02 of 10
THE PUSHMAN AND OTHER STORIES & ABANDON THE OLD IN TOKYO by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
If you have seen and sampled the abundant supply of translated Japanese comics (a.k.a. manga) and dismissed it as a lot of saucer-eyed schoolgirls and sexualized robots, you need to look at Yoshihiro Tatsumi's two collections of short stories. As different from mainstream manga as Yasujiro Ozu's films are from Godzilla movies, The Pushman and Abandon the Old feature stories about the working class, urban denizens of 1970s Japan. Almost as unknown in Japan as he is in the West, Tatsumi's neo-realist tales feature mechanics, pornographic film projectionists and factory workers who struggle against the dehumanizing effects of a Japan on the cusp of becoming a major economic power. These tales of desperation achieve a poetic sense of despair in Tatsumi's accomplished hands.
07 of 10
CURSES by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
A top-ten choice last year [#5 - Or Else] as well as in 2006, Kevin Huizenga continues his very strong body of work by putting out a hardcover collection of short stories titled Curses as well as a pair of comic books (Ganges #1 and Or Else #4). Specializing in stories planted in America's suburban sprawl, Huizenga discovers the magical and cosmological possibilities hidden in plain site of "average" lives. In one story a plastic grocery bag becomes a "magic mask" that protects a young husband when he visits a feathered ogre to help his wife conceive. Another story features the only convincing and sensitive portrait of a conservative, religious-minded "red state" character I have ever seen in the medium.
TATSUMI and HUIZENGA in Time's Top 10 of 2006
02 of 10