edited by Neil Gaiman This time around, editor Gaiman provides a selection that is heavy on excerpts of graphic novels rather than self-contained works. His picks include, as one would expect, the most celebrated works of last year: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis and David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp.; but there are some surprises, as well. In fact, the book starts out with the biggest surprise of all: and actual Marvel Comic! But wait – hold on, it's not what you think. It's an excerpt from the seventh issue of the Omega the Unknown limited series that was later collected in book form. Written by Jonathan Lethem, this excerpt starts off with the sequence that was drawn by none other than Gary Panter. One can readily see how irresistible this choice was: how could you not include what may very well be the only Marvel comic ever drawn by Gary Panter? Other excerpted works include: the completely necessary Acme Novelty #19; the off-the-radar-for-many, Citizen Rex by Gilbert and Mario Hernandez; Lilli Carré's The Lagoon (Carré was also selected for this year's Best Non-Required Reading); Josh Neufeld's docu-comic, A.D: New Orleans after the Deluge; Carol Tyler's ongoing masterpiece, You'll Never Know; Derf's Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, which we've been trying to convince people to read since it came out; and several others. Every reader of this volume is sure to pursue the purchase – or at least perusal – of at least one of these works in its entirety, and there are bound to be a few who will want them all. In addition to these excerpts from these graphic novels, there are plenty of short pieces by the like of Ben Katchor, James Kochalka, Peter Kuper, Jesse Reklaw and Gabrielle Bell. Worthy of singling out, is the excellent 14-page "Trinity," by the sorely under-appreciated Michael Cho (who also executed this volume's cover), that originally appeared in the relatively obscure Taddle Creek, and so ran the risk of being missed by most, and so is perhaps Gaiman's single best call. And, finally, we can't go without mentioning that we are happy that a selection from Copacetic favorite, Capacity, by Theo Ellsworth, is also on hand in this volume, and, not only that, but Ellsworth was commissioned to produce original endpapers for this volume as well, providing a visual treat to its opening and closing. This series continues to be a great way to introduce the uninitiated to the wide world of comics, and makes an excellent gift.
Born in South Korea, but immigrating to Canada at age six and a current resident of Toronto, Michael Cho is a widely respected illustrator who moonlights as a comics creator. Shoplifter is his first graphic novel, and an impressive debut it is. In its pages, Cho manages the feat of creating an elegant synthesis of contemporary Canadian cartooning. Combining the deftly dynamic page layouts of Darwyn Cooke, J.Bone & Jay Stephens, the reflective ennui of Seth, the urban introversion of Chester Brown and the urbane sophistication of Ethan Rilly into finely nuanced work of life in that part of North America that continues to swear allegiance to the Queen (which, of course, is not all that much different from life in that part which doesn't). The story told in Shoplifter is that of one young woman's lonely struggle to find her place in world. The tale is solidly constructed, well balanced, filled with strongly delineated characters and likely to please the readers it is intended for. Comparisons with the work of Adrian Tomine are, perhaps, inevitable. While there are certainly numerous points of contact between the two artists' work, Cho's protagonist, Corrina Park, is cut from a different cloth than Tomine's superficially similar young working women, demonstrating a greater vulnerability, naivete and sincerity, in contrast to Tomine's generally more jaded and sarcastic heroines, and Shoplifter ends on a more upbeat and hopeful note than the typical Tomine narrative. There is one important quality shared by Cho and Tomine: they are both top notch cartoonists who produce excellent work. Now being offered at a special "check it out" price, for a limited time.