GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Best American Comics 2019

Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2019. 400p. ed. by ed. by Jillian Tamaki & Bill Kartalopoulos. ISBN 9780358067283. $25. Rated: Teen+. comics
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In her introduction, guest series editor Tamaki (Boundless) admits to letting her taste and intuition guide her in assembling this anthology instead of “thinking about boxes to tick or some vague canonical discourse.” The resulting volume features an eclectic mix of stories and excerpts drawn from sources ranging from self-published zines to internationally renowned graphic novels, largely unified by often intensely personal engagement with the issues and anxieties that permeate modern American life. In an excerpt from Grip. Vol. 1, Lale Westvind pays tribute to hardworking women in a wildly kinetic, wordless story. E.A. Bethea’s (All Killer No Filler) illustrated stream of consciousness essay “Bit Rot” is a jagged exploration of legacy and authenticity in a digital world. Joe Sacco meditates on global warming during a road trip to Alberta in Bitumen or Bust! And John Porcellino’s King-Cat #78 finds the cartoonist seeking comfort in pets, plant life, and Zen. An eerie selection from Nick Drnaso’s Man Booker Prize long-listed Sabrina proves a highlight, as does Ben Passmore’s Martin Luther King Jr. Was More Radical Than You Think and Hurt or Fuck, an examination of artistic inspiration by Eleanor Davis.
VERDICT A terrific collection that perfectly captures the zeitgeist.

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