So it's best to think of this collection as a tasting sampler. That said, here are my favorite pieces:
- Burden by Graham Annable. Clean, simple b/w cartooning with a strong sense of line backed by a spare story of seeming redemption with a powerful finale. Excellent.
- The Salon, by Nick Bertozzi. A weird but strangely compelling story about a rather caricatured Picasso and an unnamed painter companion as they stumble across the principles of Cubism and perhaps track a string of murders committed by Gaugin. Be warned--more shots of Picasso's penis than is probably healthy to see.
- Seven Sacks by Eleanor Davis. An odd moral fable about a ferryman and an unusual assortment of monsters told almost entirely with pictures. Fascinating stuff.
- The Bloody Benders, by Nick Geary. Clean art style with a crispness and linearity reminiscent of some of David Macauley's work. An incomplete but interesting look into a real historical period.
- Life is Hell, by Matt Groening. Classic, bizarre, messy art and humor from the creator of the Simpsons.
- Gold Diggers of 1969 by Jaime Hernandez. Apparently this takes some his Love and Rockets characters back to an untold part of their childhood. I haven't read that work, but this was interesting and the art style is like an unusual take on Family Circus.
- Berlin by Jason Lutes. Really liked the art in this strange historical pastiche of people in 1930 Berlin, though the story, as noted, is a work in progress and the excerpt doesn't really pull it all together.
- George Sprott by Seth. I swear that when I first saw these panels I thought they had been drawn by Chris Ware, who actually did the next strip. A very odd story of a deceased host of a small television show about his exploits in the Far North as a younger man.
- American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang. Good storytelling and crisp art that conveys emotion very nicely. Wish the excerpt was longer.
As the above comments probably indicate, this was a very quixotic anthology and a nice reflection of the diversity in contemporary American comics.