This year, we asked a number of our friends who are also cartoonists and comics publishers and editors what their favorite comics of 2011 were. Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting those lists.
Brian Ralph's sharp collection, Daybreak, came out this year from Drawn and Quarterly and changed forever what we expect from zombie comics.
I chose to focus strictly on some of the outstanding collections of older comics that came out in 2011.
Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915
"This book took my breath away," says Art Spiegelman, and he’s a heavy smoker so that’s probably easy to do. So listen to me too ok?
Sunday Press publishes some of the most beautiful books being published anywhere. This gigantic book collects The Explorigator by Henry Grant Dart, Naughty Pete by Charles Forbell, comics by Lyonel Feininger, and Gustave Verbeek. If you were a comics nerd you would know what I was talking about and you’d be very excited.
Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson
Did you know Bernie Wrightson was born in Baltimore? I wonder what would have happen if the Baltimore Ravens were named the Baltimore Swamp Things? Anyway, I really admire Bernie Wrightson’s craftsmanship and inking, and this is a beautiful collection of his horror work.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Lost in the Andes" (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library)
Every comics fan patiently waited years to get their hands on Carl Bark’s Donald Duck comics. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t want to read Donald Duck comics…” But put aside how you might feel about Disney characters. Barks believed in those ducks, breathed life into them and took them on fantastic adventures in rich environments.
There’s also a depressing story about Bark’s life which you should read.
Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth Omnibus Vol. 1
Imagine Jack Kirby riffing and expanding on the idea of Planet of the Apes. I don’t know why they recolor these books, why don’t they just reprint them right out of the original comics? Well I do know actually, because they want them to look new and fresh. But I think part of the charm is that they are old and wacky. Next to the Eternals, this is my favorite Jack Kirby work.
THE DEATH-RAY by Daniel Clowes
This is the least crusty and ancient of the reprints I’ve listed. I’ve read stories about disenfranchised teens finding themselves with superpowers before, but man this is the most depressing, hopeless, and frightening of them all.
Miss Fury: Tarpe Mills Sensational Sundays 1944-1949
Drawn by a female cartoonist at a time when there weren’t many in the business, I want to be classy and say that I like this comic for a reason other than Miss Fury’s sexy cat suit, but I cannot say that.
Visit Brian Ralph online.