My Top Three Most Overlooked Books Of 2011

I neglected to do a top ten list for 2011. Partially I was just busy–but also, looking at the lists that other people together, I realized that there are a lot of major books that dropped in 2011 that I’ve not read yet. I have, though, noticed a conspicuous absence in most of these Best Of 2011 lists of three of last year’s books that I certainly would have put on my list if I’d made one.

I’ll preface this by noting that these books my have not made the big Best Of lists for reasons entirely unrelated to their quality: none is an original work of fiction first published in 2011. One is a previously-published foreign book, translated and published domestically in 2011; one is a collection of short stories that were published as minicomics and collected only this past year; and one is a cartoonist’s excerpted sketchbooks, available only via his website or at convention appearances. Regardless, here are three of my favorite books from 2011 that I’ve seen criminally little acknowledgement of:

1) Pinocchio by Winshluss – If you need any convincing of how ignored this book has been, do a Google search for it. The fourth result you’ll get will likely be my review on this very blog. You can read that blog entry to get an idea of what an amazing book this is. It’s been out in France for a while and was an Angoulême winner, but was only translated into English and made available in 2011 by Last Gasp. If I had to guess, I’d say there’re two main reasons this book got swept under the rug: (1) people probably thought is was some kids-oriented comics version of the traditional Pinocchio story–it ain’t by a long shot, believe me!–and (2) it had the misfortune to come out the same day as Chester Brown’s Paying For It.

2) I Will Bite You by Joe Lambert – If you’re into the minicomics scene (whatever the heck that is, exactly) and hit conventions like SPX regularly you probably know Joe Lambert’s work. He’s a prolific producer of gorgeously-drawn, formally-ambitious minicomics whose work I first became aware of via some of my visits to The Center for Cartoon Studies. I’ve grabbed his work whenever I’ve had the opportunity to, but he’s hard to keep up with. Thankfully, Secret Acres collected a lot of his minicomics work in I Will Bite You in 2011. As you can imagine with a collection of a ton of individual minis, there’s a bit of thematic overlap here–and it’s for sure a collection more than a book–but this volume is a pretty great introduction to the work of a flat-out amazing cartoonist who you’re guaranteed to hear more of in the future.

3) Sketchbooks by Chris Schweizer – A lot of cartoonists do self-published booklets of their sketchbook drawings to sell at comics conventions, but few–if any–have produced a publication that’s as professional and as insightful process-wise as this sketchbook collection is. Chris’s Sketchbooks contains tons and tons of developmental drawings from his Crogan’s Adventure series as well as other drawings, but  what really puts this book over the top for me is all the great writing by Chris, describing his thought processes and drawing routines. You can buy it here.


1 comment

  1. Eric says:

    That sketchbook was one of my favorite purchases ever (mine came with a drawing of Captain Easy on the inside). I have seen the other two — Pinocchio here, most likely, and that Lambert cover is so striking that I bookmarked an image of it–but haven’t yet purchased. Yet.

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