So, the way this works is, series editors Abel and Madden preselect material from comics in general and pass it on to this year’s guest editor, Neil. While it is a large anthology, over 300 pages of comics, it kind of automatically misses longer series comics that can’t be easily excerpted, and is heavily weighted toward non-genre sources and independent creators with a unique and personal style. Nothing wrong with that, but you won’t find any traditional superhero comics here. The closest thing is an excerpt from OMEGA THE UNKNOWN published by Marvel, which reads very indy.

I haven’t bought any of these anthologies until now, have to admit I was drawn by the chance to see what Neil would pick. There are things I didn’t care for, but quite a few I liked, a few I loved. And many are things I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. As Neil says in his introduction, a better (though not marketable) title for the book would be A Sampler: Some Really Good Comics, Including Extracts from Longer Stories We Thought Could Stand on Their Own. And if you take it on that basis, it’s a success.

The standout for me is an excerpt from ASTERIOS POLYP by David Mazzucchelli, which I’ve already raved about on this blog. I also really liked the excerpt from R. Crumb’s THE BOOK OF GENESIS, and one from A.D.: NEW ORLEANS AFTER THE DELUGE by Josh Neufeld, above. Others I liked with a bit less enthusiasm include entries by Peter Kuper, Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez, Michael Cho, C. Tyler, Fred Chao and Peter Bagge. I read the excerpt from Chris Ware’s ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY and had my usual reaction: love the art style, hate the writing, the lettering is beautifully done but much too small. If your eyes are younger, and your taste differs, you may find it the highlight. Any anthology is going to have hits and misses for each reader, but I think the chances of more hits than misses is quite good for this one. Would I put it ahead of a favorite series? No. But if you’d like to see some of what else is out there, it’s a great sampler. Recommended.

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