Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chad's Challenge part eleven: overlooked books

Chad asked: What is the one comic that you think is absolutely brilliant, but no one else seems to notice and why?

absolutely brilliant in a literary sense or absolutely brilliant in the sense that it's a fantastic comic? Hell, I'll just give you answers for both.

Brilliant in a literary sense would be Jar of Fools. I think it's odd that Adrian Tomine, Seth, Chris Ware, Chester Brown, and Daniel Clowes get all kinds of accolades, and the work of Jason Lutes goes unnoticed. Jar of Fools is such a fantastic bit of fiction; it's got great character development and interaction. The people are all mired in tragedy and trying to fight their way out of it, trapped by the circumstances of their lives, and they deal with it by coming together. It's absolutely heartwrenching, beautifully drawn, and chock full of symbolism.

(and wait, did you mean why do I think it's brilliant or why do I think no one notices it?)

I think no one notices it because, in the end, it's not necessarily ABOUT anything; there somehow manages to be more plot in It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth or the average Tomine short story than there is here. Also, it just came out too long ago. Newer works by these artists, even Lutes, have gotten attention, but this work has slipped through the cracks... and it's just as good as Jimmy Corrigan, yet more accessible. I don't get it.

Brilliant as in "a good comic"... well, I've got two for you. 2 Sisters by Matt Kindt (from Top Shelf) and Night Trippers by Mark Ricketts and Micah Farritor (from Image). Both books use a lot of flashbacks to flesh out a rich history, both have a ton of cool genre action (spies and pirates in 2 Sisters, vampires in Night Trippers), and both have really great character-oriented drama in them as well.

And they don't seem to get noticed because... a lot of shit comes out each month that is good and some of it just gets lost in the shuffle. These guys don't have the biggest names, so their work didn't get as much hype. It's sad but true that the nature of hype in most forms of literature/entertainment is that the things that were probably already going to do well STILL get the majority of the hype/advertising.

so I'm taking your question then, putting a bit of spin on it, and sending it back to you. What is a book that you think could have been saved from the chopping block had the hype machine gotten behind it, if only it had gotten a bit more notice?