Up here above the 42nd parallel the weather is such that I’m staying inside and reading more, and you might also plan to spend extra time indoors in the next few weeks. Or months. So in case you wondered, here are the best books-without-many-pictures I read in 2011, complete with my brief notes to myself about them. They’re in no particular order; they’re all good and some are even better than that. I hope you find something here that you like!
McNeil, Carla Speed
Dense and entertaining, as always!
Excellent. I’m not sure why the colors shifted in places, but if it’s on purpose I’ll find out upon re-reading, and if not it doesn’t detract. Really well done.
Shapes and Colors
Keeps getting better.
The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980
Still has it — a couple classics (“Have you ever considered you might be wrong?”) and a revealing sequence about what must have been a summer bible camp. Revealing in that I’d like to know what prompted it, at least…
Love and Rockets: New Stories 4
Hernandez, Jaime; Hernandez, Gilbert
Once again, Jaime H. knocks it out of the park.
Infinite Kung Fu
Almost perfectly evokes the best of kung fu movies. Terrific characters, intricate and goofy plot, spot-on dialogue. Great.
Hark! A Vagrant
Extra commentary, hardcover, fun, hilarious, hurray.
The Complete Peanuts: 1981-1982
Particularly good material here. Some of the funniest I can remember, in fact!
Unique and beautifully drawn. Charming too — a great debut.
The Storm in the Barn
Really good art and effective wordless pages and sequences, simple story, beautifully done all the way through.
Tragic and moving. Fast-paced and educational as well. Up there with Persepolis as an introduction to another culture.
Dar (vol 1-2)
Honest and charming and funny.
The Stuff of Life
Schultz, Mark; Cannon, Zander; Cannon, Kevin
Well drawn and fun, even if the abundance of facts slow down the narrative a little.
Hosler, Jay; Cannon, Zander; Cannon, Kevin
Marchetto, Marisa Acocella
Much better than anticipated, with lots of narrative invention and a not-at-all-sappy (which is what I was betting on going in) throughline.
Paying for It
Clinical and rather ugly, and the end-notes are not convincing to me. (Lots of straw men standing around.) But an interesting book about a taboo subject, and it will stick with me.
Wrenching, and beautiful on a formal and storytelling level.
The Influencing Machine
Gladstone, Brooke; Neufeld, Josh
Excellent. It’s much like an episode of “On the Media” in print form, with visuals. Josh does a fine job, of course.
Well described on the jacket as a poem, and the last chapter ties things together beautifully.
Challenging and complex. Beautifully drawn as well. An exploration of what it’s like to have and lose (on purpose?) childhood wonder. I didn’t like this nearly as much on first reading as I ended up after the discussion in book club — there’s a lot of depth here.