Funnybook Babylon

January 3, 2009

FBBP #84 – Best of the Year

In the waning hours of 2008 the gang got together to discuss some of their favorite comics of the year.

Our official picks are a little skewed since we were trying to pick out books we hadn’t already discussed to death: sorry Ed Brubaker, Eddie Campbell, David Lapham, Grant Morrison and the rest!

For some reason we tried to keep everyone’s picks secret during the recording, but Chris kept spoiling them so here we go:
Joseph’s Pick: Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart (Transmission X Comics)
Pedro’s Pick: Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner, A.B. Sina, LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (First Second Books)
Chris’s Pick: Ambush Bug: Year None by Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming (DC Comics)
Jamaal’s Pick: Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim & Appollo (First Second Books)

We threw out a bunch of honorable mentions, and those will be left as surprises for the loyal listener. We also discussed the last breaking news story of 2008: DC Comics is treating Justice Society of America, perhaps their most consistent sales success of the past two years, in much the same way as they did the now-canceled Blue Beetle. Maybe all that talk about really wanting to support BB wasn’t just lip service! Maybe that was the best possible job they can do when switching over creative teams.

Check back next week for a look into 2009! We at FBB hope everyone got out of this past year relatively unscathed.


  1. Really enjoyed this one. It’s nice to hear a bit of unsullied enthusiasm from the FBB crew. Don’t get me wrong, your ongoing project to bring a little critical objectivity to comics is worthwhile, and obviously your individual likes and dislikes poke through the cracks, but I’m always a sucker for straight down the line, warm hearted endorsements from critics who I trust and respect. I’ve been meaning to check out Trondheim for aaaaaggggeees…

    Also, you know, there was the Red Hulk thing. Just WOW! What a complete and utter cock (I won’t be at Comicon).

    It’s tricky, though, this blatant misogyny vs the slightly more subtle kind that permeates so many superhero books. To bring an analogy to bear, It’s not entirely dissimilar to that hoary old question, which is worse the Sun or the Daily Mail. The Sun is in your face right wing, tabloid nastiness (although clearly it’s nothing like as viciously Conservative as some popular radio talk shows in the US), the Mail, however, couches it’s hysterical Victorian agenda in pseudo-broadsheet stylings – it has an air of respectability – of authority – about it that the Sun simply doesn’t possess. For my money that makes the Mail infinitely more pernicious. Seems to me that Loeb’s latest bout of stupidity is made possible and permissible by the broader culture of superhero comics, meaning that the little fights, the teasing out of misogyny and sexism from apparently innocuous books, definitely need to be fought.

    Comment by Zom — January 5, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  2. I enjoyed this most recent podcast and listened to it while running. I like when you guys mix high and low culture together and also when it touches on things outside of comics. I think the best conversations are free-flowing, so don’t be afraid to stray from comic talk. I’m also jealous like you wouldn’t believe of your wordpress theme.

    You guys seem pretty smart and opinionated and you often talk about what DC does wrong from a managerial perspective. What do you think they should do differently? I think both of the big two are trapped selling to a smaller and smaller audience and this situation the way it is now is the inevitable result of the direct market and the non-mainstreaming of comics. If they’d emulated Archie instead of getting hard for Baxter paper gloomy stupid-realism in the 80s they’d be in a different spot but I think to some extent it’s like criticizing the captain of the ship for decisions he made after it got torpedoed.

    Also, I’m a former NYC high school Spanish teacher and I gotta be pedantic about pronunciation. “Luz” means “Light” and you pronounce it pretty much like “loose”. “Sin Título” means “untitled” and you say it pretty much like “seen tee-two-low”.

    Comment by p.g. — January 5, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  3. Zom,

    I may have undersold it a bit on the podcast, but the Trondheim book is amazingly good. In my (esteemed) opinion, it would’ve been one of the top contenders for the imaginary Book of the Year title even if we had considered the over-discussed creators noted above. Trondheim (and his collaborators) know exactly when to place a whimsical passage and when to pull at your heartstrings. It’s an epic that never loses sight of the story that it wants to tell, which in the end, is about the power of stories and myths in our lives.

    It was one of the real shocks of the year for me (along with Prince of Persia, actually), because I almost never like stories featuring anthropomorphic characters. Once I see a duck that’s supposed to be a guy, my eyes just glaze over…

    And re: the misogyny comment, I agree that all battles need to be fought, but it’s interesting to be reminded about what blatant misogyny is.

    p.g., thanks for the pronunciation guide.

    Comment by Jamaal Thomas — January 6, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  4. I know what you mean about anthropomorphism – it puts me off too. Perhaps that’s why I’ve yet to lay down an sheckles for Tronheim’s work. Will work to surpress my prejudices!

    I was of the impression that you guys weren’t saying that the small battles don’t need to be fought, it’s just that I thought I’d flesh out the argument a bit for those who don’t think about these things much.

    My worry is that a certain section of audience only sees misogyny when it’s blatant (if they see it at all), and often use examples like the one were discussing to shout down those of us who think of the problem as being much wider. In my experience the argument usually runs thus: “this [Loeb’s Hulk] is real misogyny*, everything else is just whiners whining”. The upshot of this is that blatant examples can be used to deny the broader problem, because the subtler stuff, when juxtaposed with Red Hulk’s woman hating mania, is almost invisible.

    But, yeah, it is weirdly thrilling to see it all out on the table.

    I’ll stop teaching you to suck eggs now.

    *Or homophobia, or racism, etc…

    Comment by Zom — January 7, 2009 @ 6:12 am

  5. This podcast seems to just end abruptly at 1:05:29. Should it just cut off with no outtro music or anything?

    Comment by DensityDuck — January 8, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  6. That David Simon quote rocks. Hard.

    Comment by Zom — January 8, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  7. Hey guys, I only just noticed this podcast and your discussion of Sin Titulo. Thanks very much for the kind words. At the time you recorded I was on a hiatus, but I’m pleased to announce that I’m back in the saddle and working on Sin Titulo weekly, so if you haven’t been recently you should find a few new strips waiting for you there.

    Thanks again for the support and I hope you continue to enjoy the strip!

    Comment by Cameron Stewart — March 3, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

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