GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Best American Comics 2014

Houghton Harcourt. (Best American Comics). 2014. 352p. ed. by Scott McCloud & . ISBN 9780544106000. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544104266. GRAPHIC NOVELS
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This most recent entry in the series takes a more rigorous organizational approach than previous volumes. Guest editor McCloud (Understanding Comics) grabs the reader's hand at the beginning of the anthology and doesn't let go, ordering us to read the selections straight through instead of browsing and leading us carefully through curated sections with titles such as "Family Tree" and "Oh, Crap—Webcomics!" McCloud is like a kid showing off his favorite toys, and his enthusiasm rubs off on his audience. If comics have always had a slight PR problem (among non-comics readers, at least), McCloud's fervent, almost academic attempt to introduce the year's top offerings nudges the genre that much closer to mainstream acceptance without abandoning its DIY/underground roots.
VERDICT A pleasing range of comics from lesser-known, small press artists such as Sam Sharpe (Mom) to popular webcomic creators including Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half) to tried-and-true industry favorites like Chris Ware (Building Stories). The "Best American Comics" series offers a comprehensive survey of new graphic fiction and will encourage readers to seek out more. Recommended for all adult collections.

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