My initial thought on reading Bridgeen’s list was that it was remarkably similar to my own, but once I pulled out mine it turned out to be substantially different, although this is probably due to the specific criteria applied.
The Hooded Utilitarian compiled the Top Ten lists submitted by 211 invited comics professionals who answered the question, “What are the ten comics works you consider your favourites, the best, or the most significant?” into a Top 115 list. Especially of interest is that each creator’s Top Ten are all individually listed.
My own selection was as follows:
Cages, Dave McKean
Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard
The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
La Femme du Magicien [The Magician’s Wife], Jerome Charyn & François Boucq
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware
Krazy Kat, George Herriman
The Palomar Stories, Gilbert Hernandez
The Spirit, Will Eisner
It’s a very personal choice, picked as much for the effect they had on me, as measure of absolute quality. It was very difficult to limit the list to ten, and those that I had to leave out surprised me. There’s no Tintin, no Watchmen, no Asterix, no Bone, no Little Nemo, no Robert Crumb and most remarkably no Daniel Clowes.
Bridgeen’s list spotlights some titles that were more immediately influential on Strangehaven that my own list of all-time greats above. We actually only overlap on three titles – Krazy Kat, Love & Rockets and her ‘honorable mention’ Cerebus.
I specified Gilbert’s works over Jaime’s because of the raw emotional content, particularly in the early Heartbreak Soup stories. The Locas stories were a little breezier, but oh-so beautifully drawn. Bridgeen notes that she stopped reading Cerebus with the eighth volume Women (understandably) but it would be a huge pity if Sim’s extreme politics entirely overshadows his unique, monumental and extraordinary body of work .
Almost all of the 1980s indie works that Bridgeen picks are hard to argue against; certainly the Fantagraphics/Drawn & Quarterly axis of Eightball, Black Hole, Peepshow and I Never Liked You (although I far prefer Chester Brown’s earlier surreal Ed the Happy Clown stories) are my favourite comics of the period.
Craig Thompson’s massive romance Blankets was under consideration for my own ten, although it is perhaps too recent to see in context of the other established (in my mind at least) works. The importance of Maus cannot be underestimated, of course, but even though I read it serialised in Raw Magazine, I never quite took it to my heart.
Scott Pilgrim is the only book I haven’t read – and therefore can’t pass judgement, although it has been on my Amazon Wishlist for a good while.
On a related note, the reason why I don’t ever respond to the best of the year lists because I’m always so far behind in my reading. After spending almost a year reading nothing but works by Alan Moore, I’ve been pretty much comicked-out this year and my to-read pile now extends over several long bookshelves.