'100 Greatest Graphic Novels' - Book Review

100 Greatest Graphic Novels: The Good, The Bad, The Epic
by Katrina Hill and Alex Langley

I borrowed this from the library, expecting to be disappointed - but instead came away fairly impressed. People love to make lists, and the Internet is utterly littered with them - everybody has an opinion that they know you need to know (says the man writing the blog). The question is ... did the tree die in vain? And the happy answer here is "no."

They include almost all the staples: The Watchmen, Persepolis, Maus, Sandman, V for Vendetta, and several other very famous titles. I can name three I think should have been in there but weren't, two of which I get: The Return of Mr. X by Dean Motter is kind of Canadian content, and hasn't achieved the fame it deserves. The second is The Surrogates, a very good graphic novel that Hollywood destroyed when it turned it into a movie. But the last, and the one I really don't understand, is Fables. Yes, it's devolved into a long-running unimpressive money-maker, but the first three graphic novels (Legends in Exile, Animal Farm, Storybook Love - possibly more) are some of the most brilliant comics ever put on paper.

They introduced me to several titles I really want to look at, including "We3" (also highly recommended by a friend of mine) and "In Real Life (IRL)" (I didn't know Cory Doctorow authored a graphic novel!). They include good descriptions both of the content and the reasons they think each title deserves inclusion on the list. And they use their glossy paper to good effect, showing not only the cover, but usually a page of artwork as well. This really makes it a good way to find your next read - or your next several reads.

They also included Scott Pilgrim, and won back some of the respect they'd lost on Fables by including Understanding Comics as their very last title. It's not strictly a "graphic novel" - it's a work of non-fiction - but it's an absolutely brilliant work about comics and graphic novels that should be read (NOW, and probably at least TWICE) by every fan of the genre.

So ... not a perfect list, but a damn good one: well researched and well presented.