Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in
a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But
why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New
York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles
the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to
testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium.
The Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best
criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that
contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary
movements of the last 60 years.
This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon
released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring.
Originally serialized as “alternative” comics, they went on to confirm
the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its
various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers’
guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics
renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting
edge of today’s artists.
This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with
novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan
Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of
My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner
award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit
film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit’s
creator), Gerard Jones’ (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author
Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille
(Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of
Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of
comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing
also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The
New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks,
“tongue-in-cheek,” if cartoonists are the new literati, what must
their critics look like?