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Best American Comics: the Notable Comics of 2012 (and a giveaway)

As is abundantly clear to those who follow this site, 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 (which is the USA, Canada, and Mexico), 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 five volumes we’ve been edited (in progress on the sixth), we’ve tried to shine a spotlight on this list. As most guest editors point out 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 in the published volume, but there just isn’t room. But when you combine the notable list with the stories that are printed, 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.

Below, we’ve reprinted the full list of the Notables from the 2012 volume, which was guest-edited by Françoise Mouly. We’ve also added extensive links and images of the covers to intrigue you and  to help you track the works down.

And for two lucky readers: a head start on collecting all 100!

WE WILL GIVE AWAY two sets of  about 10 mincomics and self-published books from this list. Which ones they are will be a surprise! Comment on this post between now and Friday October 12 at 12 pm EST, and you will be entered in a drawing to win one of the two piles. Note: In order to be able to offer this prize to all readers internationally, the winners must pay postage for the package via Paypal. Please enter only if you’re willing to do so. 

Note: we do moderate comments, so if you haven’t commented here before, your comment won’t show up immediately, but it is in the queue! Also, make sure you use a good email address to log in to comment so we can contact you if you win. It won’t show up publicly.

Just to be extra clear, these are not sets of every book on the list, they are sub-sets of several of the minis and self-pubbed books. Good luck!

–Jessica and Matt

Derik A. Badman, Badman’s Cave

Lynda BarryPicture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book

Josh BayerROM

Kate Beaton, “1980s Businesswoman Comics,” “Dracula.”  Hark! A Vagrant

Gabrielle Bell, “Sa Vie.” Lucky


Nick BertozziLewis & Clark

Patricio BetteoMundo Invisible

Vera BrosgolAnya’s Ghost

Box BrownBen Died of a Train

Ed Brubaker & Sean PhilipsIncognito, Vol. 2: Bad Influences

Jan Martijn BurgerEarth and Sky

Mike Carey & Peter GrossThe Unwritten Vol. 3: Dead Man’s Knock

Emily CarrollHis Face All Red

Stephen Destefano & George ChieffetLucky in Love: A Poor Man’s History (Vol. 1)

Brian ChippendaleIf ‘n Oof


Daniel ClowesMister Wonderful: A Love Story

Philippe R. GirardKilling Velazquez

Marek ColekBaba Yaga and the Wolf

Stephanie CraggMidcentury Modern

Warren Craghead, “A Sound of the World. A Thing.”

Travis Edward DandroJournal #3

Mike Dawson, Troop 142

Michael Deforge Spotting Deer

Michael Deforge,  “S M”

Mickey DuzyjMiss Chris

Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli & Rick VeitchUnknown Soldier Vol. 4: Beautiful World, “Kalashnikov”

CFPowr Mastrs #3

Edie FakeGaylord Phoenix

Ray FawkesOne Soul

Glynnis Fawkes, The Terrible Story of Kinyras and Myrrha


Michel FiffeZegas #1

Maria FordeMarlon Brando, Volume 2

Bernardo Fernández (BEF)Espiral

Rick GearyThe Lives of Sacco & Vanzetti (A Treasury of Victorian Murder)

Julia GfrörerToo Dark to See

Pascal GirardBigfoot

Brooke Gladstone & Josh NeufeldThe Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

Charles Glaubitz, “Crystal Sigil.” Panel to Panel #1

Lisa Hanawalt, “Worst Sandwiches,” “How to get a Haircut.” I Want You #2

Tom Hart, The Dodgers. Suspect Device #1

Jennifer HaydenS’crapbook, the First Album

Adam HinesDuncan the Wonder Dog

Jay Hosler, Zander Cannon & Kevin CannonEvolution: The Story of Life on Earth

Ari HuffThe Magnificent Osterman Brothers

Kevin Huizenga, “Rumbling“, What Things Do

David Iseri & David LauSummer Oddity

Sam ItaFrankenstein: A Pop-Up Book

Dunja JankovicHabitat # 2

Tom KaczynskiTrans Utopia.

Tom Kaczynski,”The Cozy Apocalypse”. Mome #21

Ben KatchorThe Cardboard Valise

Kazu KibuishiAmulet #4: The Last Council

Alex Kim, “Night Machine

David KingLemon Styles

Aidan KochThe Whale

Blaise Larmee, “2001

Sharon Lintz  & Nicholas Breutzman, “Photo Meetings”. Porn Hounds 2

Sharon Lintz   & Nathan Schreiber, “Cancer”. Porn Hounds 2

Jason LittleMotel Art Improvement Service

Jonas Madden-Connor, “The Most Gripping Mind-Exploding Triumphantly Electric of our Time”. Papercutter #15

Benjamin Marra, The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd

Jed McGowanLone Pine

Kagan McLeodInfinite Kung Fu

Carla Speed McNeilFinder: Voice

Max MoseAll Aboard

Annie Murphy, Truth: Stranger than Fiction. Gay Genius

Nate NealThe Sanctuary

Tom Neely, The Wolf

Audrey NiffineggerThe Night Bookmobile

David OrtegaAbuela y los Dead Mexicans

Jim Ottaviani &Leland MyrickFeynman

Jason Overby, “2101

 Pat PalermoLive / Work #1

Nate PowellAny Empire

Lauren RednissRadioactive

Jesse ReklawN.Y.D.I. #1 (No, You Do It)

James Romberger & Wallace Stevens, “Madame La Fleurie,” Hooded Utilitarian

Simon RoyShipwrecked with Dan the Gorilla

Greg Rucka and JH Williams IIIBatwoman: Elegy

Yumi SakugawaMundane Fortunes for the Next Ten Billion Years

SethPalookaville #20

Matt SheeanMalachi WardExpansion #1 & #2

Mahendra Singh & Lewis CarrollThe Hunting of the Snark

Jeff SmithRASL #11

Grant SniderIncidental Comics

Bishakh Som, “Untitled,” Pood #2

Leslie SteinEye of the Majestic Creature #6

Karl StevensThe Lodger

Matt Sundstrom Second Chances

Matthew Thurber1-800-Mice #5

Mark Todd & Esther WatsonNubbin & Nutz

GB TranVietnamerica: A Family’s Journey

Noah Van SciverBlammo #7

Connor Wilumsen“Rich Richmond,”  Pood #2

Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan, “The Waking Life of Angels.”  Demo #2

Zach WortonThe Klondike

J.T. YostLosers Weepers #3

Dan Zettwoch, “Motor Lodge,” Root Rot


65 Comments to Best American Comics: the Notable Comics of 2012 (and a giveaway)

  • by Blaise

    On October 9, 2012 at 5:20 am


  • by Travis Kurowski

    On October 9, 2012 at 5:54 am

    You two are awesome. Thanks for all the work!

  • by Mark Rose

    On October 9, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Wow what an amazing giveaway!

  • by Jennifer

    On October 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

    What an incredible project to be in charge of each an every year!

  • by David

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am

    jeez. I been slacking. I think I’ve nly read a dozen or so of these.
    Hope Mr. DeForge gets represented in the book.

  • by Adam Nelson

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Awesome! I love the series, and would love to win a selection of this year’s Notables!

  • by Jason

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Some great stuff on the list!

  • by Rusty Rowley

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Quite a list of books!

  • by Bill

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Sigh, now I have several new things to buy. ;)

  • by tym godek

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I like the notables list for a couple reasons. One: it tends to feed/engender the best of the online arguments about this whole series. And, two: it’s my best chance to see my friends’ names in print. Like in a REAL book!

    But, seriously… I really appreciate the effort you guys put into this series, and I do especially appreciate the notables list (not just because I have friends there, but because it works towards casting a wider net, so to speak.)

  • by SKleefeld

    On October 9, 2012 at 10:07 am

    What a fantastic list! And that’s only the ones I’ve had a chance to read! There’s almost too many great books out there these days! (Almost.)

  • by Annie Mok

    On October 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I look forward to this book. With Mouly editing, I expect it to be the best BAC yet. And glad to see so many comix I love on this list!


  • by geoffrey

    On October 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I am always amazed at the amount of indie comics I have no idea about, so I am always thrilled for compilations like Best American Comics to help me out (which I also have used as a great Christmas gift for friends the last few years as well!).

  • by Bravos14

    On October 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Love the list and will definitely have to look Ito some of these!!
    Only major miss I noticed is Tale of Sand!! Perhaps this was actually released last year?? I can’t fathom how it could have missed the list otherwise!

  • by christopher green

    On October 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

    That Connor Wilumsen was in Pood is the revelation i’m taking away from this post — that gentelman is worth tracking down!

  • by Paul Hoppe

    On October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Great selection of works! So nice to see small publications and mini-comics in there. Thanks for your continued work for the field of comcis!

  • by Steve Hill

    On October 9, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Great series. Thanks for bringing the added attention to creators!

  • by Brian Smith

    On October 9, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Love looking over the Notables list each year. It’s great to see the diversity of subjects and styles, and I’m always surprised when the comics I recognize are “only” about a year old.

  • by Ron DelVillano

    On October 9, 2012 at 11:45 am

    This is so great.

  • by raygarraty

    On October 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I’m in!

  • by Jarad G

    On October 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Great stuff in this volume. I was glad my bookstore got in a copy ^_^

  • by Amy Boese

    On October 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks so much for this list – I love many of these titles, but others are a completely new delicious treat. I am reveling in the depth of the comics represented here! I have some serious reading to do, and will be ordering lots for my library.

  • by J.Worby

    On October 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    What a ridiculous list of comics. Pretty amazing.

  • by Glenn

    On October 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Incredible list. I am seeing myself down a few bucks in the very near future.

  • by Brian

    On October 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    You’re really doing the good work here. Couldn’t ask for a better pair of advocates for comics!

  • by Lucas

    On October 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    thank the gods for you guys! i would never have enough time to pour through all these comics, so as difficult as the selection process must be, i trust you and thank you! you’ve always done good work in the past, and Francoise is of course the best guest editor you could every possibly hope for. (and as a pathetic wage slave who can’t even afford to have his dislocated finger fixed, i would LOVE some free comics!)

  • by Matt Graupman

    On October 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Yes! Please enter me in the giveaway. I’m gonna clear some shelf space right now.

  • by Joe Tallarico

    On October 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Hey! Just picked up a copy of the latest BAC on my lunchbreak. It looks rad. Hopefully we can chat during Angouleme!

  • by marcus lowry

    On October 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    This is such a great list to help with collection development for my library. YAY!!!

  • by Serhend Sirkecioglu

    On October 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I clearly I don’t read enough comics if i only read 1/3rd of that list.

  • by Taylor

    On October 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Man, I look forward to this time of year! Best American Comics helps bridge the Atlantic (I’m in London) and tip me off to stateside creators I might otherwise never see in print. It’s also shown me the less trumpeted work by big-name creators, which I often prefer to their name-making works. So thanks in advance for another great year, I’m picking up my copy tomorrow!!

  • by Jessica Lee

    On October 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    All of this looks amazing! What a cool array of genres!

  • by Brendan Kiefer

    On October 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Well count me in for sure.

  • by wara godoy

    On October 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks For Spreading The Love…
    I can’t imagine how hard it should be reading such an amount of books. I mean, I love reading but I do it slowly. I always feel like I’m not paying attention to the details…an finally get stressed. XD
    So I appreciate you make this for all of us, readers around the world. Frome where I’m from, books are privileged objects. To Import a book is almost crazy but thanks to you now I can be sure what to order and read.

  • by Joshua Strasburg

    On October 10, 2012 at 12:18 am

    This is cool! Thanks for the opportunity.

  • by John Platt

    On October 10, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Such a list of Notables! I try to follow comics as closely as I can, but there are so many items on this list that I’ve never seen or heard of! So many great new comics to explore!

  • by Chris Duffy

    On October 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I’m amazed how many of these I haven’t read. I thought I was hep!

  • by Daniel Ceballos

    On October 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

    yay! comics comics

  • by Keith Mayerson

    On October 10, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Amazing work by wonderful creators–so proud of many former students and current colleagues that earned their way on the list by their wonderful works… Great job to all!

  • by Frank Young

    On October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

    A fascinating snapshot of Comics 2012, with all corners of the comix map covered! Thanks!

  • by George Elkind

    On October 10, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I would love to enter the giveaway! Thanks for picking such a wide-ranging list; hinting at the vastness of comics is tough to do.

  • by Greg Linne

    On October 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm


  • by Chris Thorne

    On October 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I an in like Flint! Send ’em to me boys.

  • by Shaun Hughes

    On October 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Mmmm… a lot of this stuff passed me by. damn.

  • by Kelly

    On October 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to several new books (and artists) as well as picking several of my favorite books (and artists!) I predict a visit to my local comic book shop today!

  • by David Kilmer

    On October 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  • by Lance

    On October 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    What a list! I’m looking forward to checking some of these out.

  • by DavidRY

    On October 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Wow, so many comments! People are really excited about self published comics if they are free huh? I guess you can count me in as another one!

  • by Brandon

    On October 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    That’s a great list of comics. Already some of it is very hard to find. I would be very happy to enter the giveaway and would pay for shipping to Canada. Thanks!

  • by John Newns

    On October 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

    It is actually distressing to realise how few of the comics I think look great I have actually read!

  • by DreamBliss

    On October 11, 2012 at 6:21 am

    “Incognito” looks really cool! I have read all the books in the Unwritten series up to the latest one (my library does not have it) :( and it is a real gem! I love the art and feel on the cover picture for, “Baba Yaga and The Wolf”, “SM” has me morbidly curious and the cover of, “Power Masters” really draws me in. But the one I am most interested in is, “Amulet” – that one really speaks to me.

    Man I hope to see some of these in my library! I’m going to go look right now!
    – DreamBliss

  • by Steffen Rayburn-Maarup

    On October 11, 2012 at 6:33 am


  • by Tim Taylor

    On October 11, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I’m not sure whether to be depressed that there is that much great-looking stuff just on the notables list, or excited. Either way, so much to read and so little time. Keep up the great work.

  • by Juan Fernandez

    On October 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Holy moley, what a list! 2012 seems like it’s been a stupidly good year for publishing of forward thinking comics.

    Excited to see how y’all present the curation of 2012’s “best”.

  • by Livia Labate

    On October 12, 2012 at 9:20 am

    This is amazing!

  • by Chris

    On October 12, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Glad to see Carroll, deForge, and Van Sciver on this list. I had the pleasure of grabbing a couple Blammo’s from Kilgore during my trip to Denver this summer.

  • by Dave

    On October 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Awesome list- lots of great work featured!

  • by Cynthia

    On October 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

    And I thought I knew what was out there–NOT. Thanks for this wonderful series and the list.

  • by margherite

    On October 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

    oh boy oh boy Margherite Ottaviano. Thanks!

  • by christopher mitchell

    On October 12, 2012 at 10:59 am

    super awesome!

  • by Poliana Irizarry

    On October 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

    In it to win it! And I can’t wait to get my paws on the 2012 edition. What a fantastic year this has been!

  • by Matt

    On October 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Hi everyone thanks for the huge number of comments and, incidentally, for your kind remarks about our work on the List of Notables, which we are proud of.

    Without further ado, we have two winners of mystery comics packs, chosen at random (both the comics and the winners):
    Chris Duffy

    (we have your e-mails guys and we’ll be in touch shortly, congratulations)

  • by Christina

    On October 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I always love these lists; thanks for compiling the covers this year — makes the search easier and more fun!

  • by Michael McClain

    On November 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Wow guys! I didn’t even know this had hit the stands. I first stumbled on TBAC in a remainder bin a couple of years ago. Since then, my wife and I always enjoy the volumes. And Françoise Mouly… awesome!

  • by Aaron L Kessler

    On November 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is an awesome list looking forward to getting to many of these fine someday. Some of these creators I’m familiar with,but most I’ve never heard of. Thanks for pointing out the BEST…Though I wish the list was more of a horizontal posting (This blog format doesn’t lend itself to that. So I know it’s not your doing.). Keep up the great work your self’s & this cool blog…Best Health & Happiness To You & Yours…ALK

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