As is our annual custom over the festive season, we’re counting down our ten favourite comics of 2012 over the last ten days of the year. The first seven entries are in no particular order, after which we’ll each post an individually-chosen “Runner-Up” and finally our unanimous #1 of the year.
It just so happens that the first book we’ve decided to talk about as part of our “year end best” list is one that we’ve already talked about – just mere days ago, we recorded the latest episode of our podcast, in which we featured Marc Ellerby’s Ellerbisms. Just in case it wasn’t clear in that ‘cast how much we both liked it, however, here we are declaring it one of our top ten comics of the year. Blimey.
We’ve already gone into the whys and wherefores in some detail in the podcast, so if you’ve listened to that – or if you’re planning on doing – I’m wary of retreading too much of the same ground. But it’s worth reiterating that here was a comic that, aside from representing a five-year-long labour of love, aside from containing strips that spanned a range from bravely raw and emotional to simply and joyously funny, and aside from showing Ellerby’s evolution from an interesting indie webcomic talent into to the surely-on-the-verge-of-stardom figure he is now, was a proper celebration of the comic as an object.
Given that Great Beast are a small, startup publisher, in which Ellerby and Adam Cadwell have already invested huge amounts of time and money, it would have been forgiveable if their first major collections were serviceable, unobtrusively decent books that performed the bare minimum job of presenting their strips in an accessible fashion. Instead, Ellerbisms embraces the hard-copy form – with no small irony considering the strip’s origin as a webcomic – with its hefty weight, paper stock, print quality, gorgeously-coloured cover and (yes, alright) those rounded corners.
Of course, simply making a nice object isn’t enough alone to make a comic one of the best of the year (although we note that Chris Ware’s Building Stories occupies a similar position in many other outlets’ lists – not ours, though, as neither of us have read it yet. SORRY). When all’s said and done, Ellerbisms is just a great read. It’s touching, often hilarious, expertly crafted (let’s not understate the quality of work involved in shaping a largely unconnected web strip into a coherent narrative) and contains a number of references to Weezer. How could we not love it to pieces?