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Colin Blanchette on Top 100 With Rankings
posted November 29, 2004

Colin Blanchette
via the Internet

Well, there is literally a ton of stuff I haven't read on your list, especially the European work and a lot of the old newspaper strips. A lot of the list I can't quibble with, as no two people will ever come to the exact same conclusions about what constitutes great work, and that divide grows when you try to rank the work. I think ranking the list was a great idea (TCJ 210 is probably my favorite issue). I always like to see someone who knows what they're talking about do this sort of thing, for the opportunity to disagree as much as the handy reference to comics I need to check out.

I'm not a manga guy, really, but I've read the major stuff. I was very pleased to see Nausicaa at 11, because that's where I'd probably place it on my list. I was stunned to see Phoenix as high as it was. Number 4, for a series that isn't near completion? Still, I think it's a major work from a major talent, and hopefully you ranking it this high will make some other peope check it out. I was disappointed to see Akira at 95, though. Big is beautiful, and Akira is big, big, big, without restarts, reboots, or any of the other garbage that would ruin an American work of the same size. I think its an underrated book generally, not just by you, and doesn't have the elite credibility that Nausicaa has acquired (Hatfield in the Journal helped that, I think).

The only thing I'll complain about being overrated is Mad, at number 3. I know its good and I know why everyone says its good. And it should probably be on the list. But I think nostalgia plays a big part in the reverence for Kurtzman's work. Even for those who weren't around when it came out, there seems to be a warm feeling because for a long time EC was one of the only highlights comic books had. But now there is so much good work, I think it's time to reassess Kurtzman. Does any of his work really stand with what Clowes and Ware are doing now? Does it stand up to what Alan Moore has done? I don't think so, and I think that Ng Suat Tong's essay in TCJ 250 ("EC and the Chimera of Memory") says all of this, and much better than I just have.

Omissions? Who knows? A top ten book on my list would be Raymond Briggs' Ethel and Ernest, and a lot of people would include When the Wind Blows, though I wouldn't.

Finally, I was most outraged by the neglect of From Hell and Watchmen, at 100 and 96, repectively. These floored me. You managed to do worse by Alan Moore than the TCJ list. There, From Hell was 41, Watchmen 91. And V For Vendetta was 83, at least on the list. I think all of these books are underated, by both you and the Journal. I'll admit to being a Moore fan, but Watchmen is the only work of his I have a real "attatchment" to. I'm not sure if it's because it was the first major work I read that blew me away, or if it's because it's damn good. I've read it enough, and recently enough, that I think it's just damn good. (Without writing a dissertation on why I think Watchmen is great, I know I sound exactly like those responsible for Kurtzman's deification.) From Hell is simply put one of the best comics ever, done by two of the masters of the form in their prime. I thought for sure its non-mainstream status would help it out more. Still, people insist on labeling everything Moore touches as "mainstream" (the most overused term in comics, right next to "genre"). I'm going to stop before I nominate Moore for canonization.

Thank you for doing the list. I greatly respect your opinions, and will seek out the works on your list I haven't read.