by Jas Faulkner
I have never been a fan of “best of” lists. It’s not the subjectivity that gets me. They always seemed so narrow. The old sci-fi list books and the current crop of internet sites that are completely devoted to lists seemed blinkered somehow, whether it was the inclusion or exclusion of certain works or publishers or authors or in the case of the internet lists, the fact that nothing significant seems to have happened before 1995. The easy assumption would be laziness on the part of the compilers, but I had to wonder if there was more to it than that.
Last week I got my answer. An industry site I write for asked sent a request for lists of top fifty graphic novels. My first response was, “Only fifty?” It took me about thirty minutes to come up with a list of fifty graphic novels that I would recommend as the best of medium. I started writing brief entries for each one, explaining why I included them. Happy that I was so far ahead of the October 30th deadline, I took a break and started working on some other projects.
A couple of days later, I bumped into a colleague online and asked her how was her list coming along.
“Not gonna do it,” she said. She didn’t care if it entailed getting a mention in a reference book, it just wasn’t worth it. “You are aware that every book on your list has to be in print.”
At that, I nodded and yuh-hunhed. My list was full of titles that had been shortlisted for and sometimes awarded Nebulas, Ignatzes, Inkpots, Kirbys, Eisners, and so on. It couldn’t be that hard. Then I started looking up each title. My list of fifty was reduced to a list of nineteen. The thing is, I was not picking obscure collections or rarities. Many of these books were critics’ favorites that made annual best of lists when they were first released.