The ongoing series The Best American Comics returns in a 2009 edition, this time edited by Charles Burn (the remarkable creator behind Black Hole). As always, series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden oversee the whole process, and, as usual, the collection is an eclectic yet charming mix of light and dark, truth and whimsy, and, of course, varying degrees of quality.
The hardest part about reading gigantic collections such as this is switching gears from one story to the next. To that end, Burns does a great job of keeping the flow seamless (some transitions work so well you can't help but notice them; I particularly like the flow from Dan Zettwoch's chaotic Spirit Duplicator to Matt Broersma's more calmly considered The Company).
The book hits some of the biggest names to release work in the past year (Art Spiegelman, naturally, as well as Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, and Gilbert Hernandez). Works from Tim Hensley both open and close the book. The overall tone of the book seems quiet and reflective, which perhaps makes the final edition of this series this decade end on the right note. That somehow seems reflective of where the industry is now.
The Best American Comics 2009 is a very nice retrospective of the year in review. It's a nice collection for new comics readers, who will get a powerful sense, almost immediately, of the gigantic breadth of the industry. Longtime readers will enjoy it too, especially because only the most voracious of comics readers would already have read everything inside its pages, and the joys of discovering a new talent is always one of the greatest pleasures of a well-done collection like this.
Reviewed by John Hogan on October 8, 2009
The Best American Comics 2009