Best American Comics 2011, ed. Alison Bechdel (2011)

This annual publication, which since 2006 has joined similar volumes on poetry and fiction, excerpts works published from September 2009 through August 2010 in North America. My brother (like me, smitten with the graphic novel format) picked it up out of curiosity to learn about recent developments in this genre, and I borrowed it from him for similar reasons. We see here about 25 contributors selected by Bechdel from a shortlist prepared by series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, represented by around 5 to 20 pages each. Several are cute or funny (eg. a piece by Angie Wang, who draws mecha despite the fact that in her own words she only likes drawing girls and flowers and refuses to ever use straight lines), but most I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to read more by. Exceptions: John Pham and Gabrielle Bell for their style, and Sabrina Jones for her political content. There are also excerpts from Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza and Chris Ware’s Jordan W. Lint, two authors I’ve long admired. Overall, the selections tend towards meta-commentary on comics as an art form, which I suppose is what you’d expect from a book by and for its aficionados (eg. “The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in Six Panels)” by David Lasky).