Comic Book Resources lists WILSON, THE WRONG PLACE and ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY 20 as top comics of 2010

“10 BEST COMICS OF 2010” / Comic Book Resources / Timothy Callahan / December 20, 2010

First, a disclaimer: reprints and collected editions don't count, so "Casanova" doesn't make the list. It may be a fundamentally different comic, what with the colors changing the tone and the tone changing the meaning, but it still falls into the arbitrary pitfall of "something that came out during another year, and even though it is an amazing comic, it doesn't fit our needs for this kind of end-of-the-year-listing."

Still, "Casanova." It's very good, and if this were a reprints-and-new-stuff list, it would crack the Top 10, along with "Absolute All-Star Superman." I eagerly await the recolored "Casanova: Gula" and the newness of Volume 3.

If I were to name honorable mentions, and identify those comics that don't quite make the Top 10 of 2010 but deserve some attention, and if I were to list those comics because they are pretty great and I liked them a whole lot, the rankings of the not-quite-top would look something like this:

17. "Wilson," by Dan Clowes. Clowes is one of the Top 10 great graphic novelists of all time, with "Ice Haven." "Wilson" isn't up to that level, but it has misanthropic charm and Clowesian dark humor, and it isn't as simple as it first seems.


9. "The Wrong Place," by Brecht Evens. While so many of the best comics this year felt insular and hermetic, Evens watercolor graphic novel seems celebrative of the sprawling relationships that make up our world. It's an illusion, of course, even within its pages, as the characters double back on themselves and the apparent sprawl is at the service of a story about a small group of people in the end. But it feels loose and lively, and Evens doesn't spend time pondering the deep connective tissue between humans when he can show the relationships in action, through gossip on the train, at dinner parties, in the bedroom. The book might conclude with a promise for more, but it's a promise that leads outside of its pages, into the world around us.

"The Wrong Place" isn't a comic about characters inside a comic book. It's a comic that engages with something greater: the messy life we lead, both joyous and sad (but mostly joyous, if we can accept it).


7. "ACME Novelty Library" Volume 20, by Chris Ware. I don't know how much more of the tiny lettering my eyes can take, but the strain involved with literally reading this book is surely part of the experience. The story of Jordan Wellington Lint, from his moment of birth to his moment of death, is a story of suffering, but not in the manner of the Good Book's Job. Lint is no blighted figure of legend. No metaphor for the depths of faith or the capacity to withstand loss. Lint is merely a man trying to make his way through the world, following paths he shouldn't take, maybe because that's how he was raised, or maybe just because he followed a faulty instinct. Ware's diagrammatical storytelling seems to indicate answers, but it's never as simple as "his dad was this way, so he turned out that way," even if Lint himself may fall into that trap of misunderstanding. Ultimately, this is Chris Ware showing the life of one man – not everyman – and saying, "look." And we must.

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