Choice words from 2009

January 14, 2010

Maybe I’ll indulge in just one more look back on 2009. The bloggers at The Hooded Utilitarian assembled a list of their choices for the Best Online Comics Criticism for the year. I won’t claim I psychically predicted that Johanna Draper Carlson would notice that there are no articles by women on the final list, but I was sitting next to her during the critics’ panel at SPX, so it’s not like there’s no precedent for this observation. And it inspired Melinda Beasi’s warm tribute to some of the many women who write regularly and brilliantly about comics, manga and manhwa in particular.

To my way of thinking, that’s always the most desirable outcome of lists like these… people tossing in their two cents. And while I haven’t approached this with anything resembling rigor, here are some of my favorite comics-related think pieces of the last year:

“I Am Cynical (Orange)” by Chris Butcher: If you’ve just discovered Butcher through his excellent pieces on “10 Manga That Changed Comics” (here’s #8), let me reassure you that he’s been brilliant for ages. Case in point is this piece on the vicissitudes of distribution to the Direct Market.

“The Manga Hall of Shame” by Kate Dacey: Sometimes, manga hurts. And when that happens, it’s good to have a writer of Dacey’s caliber to speak up on behalf of the wounded. Here are this year’s inductees.

Matthew Brady’s pieces on Shojo Beat: Among the many reasons to miss Viz’s anthology of comics for girls is the fact that it also meant the end for this series of informative, enthusiastic, persuasive examinations.

“The Nana Project” by Melinda Beasi, Danielle Leigh and Michelle Smith: Three of my favorite manga critics geek out over one of the best shôjo titles ever published in English.

“The Patrick Swayze Manga Recommendation Guide” by Shaenon K. Garrity: Picking only one great piece by Garrity is like trying to choose the prettiest tulip in Holland. It’s just impossible. This one strikes me as emblematic of what I love about her writing: a great hook in service of some wonderful comics with her enviably flawless prose throughout.

The “Rethinking the Box” articles by Matt Blind: If Butcher is the go-to analyst on comic shops, Blind covers the general bookstore front in an equally astute manner. The link above points you to many of the articles in the occasional series.

“Reviewers Can’t Win” by Johanna Draper Carlson: I always enjoy Johanna’s writing, but I have an unflattering confession to make. I tend to enjoy her writing most when she’s indignant about something. Now, I know I shouldn’t wish for life to fling irritations in anyone’s path, but I do love the results.

“You And I Until The Day We Die” by Tucker Stone. Stone was one of the judges for The Hooded Utilitarian’s poll, so he wasn’t eligible, which is too bad. I think he’s an amazing writer.

So what are some of your favorite essays from 2009? Remind me of my egregious oversights, please.