Best of 2007

Although it's already over a week into '08, it's not too late to go over some of the best indie books that saw light in '07. Of course, this is all strictly my humble opinion so take it for what its worth. But seeing that this is my first "best of" list, I decided to add an extra layer and pick a favorite in six different categories: anthology, horror/thriller, artbook, humor, drama, and best overall.

In the best anthology category, Postcards: Stories That Never Happened gets my vote. Edited by Jason Rodriquez, Postcards is a collection of stories inspired by actual vintage postcards gathered from flea markets, antique shops, and second-hand stores. The postcards may be limited a single paragraph of text, but the creators that have contributed to this anthology have allowed their imaginations to fill in the blanks and tell the “true stories that never happened”.

In his first graphic novel, Joshua Simmons made one hell of an impression in the horror/thriller genre with House. The book centers on a trio of teenagers (one guy and two girls) who stumble upon an abandoned, dilapidated mansion in the middle of a forest. After walking through a labyrinth of corridors, the trio eventually find themselves in a shocking journey through the house. Simmons forgoes words entirely, communicating the story through the visuals by way of scratchy linework and remarkable composition.

When it comes to artbooks/bar room brawl weapons, Scott Morse's Scrap Mettle had no equal in 2007. Scrap Mettle is best described as a stocky, monster coffee table book filled with scraps of “fast art” Morse has produced in his everyday creative process. Beautiful, varied artwork from the artist’s personal Holy Trinity of mediums: inks, watercolors, and cell vinyl.

Writer Rick Spears (Teenagers From Mars, Pirates of Coney Island) and artist Chuck B.B created the perfect Adult Swim show in print with their 160-page masterpiece, Black Metal. Metal-loving twins Sam and Shawn discover their dark legacy in the bowels of hell in a tale that is one part humor, one part adventure, and all rock.

The Damned: Three Days Dead easily won best dramatic work due to the amazing job by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt. The story follows Eddie, a hothead gangland enforcer that happens to be caught in the middle of a mob war. However, instead of featuring Corleone versus Sollozzo, Bunn and Hurtt’s version of mafia hostilities involves demons, ghosts, and devilish half-breeds. And while Eddie is most definitely a tough guy, he also happens to be a dead man. That’s dead, as in, not alive. That doesn’t prevent demon boss Big Al from bringing Eddie back from the grave to finish a very important job. If it wasn’t enough that he can’t die, Eddie has to uncover a conspiracy of deceit and murder that runs through all the families and straight to hell. The first issue of the sequel, The Damned: Prodigal Sons, is being released by Oni Press this March so make sure to check out the first book ASAP.

And finally, the winner of my best overall book of 2007 award goes to Matt Kindt's Super Spy. Composed of World War II espionage short stories, Super Spy is the perfect book to leave on your coffee table when your non-comic reading friends come over. The stories may be brief but they draw you in with superb characterization and expressive artwork. Oen of the few, fine examples of picture perfect graphic storytelling.

Hope you enjoyed these picks 'cause I sure did. Whether you agree or disagree, the important thing to remember is to spread the indie/alternative comics love. If it spoke to you or you know the book would appeal to your friend/co-worker/family member/cell mate, don't be afraid to recommend one of those crazy funny books with pictures and words. Sure, sophistication has led us to calling them graphic novels but in the end, whether they're comics or OGNs, all that matters is: Did you enjoy it? So if you did, let others know. They'll thank you for it...and so will the talented creators that shed blood and tears to tell their tales.


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