The year in fun

December 21, 2006

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.)