Introduction: meet the Notable Comics of 2010

Matt and I are the series editors for the Best American Comics (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). That means that, every year, we try to get our hands on every comic published by a North American cartoonist, or anyone who makes his or her home here, and then read them all to sort out the best 100 or so comics of the year.  (Of course, we can’t possibly see everything, but we try.) These best 100-120, we then hand on to the year’s guest editor, who picks his or her favorite 25-30, which go into that year’s volume. Then, Matt and I get to make our list of everything else we think comics readers should have read that year. It’s called the Notable Comics list, and it comprises virtually all the comics we sent to the guest editor that weren’t picked, as well as a number of others that we think are noteworthy for various reasons, but that we didn’t send to the guest editor.

Over the now-three volumes we’ve been involved with (we’ve just wrapped selections for the fourth, but they’re still top-secret), we’ve tried to shine a spotlight on this list. As most guest editors point our in their introductions, the selection process, when it gets down to which stories make the cutoff for the volume and which don’t, can be alarmingly arbitrary. Often, we and the guest editors would love to include 50 stories, but there just isn’t room. But when you combine the notable list with the stories in the volume, it might be a little more possible to talk about representing what’s we actually think is best in a given year. Also, when looking for good comics to read, why limit yourself? We’ve always hoped readers will delve a bit into the list to find more great stories once they finish reading BAC.

Realistically, though, we know that’s tough. What can you know about a story from a title and author? So herewith, a series of posts focusing on the Notables from the 2010 Best American Comics (in alphabetical order). We have added links and images where possible. We’ll be posting one mini-review per day, until we’ve posted all 71.

In order to try to make this list a bit more friendly for teachers and librarians, I’ve noted what I think may be the age-appropriateness of the story in question, along with any notes about subject matter that occur to me. Please keep in mind, when I say “teen” for appropriateness, I mean I think teens will like it. If you live in a conservative area, keep in mind that a lot of this material may be considered risqué in your particular context. I’ll try to make a note of that when I can. I also don’t mean to limit any of these stories by age: I liked them enough to put them on this list, and I’ve got to be an adult by any reckoning, so please don’t think that the fact that I say “grades 3-5” on something means that teens and adults won’t like it. Quite the contrary.

If you are the author and would like to share your thoughts about your comics we’d be thrilled to have you write something in the comments (including where to buy your books).

–Jessica (and Matt)


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