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The A.V. Club’s best graphic novels and art comics of 2013

charles forsmanA day after revealing its picks for the top mainstream and superhero comics of the year, The A.V. Club returns with a rundown of the 10 best graphic novels and art comics, led by Charles Forsman’s Celebrated Summer.

  1. Celebrated Summer, by Charles Forsman (Fantagraphics)
  2. The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn And Quarterly)
  3. Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
  4. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown and Company)
  5. Battling Boy, by Paul Pope (First Second)
  6. Over the Wall, by Peter Wartman (Uncivilized)
  7. Little Tommy Lost: Book One, by Cole Closser (Koyama)
  8. Julio’s Day, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
  9. Kinski, by Gabriel Hardman (Monkeybrain)
  10. Out of Skin, by Emily Carroll (self-published)

Once again, you can visit The A.V. Club for commentary on each of the selections.

The A.V. Club’s best mainstream and superhero comics of 2013

mind mgmt13With only a relative handful of pages left on the calendar, The A.V. Club has released its picks for the year’s 20 best mainstream and superhero comics, prefaced with a bit of commentary about the state of publishing.

  1. Mind MGMT, by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
  2. Nowhere Men, by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde (Image Comics)
  3. Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, et al. (Marvel)
  4. Astro City, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson (Vertigo)
  5. Swamp Thing, by Charles Soule, Kano, et al. (DC Comics)
  6. FF, by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred and Laura Allred (Marvel)
  7. Locke & Key: Omega and Alpha, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)
  8. East of West, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image Comics)
  9. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber (Marvel)
  10. Five Ghosts, by Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham, et al. (Image Comics)

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What’s wrong with The A.V. Club’s Best Comics of the ’00s list?

avclub_logoEarlier today, The A.V. Club, The Onion’s for-serious arts and criticism auxiliary unit, released its list of the Best Comics of the ’00s, featuring 25 comics/graphic novels and (separately) five reprint collections, ordered alphabetically. Now, it’s just one of many media outlets producing lists of this sort as the decade draws to a close — pretty soon, we’ll be able to come up with a “Best ‘Best Comics of the ’00s’ Lists” list — and disagreement with such exercises is to be expected. Indeed, it’s sort of the point. But I found The A.V. Club’s list problematic in ways that go beyond the usual “That book?No way!” and “Hey, you forgot about …” complaints.

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1

So let’s start by getting those complaints out of the way, since they’re the most subjective. The list’s own introduction cites a quartet of comics that just missed the cut — Scott Pilgrim, Astro City, The Walking Dead and the work of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez — and I could see reasonable cases being made for three of the four, not that I’d necessarily agree with them. Given the mainstream-accessible tenor of the list, I also think you can get enough of a sense of the standards being applied to argue for several obvious oversights: David B.’s Epileptic, Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde, for example. Moreover, the titles selected for particular creators can leave you scratching your head: One! Hundred! Demons! instead of What It Is, the gag/parody-centric Acme Novelty Library oversized hardcover rather than Jimmy Corrigan, Rick Geary’s The Mystery of Mary Rogers instead of, well, any of Geary’s other old-time crime books. Finally, in some cases, I think the selected books are bettered by other, similar efforts: I’d have picked B.P.R.D. over The Goon for quirky horror-action, for example, or The Walking Dead over Y: The Last Man for lengthy post-apocalyptic serials, or Shortcomings over Box Office Poison for slice-of-life drama.

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