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American Elf

The Best American Comics 2010: A Review

best american comics 2010 cover Another year, and another edition of the Best American Comics will be hitting shelves soon, bringing us the picks of this year’s honorable guest editor: Neil Gaiman. Fangirl that I am, the name alone was enough for me to find an advanced digital copy and give this 352-page tomb a read through. Gaiman’s selections are (mostly) great, and he is very funny in his introduction as he struggles along with us to come to grips with the ideas of “Best” and “American” in an international comics world.

“Best” is pretty subjective and, as my father always said, taste is all in your mouth. So to give you a flavor of what the 2010 edition has to offer, allow me to present the good, the bad, the weird, and the historical.

The Good: There is a lot of good here. Lilli Carre’s The Lagoon about a mysterious water-monster with a haunting voice has me wanting to go out and pick up the full story. 20 days of American Elf strips humorously tell the story of the birth of Jame Kochalka’s second son in 2007. And Peter Bagge’s The War on Fornication had me up in arms over people wanting to control my reproductive rights.

Brainfag Forever: Comics by Nate Beaty from 1999-2007

Nate Beaty has been making comics for about a decade (at least) and collected 8 years of journal webcomics into Brainfag Forever (or BFF as it appears on the cover).  It's very self-revealing with a great deal of painful honesty in it.  Artistically it's all over the place and in that sense it's an overview of Beaty's life as a comic artist as much as the comic itself is an overview of his life in general.  It's no wonder this book collected a number of strong reviews last year.

Comix Talk for Monday, February 22, 2010

Young R.E.M. Meet Old R.E.M. by John Allison

Welcome to Monday! May I direct your attention to a review of several mini comics posted late Friday?  If you enjoyed John Allison's COMIX REMIX of the above photo, you might want to check out the entire series he posted to FLICKR.

REVIEWS: Delos reviews Odori Park by Chris Watkins and El Santo reviews the Xeric Grant-winning Haunted by Joshua Smeaton.

INTERVIEWS: Growly Beast has an interview with Alice Hunt and Tracy Williams of Goodbye Chains.

REMIX: The Webcomic Builder has a lengthy essay on fan-comics; something maybe we ought to relabel "remix comics"?

NOT WEBCOMICS: Kickstarter fund drive for an American Elf videogame?  I'd buy that for a dollar!

INTERNATIONAL:

Webcomics Headlines for Tuesday November 24, 2009

AWARDS
The Webcomics List is having an awards program this year.  According to their rules, "Everyone actively involved in webcomics in some way can nominate candidates for the awards. You can nominate up to three comics for each [category]."  Nominations are open until December 13th and the winners -- to be selected by panels of judges -- will be announced on January 24th.

AV Club includes two webcomics in its best comics of the decade listAchewood and American Elf. (h/t El Santo)

NOT COMICS
The Penny Arcade "reality show" is surprisingly moving -- really well done and looking forward to future episodes.  (Much better than the PA comic would suggest!)

BUSINESS
Sean Kleefeld comments on a recent story (one in a continuing series apparently) about how "the internet ate my comic" -- this story in the Peoria Journal focusing on comments of frustration with the Internet from Julie Larsone, the creaor of the Dinette Set comic.

Webcomics make the AV Clubs Best Comics of the Decade List

AV Club has been doing Best of the Decade lists all month, many of which have been excellent and surprising. Recently, the released their Best Comics of the Decade. Two webcomics made the cut, and they’re accompanied by interesting observations about the medium:

This Day in ComixTalk: September 11th

This day in ComixTalk:

2008
Faith Erin Hicks blogged about internal narration in comics; Platinum's purchase of Wowio was still shaking out in the news (a year later and there's still no evidence that Wowio has paid off all of its debts to creators and publishers.)

2007
Platinum Studios filed for an IPO; and Phil Kahn posted video of numerous interviews he did at Connecticon with creators such as Chris Hastings and Kent Archer of Dr. McNinja and Rob Balder and Jami Noguchi of ErfWorld.

2006
Jim Zubkavich announced the print version of his webcomic Makeshift Miracle.

2005
Another update to Kris Straub's meta-meta-meta webcomic Modern Humor Authority; an interview with Maritza Campos of CRFH!!!; a review of School Spirit.

Also from the forums, RanJado wondered about how to draw distinctions between comics' readerships;

2004
Jamie Robertson announced that he would stop working on his webcomic Clan of the Cats.  I'm not sure of the ends and outs of Robertson's work status on the comic every year since than, but I'm happy to report that right now he is working on the strip (there's an update today) and I think his work has gotten better every year.  Great strip full of of supernatural elements, adventure and relationships, all with really strong artwork.

2003
James Kochalka won best online comic at the Ignatzs for American Elf.  He, however, did not accept his award in a gorilla suit.

The Joy of Webcomics, brand new lucha-labeled edition

It’s been a downer of a week, especially if you’ve had your emotional core invested in celebrities. How to cheer up? Well, you could check your brain at the door and watch Transformers 2 (which I haven’t seen yet and which all the critics hate but which I am willing to defy the odds since I’m a puppet of Hasbro), or you can find your joy in the world of webcomics:

  • This week, Toothpaste for Dinner provided a fairly concise assessment of most of the “webcomic industry.”
  • Incidentally, if you enjoyed the new Dick Grayson Batman and Damian Wayne Robin in the new and highly acclaimed Batman & Robin #1, you might also enjoy Dave Willis’ 3-part Batman tale in Shortpacked!
  • Man, now’s your chance to hang with your cool literary friends because Ulysses Seen brings that infamous James Joyce novel (Ulysses) to life! Clearly it looks a lot like Watchmen. And… it’s as dry as everyone claims it is. Each page, when clicked on, provides a nice literary analysis of the work that has become synonymous with “stuff piece of literature that people who wear monocles read.” Hey, whatever makes AP English summer reading easier. Anyway, here’s to hoping it goes further than that 1984 comic, which got as far as Chapter Two.
  • Alexds1 of The Meek was nice enough to link to my site (”It has some pretty kickass webcomic reviews!”), so I’m returning the favor. I’ve been reading The Meek for a month now. I gotta say it’s one of the prettiest webcomics out there. It’s got mystery. It’s got danger. It’s also got a giant mudpuppy. I highly recommend it. And at only 38 pages in, right now is an pretty good jumping point. I’ll probably end up reviewing it after Chapter One wraps up, and needless to say it probably won’t get that 1-star rating that Alexds1 so desperately loves to consume. (NOTE: more than half of the comic right now features a very naked girl with very naked breasts. Not necessarily safe for work.)
  • Ping Teo of Lonely Panel checks out Luke’s URL (or Luke Surl), which she says doesn’t have the nicest art in the world but has writing that tends to grow on ya.
  • Grim Tales (reviewed here) has ended, apparently. I am SO heart-broken. Though reader Quijotesca tells me that Bleedman’s threatening a sequel. Um… hooray!
  • Well, since we’re all talking about Michael Jackson anyway, I feel obligated to point you to Heidi MacDonald’s news round-up of MJ and comics. Of particular interest is the picture she’s showing in the post: a Disney Adventures cover with MJ and Pinocchio (Ms. MacDonald being the editor of comics on that mag). There’s also a link to a somewhat subtle comic tribute done by Jame Kochalka of American Elf. Ms. MacDonald’s final assessment:

    In the end, the man lived a sad, sick life, but it’s the music that will live on forever and ever. Cliched but so true.

  • Not at all webcomic related, but some of these outdoor ads (care of mentalfloss.com) are too hilarious and too awesome not share. Especially the Spider-Man urinal.

Bellen! Is A Peculiar Kind of Comic: An Interview with Brian Brown

BELLEN! by Brian "Box" Brown is a journal comic about a fictional couple (really!) named Ben and Ellen (hence, "Bellen").  It's one of those comics that has shown great strides as its creator improves over time.  Brown has really come into his own in the last year and Bellen! is a real treat.  It has a lot of the wistfulness of Peanuts in it (there's often something Charlie Brown like about main character Ben) but it's not really similar and the artwork continues to go in interesting directions. Very recently Brown won a Xeric grant for and then self-published a collection of Bellen! based on work he originally did for the Top Shelf 2.0 webcomic portal.  I got a chance to interview him last month over email.

Kurtz to host some awards ceremonies and some other stuff

My Life in Webcomics: An Interview with Grant Thomas

Grant Thomas is the creator of several comics including the more personal My Life in Records and the more adventuresome Graphic Poems.  I think Grant has been creating some of the more interesting and challenging comics I've seen in webcomics and his stuff is well worth checking out.

Grant's also been a contributor to ComixTALK, creating the cover art for ComixTALK for December of 2008 and writing several features for the magazine, including a three part series on creating mini-comics.  I got a chance to chat with Grant recently about his plans for 2009, including the next chapter of My Life in Records and the inclusion of his work in an upcoming book from Fantagraphics.