Top Ten Graphic Novels
Thinking about what to write about today, I found myself looking at comics. Or graphic novels, if you prefer. A while back (OK, in 2009), Time magazine published a list of what their editors consider to be the top ten graphic novels like, ever. At the time I responded to it on an internet forum I hang out on, and I think my assessment is still accurate. Plus I like lists. I’m cranking up the internet time machine… can you hear the thunder of its mighty gears engaging? Here we go…
… OK, I keep thinking about the all-time best graphic novels list and how except for a couple of picks how wrong, wrong, wrong it is.
- Berlin: City of Stones (2000), by Jason Lutes
- Blankets (2003), by Craig Thompson
- Bone (2004), by Jeff Smith
- The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2002), by Kim Deitch
- The Dark Knight Returns (1986), by Frank Miller
- David Boring (2000), by Daniel Clowes
- Ed the Happy Clown (1989), by Chester Brown
- Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000), by Chris Ware
- Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories (2003), by Gilbert Hernandez
- Watchmen (1986), by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
A “greatest” graphic novel should have top-notch art and a top-notch story that really stands out from other works. The list should have been (allowing only one title per author, in no particular order) :
- Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman (1986)
It should be a no-brainer to have this on any graphic novel list.
- Like A Velvet Glove cast In Iron by Dan Clowes (1998)
David Boring? Really? How pedestrian, at least pick Ghost World if you’re being uninspired.
- Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean (1990)
These guys DOMINATE the latter 20th century graphic novel landscape, for good reason.
- Black Hole by Charles Burns
Collected edition of volumes originally released 1999-2008) (A genius artist & great writer by any standard whose strong influence has been felt since the 80′s.
- The Nikopol Trilogy Enki Bilal (1980-92)
It’s not just Americans making comics, duh, and Bilal is GENIUS.
- The Hard Goodbye (Sin City Book 1) Frank Miller (1991)
Far superior in plot and art to Dark Knight.
- Adventures of Tintin: Tintin in Tibet Hergé (1958)
Again, show some love to the non-American masters, graphic novels didn’t begin in the 1980′s.
- Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia Joe Sacco (2000)
You like plot, little boy? Comics journalism at its finest.
- Perla La Loca (Love & Rockets) los Bros. Hernandez
Rerelease of volumes originally published roughly 1985-1989) (they picked Palomar? come ON.
- Hellboy Library edition vol.1 Mike Mignola
Rerelease of volumes originally published roughly 1994-1998) (Colour! Line & shadow! Plot! …this guy out-Kirbys Kirby.
I like Lutes, Thompson, Smith, Dietch, and Brown – but best of all time? Hardly. And Watchmen, while a great story (though it shouldn’t have been on the best fiction list either), had pretty uninspired art. There, I said it.
I guess you could exclude Bilal & Hergé as they weren’t originally published in English … In which case I’d include Black Kiss Howard Chaykin (1988) (Seriously underrated artist who can also write a hell of a noir vampire transexxual hooker corrupt police detective story) … and / or Tank Girl Martin & Hewlett (1991 rerelase of early material) (C’mon, Tank Girl. Seriously influenced pop culture and graphics for years, forget the stupid movie version) … or maybe Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits Garth Ennis (1994) (This is where the series really started to blossom IMO & Garth Ennis made his reputation outside the UK. Again, forget the stupid movie version).