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.
J.T. Dockery is the cartoonist who created the amazing In Tongues Illustrated.
The Wolf by Tom Neely
Probably the most inventive book of the year, experimental and also a lesson in master craftsmanship (Neely manages to combine mapping unexplored territory with a gift for classic mark-making). It's difficult to express how uniquely good, how profound, it is. A natural if not quite expected evolution from his previous major work, The Blot, but a progression that makes more sense if one factors in all of Tom's minis that fill the gap. The Wolf will probably end up on my best of list for books of the decade, not just this past year.
Too Dark Too See by Julia Gfrorer
I became a big fan of Gfrorer's previous book, Flesh and Bone from Sparkplug Comics, after a few readings, and her new self-published mini is growing on me, or in me like some demonic presence, over the past few months. She makes seemingly simple, almost minimalist (but wonderfully rendered--she's a hell of an artist) comics, which are deceptively packed with lots of symbolic information. Rewarding work.
the comics of Max Clotfelter
I have a stack of mini comics by Max from the past year. I live in Vermont and I am writing this from my native Kentucky and don't have the luxury of referring back to the books. Suffice to say, everything that Max has published this year is toppermost of the poppermost. He uses a pen like some kind of blunt surgical instrument, and can make me laugh out loud and can make me cringe, sometimes, that is to say, all at once. He stands at the corner of Basil Wolverton Boulevard and Rory Hayes Way, and I desire more energy like that in comics.
Reich #8 by Elijah Brubaker
Hands down the most interesting serialized non-fiction comic going, Brubaker rocks it hard. Hell, I was sold on this project at the outset just out of interest in Wilhelm Reich and Brubaker's work, but each new issue reminds me how good this comic really is, and not only that, but how good comics can be, in general.
Habitat #2 by Dunja Jankovic
From Gary Panter to Fort Thunder, there's this genre in comics, if it can be called that, of characters meandering in a landscape that's hard to pinpoint but one recognizes it when one sees it. Jankovic turns this genre up a notch... her visuals flow and mutate in a manner that's psychedelic, yes, but psychedelic/hallucinatory with narrative purpose; the metaphors have metaphors, and the eyeball kicks are balanced with the hum of interesting story-telling. This book is a continuance of Department of Art #1 (same story, different titles), and I discovered them both at the same time. Reading the two issues was a powerful jolt of genuine art/comics (or "art comics") excitement.
Visit J.T. Dockery.