Best Comics Criticism 2009

The big news about the blog this week was Suat’s announcement of the Best Online Comics Criticism of the year.

All the judges beside Suat weighed in with discussions of the list and of their own choices. And those judges were me, Tucker Stone, Frank Santoro and Matthias Wivel.

In other reactions around the web, Johanna Draper Carlson pointed out there could have been more women and manga critics on the list. Melinda Beasi responded by putting up a list of her favorite female manga critics. And David Welsh picked some of his favorite criticism of the year.

Finally, Brigid Alverson notes that she was supposed to be involved in the judging but had to drop out at the last minute due to work and family pressure. She also provides a look at her picks for best criticism of the year.

On HU

Also this week on HU:

Kinukitty reviewed Age Called Blue.

Richard Cook reviewed Sayuki.

Vom Marlowe reviewed Godchild.

I sneered in passing at The Dirty Projectors and Michael Chabon.

And last but not least, this week’s free music download features early doom metal.

Utilitarians Everywhere

At Splice Today I review a newish graphic biography of Johnny Cash.

The exercise does affirm Cash’s power as a storyteller, mainly through contrast. Kleist is a pretty good artist—his drawing of a young Johnny standing at the microphone, head cocked, preparing to deliver “Big River” is lean and striking. But the effort to show the narrative itself is determinedly bland: Images of the mooning swain and his traveling lover lack the lonesome sparseness of the sung original, not to mention its barely contained, self-parodying humor. The pictures seem generic, taken out of any Twainesque riverboat setting, where the original reveled in its specificity as Cash’s deep baritone caressed each place name and ventrioloquized voice. It’s like Kleist decided to draw the sequence without ever stopping to wonder what made the song worthwhile in the first place, with the predictable result that he gets the general framework and leaves out the soul.

And I have another discussion of Zizek with Bert Stabler over at his blog.

Bert: It’s been occurring to me that Jesus defined modern social relations– defining a private sphere apart from state interference, rejecting traditional value systems and extended and even nuclear family relations in favor of abstract inner pursuits, extolling radically egalitarian values, dying for his principles. He despised work and ownership. And, strangely, he was completely the ideal for which our civilization continues to strive. He was a humanist, without the solipsism, nihilism, and hubris.

On tcj.com I have a review of Lilli Carre’s illustrated version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Fir Tree.

At Metropulse I review the really strikingly bad new Vampire Weekend album.

And finally, Tom Spurgeon has the final wrap up of his massive end-of-decade interview series in which I participated.

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