The Best Damned Comics of 2007 Chosen By the Artists

Categories:  Features, News

Lindsay Spider-manHaving launched The Daily Cross Hatch last February, I don’t feel especially confident making any sort of overarching statement comparing the comics of 2007 to years past. While I’ve been reviewing the medium for years, they have, without a doubt, become a far more significant aspect of my life this past calendar year than I could have ever imagined, and as such, it seems unfair to suggest that 2007 was somehow better or worse than, say, 2006 or 2005.

I will say this, however: the more time I spend seeking out new works, the more clear it becomes that, as cliché as such a sentiment surely sounds, we are truly lucky to be living during this period of such overwhemingly tremendous output. One would be hard-pressed to cite another field in which so much unadulterated creativity flows forth, largely unchecked.

Attempting to whittle down my top picks to a list of five or ten was nearly impossible. So, in order to take a bit of the spotlight off of me—and to give back to some of the patient folks who have sat by and smiled as we here at The Cross Hatch saw fit to spend the year waxing critical, I’ve put the listing to some of the artists, writers, publishers, and culture jammers who have helped make this site what it is today—and god damned, it’s a long list indeed.

A lot of books received several mentions: The Blot, The Salon, Papercutter, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto, The Fart Party, Book Hunter, All Star Superman, The End, Shooting War, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, and I Will Destroy All Civilized Planets all deserved mention here. Interestingly, though, there didn’t appear to be one hugely dominant title—there was no Persepolis or Jimmy Corrigan or Fun Home to sweep the proceedings. Chalk this up to the diverse pool of voters participating, or perhaps just the sheer volume of books that came out this year—it certainly shouldn’t be seen as a negative reflection of the quality of product.

The rules for voting were as follows: chose your five favorite comics of 2007. Make the list largely indie-centric and don’t rely too heavily on reissues. Some folks opted to rank—others simply provided a list of five, which is reflected by a lack of numbering. Some of the contributors offered up explanations for their choices, while other chose to let the list speak for itself—my own list fell into the latter category, as I had reviewed all but one on the site in the past year. And if you see a “Next Year” section under their picks, that means they’ve opted to plug some of their own upcoming projects.

Oh, and I should point out that the representatives from the publishers were all three altruistic enough to chose five books from other publishers—it worked out fine for them, however, as they all had plenty of their own books appearing on others’ lists.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated, and would like to encourage everyone who’s reading this to submit their own top five to the comments sections. And thanks to everyone for helping make 2007 a great year to Cross Hatch. Enjoy.

Ivan Brandon
1. King City by Brandon Graham
2. Casanova by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon
3. Black Metal by Rick Spears, Chuck BB
4. Repo by Rick Spears, Rob G.
5. The Pirates of Coney Island by Rick Spears, Vasilis Lolos

Jeffrey Brown
1. The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier
One of the books I was looking forward to most this year did not disappoint. Showcasing Paul’s continuously improving artwork, with a story that has both humor and meaning. Despite a relatively low page-count, it reads densely without being too burdensome.
2. All Star Superman Vol 1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Grant Morrison has gotten me interested in mainstreamcomics again. The series (and the excellent hardcover collecting the first 6 issues) is entertaining in the way superhero comics are supposed to be–or at least used to be.
3. I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason
Actually, you could put any of the books Jason came out with last year on this list. I’m not sure which came out when, because I read them so fast and then go back and reread the others. With an economy of line as well as storytelling, Jason is at the top of his game with comics like this, where lighthearted–but slightly dark–stories skim just above the surface of something deep, letting us breathe while we look down at it all.
4. Papercutter by Various
Maintaining a regular schedule and rotating cast of young up-and-comers, this anthology has consistent quality front to back that with a percentage that often tops heavyweights like Mome and Kramers Ergot.
5. Acme Novelty Date Book Volume 2 by Chris Ware
Chris is probably more responsible for me getting back into comics than any other single cartoonist, and his sketchbooks also make me ashamed that I even bother to pick up a pen. For those who would like to pigeonhole Chris as a ‘designer,’ here’s something that proves them wrong in spades.
Next Year: Little Things, my first book with Simon & Schuster, 352 pages, a dozen or so short autobiographical comics, including the story featured in Best American Comics 2007. Comes out in April. And my quarterly comic book series titled Sulk will start in the summer from Top Shelf. It’ll feature more humorous and non-autobiographical comics, beginning in issue one with new Bighead material, while issue two will be my mixed martial arts (Ultimate Fighting) story, ‘Deadly Awesome.’

Peggy Burns: Publicity Drawn & Quarterly
Watergate Sue by Megan Kelso
The Dizzler by Amy Lockhart
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
Need More Love by Aline Kominsky-Crumb
Hit Me by Gabrielle Bell

Molly Crabapple
1. League of Extraordinary Gentleman: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil
2. (Not a Comic, but so entwined with comics culture it needs to be mentioned) Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk
3. The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
4. Shooting War by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman
5. Goodnight Irene by Carol Lay

Gene Deitch sez: Brian, I’m sorry, but I actually know nothing of today’s comics world and couldn’t possibly make any kind of intelligent choice. If you would ask me about the Katzenjammer Kids, I might have a few words to say. but if you ask me about my favorite anime, I would just puke.

Will Dinski
The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nicholas Gurewitch
Elvis Road by Elvis Studio
I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason
Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
Acme Novelty Date Book Volume 2 by Chris Ware

Chris Duffy, Comics Editor, Nickelodeon Magazine
Book Hunter by Jason Shiga
Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug by Megan Montague Cash and Mark Newgarden
Yotsuba&! #4 by Kiyohiko Azuma
Daybreak #2 by Brian Ralph
I Will Destroy All the Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks (edited by Paul Karasik)

Sarah Glidden
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
Curses by Kevin Huizenga
The End by Anders Nilsen
Palestine: The Special Edition by Joe Sacco
Shithole: The Story of My First Apartment by Corinne Mucha

Dan Goldman
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East by Joann Sfar
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Parade (With Fireworks) by Mike Cavallaro

Next Year: My webcomic, Kelly, will be returning to ACT-I-VATE on February 5th. I am drawing and preparing to hit the campaign trail for 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail, my nonfiction campaign trail diary with Michael Crowley for Crown Books, which will be published in Sept 2008.

Dean Haspiel
All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera
I Will Destroy All the Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks (edited by Paul Karasik)
New Gods Omnibus by Jack Kirby
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi

Brian Heater: Editor, Some Shitty Comics Blog
1. The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nicholas Gurewitch
2. Alias The Cat by Kim Deitch
3. The Blot by Tom Neely
4. All Star Superman by Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly
5. I Will Destroy All the Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks (edited by Paul Karasik)

K. Thor Jensen
Moomin by Tove Jannson

Incredible conflagrations of delicate beauty and bigfoot humor, with some of the best drawings of foliage ever in comics. Continually inspiring and heartwarming.
Achewood by Chris Onstad
Not only is Onstad one of the most gifted character humorists of this era, he’s incredibly rapidly developing a golden ear for real plot development as well. Makes me laugh more than almost anybody ever has.
Aya by Marguerite Abouet, Clement Oubrerie
Really carries a tone that more comics should: light and pleasing while still being serious. Sort of Lynda Barry-esque, in a weird way. Gorgeously drawn and wonderfully presented. Also excellent backmatter.
Westone Page by Emmanuel P. Gill
The foremost outsider art comic of our day, Westone Page is like Henry Darger dry-humping Neal Adams on a waterbed full of daddy issues. One of the most puzzling documents of all time.
New Engineering by Yuichi Yokoyama
The kind of comics I never want to draw but always want to read. Deeply weird and buzzing with action and celebrations of pure form.
Next Year: K. Thor Jensen’s next book is probably Cloud Stories and it will come out in 2008 if he finds somebody crazy enough to pony up the money for
it.

Paul Karasik
1. Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay, Ulrich Merkl

My book of the year, despite unfortunate design choices.
2. Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden, Megan Montegue Cash
A kids’ picture book that plays by the rules of comics better than most every comic book
3. Notes on a War Story / Garage Band by Gipi
I know, that’s really two books. Tough. This guy is fantastic but I wish that the books were larger format like his Ignatz titles.
4. New Engineering by Yuichi Yokoyama
Looking for the next way to think about comics? Look here.
5. Alias the Cat by Kim Deitch
Don’t overlook or underestimate this man’s work.

Tony Millionaire
Popeye Vol. 1: I Yam What I Yam by E.C. Segar
Krazy & Ignatz: The Kat Who Walked in Beauty by George Herriman
Seeing Things by Jim Woodring
XXX Scumbag Party by Johnny Ryan
The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nicholas Gurewitch

Mari Naomi
1. Bluefuzz the Hero by Jesse Reklaw
2. Seven More Days of Not Getting Eaten by Matt Wiegle
3. A tie between PS Comics #3 by Melanie Lewis and Spaniel Rage by Vanessa Davis
4. The Tinderbox by Damien Jay
5. Papercutter #6 by Various

Tom Neely
1. The End by Anders Nilsen
Anders is currently my favorite cartoonist of our generation. He may very well be the best, most interesting writer and artist working today. I would have put Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow on the list, but it came out in 2006. The End is a nice companion piece to that book. Both books are probably among the best books I’ve ever read–comics or otherwise.
2. Reich #1 and 2 by Elijah Brubaker.
This is a bio-comic about William Reich, a sex analyst and contemporary of Freud. I know nothing about the actual Reich, but this ongoing series is great! The writing seems to be thoroughly researched and very interesting. And I love Elijah’s artwork- sort of a mixture of David B. and George Grosz-a perfect style to represent the time period in which the story takes place.
3. House by Josh Simmons
I’m a huge horror movie fan, but I’ve always been a bit disappointed by horror comics. Though I love the old EC stuff, Swamp Thing, and other horror comics, I’ve never felt like I was pulled into a creepy believable world that actually scared me. House takes me there. It is a scary and horrible story with the
kind of bleak ending I’ve always wanted to see. And Josh’s artwork is gorgeous. I love how the artwork gradually gets darker throughout the book, like the reader is being sucked into the blackness, along with the characters.
4. Windy Corner Magazine #1 by Austin English
I think Austin is a genius. His art is beautiful and genuine and naively artsy, without an ounce of pretension. His writing are lyrical and poetic. I loved his book Christina and Charles, and I’m happy to see the beginnings of his new stories in this magazine. Along with his work, he has an interview with another of my favorite cartoonists, Andrice Arp, and a comic strip by Richard Hahn, who really, really, really needs to do more comics!
5. Service Industry by T. Edward Bak.
This is one of the most satisfying comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s largely
autobiographical, but blends together different genres and story-telling techniques so beautifully that I find myself wanting to re-read it many times. The book uses the comics medium to its fullest, and makes me excited to see what will come next from Bak’s pen.

Josh Neufel
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
Brawl by Dean Haspiel, Michel Fiffe
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen
Thunderhead Underground Falls by Joel Orff
Shootin War by Anthony Lappé & Dan Goldman

Next Year: Look for more of my online graphic novel, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge on SMITHmag.net, as well as a book collection to follow (prob. in 2009). I’ll also be having work in the next American Splendor mini-series, coming from Vertigo.

Jeff “Jah Furry” Newelt: Comics editor, Heeb, Smith Magazines
THB Comics From Mars #1 by Paul Pope
Conceived as a 32-page limited edition exclusive for this year’s San Diego Comic-con, this one-shot is still available and anything but a throwaway, delivering thoroughly tasty super-stylee sci-fi vibes. A long-awaited new slice of Pope’s ongoing THB epic.
Shooting War by Anthony Lappe & Dan Goldman
Although involved with conceptualizing its Web incarnation on Smith, I purposely did not look at any of the web-to-print revisions/expansions (110 extra pages) until I had the hardcover in my hands. It’s gorgeous.
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel so here’s what I wrote when picked The Salon as Heeb’s #1 comic of 5767: “This daliciously surreal slab of graphic fiction takes place in Paris, 1907 and features Picasso, Braque, Gertrude and Leo Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Erik Satie, all of whom banter about the Stein studio in intellectual and artistic cahootz[...]The surreal shenanigans that ensue tickle right and left brains, delineating the origins of cubism by way of vivacious illustrations in a gorgeous muted palate.”
Alice In Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
Years in the making, this is the kinda book terms like “mind-blower” should be reserved for. Exquisite, enormous, complex, and a trip, its part Lewis Carrol biography, part Talbot autobiography, part history of England, and all awesome.
A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge by Josh Neufeld
Again, even though I get a sneak peak at the scripts each month to this serialized non-fiction online graphic novel for Smith Magazine, nothing prepares me for the oomph each time a new chapter is posted online. This will go down, along with Spike Lee’s documentary, as one of the most engaging and important documents of Katrina and its aftermath.

Shannon O’Leary: Editor, Pet Noir
1. The Blot by Tom Neely
The Blot, is, simply put, the best comic of the year. Neely’s drawing style is hypnotic and nearly flawless, and the metaphor of the blot that takes over Neely’s protagonist’s life was an ingeniously executed storytelling device. I have read different reviews speculating as to what “the blot” is so I might as well try it myself: I think it’s self-loathing, pain,disappointment, and how those things keep humans from moving on and moving forward.
2. Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
Who doesn’t love Bookhunter!? This action-packed library crime thriller about a crack team of library forensic specialists tracking down a book thief is so f-ing original and awesome that it makes me pee my pants with glee. Also, the brown tones that Sparkplug Comics gave to the printing of the book are gorgeus and make each page of Shiga’s unusual and innovative artistic stylings very pleasing to the eye.
3. Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez
Ooooo man! This book is so rad! It doesn’t degrade the original comics by being a different, easy-to-carry standard graphic novel paperback size. The best part for me is the memories it’s bringing back. I love reading about Maggie and Hopey’s early years all over again.
4. Crooked Teeth by Nate Doyle
I was really exhausted and recovering from post-SPX comics convention overload when I read Nate Doyle’s minis, but they made me feel all tingly inside with appreciation for his nascent heartfelt-but-savvy use of cartooning techniques.
5. PS Comics #3 by Minty Lewis
Nobody tells a story like Minty Lewis. Her artwork is simple, quirky, really tight, and compliments the off-kilter perspective of her tales of office drone ambulatory fruits and the imagined lives of her pets perfectly. Her work is entertaining, original, and truly unique. This collection won the Ignatz award this year for the best mini-comic and Secret Acres, a great new publisher, is putting out the collected PS Comics minis in 2009, so look out for it. Pure genius.

Eric Reynolds: Publicity, Fantagraphics
1. Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes [Syndicated, New York Times]
New Clowes every Sunday, and he’s at the top of his game. I find it hard
to believe there’s a cartoonist more fully in command of the medium and his own skills than Clowes.
2. Speak of the Devil by Gilbert Hernandez
One of the few great periodicals coming out at the moment (with a nod to Bagge’s Apocalypse Nerd for also continuing to carry the pamphlet torch).
3. Gasoline Alley Sundays by Frank King
I like this book even better than the companion Little Nemo collection. Sublime.
4. Powr Mastrs by C.F.
C.F. just might be Henry Darger reincarnated as a graphic novelist. Most impressive world-building of the year.
5. Schulz & Peanuts by David Michaelis
A flawed book that I have some reservations in recommending, but the bottom line is, this book greatly augmented my love for Schulz and Peanuts in spite of its flaws and for that reason I have to recommend it. Not comics, but probably the most immersive comics-related reading experience of the year for me. Close second on the books-about-comics front: the latest Comic Art, which is always a must-have.
Next Year: I’m currently editing a book of art and lyrics by Robert Pollard, which is a dream project I’ve fantasized about for years, so naturally I’m psyched. Plus more MOME!

Aaron Renier
1. Powr Mastrs by C.F.
By far my favorite read of the year. Art comic meets adventure in
amazing and effortless feeling drawings. I can’t wait for the next book.
2. Book Hunter by Jason Shiga
It made me shake with delight. This highstakes adventure is smart, funny, and mindbogglingly knowledgeable.
3. Fart Party by Julia Wertz
Funnier than any daily strip, with an underlying heart that sneaks up
on you. Julia has become a favorite of so many so fast. I love the The Fart Party.
4. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
It feels like a coffee table book my mom would have picked up at Ellis Island, but written by an immigrant traveling to an alien planet. It has its own language, and gives you a beautiful and scary feeling of what it’s like to be new and looking for a new life.
5. Things Just Get Away From You by Walt Holcombe
All I can say is finally. I was in love with the Prince of Persia, and
never saw his other work. I hope he keeps working. His brushwork and storytelling are inspirational.

Alex Robinson
The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
A clever story set in 1907 Paris, where a collection of real life artists and writers (Picasso, Stein, Mattisse, etc) try to solve a string of supernatural murders. Fun and educational!
The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary
Speaking of fun and educational, Geary’s latest “Treasury of Victorian Murder” tells a true story of murder on the plains.
Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
Frustrating depiction of the bitter end of a relationship.
Misery Loves Comedy by Ivan Brunetti
Collects his early classic issues of Schizo which are the funniest, most bitter comics produced by human kind. It’s like getting punched in the face fifty-six times in a row!
Stop Forgetting to Remember by Peter Kuper
An anthology of his autobio strips, remastered into a longer, cohesive narrative in which he deals with the idea of growing up and becoming a father.

Douglas Rushkoff
The Other Side by Jason Aaron & Cameron Stewart
The Fart Party by Julia Wertz
Shooting War by Anthony Lappe & Dan Goldman
Making Comics by Scott McLoud
Seven Soldiers [“Frankenstein” episodes] by Grant Morrison

Johnny Ryan
1. Might as well just put all the classic comic reprints in one catagory: Little Lulu, Peanuts, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, Jack Kirby’s 4th World, Moomin, etc.
2. Apocalypse Nerd by Peter Bagge
3. The Fart Party by Julia Wertz
4. The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu
5. The Original Art Of Basil Wolverton by Glenn Bray

Jeremy Tinder
1. American Elf Book Volume 2 by James Kochalka
This is where James hits his stride with his diary strip. Unlike the first collection, there are no missteps in this book. The daily collected life of one of the most prolific cartoonists of our time is probably his greatest contribution to the form. The addition of color this time around is a nice bonus.
2. Phase 7 #11 by Alec Longstreth
The conclusion of the story from 2006′s Phase 7 #10, this issue follows Longstreth through the publishing of his first comic, meeting other cartoonists for the first time, and crying at the mere sight of the final issue of Bone. I identify with this comic, as well as the previous issue, more than any other comics I’ve ever read.
3. Brave Mr Elephanter by Lark Pien
This is one of the cutest, sweetest stories I’ve ever read, and probably the best thing Lark has made. Beyond that, I think this comic is a lesson of sorts on how to live life. I anxiously await the inevitable full-color version.
4. Spent by Joe Matt
Reading Spent in one sitting is very different than reading a single issue of Peep Show. Spent becomes overwhelming. I loved it.
5. Pan Pipes by Jesse McManus
I’m panicking because I’ve misplaced this. This is a perfect introduction to Jesse McManus’s work. If you don’t know him, you soon will. He’s a great storyteller.

Will Vinton sez: Hard for me to know what’s just come out since I usually just browse the shelves. But I’d have put Jack Hightower on my top 5 list for this year–or any year for that matter

Brett Warnock
1. The mini-comics work of Joseph Lambert
2. The comics of Tomasz Kaczynski
3. Fourth World Omnibus by Jack Kirby
Stunning!
4) ARF! Volume 3: Arf Forum edited by Craig Yoe
Sublime.
5. The Ice Wanderer by Jiro Taniguchi

Julia Wertz
The Blot by Tom Neely
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden
Karaoke Encryption by Aaron Renier
Service Industry by Tod Bak
Shithole: The Story of My First Apartment by Corinne Mucha

Alex Zalben: Host, Comic Book Club
1. The Complete Persepolis by Majorie Satrapi
I know this is against everything you’ve asked for [No it's not!--Ed.], but c’mon… The movie is coming out on Christmas, and this is a perfect volume for anyone who’s never read the book.
2. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Brian Lee O’Malley
A lovely return to form for the series, after the relatively dour #3. I say “relatively dour,” because #3 was still hilarious.
3. Hack/Slash #1 by Tim Seeley
I think I pimped this series this series more than any other one this year. High-concept, high-fun, and the first issue of the ongoing series took it from just a fun concept, to something much deeper emotionally.
4. Army@Love by Rick Veitch
I wasn’t sold on the preview pages; it was the trades that got me. Rick Veitch’s series works best when you take the satire in huge doses.
5. Crecy by Warren Ellis
One of my favorite one-shots from the past year, this tells the story of the Battle of Crecy, or, as Ellis puts it, “the birth of modern warfare.” Insanely detailed and informative, while still also being a subversive and entertaining read.

[Phew.]

–Brian Heater

3 Comments to “The Best Damned Comics of 2007 Chosen By the Artists”

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