The New Comics Anthology (1991), by Daniel Clowes (editor)

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A stunning collection of comix, from the punk funnies to foreign voices and places in-between. Published in 1991, the chorus of independent voices range from Harvey Pekar to Gary Panter to Art Spiegelman to Chris Ware and Los Bros. Hernandez. Before the publishers marketed the heck out of the term “graphic novel” and prior to Maus legitimizing the genre to cautious, middlebrow, suburban white people, this anthology stood out like a lighthouse in the storm of Reaganomics, Cold War paranoia, and the tights-and-capes crowd. The ensuing decade has seen these artists become more and more mainstream, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the mainstream has gotten more and more fragmented, violent, and vulgar. Spiegelman has become an editor of the New Yorker and “Ghost World” become a successful “indie movie” bringing the world closer to Clowe’s world and Steve Buscemi’s teeth.

The anthology is indispensable as a historical document, repository of personal visions, and a pop cultural footnote of gigantic proportions. Like “The Dead Sea Scrolls” and the Clash’s “Sandanista,” it is a monument to the Eighties Era and a precursor to future artistic trends. Also, the story about the Garbage Barge is hilarious.

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