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The best of the best of the year lists

Hark! A Vagrant

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:

• Time has released their list of the top 10 fiction books of 2011, which includes two graphic novels — The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes at No. 10 and Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton at No. 7.

• Prolific manga commentator Deb Aoki lists her nominations for the 15 best manga of 2011, divided up by category (shoujo, shonen, etc.). Despite talk of a “manga bust” in recent years, 2011 was a pretty good year for new series, and there are some books here that are definitely worth a look.

• Garrett Martin, Hillary Brown and Sean Edgar at Paste Magazine share their picks for the 20 Best Comic Books of 2011, which they’ve broken into two different lists — new comics and reissues. Their lists include Animal Man, Big Questions, the We3 Deluxe Edition and Celluloid, among many others.

• Drawn’s John Martz shares his favorite books of the year, which include Pope Hats, Paying for It, Mister Wonderful and The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists.

• The Comic Vault present a lengthy discussion among their bullpen of their favorites of the year, breaking it down in various creator and comic book categories.

• Multiversity Comics named Image Comics publisher the year, and has released lists of the best new titles and most overlooked titles of 2012.

• Comics Should Be Good!’s Kelly Thompson shares her third annual “female positive comics holiday gift list,” which includes Shadoweyes in Love, Echo, Batman: The Black Mirror and Strange Tales II, among many others.

Penny Arcade duo among ‘the world’s most influential people’

Holkins and Krahulik, in Time magazine

Holkins and Krahulik, in Time magazine

Writer Neil Gaiman and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson may not have made the final cut, but Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins earned a spot on “The 2010 Time 100,” the news magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people.

Just how influential is the duo? The 12-year-old webcomic draws some 3.5 million readers, and has led to the establishment of Child’s Play, a charity that provides video games to sick kids in hospitals, and the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a gaming convention that last year drew 60,000 attendees to Seattle. An East Coast convention, PAX East, debuted last month in Boston.

“Krahulik and Holkins have become the tastemakers, and conscience, of an industry the size of Hollywood,” Lev Grossman writes in his brief profile. “But for all their success, they are almost compulsively self-deprecating, and they give all the credit to their fans. You can’t put a label on them. Labels smack of hype, and Penny Arcade doesn’t do hype.”

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