My picks for best graphic novels of ’09

The website The Daily Cross Hatch has just posted its year-end popularity list, "The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists." Here are my picks (in no particular order):

  • Masterpiece Comics by R. Sikoryak — I’ve loved Sikoryak’s comics for years, and this beautiful volume collects all his “mash-ups” of high and low, merging the look of classic strips and comics with stories from the Western literary canon. Bob Kane’s Batman vs. Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment! Blondie & Dagwood vs Adam & Eve! Siegel & Shuster’s Superman vs. Camus’ The Stranger! Hilarious, clever, and yet designed to make you think…
  • The Book of Genesis by R. Crumb — A formidable work, filled with respect for the material yet still pulsing with the earthy, pungent humanity that Crumb defines. And the man has lost nothing in the cross-hatching department
  • Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli — Maybe the best fusion of art & words yet produced, the pinnacle of what defines comics. A true work of literature by one of my all-time favorite cartoonists. If only we didn’t have to wait a decade for each new book of his!
  • ACT-I-VATE Primer — Beautifully produced anthology featuring some of my favorite cartoonists: Dean Haspiel, Michel Fiffe, Mike Dawson, Nick Bertozzi, Tim Hamilton, Leland Purvis, Joe Infurnari, and Simon Fraser, just to name a few. Cleverly, each of the stories in the book is a print-only example of the ongoing free stories on the ACT-I-VATE website.
  • Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays, edited by Brendan Burford — I know, I shouldn’t be allowed to nominate this because I’m a contributor, but my piece is entirely forgettable, while the rest of this anthology is top-notch. Syncopated features 16 nonfiction stories ranging from from the history of vintage postcards to the glory days of old Coney Island, from the secret world of graffiti artists to the chess champs of Greenwich Village, from the Tulsa race riots of 1921 to the interrogation of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Contributors include editor Burford, Nick Bertozzi, Alex Holden, Greg Cook, Jim Campbell, and Paul Karasik.

It was really hard limiting my list to just five books, so here are five more 2009 GNs which merit an "Honorable Mention":

About Josh Neufeld
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

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