2008 Meta-List | 2009 Meta-List
[EDIT: An updated version of this list is here.]
This meta-list combines 130 different "best comics of 2009" lists, written by reviewers and critics across the internet, into a single list of the top 100 comic books of 2009. My personal list is here.
This is a long post, so let me lay out how it is structured. First, I'll describe the methodology used to create the list. Second is the list. Third, I'll give some of my thoughts about the list. Finally, I've included links to all 130 lists that I used to create the Meta-List.
The purpose of this list is to sum up the critical consensus of the best comics of the year. I gave each individual "best of 2009" list 550 points to distribute among the comics named on the list. For unranked lists, the 550 points get evenly distributed among all the books. Thus, if a critic named ten books but didn't rank his or her choices, each book gets 55 points. If a critic named 20 books, each book gets 27.5 points. If the list is ranked, the points get distributed according to a formula that gives more points for higher rankings and less points for lower rankings. So, for a top 10 list, the #1 book gets 100 points, the #2 ranked gets 90, all the way down to 10 points for #10. For a top 20 list, the #1 book gets 52.4 points, the #2 gets 49.8 points, on down to 2.6 points for the #20 book. After distributing the points, I totaled up the number of points given to each book to produce this "meta-list" of the top 100 books of the year.
I only counted lists that had five or more books; for ranked lists with more than 20 books, I only counted the top 20. I also only counted general "best of" lists, not lists limited to a certain genre or type of comic book such as like "Best Children's Comics" or "Best Manga"; I also did not count lists that used categories like "Best New Series" and "Best Mini-Series," because there's no way to determine how the points should be allotted.
This was based on an idea by Dick Hyacinth, and Chad Nevett devised the formula for distributing points.
Here is the Best Comics of 2009 Meta-List:
|1||Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli||4973.04|
|2||Parker: The Hunter, by Darwyn Cooke||1660.87|
|3||George Sprott: 1894-1975, by Seth||1585.89|
|4||Pluto, by Naoki Urasawa||1425.23|
|5||A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi||1361.06|
|6||Monsters, by Ken Dahl||1350.18|
|7||Detective Comics, by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III||1290.44|
|8||Stitches, by David Small||1043.35|
|9||Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe, by Bryan Lee O'Malley||1021.88|
|10||The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by Robert Crumb||953.52|
|11||The Photographer, by Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre||832.38|
|12||Scalped, by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera||831.31|
|13||A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, by Josh Neufeld||801.11|
|14||You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man, by Carol Tyler||769.07|
|15||Batman and Robin, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely||761.05|
|16||Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory||719.27|
|17||Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days, by Al Columbia||713.6|
|18||Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao||662.87|
|19||The Mourning Star vol. 2, by Kazmir Strzepek||628.63|
|20||20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa||571.02|
|21||Driven by Lemons, by Joshua Cotter||500.67|
|22||The Complete Jack Survives, by Jerry Moriarty||491.95|
|23||I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura||479.06|
|24||All Star Superman vol. 2, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely||468.75|
|25||3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, by Matt Kindt||467.72|
|26||Tales Designed to Thrizzle, by Michael Kupperman||458.98|
|27||Wednesday Comics, by various||453.25|
|28||Masterpiece Comics, by R. Sikoryak||448.5|
|29||Footnotes in Gaza, by Joe Sacco||448.28|
|30||The Squirrel Machine, by Hans Rickheit||437.06|
|31||Far Arden, by Kevin Cannon||436.74|
|32||The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross||432.7|
|33||The Complete Essex County, by Jeff Lemire||422.69|
|34||Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris||382.46|
|35||The Muppet Show, by Roger Langridge||368.26|
|36||Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories, by Gabrielle Bell||367.35|
|37||The Umbrella Academy vol. 2: Dallas, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba||366.28|
|38||The Unknown Soldier, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli||365.34|
|39||Incognito, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips||361.22|
|40||The Eternal Smile, by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim||351.27|
|41||Ochre Ellipse #3, by Jonas Madden-Connor||348.35|
|42||The Act-I-Vate Primer, by various||347.51|
|43||Daredevil, by various||338.83|
|44||Little Nothings vol. 2, by Lewis Trondheim||335|
|45||Blackest Night, by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis||334.98|
|46||Gogo Monster, by Taiyo Matsumoto||334.11|
|47||Ganges #3, by Kevin Huizenga||320.63|
|48||Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips||319.6|
|49||Luba, by Gilbert Hernandez||318.9|
|50||Irredeemable, by Mark Waid and Peter Krause||313.34|
|51||Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye, by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart||305.88|
|52||Oishinbo, by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki||305.27|
|53||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young||298.16|
|54||Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca||295.4|
|55||Jonah Hex, by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and others||291.02|
|56||Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, by David Peterson||288.61|
|57||Planetary #27, by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday||285.37|
|58||The Color of Earth/Water/Heaven, by Dong Hwa Kim||274.6|
|59||Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papdatos, and Annie Di Donna||274.57|
|60||League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1910, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill||273.85|
|61||King City, by Brandon Graham||273.03|
|62||Amazing Spider-Man, by various||270.67|
|63||B.P.R.D., by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba||270.19|
|64||Green Lantern, by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke||270|
|65||Phonogram: The Singles Club, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie||265.35|
|66||Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw||263.35|
|67||The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, by various||261.94|
|68||Incredible Hercules, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and others||252.83|
|69||Prison Pit, by Johnny Ryan||252.4|
|70||Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me, by Peter Bagge||240.97|
|71||The Winter Men, by Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon||240.53|
|72||Northlanders, by Brian Wood and Leandro Fernandez||238.35|
|72||Sugarcube, by Sam Gaskin||238.35|
|74||Just So You Know #1, by Joey Sayers||238.34|
|75||The Bun Field, by Amanda Vahamaki||236.68|
|76||I Want You, by Lisa Hanawalt||225|
|77||Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray, by Jaime Hernandez||222.22|
|78||Sweet Tooth, by Jeff Lemire||216.47|
|79||Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory, by Eroyn Franklin||210.84|
|80||Adventures in Cartooning, by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold||210|
|81||Funny Misshapen Body, by Jeffrey Brown||209.54|
|82||The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard||206.93|
|83||Kramers Ergot #7, by various||206.27|
|84||Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, by Justin Green||203.55|
|85||Ball Peen Hammer, by Adam Rapp and George O'Connor||203.35|
|86||The Natural World, by Damien Jay||201.68|
|87||Popeye vol. 4: Plunder Island, by E.C. Segar||201.23|
|88||The John Stanley Library: Melvin the Monster, by John Stanley||201.05|
|89||Nine Ways to Disappear, by Lilli Carre||199.58|
|90||Grandville, by Bryan Talbot||190.26|
|91||Captain Britain and MI-13, by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk||189.79|
|92||PR3: James Jean Sketchbook, by James Jean||188.61|
|93||You Are There, by Jean-Claude Forest and Jacques Tardi||187.22|
|94||Alec: The Years Have Pants, by Eddie Campbell||185.98|
|95||Low Moon, by Jason||185.97|
|96||Superman: Secret Origin, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank||185|
|97||Double Fine Action Comics, by Scott Campbell||183.35|
|97||Humbug, by Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder, Jack Davis, Arnold Roth, and Al Jaffee||183.35|
|97||Mister Wonderful, by Dan Clowes||183.35|
|97||OMAC: One Man Army Corps, by Jack Kirby||183.35|
Notes on the Best Comics of 2009 Meta-List:
- The Heavy Hitter: David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp takes first place by a large margin. I don't think it should surprise anyone that this book was ranked first overall, but what is surprising is its complete dominance over all other books, coming in several thousand points ahead of the second-ranked book.
- Manga: Naoki Urasawa's Pluto (#4) and Yoshihiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life (#5) are the first manga to crack the top ten of any Meta-List over the past five years (I haven't created meta-lists for any years prior to 2005) and the only manga to rank in the top twenty other than Tatsumi's Abandon the Old in Tokyo, which hit #20 on the 2006 list. Further down the 2009 list is Urasawa's 20th Century Boys (#20), Taiyo Matsumoto's Gogo Monster (#46), Tetsu Kariya and Akria Hanasaki's Oishinbo (#52), and the manhwa trilogy The Color of Earth/The Color of Water/The Color of Heaven, by Dong Hwa Kim (#58). This development might be a sign that manga in general is becoming more accepted among critics and reviewers (as opposed to just being popular) or it might just be that certain authors are particularly beloved (Tatsumi, Urasawa, and Matsumoto all have shown up on previous lists).
- Superheroes: DC published the only two superhero comics to break into the top 20: Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's Detective Comics (#7) and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Batman and Robin (#15). And let's hear a round of applause for Morrison and Quitely's All Star Superman: one of the few books to show up on multiple Meta-Lists, here are its rankings from the past four years: #7 in 2006, #3 in 2007, #3 in 2008, and #24 in 2009. A fine run for something that was only 12 issues long.
- Scott Pilgrim is Good: Another marvel of the Meta-List is Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series. Ranked #16 in 2005, #42 in 2006, and #5 on 2007, it shows up on this year's list at #9. The final volume arrives this year, along with a movie adaptation.
- Top Ongoing Series: Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera's Scalped (#12) might be considered the highest-ranking ongoing comic book on the list (since Rucka and Williams' stint together on Detective Comics was fairly short and Scott Pilgrim is a finite series). Scalped is another Meta-List perennial, showing up at #12 last year and at #76 in 2007.
- Non-Fiction: David Small's Stitches (#8) heads up quite an array of non-fiction and autobiographical work, including Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre's The Photographer (#11), Josh Neufeld's A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (#13), Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man (#14), Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza (#29), Lewis Trondheim's Little Nothings (#44), Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and others (#59), Jeffrey Brown's Funny Misshapen Body (#81), Justin Green's Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary (#84), Eddie Campbell's Alec: The Years Have Pants (#94), and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit (#69). Just kidding about Prison Pit, everyone except for Jog knows that's not real.
- Anthologies: Four anthologies show up on this year's list: Wednesday Comics, edited by Mark Chiarello (#27), The Act-I-Vate Primer (#42), The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman (#67), and Kramers Ergot #7, edited by Sammy Harkham and actually published in 2008 (but who's counting?) (#83). This surely means something, but I just don't know what.
- Whoops? Two big projects, Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza (#29) and Campbell's Alec (#94), both arrived in the final days of 2009. I can't help but think that their very late release dates hurt their chances at showing up in many critics' lists and thus pushed their total score down.
- The World Wide Web: Dash Shaw's Bodyworld (#66) is the only web comic on this year's list, with previous web-representative Achewood (#22 in 2007 and #28 in 2008) dropping off the list. Bodyworld finds its way into bookstores this year. Scott Campbell's Double Fine Action Comics (#97) also is published on the web, but I believe the critics that picked it were talking about the book version published this year.
- Classic Comics: A number of collections of "classic" material show up to remind us that we are living in The Golden Age of Reprints (TM), including the previously-mentioned TOON Treasury (#67), E.C. Segar's Popeye (#87), John Stanley's Melvin the Monster (#88), Humbug (#97), by Harvey Kurtzman et al., and Jack Kirby's OMAC: One Man Army Corps (#97). Throw in the reprint of Green's Binky Brown (#84) and you've got yourself quite a collection of classic work.
- Where's Marvel? Two of Marvel's top three comic books are creator-owned: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Incognito (#39) and Brubaker and Phillips's Criminal (#48). Not until Daredevil (#43) do you see a Marvel-owned property, and that too was written by Brubaker for the majority of the year. Note to Marvel: don't fire Ed Brubaker.
This meta-list is based on the following lists:
Other "Best Comics of the Year" Meta-Lists:
2005 Meta-List | 2006 Meta-List | 2007 Meta-List
2008 Meta-List | 2009 Meta-List