Tag Archives: Best American Comics

Interview: Ben Katchor, Guest Editor of The Best American Comics 2017

Ben Katchor, guest editor of The Best American Comics 2017

Where are contemporary comics headed today? Is it best to remain underground or to be viewed as respectable? For legendary cartoonist Ben Katchor, comics that interest him need to be unusual. Ben Katchor is known for his critically-acclaimed comic strip, “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.” Mr. Katchor is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is Associate Professor of Illustration at The New School-Parsons School of Design.

“The Best American Comics 2017”

And he is the guest editor of The Best American Comics 2017. I had the pleasure to review this year’s edition. And, to add to that, I am honored to share with you this interview with Mr. Katchor. Just click the link below:

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Filed under Ben Katchor, Best American Comics, Comics, Interviews

Review: ‘The Best American Comics 2014,’ Editor, Scott McCloud; Series Editor, Bill Kartalopoulos

The-Best-American-Comics-2014

Anyone who digs deeper already knows that comics are fully capable of being as elastic, ambiguous, and fluid as any other art medium. Just like fiction, film, and painting, the comics medium can reveal as much as it hides. There’s an annual anthology, “The Best American Comics,” that showcases a wide range of North American comics and addresses the familiar and peculiar in what amounts to a particular branch of contemporary comics. Or, perhaps the best way to put it is to say this book showcases the best in comics as an art form. The 2014 edition is now available. Let’s take a look.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Anthologies, Art, Art books, Best American Comics, Bill Kartalopoulos, Comics, Comix, Education, graphic novels, Scott McCloud, Underground Comics

Review: ‘The Best American Comics 2013,’ Editor, Jeff Smith; Series Editors, Matt Madden and Jessica Abel

best-american-comics-jeff-smith-2013

“The Best American Comics 2013” pops out at you with we-mean-business cover art by Kate Beaton and zips right to it. I interviewed this year’s editor, Jeff Smith (read here). As he explained, he was looking for singular talent, whether new or established, “A story someone really needs to tell.” He took care with placement so that elements from one work flow into the next and compliment each other.

Smith starts with Alison Bechdel’s “Mirror,” an autobiographical piece about mother/daughter dynamics; and he ends with Paul Pope’s “1969,” a quirky inside look at the first human landing on the moon. These two works by cartoonist heavyweights anchor the top and bottom. In between, other top contenders lend a hand, like an excerpt from Craig Thompson’s “Habibi.”

Sophie Goldstein's "The Good Wife"

Sophie Goldstein’s “The Good Wife”

There are many new rising stars that get to sparkle amid the well know cartoonists. One such talent is Sophie Goldstein. Her work is placed right before Craig Thompson’s. The connection between the two is the focus on the female main character. In Goldstein’s “The Good Wife,” we view a woman who denies herself well beyond her limits in order to please her husband. That story gives way to Thompson’s “70 Nights of Pleasure,” an excerpt from “Habibi.”

Craig Thompson's "70 Nights of Pleasure," excerpt from "Habibi"

Craig Thompson’s “70 Nights of Pleasure,” excerpt from “Habibi”

Again, we have a woman pushing her limits to satisfy one man. The artwork, and the narrative structure, for each of these pieces is quite different. Goldstein’s style is basic. Thompson’s style is ornate. However, both present confident, mature work. That’s saying a lot since Thompson is a seasoned veteran and Goldstein is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies.

If you’re looking for a cut-to-the-chase short list on the best comics in America, then this 400-page trade paperback is your book. There are 30 works featured here and they are all gems. This book is in full color. “The Best American Comics 2013” is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available here.

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Filed under Anthologies, Best American Comics, Book Reviews, Books, Cartooning, Cartoonists, Comics, Comics Anthologies, Comics Reviews

Interview: Jeff Smith Talks About BONE, RASL, and THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2013

Jeff-Smith-Cartoonist

It is an honor to get to interview master cartoonist Jeff Smith, creator of the landmark comics series, “Bone.” There are many subjects to cover with such a giant in comics. For this interview, we focus on the recent release of the collected hardcover edition of his sci-fi noir work, “RASL,” (reviewed here) and his role as guest editor of the just released “The Best American Comics 2013,” anthology (reviewed here).

Bone-One-Volume-Jeff-Smith

In this interview, we get down to what matters most, those things that cause a spark in childhood and lead the way for a lifetime. The spark I am thinking of is when a 9-year-old Jeff was quite impressed by a animated feature he saw on TV, “The Pogo Special Birthday Special.” Already, the title of such a show hints at something offbeat. It was the only time that Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” was to be animated and that was by yet another legend, Chuck Jones. The very next day, Jeff received a collection of “Pogo” comics from a classmate. That got Jeff to thinking and set him on his life’s path.

We chat about Nikola Tesla, the offbeat superstar of science in many circles today. He figures large in “RASL.”

Jesse Jacobs's "The Divine Manifestation of a Singular Impulse," excerpt from "By This Shall You Know Him"

From “Best American Comics 2013”: Jesse Jacobs’s “The Divine Manifestation of a Singular Impulse,” excerpt from “By This Shall You Know Him”

And we take a quick tour of “The Best American Comics 2013.” To be fair, Jeff did not have his copy with him so we only discuss some highlights to the book. Suffice it to say, what we do cover gives you a sense of what Jeff was looking for as he made his selections. And while he loves each piece in the book, he does speak fondly of Jesse Jacobs. Smith’s art is far more detailed and realistic, in comparison to Jacobs’s, but it’s clear that they share a similar fanciful sensibility.

You can listen to the full interview by clicking just below:

You can visit Jeff Smith here.

“The Best American Comics 2013,” is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and you can get your copy here.

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Filed under Best American Comics, Comics, Interviews, Jeff Smith, RASL