Best American Comics 2013

The Best American Comics 2013The Best American Comics 2013
Guest Editor: Jeff Smith
Series Editors: Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover, 7 x 9, 352 pages, Partial Color, $25.00
ISBN: 978-0-54799-546-5

"Hello, Reader. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to infiltrate a top-secret-elite group of comic and graphic novel creators. Masterminded by the notorious husband and wife team of Jessica Abel and Matt Madden . . .

 Matt Madden and Jessica Abel

this year's elite team of comic book and graphic novel creators is joined by a suspicious man with wavy-flowing-beautiful hair, an affection for black t-shirts and a similar affection for stylish black blazers, both always worn with jeans. His name is Jeff Smith and his notoriously addictive and deservedly mega-popular graphic novel series is entitled Bone.

 Jeff Smith

Over the last year or two our team of undercover secret agents have observed this trio working on a top-secret project that only they have access too. Luckily, we were able to plant a mole into the group. The mole prepares their coffee and often orders pizza, leaving little doubt in the three culprits minds that she could secretly be working for us: The Elite Team of Comic Super-Secrets (ETCSS). But last week we lost contact with our mole, but not before she was able to smuggle out an advanced copy of the team's top-secret work on a text project anthology they call The Best American Comics 2013. The Best American Comics 2013 is about to be released around the world. That's why we need you!

Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to read through the mole's smuggled advance copy of The Best American Comics 2013, and decide whether or not the book is indeed composed of the best American comics of 2013 (thus avoiding a cataclysmic barrage of comic book reviews that will explode all over the internet on blogs that will eventually turn viral). Our hope is that you find it an enlightening, calming artifact that belongs on everyone's bookshelf (only to serve as a pedestal for next year's collection).  

A helpful detail to inform your mission may be that: During our last communication with the mole she gave us the smuggled copy to review and process as evidence. When she left us the last thing she said was: "When you are done I want it back!"

Mission Guidelines: The following graphic organizer (Table 1) will help you take notes and ultimately determine whether or not this elite and secret team of graphic novel creators has compiled a menace to society or a valuable literary artifact.  

Table 1: A running record of each comic Smith (the Editor who had the final say in all the comics included in the collection), Abel, and Madden (his mentors and series editors) choose to include in the 2013 version of Best American Comics.

Directions: After reading each comic included in the collection, fill in the last three columns on the graphic organizer.








Personal Reflection




(A+ to F-)











Alison Bechdel







The Speaker







Brandon Graham





The Divine Manifestation of a Singular Impulse





Jesse Jacobs






Turn Back







Sam Alden













Michael DeForge






The Good Wife







Sophie Goldstein






70 Nights of






Craig Thompson






The Story of
Gráine Ní Mháille




Colleen Doran,
Derek McCulloch, &
José Villarrubia






Excerpts from

American Elf






James Kochalka






You Lied to Us!







Jorge Aguirre
Rafael Rosado






Story Time







Evan Dorkin
Jill Thompson













Faith Erin Hicks













Leela Corman






A Husband and a






Sammy Harkham






Four Comics







Grant Snider






Nita Goes Home







Eleanor Davis






Concrete Park







Tony Puryear






Top Five








Malachi Ward






The Strange








Derf Backderf






A Killer Surprise









Terry Moore













Laura Park













Kate Beaton






Fun Strips







Evan Dorkin






Saints in the Store







Jennifer Hayden






Scary Bathtub









Michael Kupperman














Gabrielle Bell






In the Rough






Vanessa Davis






Love Me Forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!







Jeremy Sorese














Joseph Lambert













Paul Pope





After you have read The Best American Comics 2013 review your graphic organizer and identify your own top three comics. List them below:


Finally, after reviewing your graphic organizer and identifying your top three choices, write a one to two paragraph recommendation for your superiors here at our top-secret literary agency. Your recommendation should state why you think the ETCSS should or should not support this collection of American comics as the best of 2013.

Grade Level: High School Readers

Common Core Standard Alignment for Reading (Grades 6 – 12):

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Common Core Standard Alignment for Writing (Grades 6 – 12):

Text Types and Purposes

1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida.  Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts ( in press, 2014).  When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.