Helder and Showing Helder by Chester Brown are like pivot points in comics history. They were the first two stories he did in the comic book series Yummy Fur after the Ed the Happy Clown serial ended. I found the issues, numbers 19 and 20 -pathetic looking dog eared COMIC BOOKS not in bags, recently in a "ten for a dollar" bin in some suburb outside of Pittsburgh. Just happening to come across them as issues reminded of why they were so powerful when they were released. They're not precious. They aren't "important" or made to feel that way with hardcovers and a belly band with quotes by famous people telling the reader how "important" these stories are to the current generation of cartoonists. I mean, well, that is true, the two stories mentioned above are maybe the most interesting stand alone examples of late 20th century cartooning that I can think of...AND they're bookends. One is "the story" and one is the making of that story. It's a fascinating moebius strip of a reading experience. Try it. But, but, but, whats interesting is how they, the issues, were like Sleeper Agents, they didn't make people laff out loud like the Ed stories they instead slowly radiated from the center out. More and more people got hep to the "change" Chester had made and it was as though he documented the very change for everyone to see. Incredible.

Top 9 0f '08 for Publishers Weekly

Here's my O.G. list that got incorporated into the
master list of "Best of 2008" for PW.

Top Nine of ‘08

Frank Santoro

Special assignment for Publishers Weekly.

9---Kick Ass – Mark Millar / John Romita JR
One of the few comics that made me look forward to the next issue and laugh out loud at the insanity of it all. And one of those rare times that the “cartooned” self-aware retarded-ness works as a goddamn comic book! It’s a comic book! Look! It’s DUMB! Yay! Loved it.

8—Criminal –Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips
These two were made for each other. Total art-house noir done with clarity and precision. Another comic I look forward to as installments, as pulp. For me, it’s the consistency of the emotional pitch, the tone of the artwork and the carefully choreographed mirroring of the story on itself.

7---Bodyworld – Dash Shaw
A serialized graphic novel available online. For free. Is it a webcomic? I guess so. It’s a comic. It comes out regularly. I look forward to it every week like a Sunday newspaper. Sound like any other webcomic? I guess so. Yet, it doesn’t READ like any other webcomic. Go look for yourself.

6---Travel – Yokoyama Yuichi
Okay, so it’s not new for 2008 as it was released in Japan a couple years ago, STILL, this book is my drug of choice.

5---Speak of the Devil – Gilbert Hernandez
The comic that made me a fan of comics again. Most readers will experience this as a collection, a “graphic novel’ – but to me, this is a blueblood comic book. I’ll even throw in the word UNDERGROUND. Beto brings the reader back from the dead with this one. Tired of complicated plots and lots of talking heads from Beto? Well, this is the comic for you! An absolute massacre, this comic slays the competition. King Beto.

4---Omega the Unknown – Jonathan Lethem / Farel Dalrymple
Totally over my head and as dense as a can of sardines, but I liked it anyway. Gary Panter guest appearance best in Marvel history.

3—Love and Rockets New Stories no. 1 Los Bros Hernandez
Is it a graphic novel? Are any of the comics on this list graphic novels? Who cares! New Jaime, bitches!!

2—Abandoned Cars -- Tim Lane
The only book that really startled me this year. A series of stark rolling vignettes rendered in an American vernacular. Charmingly moving, beautiful in it’s presentation and execution. Old is New. Again.

1—Acme Novelty Library #19 –F.C. Ware
Totally over my head and as dense as a can of sardines, but I liked it anyway.

Honorable Mention: Powr Mastrs vol. 2 -- CF
I sort of have to recluse myself from voting for this book cuz Christopher Forgues is a good friend, but, still, I must say no one to my mind is doing more interesting comics – especially in 2008 --than CF.

Trends: ...bookstore distribution on the rocks like everything else now...online comics seem viable for the first time....people love Bone...people liked Blue Beetle but they canceled it anyway...Watchmen Watch All Day Every Day...Heath Ledger was actually good...You think they’ll explain how Joker disappeared at the end?...Heroes Con likes indy guys, who knew?...Dave Sim still calls stores to solicit sales...San Diego was really big again...kids don’t know their history...online comics critics grow bitter, argue amongst selves...how to draw a seriously funny caricature of Obama pondered by pros...Kyle Baker is god...people like to argue about Paper Rad and Kramer’s Ergot...people like comic books again but the comic book, pamphlet sales seem dead again, again...free web comics equals sales of real physical books eventually?....wait, what?