Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on The Best American Comics 2017, and other news.


The Best American Comics 2017 is here, compiled by series editor Bill Kartolopoulos, and guest editor Ben Katchor. When I heard Katchor was the guest editor this year and saw Matthew Thurber’s cover for the book, I was quite looking forward to the latest edition.

The Best American Comics cover by Matthew Thurber

It’s a really solid one and feels fairly intimate due to the amount of personal work. There are several thematically personal works, but mostly I mean work that feels “drawn”–as opposed to laborious, exacting work that can often bog down a large anthology when bumping shoulders with more spontaneous comics. There is literally no Image, DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc. and many, if not all, of the comics are drawn using analog materials. So the whole book feels really nice to read, you don’t have to adjust your eyes before reading each piece. First up to bat was Gary Panter with a comic originally published in frieze no. 181, which sets a nice tone and basically sets the gold standard for the rest of the book.

I thought it was interesting how many Pittsburgh people made it in the book, which may or may not continue to solidify Pittsburgh as a thriving comics town. You have Ed Piskor (of course) plus Laura Pallmall and Sienna Cittadino, who not only are now residents of Pittsburgh, but also made their way through Comics Workbook one way or another. Cittadino’s featured work, Jeremy Meets the Forest Cowwas an entry to the 2016 Comics Workbook Composition Competition (Cittadino literally won the 2017 competition), and Pallmall is a graduate of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers. Just thought that was interesting.

Another Comics Workbook connection is Kurt Ankeny whose amazing book, In Pieces: Some Place Which I Call Home, (originally serialized on Comics Workbook’s Tumblr) was excerpted (see image below). Kurt is an excellent drawer and I’ve seen his sketchbooks full of great coffee shop portraits, so I know he can draw really well on the first take.

Kurt Ankeny, everyone!

So I asked him, “Is that sequence in The Best American Comics first-take? Like, you literally drew these pages in your sketchbook more or less?”

He responded, “They were done in a pad of perforated paper, but yes, essentially first take. That first page was drawn onsite from observation.”

This reminds me, Kurt was invited by thee Ben Katchor himself to give a talk at Parsons for the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium tomorrow, Tuesday,  Oct. 10, 2017 at 7pm. Kurt is very smart and an excellent cartoonist so if you’re in the area, treat yourself.

Anyway, that’s all the time we have today folks–see you next week as I attempt to jump the Grand Canyon with a pair of roller skates, a parachute, and a box of tissue paper. Should be fun. Bye now.


if you don’t know now you know


Check out thee exclusive Connor Willumsen bundle from Comics Workbook!

Get Anti-Gone by the great Connor Willumsen, along with two zines – a 20 page bootleg, and a special collage zine – as well as a unique Anti-Gone drawing by Connor. Get a “Connor box” HERE.


Joanie and Jordie– 10-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio


Suzy and Cecil – 10-9-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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