Once again we invited a number of our friends who are also cartoonists, comics publishers and editors to tell us what their favorite comics of 2012 were. We'll be posting those lists over the next couple weeks.
J.t. Yost is the founder of Birdcage Bottom Books, the editor of the anthology Digestate and the creator of Losers Weepers, Snoop Doggy Dogg comics and more.
(not in any particular order)
1. Jeff Zwirek's Burning Building Comix
A truly innovative wordless comic. This full-color hardbound version collects the previously published mini-comics in a surprising format. Each story represents tenant(s) on each floor of a building that has caught fire. Even though every aspect of this book, from the architectural construction to the comic craft, has been lovingly considered, each story is essentially an enjoyable gag. In other words, Jeff takes comics' potential seriously, but he doesn't take himself too seriously.
2. Chris Ware's Building Stories
Anyone's "best of" list that doesn't include this one either hasn't read it yet or is deluded. A masterpiece I won't attempt to parse since so many will undoubtedly do it better.
3. Josh Bayer's Suspect Device #2 anthology
Anthologies often get a bad rap for inconsistency in quality or a schizophrenic nature, but that's what I often like about them. Josh supplied a really wonderful premise (start with a panel of one famous comic and end with another, in this case "Nancy" and "Garfield") and left it up to the contributors to work their way through it. The results are varied, but almost always highly entertaining.
4. Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo
Noah has seemingly had a fantastic drawing style from the beginning (or at least from the early mini-comics I picked up years ago), but I love watching his writing develop. The Hypo is his longest divergence from self-deprecating auto-bio yet, and quite possibly his best work yet. He also gets bonus points for scribbling in huge swaths of black with a Micron pen rather than just using a flat wash of ink!
5. James Kochalka's American Elf 4
I'm not putting this on my list just because James quit drawing his diary comics this year. I have always eagerly looked forward to his diary collections, and I'm crushed that there may be no more. His bold brushwork that simplifies everything down to its essentials has had a tremendous influence on me, but his ability to make the seemingly insignificant moments in a day compelling is even more impressive.
6. Tom Hart's RL
Tom's devastating story of losing his two year old daughter has had a profound impact on me (my own daughter is her age) and, I suspect, on anyone who reads this work in progress. I have a lot of respect for Tom in that he has been able to work through his grief while continuing to draw, run SAW (his cartooning school) and maintain a loving relationship with his wife.
7. Hazel Newlevant's Ci Vediamo
This is what handmade comics are all about. Hazel uses die-cuts and translucent overlays to create a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. She's exploring the medium and trying to push the boundaries of how to tell a story.
8. Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer
Derf subdues his unusual sense of humor to relate the compelling story of his childhood friendship with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Derf deserves all the praise he's getting for this one.
I've got a stack of comics that I picked up at MoCCA, BC&GF and SPX this year that I'm still working my way through, so I'm sure I've neglected to mention quite a few deserving comics. But hey, I'm only human.