Publisher’s Weekly First Annual Comics Week Critic’s Poll

The First Annual PW Comics Week Critic's Poll

Publishers Weekly    |    Publishers Weekly Staff    |    December 19, 2006

Regular PW writers and reviewers were polled for up to ten of their favorite graphic novels. The results came in as follows with a listing in descending order of the books that received the most votes, followed by selected comments from the critics.

Participating in this year's poll were Chris Arrant, Chris Barsanti, Ian Brill, Steve Bunche, Johanna Draper Carlson, Kai-Ming Cha, Sunyoung Lee, Heidi MacDonald, Dan Nadel, Jason Persse, Calvin Reid and Douglas Wolk.

[D+Q mentions:]

Four votes

Curses by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)

"Huizenga's stories feature spare but architectonic drawings that slyly explore philosophic quandaries, often through the eyes of Glenn Ganges, an everyman protagonist who offers an engaging and thoughtful wonder at life's complexities."

Two votes

Lucky by Gabrielle Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)

"Bell is has a wicked ear for dialogue and draws some of the most nuanced body language in comics. Her first book of mature work displays her talents to great effect. Despite the familiarity of the subject matter—20-something ennui—Bell makes it all new again with her eye for detail."

Honorable Mention:

Abandon the Old In Tokyo by Yoshiharu Tatum (Drawn & Quarterly)

Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly)

Or Else 3 by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)

In addition to giving us their picks, a few critics were offered the chance to comment on the year in comics.

Dan Nadel

Despite all the interest and activity from major publishers, this year once again demonstrates the virtues of small, brilliant publishers like Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics. Nurturing unique artists, growing with them, and releasing quality work remains the best (and oddly unique to these two companies!) business model. All the hype and money in the world can't beat it.

And, it's been a great year for reprints. I kept them out of my list to somehow make it easier. My favorites are Jeet Heer and Chris Ware's superlative Gasoline Alley series and Dark Horse Comics'edition of Russ Manning's Magnus Robot Fighter. About as far apart on the spectrum as you can go, but why not? Frank King and Russ Manning both understood body language and space extremely well, but put it in service to, um, very different content. Drawn and Quarterly's Moomin book and Tatsumi series are also favorites, as well as Fantagraphics' Popeye book.

Douglas Wolk

No getting around it: this was the best year for English-language comics ever. There's so much good stuff, new and old, coming out, because there's an audience for it like there's never been before, which means that there's an economic scaffolding to support it, and that scaffolding is not going away. My other career is writing about pop music, and not much music this year has impressed me; at one point, I worried that my taste was just ossifying as I got older and nostalgic about the records of my youth. Then I looked at the stack of new graphic novels next to my desk and realized it was just that music in 2006 paled in comparison to comics. The golden age is right now.

Jason Persse

The graphic novel has been a "legitimate" art form for a while now. Does that mean we can start calling them comics again? With the average cost of a single comic book at around three dollars, it has become cheaper for collectors and casual readers alike to await the trade paperback of even the most common super-hero stories.So what does this mean for the very definition of "graphic novel?" Do serialized stories count? Is there such a thing as a graphic novel purist? Is there an existing orthodoxy for a medium that is, by its very nature, unorthodox? Well I'll just go ahead and champion the loose-constructionist view and say that, from super heroes to the most iconoclastic "art" comics, the graphic novel is just a longer, more expensive comic book.It's also the most exciting frontier in the publishing industry.

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