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As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists and gift guides — so many that keeping up is a challenge. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days
• Matt Madden and Jessica Abel, editors for the Best American Comics series, have released their annual Notable Comics list. Every year they try to get their hands on every North American comic that’s published every year so they can narrow them down to about 100 or so comics for their guest editor to choose from for each edition. This year’s list includes comics by Matt Kindt, Brandon Graham, Megan Kelso, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, Michael Deforge, Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, Mike Dawson, Joshua Cotter and many, many more.
• In a list of their favorite music, movies, books and more of 2011, The Tulane Hullabaloo spotlights Mark Waid, Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera’s run on Daredevil: “The series contains a sense of pure, manic glee missing from many of today’s dark, gritty and realistic superheroes, with Daredevil grinning as he makes snow angels on the rooftops of his beloved city rather than brooding over his internal demons. It’s a joy to read every month and cannot be recommended more, even to non-comic book enthusiasts.”
• MTV Splash Page counts down the top five comic book movie deaths of 2011.
• Brian Truitt at USA Today offers a list of gift ideas for comic fans.
• Lauren Davis at ComicsAlliance offers a guide to various webcomics collections and merchandise she thinks would make fine gifts — “a fantastic way to convert friends and family to your favorite webcomic.”
The problem with superheroes is it’s not a personal taste so much as it just requires so much insider knowledge to read these things. They don’t stand on their own. There have been about three superhero comics, maybe two, in the past five years that stand on their own. That you can just read and not have to know what happened in issue #56 and ever since. It’s a real problem, I think, and it’s a problem for the industry. How do you get into this stuff if you’re not into it already?
— Jessica Abel, cartoonist and co-editor of the Best American Comics annual anthology series, explains why so few superhero comics have made it into their best-of collections in an interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben. (Though this isn’t through lack of trying — DC previously turned down their request to use Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100.) Her husband, fellow cartoonist, and co-editor Matt Madden agrees:
Well this is gonna be a heckuva resource: Best American Comics editors (and fine cartoonists in their own right) Jessica Abel and Matt Madden have launched a series of posts on their Drawing Words and Writing Pictures blog called Notables, in which they’ll shine the spotlight on every single one of the 71 “Notable” comics (aka Honorable Mentions) listed in the back of the Neil Gaiman guest-edited 2010 edition of the anthology. Says Abel:
…when looking for good comics to read, why limit yourself? We’ve always hoped readers will delve a bit into the list to find more great stories once they finish reading BAC. Realistically, though, we know that’s tough. What can you know about a story from a title and author?
Hence the blog posts, which tell you much more about each book — including recommended age guidelines for curious librarians and educators. So far they’ve fleshed out their recommendations for Kevin Cannon’s Far Arden, Mat Brinkman’s Multiforce, CF’s Powr Mastrs, Tim Hamilton’s Fahrenheit 451 adaptation, Nick Bertozzi’s “How and Why to Bale Hay” and more. They’re doing a book a day until the list is done, so keep tuning in.
I thought this was pretty clever in the same way as Kerry Callen’s crossword comics was — Matt Madden shares how to play Tic Tac Toe Jam, where two cartoonists create a nine-paneled comic while playing a game of Tic Tac Toe. Each artist has to work their respective letter, “X” or “O,” into their respective panels on the board.
“What appeals to me about the idea is that the constraint works at a few different levels: there’s visual play and word play and there’s also an unusual storytelling challenge since you’re not telling a story in a linear fashion, instead you’re jumping from panel to panel, alternating with someone else, and trying to mold it all into some kind of coherent narrative,” he wrote.
One of the examples he shares, seen above, naturally works in references to the X-Men.
Comics couple Matt Madden and Jessica Abel exhibit their work and talk shop at the Huntington Museum of Art as part of the museum’s Walter Gropius Master Artist Series.
The Ephemerist has been doing a regular feature for a few weeks now titled “Matt Madden Mondays,” where they post some of the Odds Off author’s illustrations and early work. The latest selection is a collection of fold-em yourself minicomics jams he did with Walt Holcombe and Tom King back in the day. They’re rather NSFW though, which is why I’m not posting any of the art here.