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Tom Spurgeon begins “best of decade” project

Tom Spurgeon has begun what I’d consider a massive project – naming the top 100 comics for the years 2000-2009. The categories he’s outlined so far include: Anthologies, Archival Editions, Original Long-Forms and Definitive Collections, Comic Books, Manga, Newspaper, On-Line, and Works On The Subject Of Comics. He’s already penned an impressive list of comics for each category. He is also welcoming suggestions.

He writes,

This is a list of those comics a reasonable person might consider for a top 100 list, not a first draft of a top 100 list, so you don’t have to make a specific case for anything you’d like to see included. On the other hand, I have a pretty good nose for sniffing out information dumps on behalf of one’s self, one’s friends or one’s company. I hope that we’ll get some genuine gut reactions. There’s been so much good work out there and I hope you’ll want to share that with others.

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
August/24/2009
@ 8:26 am

These lists are repugnant. They’re an insult to common sense and an attempt to impose taste fascism on people who disagree with them. For the love of God, why don’t people just stop making dumb “best of” lists?

#2 Wiley Miller
August/24/2009
@ 8:59 am

“For the love of God, why donâ??t people just stop making dumb â??best ofâ? lists?”

Because there are a lot of stupid editors who publish them.

#3 Joe Vissichelli
August/24/2009
@ 9:41 am

There haven’t been much more than five decent comics in the last decade, so why list a top 100? Maybe it should be a Best of the Worst or a Top of the Bottom list to acknowledge how the field has slipped.

#4 Tom Spurgeon
August/24/2009
@ 7:07 pm

You know, I have no idea how people making lists indicates taste fascism and making an anthology or recruiting talent for syndication wouldn’t, or, using the same logic, how simply making your opinion known via the strength of your talent wouldn’t indicate some sort of opinion fascism. Granted, as Mr. Miller points out, I’m kind of stupid.

My hope with the post is that people who make such lists — I’m assuming some lists will be made — will use the resource as one of the tools by which they might consider more comics than they might otherwise read, or to remind them of certain comics out there.

I don’t find lists oppressive or dumb; they’re just lists. Some are good, some are not; some are convincing, some aren’t. At times I’ve found making them useful, and at other times a chore. They also make for good reading while I goosestep around the studio.

And Joe, while I do think the last decade isn’t exactly the 1930s when it’s come to newly syndicated newspaper cartoonists — I know my own failed syndicated strip wasn’t up to that standard of the great ones from that decade, or really any decade — there are a lot of compelling comics works out there in various expressions of the form including works from both Wiley and Ted and I hope you’ll check them out.

#5 Shane Davis
August/24/2009
@ 9:18 pm

Stupid lists like ESPN’s ‘Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century,’ AFI’s ‘100 Greatest Films’ or Rolling Stones ‘Top 500 Albums of All Time’ are all designed to do one thing…get people talking, arguing, debating, whatever.

It seems like a cheap trick to get site traffic or sales and appears at first blush to be an easy, intellectually lazy way to toss up a ‘controversial’ article.

Perhaps it’s just the language. If it were titled “100 Strips Highlighting Comics: 2000-2009”

My reaction is close to Mr. Rall’s – who is ANYONE to tell me what the top 100 of anything is? I doubt you meant it that way, but that is how these things come across sometime…

#6 Tom Spurgeon
August/24/2009
@ 9:42 pm

Yeah, but why is that an affront? Wiley Miller just called me stupid, Ted Rall equates the process I’m endorsing to fascism, and the possibility of being presented with a list is what you take out of that as the confrontational act?

I mean, it’s no big deal for them to do that. I even know Ted a bit, and he’s a cordial, interesting guy. It’s fun to take umbrage, for sure, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion, even if it’s I’m a shmuck. No big deal. A list doesn’t seem like a big deal, either. Just an opinion with a specific arrangement.

Come to think of it, I’d be interested in reading lists on a lot of subjects from either Ted or Wiley, because they’re both smart, opinionated guys. I mean, I’m sure I’d disagree with a lot of what was on there, particularly Ted’s, but I think it would be interesting. I once went and wrote down the artists Ted chose to spotlight in the Attitudes books out of curiosity. It was useful to me. Who wouldn’t want to know what Ted Rall or Wiley Miller thought were the 20 best editorial cartoons they saw that year?

I agree with you that list-making is a tired option in terms of magazine publication and can represent lazy thinking. If powerful aliens saw one of those VH1 shows that were on heavy rotation five years ago that were all lists and dumbassery and strange celebrities they would have exterminated us immediately. I still like some lists, or at least find them useful.

This can be the case even with bad lists. That ESPN list was mega-dumb, I agree, but some of the conversational fall-out was great! Like the old-time sportswriter (one of the LA guys) saying it was ridiculous to have Jordan top the chart when there’s no way he’d ever dunk over Bill Russell, which indicated how much many of the guys who saw him play thought of Russell, or Dick Schaap naming Bo Jackson the best athlete of the 20th Century, which considering the number of athletes he saw up close says a lot of Jackson.

If I remember right, Ted thinks a lot of Mike Peters, and I don’t know why that information would be any less interesting if I saw him listing influences or making a list of great cartoonists or if he said it with no context or structure while we were eating Chinese food.

I don’t know; I guess I just sort of like lists and I don’t think they’re powerful enough or dangerous enough or dumb enough in and of themselves to love or hate. They can be fun, they can be interesting, they can be neither. Let’s hope for more of the doors number one or two. My list isn’t even a list — it’s a resource for hopefully better lists.

#7 A. Jonathan Cox
August/24/2009
@ 9:46 pm

I don’t think they’re meant to be taken that seriously. Also, I find the term “taste fascism” delightful.

#8 Ted Dawson
August/24/2009
@ 9:53 pm

It’s a dumb list. Spooner isn’t even on it. Spooner should be on a dumb list.

#9 Mike Cope
August/25/2009
@ 4:49 am

I know it’s only at issue 4, but I sure hope to see Stay Tooned! magazine added to that “Works On The Subject Of Comics” section.

#10 Henry Clausner
August/25/2009
@ 6:42 am

C’mon Tom Spurgeon needs something to do…

#11 Tom Spurgeon
August/25/2009
@ 6:49 am

This is true. When Guiding Light ends in September, I’m using that time to finish a 1993 list of all comic strip characters sorted by vocation that didn’t get past Andy Capp.

#12 Ted Dawson
August/25/2009
@ 7:47 am

Do you remember “Dark Shadows,” the vampire soap opera? Barnabas Somebody. I think that’s the last time I watched the soaps. That must’ve been before I started school.

Andy Capp had a vocation???

#13 Tom Spurgeon
August/25/2009
@ 2:08 pm

See, that’s what got me. Should he be termed “layabout,” “wife beater,” “unemployed,” or simply be termed “none.” What about “Spokesperson, Hot Fries Inc.”?

There are worlds within worlds when it comes to Andy Capp.

I do remember Dark Shadows, although I was too young to watch it. I was in the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman generation. As I recall, Dark Shadows had a modern version where the vampire was the guy who won the 100 meters for England right after WW1. He would sprint after people and close on them in seconds, biting away. It was a very exhausting show.

#14 Kevin Gleeson
September/23/2009
@ 9:16 am

Ya big meanies!

Sounds like an exciting project and I wanna see that list.

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