cover image An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories, Volume 2

An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories, Volume 2

Ivan Brunetti, Editor . Yale Univ. $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-300-1

Brunetti's second collection of his favorite cartoonists' work is even better than the first—more far-ranging, more personal and eccentric. Clearly a tour of one person's singular tastes, it's arranged in a stream-of-consciousness “oh, and you have to see this one” sort of way: work by 80-odd cartoonists, mostly from the past few decades, but also incorporating some early-1900s comic strips, a 1940s-vintage Fletcher Hanks story and several circa 1950 Harvey Kurtzman pieces as well as a smattering of previously unpublished gems. It's possible to quibble with some of Brunetti's aesthetic biases (or with his clustering most of the book's women cartoonists together in a block), but not with his selections. Nearly every piece is a killer, from big names like Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes as well as lesser-knowns like Laura Park and Matthew Thurber, and there's an enormous range of expressive styles and narrative approaches on display. The effect is something like Jerome Rothenberg's poetry anthologies: an investigation of unsettling, mind-opening places where only comics can travel. It's a pleasure to read straight through, and all but the most experienced art-comics enthusiasts are likely to discover a few new favorites. (Oct.)