San Antonio Current | John DeFore | January 11, 2006
San Antonio Current Best of 2005
Fans of comics and graphic novels had another good year in 2005. Pioneering cartoonist Chris Ware was awarded a weekly feature in The New York Times Magazine (he’s less pioneering there than usual, but it’s early); the supply of high-quality reprint titles turned into a near-glut; and those of us with a nostalgic love for a certain pointy-eared superhero watched with joy as Hollywood atoned for its past misdeeds with Batman Begins. In this first installment of a monthly column devoted to graphic novels, comic books, and assorted other manifestations of the cartoonist’s art, here’s a recap of the best book-length comics of the year:
Wimbledon Green by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly). Ice Haven has a little fun with adults who obsess over comics; Wimbledon Green makes them the sole subject. A hilariously sarcastic tale that will sting any self-aware collector who ever dreamed of having a fortune to spend on rare comics — and which has parallels to the real-life tale of rare-map thievery recently told in The New Yorker — it contains the kind of dead-on potshots that can only be nailed by an author who sees a lot of himself in his targets.
Pyongyang by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly). Not at all the dull political travelogue you might expect from a book subtitled “A Journey in North Korea,” this dryly funny novel recounts the author’s adventures as a temporary supervisor in one of the North Korean animation studios that do the grunt work for European cartoons.
Walt and Skeezix by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly). Back in the “labor of love” reprint category, this handsome volume is the first devoted to Gasoline Alley, the newspaper strip that ran for decades and (unusual for the funny pages) allowed its characters to age and its storylines to mature over the years. May it be greeted by the throngs of welcoming fans who embraced the high-profile Peanuts and Krazy Kat series.
By John DeFore