Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best Comics of 2009 part 3

As I wrote in an earlier post, I am trying to catch up on some of the comics that were considered the best of 2009 that I never read. My main reference for this is the meta-list compiled by "I Love Rob Liefeld," which combines 130 "best of" lists into one.

My overriding goal here is to read certain comics that I managed to overlook last year. But I am also interested in seeing if these comics would have made it onto my own personal top 15 list, which I presented at the end of last year.

So anyway, here are a few that I read recently.
The Bun Field by Amanda Vahamak (ranked 75 on Liefeld). (The letter "A" in Vahamak has umlauts, but I don't know how to insert them in Blogger.) A bit slight, but really good. A surreal story of young girl (I think--she's young enough that she could be a boy)--it reads like a dream or bits of various dreams strung together. The pencil art is really powerfully good.
Driven by Lemons by J.W. Cotter (ranked 21 on Liefeld). Another surreal comic, it reminds me a bit of Lewis Trondhiem and a bit of Joakim Pirinen. I don't know exactly what to think of this one. I think it requires rereading. But I was entertained reading it, and amazed by Cotter's technique and imagination.
Prison Pit by Johnny Ryan (ranked 69 by Liefeld). Pretty dumb. Visually, it seems like watered-down Kaz, and story-wise it falls way short of the similar (but less gruesome) Muti-Force by Mat Brinkman. It has its funny moments--like the first two chapter names: "Fucked" followed by "Mega-Fucked."
Monsters by Ken Dahl (ranked 6 by Liefeld). That ranking seems absurdly high, but that isn't to say that Monsters is not a very good book. This unexpected story of herpes and anxiety really worked. The sense of dread hanging over the author's head--for years, it seems--is quite powerful. Dahl is a hell of a cartoonist. I may have ranked him in the top 20, but probably not the top 10.
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld (ranked 13 by Liefeld). I'm guessing this got ranked so high partly because of it's subject matter. It's a very handsomely presented book, and the coloring is quite attractive and innovative. But I don't think it's really all that great. It all seems a bit flat. Neufeld has never had a particular dramatic comics style--in a way, it's best suited for non-fiction, just-the-facts kind of stories. But these stories had an inherent drama to them that feels drained away when you read them here. It's a noble, well-crafted work, but not one that connects with me.

At this point, I've read 35 out of the top 100 on the Liefeld mega-list. That's it for me as far as deliberately seeking out these works. I feel certain that there are other good comics on this list, but it's 2010 so time to leave 2009 behind.

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