Blogger Dick Hyacinth has finally posted his list of 100 comics and graphic novels from the myriad end-of-year "best of" lists, both online and in print --a huge variety of sources (Hyacinth lost track). A monumental undertaking, the list has quite a few great books on it. It also has many books that will be either obscure or entirely new to many readers, myself included. The two major features of the list are the lack of superhero comics and lack of manga, the subject matter of roughly 90% of all internet noise concerning comics and, I suppose, based on bestseller lists, the largest income generators.
I love lists like this even though, like bestseller lists, they are never going to be a scientific guide to quality. But I will settle for popular, especially since there are so few comics reviewers whose taste, comics knowledge, focus or worldview is developed and consistent enough to make reading them on a regular basis worthwhile. Beyond the occasional Tom Spurgeon review and the Comics Journal, my reading of reviews if fairly scattershot and inconsistent. I'll click on a link at the Comics Reporter or Journalista, but I'm more likely to read a review if I feel it's not likely I'll actually read the book (for instance, I might read a review of the new Iron Fist series written by Ed Brubaker or a review of a new manga series intended for teenage girls like Shugo Chara, #44 on the Canadian bestseller charts this week). On the other hand, once I've read something, I'm curious what other readers experience of the book was and will often hunt down a favourite reviewer's thoughts on the matter. But I'm more likely to seek out a long, considered piece of criticism more than the short bookchat-style review that is the stock-in-trade of most blogs and newspapers and one of Gore Vidal's famous betes noires. You know, Donald Phelps vs Publishers Weekly.
Anyway, a very interesting list. My own list would have maybe put Alias the Cat over Scott Pilgrim, and Shortcomings over Exit Wounds (and most of the classic comic strip collections like Popeye and Walt and Skeezix over everything else), and I would have had more anthologies, but why quibble with a machine-made list?