Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top Ten Comics of 2011

Wow, it's hard to believe it's that time again. I'm always astounded when yet another year has passed and I've got to pull something together that vaguely resembles a Top Ten list. As per usual there were masses of great comics published this year, so slimming that veritable cornucopia of choice down to a mere ten favourites was a hard thing to do.

There were plenty of books I loved that have been omitted from my final list. In this case, it's what I'd call the 'obvious stuff' that didn't make the cut, by which I mean new relases by cartoonists like Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Chester Brown and Craig Thompson. I've left some of the big names out in the cold because, quite frankly, you have the rest of the internet to tell you how good they are. Many of the comics that comprise the top ten came to me via old friends or, in the case of something like Anders Nilsen's 'Big Questions', have been on my radar for a long long time.

What I've always aimed to do here at Exquisite Things is to push those artists who aren't yet household names, but very much deserve to be. Our number one slot this year goes to Tom Neely, who has been a favourite of mine since he blew me away with 'The Blot'. His latest offering 'The Wolf' made just as much of an impression, but threw in a few stylistic curve balls I hadn't expected, so the enjoyment was there anew. There'll be more about 'The Wolf' in January when I post a long form interview with Tom on his 'painted novel'.

For anyone that reads this blog regularly, most of the choices will be fairly self explanatory, but I should mention that Kate Beaton's 'Hark! A Vagrant!' made me laugh until I felt sick. Any comic that does that should be considered a godsend. The out of the blue surprise of the year goes to Chris & Sarah Browning's 'On the Hadron', a gorgeous little comic about the life and times of the mysterious small beasties known as 'Hadrons'. It's funny, endearing stuff that sits just the right side of cute. Fun fact - I used to work with Chris in a particularly drab office job about seven years ago, and only recently reconnected with him. Little did I know he was making such wonderful comics.

'One Soul' by Ray Fawkes, I picked up purely on the basis of its concept. Fawkes uses two nine panel grids on double page spreads to tell eighteen concurrent stories, following eighteen separate individuals from birth to death. It's one of the most inventive uses of the medium I've seen in ages and is so beautifully executed.

So, without further ado, lets move on to 2011's Top Ten Comics!

1. The Wolf by Tom Neely (I Will Destroy You)
2. Big Questions (collected) by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
3. Pornhounds 2 by Sharon Lintz and various artists (Self Published)
4. Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton (Jonathan Cape)
5. One Soul by Ray Fawkes (Oni Press)
6. Pope Hats 2 by by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
7. Finder: Voice by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse Comics)
8. Lose by Michael Deforge (Koyama Press)
9. On the Hadron by Chris & Sarah Browning (Self Published)
10. You Can't Be Here by Nicholas Breutzman (Self Published)

1 comment:

crispy said...

thanks so much for this matt - it really does mean a lot. hopefully next year will result in a lot more product from the common swings too - the piphill issue, bunny mcsniff (at long last) and the serialisation of "the bombardier's eyes"

re: kate beaton. the thing that constantly amazes me about her (and someone like michael kupperman too) is that she's so succinct and pithy. she's incredibly funny but manages to get the joke across in three perfectly judged frames. her recent autobiographical christmas comics are perfect examples of this. i can stare at those for ages trying to see how she does it...