The 101 Best Graphic Novels Hardcover – 1 Jan 2006
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The entries are listed alphabetical by author, and I only wish that there were alternate indexes (by ratings or subject). However, it did force me to expand my initial interests...not a stress for a brief book.
I would strongly recommend this for any reader, teacher, librarian, teacher educator, or parent with an interest in comics or graphic novels--it can introduce you to a variety of titles or expand your existing readings.
But until that happens, it seems to me we can do a better job of analyzing what we mean when we use the terms. Otherwise, we risk conflating graphic novels, comics, and comic books. I think this is the trap that Stephen Weiner falls into in his 101 Best Graphic Novels. How in the world can the superhero comic book stuff churned out by DC and Marvel Comics fall into the same category as the artistic gems published by the likes of Fantagraphics?! This isn't to say that there's no room for comic books (although--full disclosure--they're not my cup of tea). It's just to suggest that equating a story about Batman with the stuff that a Harvey Pekar, Jason Lutes, R. Crumb, or Eileen Forney (who didn't make it into Weiner's book, by the way!) produces seems a category mistake, to say the least.
Weiner's survey is helpful, though. It introduced me to a couple of interesting titles that I didn't know, and I appreciated even his discussion of the comic book stuff. But again: what we need is a good, thoughtful analysis of this new art genre that so many of us admire, but so few of us as yet understand.
And that is the problem. I'm sure the internet is full of opinions on the graphic novel "canon". I wanted something MORE than just a bibliography, sorted alphabetically by author.
Each book has no more than a four sentence summary with a rating to suggest whether it would be suitable for kids, youths or adults. I would have expected:
* author/illustrator bios
* ratings for plot, characters, design, artwork etc
* ranking of the books in order
Any connection between the attention span of a typical comic book reader and the brevity of this book? You can draw your own conclusions.
If you're interested in the different visual techniques of storytelling, check out the Scott McCloud or Will Eisner books on the subject.
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