Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 10, 2004

St. Martin’s Press to Release Year’s Best

Heidi MacDonald has the press release I was unable to find elsewhere with my meager Internet skills: about a Fall 2005 effort from St. Martin's in partnership with Byron Preiss to be called The Year's Best Comics and Manga. Basically, this is a "Best Of" comics collection of the kind that exist for different genres, with a big publisher's stamp of approval and distribution opportunities.

A normal, comics-positive person might see opportunities for sales and outreach, but I'm afraid all I see are problems. Briefly:
1) Comics isn't a genre, which is where these things tend to work best.

2) The press release, if not the title itself, promises broad inclusiveness as a standard for selection. While one wants to consider everything, a representative selection is rarely the best selection.

3) Why does this have to be done in conjunction with any comics-related entity, with all of their personal peccadilloes and artistic favorites? There's any number of capable mainstream editors with good taste now. That would be much more fascinating.

4) I'm confused by the hints of a submission process. Do submitted books get more weight? If Dan Clowes doesn't submit, is he even considered? It's not like comics is flush with great work -- why not hire an editor who can seek out and find the material?

5) Comics lacks enough great work to fill up a great book every year. This isn't as big a problem with a genre as it is with a medium.

6) Comics lacks widespread, multiple entry ramps, meaning that an effort like this may become more important than similar ones in other fields, and may in a way ironically limit a potential audience.

On the positive end, I like a lot of what Preiss does and I'm happy that some comics authors will get a chance to see another paycheck, and gain new readers. Author Neil Gaiman is a great choice to write commentary. I enjoy reading Gaiman on comics.

Overall, I imagine it won't be a big deal either way -- just another book.
posted 7:19 am PST | Permalink

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