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The Best American Comics 2007    by Anne Elizabeth Moore & Chris Ware order for
Best American Comics 2007
by Anne Elizabeth Moore
Order:  USA  Can
Houghton Mifflin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Before readers can even open the book, never mind read the table of contents, this Best American Comics 2007 will be pulling their attention in many different directions. Take the dust cover for example. Right on the front is a single page strip by David Heatley. Readers will think this is interesting, maybe even cool. But then when the dust jacket is removed, two more single page strips can be found on the inside back of the jacket. Additionally, unlike the traditional hardcover, this one is splashed in rich colors providing a full picture including the binding.

This is certainly a more exotic collection of comic art than in the previous year's edition, which featured Harvey Pekar as Guest Editor. The range of works essentially covers works published between the end of August 2005 through the beginning of September 2007 and includes some of the more famous comic artists out there such as Robert Crumb, Art Spigelman, Alison Bechdel, Gilbert Hernandez, and Charles Burns with excerpts from books such as Fun Home, We Are on Our Own, and Black Hole. Many of the pieces are taken from series such as Schizo, Mome, and Kramer's Ergot.

What proves striking about this collection is the use of color (or lack thereof). Some pieces rely solely on the black and white format, others use a grayscale, and some even add or use a particular color or two within their work. However, then we get to the works of Crumb, C. Tyler, C. F., and Paper Rad, where the bright and loud colors practically shock the reader with their contrast to the other stories.

While Ware, like many other editors in these Best American series discredits the idea of these being the Best American comics, he explains that these pieces met his criteria for quality comic art or provoked him enough that he was compelled to put them into this anthology. Some pieces (such as those by authors mentioned above) need no justification for their presence in a book like this, but for others one gets the feeling they were included to mess with readers' minds. What also seems disappointing is that several artists have several contributions within this collection. Granted, these pieces are typically one page strips, but the additional entries don't add nearly as much value as an entirely different artist's piece would.

In the end though, this collection offers a great sampling of non-superhero comics from some of the best and rising stars in the industry. Despite the titles being over a year old, readers will still enjoy the selections and the collection as a whole.

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