Thursday, January 26, 2017

The 2011 International Best Comics Poll--Participant Lists Q-Se

The International Best Comics Poll was first published at The Hooded Utilitarian in August of 2011. The material remains available at that site. I conceived, organized, and edited the project. I'm cross-publishing my posts and the participant lists here for personal archival purposes. Links to essay contributions by other writers will go to saved versions of The Hooded Utilitarian pages on

The following lists were submitted in response to the question, "What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant?" All lists have been edited for consistency, clarity, and to fix minor copy errors. Unranked lists are alphabetized by title. In instances where the vote varies somewhat with the Top 115 entry the vote was counted towards, an explanation of how the vote was counted appears below it.

In the case of divided votes, only works fitting the description that received multiple votes on their own received the benefit. For example, in Jessica Abel's list, she voted for The Post-Superhero comics of David Mazzucchelli. That vote was divided evenly between Asterios Polyp and Paul Auster's City of Glass because they fit that description and received multiple votes on their own. It was not in any way applied to the The Rubber Blanket Stories because that material did not receive multiple votes from other participants.

Andrea Queirolo

Alack Sinner, José Muñoz & Carlos Sampayo
Black Hole, Charles Burns
Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, Will Eisner
Daredevil: Born Again, Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
David Boring, Daniel Clowes
Love and Rockets, Gilbert Hernandez & Jaime Hernandez
Counted as a 0.5 vote each for The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez, and The Palomar Stories, Gilbert Hernandez
Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz
Tintin, Hergé
• The Uncle $crooge Stories, Carl Barks

Casey Rae-Hunter
Contributing writer,; Deputy Director, Future of Music Coalition

The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Bryan Talbot
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
• The Hellblazer Stories, Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon, William Simpson, et al.
The Invisibles, Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell, Phil Jiminez, et al.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware
Preacher, Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
The Sandman, Neil Gaiman, et al.
• The Swamp Thing Stories, Alan Moore & Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, et al.

Ted Rall
Pulitzer-nominated editorial cartoonist; author, To Afghanistan and Back, 2024, Silk Road to Ruin

The Far Side, Gary Larson
Feiffer and Sick, Sick, Sick, Jules Feiffer
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
• The Lascaux Cave Drawings
Life in Hell, Matt Groening
Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz
• The Pompeii Graffiti
• The Post-War Editorial Cartoons, Bill Mauldin
Tom the Dancing Bug, Ruben Bolling
Weird War Tales, Joe Orlando, et al., editors


The cave cartoons at Lascaux, France, because cartoons invented Art.

The obscene political cartoons about Roman officials found on walls at Pompeii, the oldest known editorial cartoons and bawdier than anything a newspaper would run today.

The postwar editorial cartoons of Bill Mauldin, roughly 1945-1955 (many are collected in the book Back Home), which are constructed using modern tropes and bravely call out American cultural hypocrisy.

Peanuts by Charles Schulz, the first truly modern comic strip, and consistently entertaining and philosophical.

The Far Side by Gary Larson, often forgotten today but still the most consistently funny comic I've read.

Jules Feiffer's cartoons from 1955 to 1975-ish, which established the genre of alternative newspaper comics.

Life in Hell by Matt Groening, particularly the 1980s era that opened the field to new artistic approaches.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, the first graphic novel to fulfill the form's potential as literature.

Weird War Tales comics of the 1970s not because they're objectively great. I just love them. So trashy, so fun. I wish there was a reissue.

Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling, the best syndicated cartoon in the U.S.

Honorable Mentions: Stephanie McMillan's experimental environmental comics, Matt Bors' editorial cartoons and graphic novel(s), Tom Tomorrow, Ward Sutton's The Onion satires.

Martin Rebas
Cartoonist, Sömnlös [Sleepless], Ledsen

The Arrival, Shaun Tan
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley
Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Daredevil: Born Again, Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
• The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez
The Ultimates 2, Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch
Uzumaki, Junji Ito
Vakuumneger [Black Vacuum], Max Andersson
Yotsuba&!, Kiyohiko Azuma


I went for a list of "coup de coeur" favorites; comics that I love, rather than trying for an objective list of best or most significant works (which would have looked very different). I wasn't sure if the last vote should go to the Donald Duck comics of Carl Barks, or Krigstein's “Master Race,” so instead, I threw Mark Millar's Ultimates 2 in there, because I think it's better than it gets credit for, and I had a hunch that Millar wouldn't get many votes.

As someone who reads comics largely for the artwork and visual storytelling, there were lots of artists I wish I could have mentioned in the list — e.g. Dave McKean, Blutch, Mike Mignola, Moebius, Man Arenas — but none of their stories (that I have read) have really grabbed me. And while I actually prefer non-genre fiction and slice-of-life stories, I haven't been able to find much of that in comics. Works like Asterios Polyp, From Hell, Cages, Blankets, Cinq mille kilomètres par seconde [5000 Kilometers Per Second], and Heute ist der letzte Tag vom Rest deines Lebens [Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life] get pretty close to what I'm looking for, but there's something missing.

So far, Locas is the best I've found. I also had to include Yotsuba&! on my list — while its slice-of-life stories tend to the cute and innocent side, you have to respect a comic that spends a chapter showing a child trying to make pancakes, and makes it riveting.

Charles Reece
Contributing writer,

The ACME Novelty Library, Chris Ware
Counted as a vote for “Building Stories,” Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Quimby the Mouse, and Rusty Brown, including “Lint”
Black Hole, Charles Burns
David Boring, Daniel Clowes
Flex Mentallo, Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Ici même [You Are There], Jean-Claude Forest & Jacques Tardi
• The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez
Shôjo Tsubaki [Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show]. Suehiro Maruo
Uzumaki, Junji Ito
Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Hans Rickheit
Cartoonist, The Squirrel Machine, Ectopiary

• (1.) JIM, Jim Woodring
Counted as a 0.5 vote each for The Book of Jim and The Frank Stories
• (2.) No Such Things as Monsters, Stephen Holman
• (3.) The Adventures of Mr. Pyridine, Mahendra Singh
• (4.) Robot Comics, Bob Burden
• (5.) Cerebus, Dave Sim
• (6.) The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
• (7.) From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
• (8.) Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay
• (9.) Moonshadow, J. M. DeMatteis & Jon J Muth
• (10.) I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, Fletcher Hanks

Oliver Ristau
Contributing writer, Der Tagespiegel, Der Freitag

Flash Gordon, Alex Raymond
Fuochi [Fires], Lorenzo Mattotti
In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman
Krazy Kat, George Herriman
• “Lost in the Andes,” starring Donald Duck Carl Barks
Counted as a vote for The Donald Duck and Uncle $crooge Stories, Carl Barks
• “Master Race,” Bernard Krigstein & Al Feldstein
•”More Than Human,” Doug Moench & Alex Niño
• “The Story of Gerhard Shnobble,” Will Eisner
Counted as a vote for The Spirit, Will Eisner
Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud
V for Vendetta, Alan Moore & David Lloyd


Krazy Kat, George Herriman - Admired by one no less than Picasso and declared as America´s only contribution to art, this newspaper strip shows that the medium was mature long before it grew up. Sounds contradictory, but at least that’s the whole essence of Krazy Kat. A bizarre love triangle with anarchistic humor and a complete refusal to mass appeal that it could only be continued publishing through the coverage of a patron. And if it even had that, it must have been art. The scribbly but well composed lines of Herriman fit the crazy genius of his protagonists as well as the melancholic moments in their relationships.

Flash Gordon, Alex Raymond - From three of the great masters in the field of newspaper-adventure-strips, the vote goes for Alex Raymond. Although Hal Foster impresses much by his clean and perfect style on Prince Valiant, and Burne Hogarth was even called at times a Michelangelo of comics and featured a savage style which fit his Tarzan adventures well. Flash Gordon maybe a pulpy and trivial work with racist undertones, but purity and mastership in style were rarely achieved ever again. Creating fantastic worlds in breathtaking views that almost come to life by his use of background lines take the reader hostage on his escape trip.

"The Story of Gerhard Shnobble," Will Eisner - His works since A Contract With God brought the medium back to a higher level again, after it seemed to have lost its spirit for a while. But speaking of "spirit," his use of cinematic views, lettering, and creating front-page arrangements that are copied until today plus the heartwarming tone in this story, which combines humor and tragic to form a dramatic masterpiece was state of the art at that time.

"Master Race," Bernie Krigstein - His stylish use of screen-splitting and his lines reminiscent of expressionism make one of the darkest chapters in human history come horribly to life and puts the reader in a dizzy mode. The twisted shock ending defines also the end of the EC era of storytelling for using it in such a heavyweight theme in a medium that once seduced the innocent. It remains therefore also an ironic comment on the seduction of a whole country by his (voted) leader.

"Lost in the Andes," Carl Barks - One of Disney´s most gifted storytellers and artist in one person (next to Romano Scarpa and Don Rosa) shows perfectly the elemental indegredients for the often used recipe of the Duck-Tale about an adventure in a foreign land. The humorous, fast-paced plot (where even square bubbles can be made by junior woodchucks if they´re only clever enough) never slows down. Also the endless gags about the square eggs show a sense of comedy and timing that is missed painfully in countless stories by other artists that came later on.

"More Than Human," Doug Moench & Alex Niño - To honor an artist´s artist, recommended by the likes of Chaykin and Steranko, here’s a piece of illustrated fiction adapted by Alex Niño and Doug Moench. Moench’s runs on "darker" DC heroes like Batman or Deadman with Kelley Jones showed his sometimes excellent writing abilities later on. This classic Theodore Sturgeon novel is unequalled in the science-fiction of the Fifties for its depth and declaration of humanity. Niño shows a sense for visuals that look almost organic. (Until today and most recently in 2010’s "Dead Ahead" by avoiding conventional arrangements his sketches seem to flow over the pages.) The sheer beauty in the illustrations of this parable about equality adds a remaining value to Sturgeon´s timeless classic.

V For Vendetta, Alan Moore & David Lloyd - Before the essence of Moore's manner in intelligent graphic storytelling came to life in landmark works like Watchmen and From Hell there was this work. The original black-and-white magazine version that began running in 1982 shows that Moore’s plotting and the gorgeous artwork of David Lloyd complement one another. Lloyd’s drawings, which put black silhouettes before white backgrounds and vice versa, set the tone for an unbound gruesome political lesson. After finishing the book readers may ask themselves if the end justifies the means. And recognize how real this dystopian tale can become in reality anytime, anywhere...

In The Shadow Of No Towers, Art Spiegelman - Though Maus was groundbreaking and even won the Pulitzer Prize, this one is, by using one of the greatest traditions in American comic history, the newspaper strip, in the truest meaning of the word, a great work of art. The oversized format stands symbolic for the subject matter.

Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud - Using the medium itself for explaining it is a very clever and consistent move that even outdoes Eisner’s Comics And Sequential Art, where this concept was only done halfheartedly. It attracts even readers who are outside the comics field and will remain as a standard textbook for many years to come.

Fires, Lorenzo Mattotti - One of the few artists who tells stories not only by words and pictures, but rather through his use of colours and shapes in an almost cubist way where the shape defines the content. Fires remains as an orgiastic trip which sometimes burns your eyes and is art without crying this fact out loud and provoking it on every second page.

...and there still are McCay, Feininger, Schulz, Gaiman, Hugo Pratt, Toth, Kurtzman, Druillet, Moebius, Bilal and legions of others like Kohlsaat, Yelin and Schultheiss missing. But that´s the deal, right?

Chris Roberson
Scriptwriter, iZombie, Cinderella: From Fabletown

Astro City, Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson, with Alex Ross, et al.
Daytripper, Fabio Moon & Gabriel Bá
DC: The New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke
Fables, Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, et al.
Finder, Carla Speed McNeil
Hicksville, Dylan Horrocks
Mage: The Hero Discovered and Mage: The Hero Defined [Mage II], Matt Wagner
Planetary, Warren Ellis & John Cassaday, et al.
Seven Soldiers of Victory, Grant Morrison, et al.
Tom Strong, Alan Moore & Chris Sprouse, et al.

John L. Roberson
Cartoonist, Vitriol, Vladrushka

• The Alec Stories, Eddie Campbell
American Flagg!, Howard Chaykin
Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard
• The Doom Patrol Stories, Grant Morrison & Richard Case, with Scott Hanna, et al.
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Histoire d’O [The Story of O.], Guido Crepax
Howard the Duck, Steve Gerber & Val Mayerik, Gene Colan, et al.
• The MAD Stories, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder and Wallace Wood
Shock SuspenStories, Al Feldstein, editor
Tomb of Dracula, Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan

Sean Michael Robinson
Contributing writer,, The Comics Journal

L’Ascension du haut-mal [Epileptic], David B.
The Cartoon History of the Universe, Larry Gonick
Cerebus, Dave Sim & Gerhard
La Femme 100 têtes [Hundred Headless Woman], Max Ernst
Flower of Life, Fumi Yoshinaga
Gasoline Alley, Frank King
Hi no Tori [Phoenix], Osamu Tezuka
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Guy Delisle
• The Short Stories, Bernard Krigstein
Counted as a vote for “Master Race” and Other EC Comics Stories, Bernard Krigstein, et al.
Touch, Mitsuru Adachi


Well, this was really painful for me, but here you go...

The more the field opens up, the more good material that is available, the more a list like this fractures, splintering into an incoherent mess. At least, that was my experience! Some of these I've included because I love them, some because they point the way to other possible futures of comic making.

James Romberger
For James Romberger’s biography, please consult Wikipedia.

• (1.) “The Glory Boat” (The New Gods #6), Jack Kirby, with Mike Royer
Counted as a vote for The Fourth World Stories, Jack Kirby, with Mike Royer, et al.
• (2.) “F-86 Sabre-Jet” (from Frontline Combat #12), Harvey Kurtzman & Alex Toth
Counted as a vote for The EC Comics War Stories, Harvey Kurtzman & John Severin, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al.
• (3.) “At the Stroke of Midnight” (from Tower of Shadows #1), Jim Steranko
Counted as a vote for TheNick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Other Marvel Comics Stories, Jim Steranko, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
• (4.) “CidOpey,” (from Up from the Deep #1), Richard Corben
• (5.) “Harzak” (Episode #4; from Metal Hurlant #5), Jean “Moebius” Giraud
Counted as a vote for The Arzach Stories, Jean “Moebius” Giraud
• (6.) Jimbo [1982 RAW One-Shot], Gary Panter
• (7.) “Spring 1982” (from Love and Rockets #31), Jaime Hernandez
Counted as a vote for The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez
• (8.) “Quimby the Mouse” (from The ACME Novelty Library #2), Chris Ware
• (9.) The Death Ray (Eightball #23), Daniel Clowes
• (10.) Storeyville, Frank Santoro

Joshua Rosen
Cartoonist, Edwitch

Aporo no Uta [Apollo’s Song], Osamu Tezuka
Black Hole, Charles Burns
Cul de Sac, Richard Thompson
Dirty Plotte, Julie Doucet
Goodbye, Chunky Rice, Craig Thompson
Gus [Gus and His Gang], Christophe Blain
I Never Liked You, Chester Brown
Love and Rockets, Gilbert Hernandez & Jaime Hernandez
Counted as a vote for The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez, and The Palomar Stories, Gilbert Hernandez
Panorama of Hell, Hideshi Hino
Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz


Jesus was it hard pairing this list down to just ten books. At times it sort of felt like murdering children.

Marcel Ruijters
Cartoonist, Troglodytes

Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec: Momies en folie [The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: A Dusting of Mummies], Jacques Tardi
Box Office Poison, Alex Robinson
The Bradleys, Peter Bagge
Cocco Bill, Benito Jacovitti
The Death of Speedy, Jaime Hernandez
Counted as a vote for The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez
Ed the Happy Clown, Chester Brown
Ibicus, Pascal Rabaté
The Laughing Vampire, Suehiro Maruo
Polonius, Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Picaret
Trailer Trash, Roy Tompkins


[About Trailer Trash] There was a collection of Harvey the Hillbilly Bastard in preparation at one time, but that sadly never happened.

Johnny Ryan
Cartoonist, Angry Youth Comix

Berserk, Kentaro Miura
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Hate!, Peter Bagge
Counted as a vote for The Bradleys and the Buddy Bradley Stories, Peter Bagge
Hyôryû Kyôshitsu [The Drifting Classroom], Kazuo Umezo
MAD, UGOI [The Usual Gang of Idiots]
Counted as a vote for MAD #1-27, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al., The MAD Cartoons, Sergio Aragonés, and The MAD Stories, Mort Drucker
Nancy, Ernie Bushmiller

Giorgio Salati
Scriptwriter, Disney Italia

Astérix le gaulois [Astérix the Gaul], René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo
Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Dylan Dog, Tiziano Sclavi
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman
• The Mickey Mouse Newspaper Strips, Floyd Gottfredson & Bill Walsh
• The Mickey Mouse Stories, Tito Faraci
Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz
Sin City, Frank Miller
• The Uncle $crooge Stories, Carl Barks
Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons


As you can guess, I had to cut out a big number of my favourite comics, as for example I love almost all of Alan Moore's stories like V for Vendetta, The Killing Joke, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Top 10... And I also love The Dark Knight Returns, 300, and Ronin by Frank Miller, but I wanted to report only once the name of an author, so I didn't have to delete some authors just to leave room for more comics by the same author.

M. Sauter
Cartoonist, Pints and Panels

Achewood, Chris Onstad
Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo
Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli
Berlin: City of Stones, Jason Lutes
Blankets, Craig Thompson
Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw
Monsters, Ken Dahl
The New Yorker Cartoons, Peter Arno
Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
• Works, David Shrigley

Kevin Scalzo
Cartoonist, Aw, Nuts!, Sugar Booger

Dick Tracy, Chester Gould
Eightball, Daniel Clowes
Counted as a 0.2 vote each for Caricature: Nine Stories, David Boring, The Death Ray, Ghost World, and Ice Haven
The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
Gasoline Alley, Frank King
Hey, Look!, Harvey Kurtzman
• The MAD Stories, Will Elder
Counted as a vote for MAD #1-27, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al.
Nancy, Ernie Bushmiller
The New Yorker Cartoons, Charles Addams
Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz
• The Weirdo Stories, R. Crumb

Val Semeiks
Illustrator, Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics

• (1.) Prince Valiant, Hal Foster
• (2.) The Uncle $crooge Stories, Carl Barks
• (3.) The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al.
• (4.) Lieutenant Blueberry, Jean-Michel Charlier & Jean “Moebius” Giraud
• (5.) Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
• (6.) The Conan the Barbarian Stories, Roy Thomas & Barry Windsor-Smith, with Sal Buscema, et al.
• (7.) The X-Men Stories, Chris Claremont & John Byrne, with Terry Austin
• (8.) 100 Bullets, Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
• (9.) The Far Side, Gary Larson
• (10.) Fables, Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, et al.

Matt Seneca
Cartoonist, Affected; contributing writer, The Comics Journal

Driven by Lemons, Josh Cotter
• The EC Comics Stories, Bernard Krigstein
Counted as a vote for “Master Race” and Other EC Comics Stories, Bernard Krigstein, et al.
Flex Mentallo, Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Tutto riconomicò con un’estate Indiana [Indian Summer], Hugo Pratt & Milo Manara
• The Jimbo Stories, Gary Panter
Krazy Kat, George Herriman
Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay
Nipper, Doug Wright
Terry and the Pirates, Milton Caniff
Valentina, Guido Crepax


Matt Seneca writes about his list here.


The 2011 International Best Comics Poll Index

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