Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Comics Journal's Top 100
Comics of the 20th Century

A short time ago, I dropped into local anarchist hangout Sedition Books for the first time. Lucky for me, they had a well-worn copy of Seth Tobocman's War in the Neighborhood - which I promptly stole. Or liberated. Or negotiated a mutually-acceptable exchange of goods or services or legal tender. I'd been casually looking for it awhile now, and I thought it had appeared in this comics list - but it must have been somewhere else, because I checked and it actually wasn't on the list at all.

Locas by Xaime
I'm no kinda comic book philosopher or theorist or critic, but you know who is? The Comics Journal, that's who! It's not the only publication to attempt a sustained, serious look at all things comics, treating the entire medium as worthy of critical analysis - but arguably the biggest and best.

There are two published, ranked lists that have exerted a big influence on me, a confirmed list-maker. First would be the SPIN Alternative Record Guide (1995). The other appeared in TJC #210 (Feb 1999): their Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the (20th) Century. So every week or two, I'll go through 10 entries in the big list, counting all the way up to #1.

It'll look a little something like this...

no. 210 "The 100 Best Comics of the Century"
Feb 1999
The Comics Journal

TCJ No. 120
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "This list is a call for a[n] uncompromising re-examination of the comics medium in terms of its best works. It is our hope that in viewing the achievements of the comics art form across a century - from the lurid, pulpy fun of its adventure comics to the well-crafted drama of its serial strips to the startling idiosyncratic delicacy of its high-end artistic triumphs - comics readers will see the medium in a new light. Casual or occasional readers may find a number of comics worthy of their attention, while more serious readers may re-discover them." (Tom Spurgeon)

Headspace sez: "I am one of those casual or occasional readers. I'm only passingly familiar with many, many of these titles. And completely unfamiliar with many... which is fine. TCJ will always be way more focused on pre-WWII newspaper strips than I ever will. And where I do know what they're talking about, I have several serious beefs with rankings - also fine. Hopefully, it will make for an interesting series of posts, if inevitably for a limited audience."

Really spaced
Very nice magazine cover by Seth (#52). I'm estimating that in 1999, I could've identified the character, comic, and/or artist for 35 of the 56 figures (only 62.5%). Answers towards the end of the series, many moons hence...

I'll add in the Top 100 list below, with links to each post o' ten...

#91-#100 Full post HERE

91. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
92. "Pictopia" by Alan Moore and Don Simpson
93. Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham
94. The humor comics of Basil Wolverton
95. Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson
96. Dirty Plotte by Julie Doucet
97. "The Hannah Story" by Carol Tyler
98. Barney Google by Billy DeBeck
99. The Bungle Family by Harry Tuthill
100. Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

[Click to enlarge ~ source]

No comments: