On the heels of Time magazine, National Public Radio has released a substantial list of the best books of 2013, which includes a dozen comics and graphic novels among its more than 200 titles (although, granted, not all of them are strictly “comics”). A handful of the selections should by now be familiar from previous best-of lists:
- Battling Boy, by Paul Pope (First Second)
- Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
- Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight, by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Dexter Soy and Emma Rios (Marvel)
- Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and Gris Grimly (Balzer+Bray)
- Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories, by Ben Katchor (Pantheon)
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh (Touchstone)
- Julio’s Day, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
- New School, by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics)
- Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)
- Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe, by Tim Leong (Chronicle Books)
- The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Novel, by Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown and Company)
- You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons, by Tom Gauld (Drawn and Quarterly)
Amid all of the best-of-the-year lists, National Public Radio’s comics go-to guy Glen Weldon takes a different approach, focusing on “outstanding works that haven’t gotten the column inches they deserve” — in short, the graphic novels and collections that might’ve slipped beneath the mainstream radar. Of course, half of his selections have already made best-of lists this year:
• The Crackle of the Frost, by Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner (Fantagraphics)
• Little White Duck: A Childhood in China, by Andres Vera Martinez and Na Liu (Graphic Universe)
• Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)
• Gloriana, by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
• Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
• Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang (DC Comics)
You can read what Weldon has to say about each off the books on the NPR website.
Talk about your harmonic nerd convergences: John Hodgman spoke with George R.R. Martin about Marvel Comics in yesterday’s episode of public radio’s The Sound of Young America. In one corner: George R.R. Martin, author of the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire and its #1 New York Times–bestselling latest installment A Dance with Dragons, executive producer of the HBO television adaptation Game of Thrones, and inspiration for Dynamite Entertainment’s own comics adaptation A Game of Thrones, whose first issue debuts tomorrow. In the other corner: John Hodgman, nerd-friendly writer, comedic cultural commentator for The Daily Show, and “I’m a PC” guy, filling in as the radio program’s guest host. The topic: One of Martin’s first pieces of published writing, a piece of fanmail published in Avengers #12 in 1964 when Martin was 16 years old.
Hodgman used the letter, which entered wide Internet circulation a few weeks back, to kick off the interview. And he was probably kidding around when he asked Martin to explain why his 16-year-old self believed Avengers #9 to be superior to Fantastic Four #32, as his letter had argued. But once Hodgman jogged Martin’s memory by reminding him that Avengers #9 marked the debut of Wonder Man, Martin knew exactly why he liked the issue so much. His explanation to Hodgman is a solid exploration of why the early Marvel superhero comics were so groundbreaking for the genre — and in offering it, Martin seems to come to the realization that that issue had an impact on his own writing that resonates with him to this day. (For readers of the book or viewers of the show, the influence will be obvious.)
Read a transcript of the relevant section below, then listen to the entire interview.
Lynda Barry did a guest turn on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday, talking about how to deal with writer’s (or artist’s) block. Barry’s solution is simple: Just do it:
In her latest graphic memoir, Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, she writes,”The worst thing I can do when I’m stuck is to start thinking and stop moving my hands.”
And if you also have doodler’s block too, or think you can’t draw?
“All I tell them is try drawing a cigarette on anybody in a magazine,” Barry tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “They always start laughing, and I can tell they always feel better.”
You can listen to the entire interview at the link.
(Via Graphic Novel Reporter.)