Meta: Comics criticism and a confession

Jason Thompson and I can write better comics criticism drunk than any of these guys can do sober. We filmed ourselves doing it once, but we never aired it because of all the swears.

Shaenon Garrity

At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong presents a juried list of the best online comics criticism of 2009. I encourage you to go and look at the list and read the pieces.

And now, it’s true confessions time: I was asked to be one of the jurors for that discussion. I submitted a list of nominees, but I didn’t cast my final votes. Work and family pressures simply combined to make it impossible for me to read through all the nominated works in the time allotted. Suat and fellow blogger Noah Berlatsky have been very understanding about this, and I appreciate their kindness. I also was honored to be asked to begin with. The nominated works were from all over the comics spectrum, and reading the ones that I did greatly expanded my horizons—even when I wasn’t interested in the comics being covered, I still learned something from the analysis.

When the list came out, Johanna Draper Carlson noted the lack of women and manga writers, and Melinda Beasi and David Welsh compiled lists of their own.

So, in the spirit of transparency, here is my list:

Carlo Santos on vol. 5 of Black Jack (ANN)
Bad Jew on 20th Century Boys (Sleep Is For the Weak)
Bad Jew on Oishinbo (Sleep Is For the Weak)
Kate Dacey on vol. 1 of Children of the Sea (The Manga Critic)
David Welsh on recent works by Jiro Taniguchi (The Comics Reporter)
Kate Dacey on vols. 1-3 of Dororo (The Manga Critic)
David Welsh on Omukae Desu and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (The Comics Reporter)
Shaenon Garrity on All the Comics in the World: Dykes to Watch Out For (Comixology)
Shaenon Garrity on All the Comics in the World: SF (Comixology)
Noah Berlatsky on Mystery Train (Comixology)

Now, I was under a lot of work and family pressure when I compiled the list, and if I were to do it this week, with the holidays and the city inaugural over with and my kids out of town, I would have made a few addenda—I can’t tell you why Jason Thompson’s article on moe and Matt Thorn’s critique of translation aren’t there, other than that I was frazzled and forgot them. (Fortunately, they were nominated by other judges.) Also, Noah’s piece had to be disqualified because he is one of the judges. Duh.

Because the commentary around this has been really interesting, here are the lists from the other judges:

Frank Santoro
Tucker Stone
Matthias Wivel

What have I learned from this, other than not to make too many commitments at holiday time? That there is a lot of well thought out, well written comics criticism online, and that even an essay about something I never read can be interesting. By highlighting articles I never would read in my daily life, Noah and Suat have done me a big favor, and I am grateful for their efforts.

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  1. Thanks so much, Brigid. I’m incredibly flattered to be included on that list.


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