Best New Comics Anthologies: A Visual Sampling
So many outstanding comics anthologies, so little quality eyeball time. But worry not: Print’s come to your rescue.
Last year we surveyed “wonder women artists” nominated for San Diego Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards, located here. And on Tuesday we provided you with a visual sampling of this year’s top nominees, and you’ll find that here. And today we’ll wrap up with a design-based survey that highlights some of the more graphically striking and skillfully adventuresome artists within the “Best Anthologies” book category. The winner will be announced at tomorrow’s presentation ceremony.
You’ve already read – or can read here – about one of them in my Best Comics Material of 2016 feature…
• Spanish Fever: Stories by the New Spanish Cartoonists, edited by Santiago Garcia (Fantagraphics)
And now, here’s the rest of the Will Eisner “Best Anthology” Award nominee list…
• Baltic Comics Anthology š! #26: dADa, edited by David Schilter and Sanita Muizniece (kuš!)
Imagine: there are some people in the United States who haven’t yet heard of kuš! (Latvian onomatopoeia for “stay silent,” pronounced koosh!) comics, even though it’s been around a full decade, having published nearly 30 issues to date. This issue includes 21 contributors, from its native Baltic communities as well as Portugal, Spain, France, Russia, Angola, South Korea, and points beyond. And true to its Dada theme – honoring the centenary of the anarchic art movement – it’s also the most graphically experimental and challenging of all the anthology nominees.
• Island Magazine, edited by Brandon Graham and Emma Rios (Image)
Sadly, the Island series lasted less than two years, before it was able to develop its full potential. But within that time it offered an impressive array of international art talents. Although it’s the most visually conventional entry in this category, it deserves credit for its hipster Heavy Metal flavor combined with a spirited playfulness. It was also seasoned with smart essays and single-page illustrations. And its only full year of publication earned itself an Eisner nomination, having introduced its audience to several significant cartoon talents.
• Kramers Ergot 9, edited by Sammy Harkham (Fantagraphics)
Kramer’s Ergot is the granddaddy on this list, setting higher standards since 2000. But maintaining its initially aggressively groundbreaking, often unapologetically crude visual aesthetic standards over the years – particularly after having birthed new generations of indie comics – almost inevitably results in raised expectations with diminishing returns. But beyond that, Kramers continues to remain worthy of our attention as an ongoing, now-respectable showcase for top-caliber creative comics art.
• Love Is Love, edited by Sarah Gaydos and Jamie S. Rich (IDW/DC)
After all the abstract, avant garde narrative structures of those other Best Anthology nominees, Love is Love ’s straightforward, traditionally sequential storytelling can serve as a welcome respite. This collection is themed around the horrifically tragic shootings inside an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub, and all sales proceeds are donated to provide financial relief for the victims, the survivors, and their family members. Although a few of the tales are overwrought or deal in visual cliché, for the most part they’re sincere, heartfelt expressions of rage, grief, empathy, and compassion. All material was contributed for free by the artists, writers, and editors. And very many are graphically masterful. Go, read. And then, if motivated, take action, create change.
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About Michael Dooley
Michael Dooley is the creative director of Michael Dooley Design and teaches History of Design, Comics, and Animation at Art Center College of Design and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also a Print contributing editor and author.