Worst of the Best

I finished The Best American Comics 2007 the other night. It’s edited by Chris Ware this year, and overall it’s not a bad collection. There are of course old standbys like Spiegelman, Hernandez, Crumb, Deitch, and Panter. There are some excerpts of worthy longer works from Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), Charles Burns (Black Hole), and Seth (Wimbledon Green). There are some of my fave creators: Ben Katchor, John Porcellino, and of course Kevin Huizenga. There are folks I’d like to read more by: David Heatley, Jonathan Bennett, Gabrielle Bell, Anders Nilsen, and many others. So all in all, it’s a collection I am pleased with.

Sure, there’s things in it I don’t really care for. I’ve kind of had my fill of comics creators just illustrating their dreams. I don’t really dig on six pages of broad notebook doodles all over the page, though I can understand the attempt at experimentation and exploring the form. I generally like Adrian Tomine but let’s face it, “Shortcomings” is a story of a bunch of shallow, miserable people that it’s nearly impossible to give a crap about. I always expect an anthology is going to contain some stuff I’m not crazy about, but that’s what makes them good. I find all kind of data points in them to inform my readings and when I don’t like something, I just move on to the next thing.

But then there’s Sophie Crumb.

I’m sure Sophie Crumb is a lovely, lovely person, but I am begging — nay, pleading — anthology editors to quit putting her stuff in your books. It’s not good. And it’s not bad in the way that bad comics are usually bad, it’s anti-good. It drains good away from other comics. Just knowing there’s a Sophie Crumb work in a book makes my heart die a little, no matter what else is in it.

Why the rancor? Here are two panels from her “contribution” to this anthology:

(click to enlarge)

Yes, she spends her page bitching about how other creators tell stupid boring stories about their lives that nobody gives a shit about. And then announces that her own life, while vastly more “interesting”, “weird”, and “crazy”, allows no time for her to document it so that we can all marvel at her fascinating existence!

What’s more, here’s what she has to say about this piece in the contributors’ notes:

So, see, I have to contribute at least seven pages to Fantagraphics’ Mome four times a year and that’s a lot to me. So, what was it like a year ago, I didn’t have enough pages to send so I looked desperately in my sketchbook for a presentable comic or something but I couldn’t find anything except that comic. I would have spent more time on it knowing it would be seen by someone else than me!!! Thanks!

This is one of the best American comics of the year? Something Sophie Crumb yanked out of her sketchbook to meet a pretty minimal requirement? There are talented people who would love to be featured in Mome and whose work deserves wider exposure, but at least seven pages an issue goes to someone who pisses and moans about what an overwhelming imposition it is?

Sophie! Think of how much more time you’d have for your wild and crazy life if you’d just go live it and quit taking up space in comics anthologies! You’d be doing us both a favor!

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3 Responses to Worst of the Best

  1. Chris Sims says:

    I think you’re being too harsh here, Dave. I mean, she has to draw twenty-eight pages a year! That kind of back-breaking schedule would kill a lesser artist!

  2. Andrew Weiss says:

    My experience has been that if someone has to announce how interesting their life is, it probably isn’t.

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