
Go check out the whole list. There are some interesting and eclectic choices found there.
I suppose in general I agree with most of the selections in Complex Magazine’s The 40 Most Violent Comics Ever, put together by Chris Sims and John Parker. The picks tend toward the obvious though, with a decided emphasis on recent, mainstream comics of the past 20 years, making me wish they had put a bit more effort into their selection process. Garth Ennis, Frank Miller and Mark Millar are all name-checked several times and books like Preacher, Hard Boiled and Faust all put in appearances. No surprises, really.
And while I’m glad to see manga included via Lone Wolf and Cub and Blade the Immortal, but is that all they could come up with? What about Hideshi Hino? Suehiro Maruo? Shintaro Kago? Takashi Nemoto’s Monster Men Buriko Lullaby makes Faust look like a Casper comic. Kazuo Umezu’s The Drifting Classroom has elementary school kids falling to their death and being strangled by madmen and stabbed fer crissakes!
Even if we keep to North America there are still plenty of worthy entries that got the shaft for watered-down stuff like Kraven’s Last Hunt. How, for example, can you not include Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy? The underground comics of Greg Irons and Tom Veitch? Lev Gleason’s Crime Does Not Pay? Friggin EC horror comics for cryin’ out loud! I demands a recount.