The Comics Journal's top 100 comics of the century - S and D

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I just found this, from 1999:

1) Krazy Kat by George Herriman
2) Peanuts by Charles Schulz
3) Pogo by Walt Kelly
4) Maus by Art Spiegelman
5) Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay
6) Feiffer by Jules Feiffer
7) Donald Duck by Carl Barks
8) Mad by Harvey Kurtzman & various
9) Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Greene
10) The Weirdo stories of R. Crumb
11) Thimble Theatre by E.C. Segar
12) EC's "New Trend" war comics by Harvey Kurtzman & various
13) Wigwam Bam by Jaime Hernandez
14) Blood of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez
15) The Spirit by Will Eisner
16) RAW, edited by Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly
17) The ACME Novelty Library by Chris Ware
18) Polly & Her Pals by Cliff Sterret
19) The sketchbooks of R. Crumb
20) Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks
21) The New Yorker cartoons of Peter Arno
22) The Death of Speedy Ortíz by Jaime Hernandez
23) Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff
24) Flies on the Ceiling by Jaime Hernandez
25) Wash Tubbs by Roy Crane
26) The Jungle Book by Harvey Kurtzman
27) Palestine by Joe Sacco
28) The "Mishkin" saga by Kim Deitch
29) Gasoline Alley by Frank King
30) Fantastic Four by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee
31) Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez
32) Plastic Man by Jack Cole
33) Dick Tracy by Chester Gould
34) The theatrical caricatures of Al Hirschfeld
35) The Amazing Spider-Man by Steve Ditko & Stan Lee
36) Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
37) Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau
38) The autobiographical comics from Yummy Fur by Chester Brown
39) The editorial cartoons of Pat Oliphant
40) The Kinder-Kids by Lyonel Feininger
41) From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
42) Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
43) Amphigorey by Edward Gorey
44) Idiots Abroad by Gilbert Shelton & Paul Mavrides
45) Paul Auster's City of Glass by Paul Karasik & David Mazzacchelli
46) Cages by Dave McKean
47) The "Buddy Bradley" saga by Peter Bagge
48) The cartoons of James Thurber
49) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
50) Tantrum by Jules Feiffer
51) The "Alec" stories of Eddie Campbell
52) It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth
53) The editorial cartoons of Herblock
54) EC's "New Trend" horror comics by Al Feldstein & various
55) The "Frank" stories by Jim Woodring
56) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer by Ben Katchor
57) A Contract with God by Will Eisner
58) The New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams
59) Little Lulu by John Stanley
60) Alley Oop by V.T. Hamlin
61) American Splendor #1-10 by Harvey Pekar with various
62) Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray
63) Hey Look! by Harvey Kurtzman
64) Goodman Beaver by Harvey Kurtzman & Bill Elder
65) Bringing Up Father by George McManus
66) Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith
67) The Passport by Saul Steinberg
68) Barnaby by Crockett Johnson
69) God's Man by Lynd Ward
70) Jimbo by Gary Panter
71) The Book of Jim by Jim Woodring
72) The short stories in Rubber Blanket by David Mazzucchelli
73) The Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick
74) Ernie Pook's Comeek by Lynda Barry
75) Black Hole by Charles Burns
76) "Master Race" by Bernie Krigstein & Al Feldstein
77) Li'l Abner by Al Capp
78) Sugar and Spike by Sheldon Mayer
79) Captain Marvel by C.C. Beck
80) Zap by Crumb & various
81) The "Lily" Stories by Debbie Drechsler
82) "Caricature" by Daniel Clowes
83) V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
84) Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker
85) The "Willie and Joe" cartoons of Bill Mauldin
86) Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
87) The New Yorker cartoons of George Price
88) Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" comics
89) The autobiographical comics of Spain Rodriguez
90) Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
91) Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
92) "Pictopia" by Alan Moore & Don Simpson
93) Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham
94) Space Hawk by Basil Wolverton
95) Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson
96) Dirty Plotte by Julie Doucet
97) The Hannah Story by Carol Tyler
98) Barney Google by Billy De Beck
99) The Bungle Family by George Tuthill
100) Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 13 April 2003 08:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Calvin and Hobbes at number 36? Moderator -- remove this rubbish!

jewelly (jewelly), Sunday, 13 April 2003 08:07 (twenty-one years ago) link

I'm baffled by the inclusion of Crumb's sketchbooks. I mean, he's great and all, but...sketchbooks? At 19?

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 13 April 2003 08:22 (twenty-one years ago) link

No James Kochalka?!?

jel -- (jel), Sunday, 13 April 2003 09:08 (twenty-one years ago) link

Hirschfeld at 34 is far more baffling - I mean, at least Crumb has actually drawn some comic strips. And overall, it's an amazingly Yankcentric list (no Herge, no Baxendale, no Pratt, no Moebius etc. etc.)

Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 13 April 2003 09:24 (twenty-one years ago) link

See also -- there has been a lot of online discussion about these selections in the years since this came out, and I think there is some on the Comics Journal site if you poke around a bit (but I am much too drunk to find it right now): Anyways, the list, like all such lists, is problematic at best, but I am not deeply familiar enough with comics to offer an alternative. But yeah, more Kochalka, less Hernandez. Though this list came out before the Sketchbook Diaries, which are what he most deserves inclusion for.

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 10:37 (twenty-one years ago) link

No Asterix either, and nothing Japanese (I'd put Lone Wolf & Cub high up, among others). I agree on their #1, but I'd have had Segar's Popeye next. A major problem is the kind of thing they are comparing, so a single tale in an anthology comic, such as Master Race, is compared to a graphic novel, to a shortish run of comics either intended as a coherent series (Watchmen) or not (Yummy Fur) or indeed a varied anthology (Raw) to a long series like Kirby's FF (102 issues, was it?) or to decades of a newspaper strip. How do I assess the worth of a favourite very short story like 'White Devil, Yellow Devil' against the Ditko Spider-Man (35 comics) or several years of Calvin & Hobbes?

You'll also notice that there is a high proportion of Fantagraphics comics. I guess we could put that down to their liking to read the kind of thing they like to publish, rather than any personal bias.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 10:37 (twenty-one years ago) link

who voted? readers/staff/artists/inkers?

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 13 April 2003 10:45 (twenty-one years ago) link

oh yeah, martin is right, no Japanese cartoonists either! Rumiko Takashi is the greatest!

jel -- (jel), Sunday, 13 April 2003 10:52 (twenty-one years ago) link

but I guess it's so hard to put a whole centuries worth of comics into a top 100, given the globalness and massive output of the medium.

jel -- (jel), Sunday, 13 April 2003 10:54 (twenty-one years ago) link

IIRR, the Comics Journal chose some people to vote - its/Fantagraphics' staffers were prominent. I'm sure it wasn't an open vote. Obviously that puts it on the level of the Sight and Sound poll, which I know Mark was eligible to vote in, but didn't, so Citizen Kane still beat Queen Of The Damned. Does this poll mean that Krazy Kat = Citizen Kane? There is the Hearst connection...

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 11:01 (twenty-one years ago) link

As much as I love Love & Rockets, jewelly is right...the placement of Calvin and Hobbes so far down this list is criminal.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Sunday, 13 April 2003 12:02 (twenty-one years ago) link

No "Génie des Alpages" => dud

OleM (OleM), Sunday, 13 April 2003 12:30 (twenty-one years ago) link

Picks I take some issue w/ (due to placement or somesuch) (with my lack of comic histoire outside of the funny books a given) (&, lord, don't even ask me about anything non-Anglais):

- V For Vendetta (it was GOOD & all, but...)
- Chris Ware's _Acme Novelty Library_ getting love @ #17 (see above comment)
- NO DARK KNIGHT! (I guess this shouldn't be all that shocking, but I remember it being rather impressive, and since even _Watchmen_ got its token placement near the bottom of the list, I figured Frank would receive some love, too)
- is Kirby's "Fourth World" really that good?

David R. (popshots75`), Sunday, 13 April 2003 15:20 (twenty-one years ago) link

V is very good, but I wouldn't have it that high. I think Ware is fantastic, but in 1999 #17 was excessive - see earlier comments re bias. Bloom County was dreadful and wouldn't get near my top thousand. Comics Journal didn't much like Miller, as I recall, and any superhero stuff is underrepresented here. Kirby's Fourth World is better than 88th, though arguably the fact that it was so incomplete justifies that - I think that in patches it's Kirby's best work, and that ranks it very high indeed. I notice the comic book artist I regard most highly, Alex Toth, doesn't get a look in.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 16:39 (twenty-one years ago) link

Why is Ware in 1999 so different from Ware of now? I mean, a bit of bias in that Fantagraphics already had read the ending of Jimmy Corrigan (I think, based on TCJ's Ware interview; and even in the weekly strip the book ended sometime in mid-2000, if I remember correctly), but that mostly confirmed that Ware would be able to give his novel a satisfying ending.

But there are a few vitruoso pages in some of the early books that probably earned him a place on the list by themselves.

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 16:51 (twenty-one years ago) link

That's it really - not that he'd improved but that it was on the basis of less evidence. Even now, I wouldn't rank it in the all-time top twenty, much as I admire Ware.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 17:03 (twenty-one years ago) link

It's rather telling that this is from 1999, though. I think Kochalka has definitely edged his way into the leaders (though I don't like him that much) and the webcomic has become immensely popular in the intervening years.

I want reprint editions of more of these things, dammit (why can I find no Kurtzmann work?)

Millar (Millar), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:05 (twenty-one years ago) link

Of course, part of the reason for this list was to create more demand for reprints of this stuff -- such as Fantagraphics' lovingly packaged Krazy Kat's reissues (covers by Ware), which finally started getting published a year or so ago.

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:33 (twenty-one years ago) link

Is The Jungle Book not available? If you're wealthy, I also recommend the EC war box sets - full of magnificent material. And the Kurtzman-edited issues of Mad have certainly been reprinted in collections.

I just counted: I've met 16 of the people listed above covering over a quarter of the entries, including high entries for Kurtzman, the Hernandez Brothers, Spiegelman and Eisner.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:39 (twenty-one years ago) link

Cover designs by Ware on those collections, not cover art. I see no need to assume bias in getting Krazy Kat at #1 - not only because that's where I'd put it, but it is very widely talked of with that kind of reverence.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:40 (twenty-one years ago) link

Yes, but you could argue that having Krazy Kat well publicized as the best comic evah was a key reason for TCJ doing the list in the first place. Krazy Kat kompliations haven't, historically, sold very well, and it's an expensive undertaking. So getting a little press around the idea that people should read KK (and they should!) was a clever move. Hence, the list.

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:46 (twenty-one years ago) link

Chris, I don't think KK being at no.1 has anything to do w/ Fantagraphics trying to 'popularise' their collections. KK = Sgt. Pepper.

Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:56 (twenty-one years ago) link

You are more cynical than me, Chris. In 1999 everyone in every field was doing Best Of The Century lists, and it would have been fairly surprising if they hadn't done something very like this. I'm not sure how much impact it would have on sales of the collections. I'd certainly have bought mine anyway, of course.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:58 (twenty-one years ago) link

And it's nice to agree w/ my old pal Martin S that Bloom County shld be in the Top 100 WORST comics of all time.

Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 13 April 2003 18:59 (twenty-one years ago) link

But Andrew (re your previous post), Krazy Kat really is great.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:01 (twenty-one years ago) link

Andrew: That's right, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that (perhaps) Fantagraphics produced the list so that there could be articles in the newspapers reminding the generally apathetic public that KK = #1.

And Martin: Everyone in every field was doing Best Of Century lists in order to get the public to buy their product (what publisher was it that did that best books list? for example). I dunno, I'm not saying it was wrong of Fantagraphics to do it or anything...

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:02 (twenty-one years ago) link

Several people did best books lists. I'm not sure if any were completely divorced from publishing. I'm not sure I buy the thinking though, which seems to be something like "we will do a Best Ever Comics poll. We know Krazy Kat will win. We will be publishing collections in just three years time. Three year old poll results in our mag will boost its sales."

I think if I'd still been publishing the closest the UK came to TCJ (not very close!), I'd have done one of these polls too. I wouldn't have expected anything I'd been involved with to appear!

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:11 (twenty-one years ago) link

Well, also my understanding is that the KK books were much-delayed. But you could also use the list to test the waters for just how sellable the books would be, etc.

Was your comics [magazine?] mostly focused on the Kirby-esque comics or did you wander into "art" comics/strip comics as well?

Chris P (Chris P), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:17 (twenty-one years ago) link

We tried to cover the whole spread - superheroes, arty adult stuff, European and Japanese and British comics, whatever I thought was interesting and could find someone to write about. Lots of interviews with the top UK people like Moore, Gaiman, Gibbons, Bolland, McKean and all that, and some of those above, like Bagge, Spiegelman, Eisner and Chester Brown. We had covers by some of those too, and (among many others) Steve Ditko. When I handed it over to someone else (one more issue, then it folded) Alex Toth had agreed to do an interview and cover. We had one writer in common with TCJ. Andrew L used to write for it. Alan Moore did a series of articles on writing, which TCJ reprinted some years later. I wanted to get up to their critical and writing standards, but without losing the sense that entertainment was worthwhile in itself, and anyway I still think that there are very, very few comic books better than the best superhero comics, such as the Kirby/Ditko Marvel stuff.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:26 (twenty-one years ago) link

And it's nice to agree w/ my old pal Martin S that Bloom County shld be in the Top 100 WORST comics of all time.

Clearly you two are aliens.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:40 (twenty-one years ago) link

Or possibly war criminals

Millar (Millar), Sunday, 13 April 2003 19:44 (twenty-one years ago) link


Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 13 April 2003 20:09 (twenty-one years ago) link

Bloom County = great for Deathtongue and Tess Turbo alone. All the rest is gravy.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Sunday, 13 April 2003 22:06 (twenty-one years ago) link

I think this was restricted to English-language comics, hence the omission of Herge et al. More info about how the list was compiled here:

Total absence of Superman and Batman = some kind of statement, surely?

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 13 April 2003 23:24 (twenty-one years ago) link

Well, what superlative Superman stuff stands out? The only notable stuff I can think of is anything drawn by Curt Swan (story notwithstanding) and John Byrne's reboot (which is notable only for the hubbub it caused, maybe).

If _Dark Knight Returns_ sees no love from this list, I can't think of any other Batman tales getting love (except, um, _The Killing Joke_, in case folks think there's not enough Alan Moore representation on the list).

Ned & Sean are on my side re: Bloom County = WE ARE RIGHT. Maybe.

David R. (popshots75`), Sunday, 13 April 2003 23:32 (twenty-one years ago) link

Bloom County was hilarious, but I wonder how it'll stand up 50 years from now when no one remembers who Caspar Weinberger was.

I actually don't have a big problem with the top 10 on this list, though there's plenty of other stuff I'd have liked to see included.

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 13 April 2003 23:37 (twenty-one years ago) link

Bloom County = classic. My dad bought me every book for Christmas when I was 12 plus innumerable Opus plushies. I just recently sold all of them on ebay just because I hate moving w/ stuff and it was a very sad day. Bill the Cat, Steve Dallas, USS Starchair Enterpoop...argh how could they not recognize this.

Also I don't understand Ghost World being so high up while Optic Nerve not being on there at all, especially since I feel they are very similar, except OPtic Nerve didn't get the star casting.

Carey (Carey), Sunday, 13 April 2003 23:43 (twenty-one years ago) link

I still have two Opus dolls and always will.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 14 April 2003 00:28 (twenty-one years ago) link

Yeah, Justin makes a good point - a good deal of Bloom County's appeal and goodness sits squarely in the context in which it was created, and I can't see most folks that aren't schooled in 1980s US-centric culture stuff will really "get it".

But, then, all those old Warner Bros. cartoons (circa 1930-40) are peppered w/ oodles and oodles of pop cult references, and when the cartoon works, knowing who Peter Lorre is (for instance) doesn't make one bit of difference.

David R. (popshots75`), Monday, 14 April 2003 00:40 (twenty-one years ago) link

Oh, I meant to say that I sold all my books but not the Opus dolls. I still have opus going on vacation, love monkey opus, opus wrapped up like a gift... I remember my dad scouring stores trying to find me a Bill the Cat. Ned, our Opi shall play together one day (dirty!)

Carey (Carey), Monday, 14 April 2003 02:18 (twenty-one years ago) link


Christina Aguilera playing with Opus dolls in a wrestling ring = the FEAR.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 14 April 2003 02:23 (twenty-one years ago) link


Carey (Carey), Monday, 14 April 2003 02:24 (twenty-one years ago) link


The Far Side? Did I miss it?

jm (jtm), Monday, 14 April 2003 02:24 (twenty-one years ago) link

The Far Side wasn't a comic, it was a single panel gag (with rare exceptions), so I wouldn't consider it eligible.

Overrated stuff in the top 10: 3, 4, 5, 6, 9. All of these are good, so I'm not terribly agitated, but none are in the same class as Segar's Popeye dailies.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 14 April 2003 11:03 (twenty-one years ago) link

Ah, I see you've fallen for the McCloud Fallacy Of Single-Panel Comics.

I'd agree that Pogo and Feiffer are overrated on that list; I haven't read enough Nemo to judge, and I don't know anything about 9. But you think Maus is overrated? Yes it's almost as obvious a chioce as Krazy Kat for top 10 inclusion but what's your specific beef with it? I'm curious.

Chris P (Chris P), Monday, 14 April 2003 14:14 (twenty-one years ago) link

He doesn't have to have a specific beef with it to consider it good-but-ovverrated. It was one in a long line of "Finally! Comic Books have Grown Up!" books when it was released.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Monday, 14 April 2003 14:23 (twenty-one years ago) link

I do think there is a meaningful and useful distinction between single panel gags and comics, and I think that might account for Larson not getting in - otherwise it's just stupidity.

I do think Maus was very good, but I think people were overly impressed simply because a comic dealt with such issues. It's the old performing dog thing. That is unfair, but I don't think it has any of the formal and experimental interest of a lot of Spiegelman's best work. I may also react against it because when I interviewed him he was very inclined to use the "but it's the Holocaust! How dare you!" stratagem against any criticism. I think its use of animals has very severe problems. I would certainly have it in my 100, but far lower than fourth place.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 14 April 2003 17:06 (twenty-one years ago) link

Wasn't Dennis the Menace a single panel, too?

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 08:07 (twenty-one years ago) link

Dennis the Menace was a strip, Family Circus was the single panel one

but there are a number of single panel things up there, herblock's editorial cartoons, most of the New Yorker cartoons so don't understand the reason for leaving Larson out

H (Heruy), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 09:20 (twenty-one years ago) link

Spiegleman is a testy old fuck, you're right. But in a good way, I thought.

For not unobvious reasons, I vote Tintin in Tibet.

Captain Haddock (Captain Haddock), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 09:39 (twenty-one years ago) link

I second that. In my opinion, Tintin is the best comic, period (Krazy Kat being the second best). And Tintin in Tibet perhaps the most moving of all the Tintin albums, so the good captain is right.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 09:47 (twenty-one years ago) link

I didn't realise that there were single panel cartoons in there (the items in question haven't come over here, that I've noticed). That means that stupidity is the only excuse for excluding Larson.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 16:40 (twenty-one years ago) link

If the Far Side should be included, so should Dilbert. At least the latter has characters and plots...

kieran, Tuesday, 15 April 2003 18:29 (twenty-one years ago) link

Dennis the Menace started as a strip but became a single-panel later

M Matos (M Matos), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 20:41 (twenty-one years ago) link

yeah, i got confused after my earlier post beacuse I thought I could picture both - but NYorker cartoons etc still stand as single panel pieces

H (Heruy), Tuesday, 15 April 2003 20:56 (twenty-one years ago) link

Far Side should be banished for using a mime joke.

Leee (Leee), Wednesday, 16 April 2003 04:21 (twenty-one years ago) link

The adaptation of _City of Glass_ is brilliant, imho. Highly recommended for any Paul Auster or comic fans. Great realization of story in the medium.

Colin Saunders (csaunders), Wednesday, 16 April 2003 06:38 (twenty-one years ago) link

I heartly second that.

Chris P (Chris P), Wednesday, 16 April 2003 17:12 (twenty-one years ago) link

I have to object slightly to Bill Mauldin's inclusion for his "Willie and Joe" cartoons from WWII. While he was the best front-line cartoonist of the war, his cartoons from the years immediately following the war take on much more controversial subjects, and I would rather see him listed for those, or just listed as an artist in general. I put some scans from that period up for the bookstore I work for:

Dave Fischer, Thursday, 17 April 2003 05:08 (twenty-one years ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.