The year in fun

As I said over at MangaBlog, I’m reluctant to put together a “Best of” list for a variety of reasons, but I did want to throw together a list of books that provided… well… fun. I think some of the books below would also make the “gravitas” cut, but the common thread for me is imaginative, escapist reading pleasure. So, without further babble, I give you The Year in Fun:

  • Anne Freaks (ADV): Sometimes fun involves murderous, anarchist teens. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Beauty Pop (Viz – Shojo Beat): Oh, sweet, formulaic shôjo. I still love you. (I don’t think I’ve actually reviewed this yet, but Lyle has, and I agree with him completely.)
  • Castle Waiting (Fantagraphics): Great characters, imaginative and rambling storytelling, and very appealing art. (Reviewed here.)
  • The Drifting Classroom (Viz – Signature): Insanely ramped up horror that manages to be both hilariously over the top and still effectively frightening. (Reviewed here.)
  • Dragon Head (Tokyopop): The perfect contemporary companion for Drifting Classroom. Tense survival drama that keeps trying to top itself and often succeeds. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • DVD (DramaQueen): The quirky characters in this book have great chemistry, making for funky, funny reading. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Get a Life (Drawn & Quarterly): In a genre piled with disagreeable losers, Mr. Jean is the most agreeable single straight man on the comics shelves. That sounds more like faint praise than I intended. (Reviewed here.)
  • Klezmer (First Second): No one finds the warmth and character-driven comedy in dark material like Joann Sfar. (Reviewed here.)
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse): Imagine the cast of Scooby Doo attending a Buddhist college and making extra cash by helping restless spirits. Then go buy this book. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Moomin (Drawn & Quarterly): D&Q was clearly determined to make me love them this year, and the promise of a steady diet of this loopy classic was a big factor. (Kind of reviewed here.)
  • Mouse Guard (Archaia): Adorable mice with swords, beautifully rendered in an exciting story. What more do you need? (Reviewed here.)
  • Northwest Passage (Oni Press): Technically this debuted in 2005, but two of its three volumes came out in 2006, so I’m counting it. Like Mouse Guard, it combines wonderful art and a thrilling story, this time steeped in history instead of fantasy. (Reviewed here and here.)
  • Ode to Kirihito (Vertical): You may be thinking, what is this high-end classic doing here? I can answer that in two words: “Human Tempura.” Yes, the book is serious and humane, but it’s also joyful in Tezuka’s aesthetic and just in watching the wildly sprawling story unfold. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Past Lies (Oni): A rookie private investigator delves into the sleazy-stylish world of the Hollywood elite. This had better be the first of a series. (Reviewed here.)
  • Penguin Revolution (CMX): Shôjo screwball comedy, perfectly executed. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Oni): Three volumes in, Bryan Lee O’Malley keeps this incredibly novel and hilarious series grounded and warm at the same time.
  • Paris (Slave Labor Graphics): The story by Andi Watson is serviceable, but the art by Simon Gane is eye-poppingly gorgeous. When’s the collection coming out? (Reviewed here, here and here.)
  • Polly and the Pirates (Oni): Shôjo manga isn’t the exclusive domain of schoolgirls with secret identities. Ted Naifeh creates a wonderful protagonist in Polly Pringle, and watching an adventurous spirit emerge from a proper exterior is great fun. (Reviewed here, here, and here.)
  • Shout Out Loud (Tokyopop – Blu): Boys’ love mixed with workplace comedy makes for a witty, heartwarming mix. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Train Man: Densha Otoko (Viz): My favorite of the adaptations because it’s an entertaining manga in its own right. Sweet stuff, but not cloying. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • Wings (Purple Bear Books): Glorious wordless storytelling, alternately exhilarating and wistful. (Reviewed here.)
  • Yakitate!! Japan (Viz): Boy-with-a-dream wackiness en croûte. (Reviewed in Flipped.)
  • 15 Responses to The year in fun

    1. [...] Tangognat finds the PW list “a bit odd” and shares a few of her favorites. At PopCultureShock, Katherine Dacey-Tsuei gives her top 20, plus a few that didn’t make her list, and then, in case it seems like she likes every manga (what’s wrong with that?) she talks about a few she didn’t care for. At Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh lists the books he enjoyed the most. As my taste and David’s coincide almost perfectly, I’m using it for suggestions on what to read once the current stack is whittled down. [...]

    2. John Jakala says:

      Great list, David. Not only because it touches on a number of my favorites, but also because it reminds me of several promising-sounding books I’d forgotten about. Off to see if the local library carries them!

    3. Huff says:

      Good picks. Obviously everyone has diffrent opinions and I’d certainly include/take out some things, but a good core group of comics.

    4. ChunHyang72 says:

      It’s nice to see a list that mixes manga, graphic novels, and indie comics, rather than ghettoizing manga into its own separate category. I hope your posting inspires a few folks to cross the aisle and sample Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Castle Waiting, and Mouse Guard.

      And I love the description of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service… but what would the Kurosagi gang munch on in lieu of Scooby snacks?

    5. davidpwelsh says:

      “but what would the Kurosagi gang munch on in lieu of Scooby snacks?”

      Cup Noodle?

    6. [...] Rather than offer up a “Year’s Best” list, David Welsh instead lists the books from 2006 that he had the most fun reading. [...]

    7. [...] Having already shared the books he enjoyed the most, David Welsh also lists the ones that made the biggest impression. [...]

    8. Hazel says:

      Cool list, I loved ‘Dragon Head’ (very claustrophibic) and ‘Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service'(very original feel)! ^_^ (Happy Christmas!)

    9. Myk says:

      Very nice list. I agree with most of the ones I read (though I´d argue Anne Freaks) and will cautiously advance to check out the ones I haven´t.

    10. [...] David Welsh reads far more comics than I do, but has similar tastes, so I found his year-end Year In Fun as well as his second list a good guide for the next time I’m ready for a new title (that said, I just picked up Hikaru No Go volume 3). 12 Days, Emma, ES and American Born Chinese are pretty high on my lists already. [...]

    11. davidpwelsh says:

      Thanks, Myk. I thought yours was pretty great, too, though now you’ve got me worried about the end of Anne Freaks, as volume four is still in transit from Amazon. Ah well!

      Oh, and I think there is a rumor that Tokyopop picked up King of Thorns. Did I see that at MangaCast, maybe?

    12. Myk says:

      King of Thorns Vol. 1 is listed on Amazon.com as being published by Tokyopop, so I guess that´s one true rumor.

      As for Anne Freaks, maybe it´s just me, but I´d love to hear what you think when you get it. I´ll have re-read all four volumes to make up my mind.

    13. davidpwelsh says:

      It’s waiting for me at the post office, Myk. The suspense!

    14. Brian Cronin says:

      Good stuff, David!

      A lot of fun books, there!

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