Top Collected Editions of 2010

I love comics, in all their forms. Each and every month I read dozens of single issues just as I have for almost 30 years. I also read trade paperbacks with aplomb. But in recent years, I’ve fallen in love with high end collected editions. I’m talking about those volumes that are as appealing for their form as they are for the content within.
 
This list is a celebration of some of my favorite collected editions of 2010. This isn’t based on content alone (although I adored the vast majority of the work included in these volumes), but is a celebration of both the content AND the form.  Whether you display these books proudly on your coffee table, or have them sitting on a prominent position on your book shelves, these books are far too beautiful to simply file away.
 
Strange Tales HC Amazon Image
15) Strange Tales HC by Various Creators (Marvel)
Marvel puts out a ton of collected editions each year, and it wouldn't be surprising to find any number of their Omnibus editions on this list. Yet, it's this hardcover collection of stories about Marvel characters by some of comics' best indie creators that gets the nod. This beautiful hardcover edition is 192 pages and an oversized 7.5 x 11.2 inches, and features a cover by the incomparable Chip Kidd.
 
 
BodyWorld Image
14) BodyWorld by Dash Shaw (Pantheon Books)
Shaw is an experimental master and follows up his award-winning Bottomless Bellybutton with this journey into a futuristic planned community and what happens when a botanist discovers a mind-altering plant that gives people the ability to read others' thoughts. Shaw's works play with form as an integral part of the experience, and he opts for a 6.1 x 9.5 inch volume that reads in landscape orientation.
 
 
 Doonesbury 40th Anniversary Collection 
13) 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective by Gary Trudeau (Andrews McMeel)
The classic comic strip gets an amazing repackaging to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the work. Unlike some other comic strip collections, this slipcased hardcover edition used some restraint and didn't reprint everything that appeared in the newspapers. At 696 pages and a hefty 14.2 x 10.2 inch format, this book pays proper homage to one of America's greatest cultural strips.
 
 
 Archie Marries cover image 
12) Archie Marries… by Michael Uslan, Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith (Abrams Comicarts)
Archie is one of those perennial comics that manages to outsell many of its more heralded peers by virtue of being widely available in traditional retail outlets. In 2010 the creators took a journey into the future and gave us a What If look at Archie's futures married to both Betty & Veronica. This hardcover collection features a die cut slipcase that can display either the Veronica or Betty nuptials depending on how you choose to sleeve it. At 208 pages, it collects the seven issues in an oversized 11.4 x 7.9 inch format.
 
 
Blacksad Cover Image
11) Blacksad HC by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
Blacksad is considered one of Europe's modern classics, combining 50s era noir with visually stunning anthropomorphic characters. For years American readers had to pay hefty premiums for the original, non-English graphic novels. Dark Horse answered the call with this 184-page hardcover that collects the first three graphic novels, translated into English.
 
 
Wednesday Comics Cover Image
10) Wednesday Comics HC by Various Creators (DC)
Long-time DC creative director Mark Chiarello put together a dream project in 2009 that brought some of the industry's best creators together to create a set of serialized tales that appeared in oversized newsprint comics. While the project was a critical success, the ability to re-read or preserve folded newspaper was a hurdle for some. In 2010, DC answered the call with a massive 18 x 11.5 inch hardcover tome collecting the entirety of the series. It's a sight to behold.
 
 
Duncan the Wonder Dog Cover
9) Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines (AdHouse Books)
The only softcover book on the list, Duncan still warrants a place at the table for its size (400 pages at 11 x 8.5 inches) and because its limited print run. AdHouse gave Adam Hines an opportunity to put out his exceptional work in a form befitting Hines' passion. What if animals could talk? What would that mean for our society? In Duncan, we find out.
 
 
Return of the Dapper Men Cover
8) Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee (Archaia Books)
This cover doesn't do this work justice, as comics newcomer Janet Lee used wood cutouts to create 3-dimensional art pieces that were then turned into the pages of this illustrious, adventuresome OGN written by Jim McCann. At 128 pages, this work clocks in at 11.1 x 9.7 inches and every page will capture your attention for minutes on end.
 
 
Afrodisiac Limited Edition Cover
7) Afrodisiac “Deluxe” Limited Edition by Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg (AdHouse Books)
Quite simply my favorite comic book of 2010. Jim Rugg channels every ounce of his love for 70s era Marvel comics, 'zines and blaxploitation films into a diverse, visual tour de force. Afrodisiac isn't the largest book (96 pages at a fairly standard 9 x 6.1 inches) but the care the creators put in every aspect of this work makes it an easy edition. For those who covet truly rare collected works, you can try to track down one of the 100 copies of the Deluxe Limited Edition (pictured above).
 
Absolute Planetary Volume 1 CoverAbsolute Planetary 2 Cover
5-Tie) Absolute Planetary Books One and Two by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (DC)
Planetary took a LONG time to finish, but if there was ever a comic worth waiting for, it was Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's look superhero lore through the eyes of archeologists. Considered by many to be one of the best comic works of our generation, DC offered a new printing of the original Absolute (collecting Issues 1-12) and treated us Volume 2 for the first time. As with all DC Absolutes, both works are an oversized 12.8 x 8.6 inches in a hardcover slipcase.
 
 
Absolute All Star Superman Cover
4) Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
DC had a fantastic year and followed up its Planetary Absolutes with an Absolute version of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman. One of the most decorated superhero comics of the last decade, All-Star Superman gets treated to a slipcased oversized edition that showcases Frank Quitely's intensely detailed and fluid interiors. This edition collects all 12 issues in 320 glorious pages.
 
 
Incal Cover
3) The Incal Classic Collection by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Humanoids)
If you haven't already tracked down a copy of this slipcased book you are probably going to have a hard time doing so unless you want to spend more than retail. Humanoids, which has been bringing some of Europe's most esteemed works over to the U.S. in English translated versions, collects the entire run of Jodorowsky's science fiction, surreal detective romp. Moebius is one of the greatest living artists in the medium, and his work astounds in this high gloss, oversized (13.1 x 9.7 inches) form.
 
 
Taschen DC 75 Year Book Cover
This book snuck up on me, which is pretty hard to do considering its size — 18.4 by 13 inches, 700 pages, and weighing in at 15.9 pounds!  Taschen gave Paul Levitz the keys to the kingdom and he oversaw the creation of what most are heralding as the greatest homage to DC Comics rich history yet.
 
 
Usagi Yojimbo Special Edition
1) Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition by Stan Sakai (Fantagraphics)
Usagi Yojimbo is one of the longest running comic book series in print, and Stan Sakai continues to churn out the tales of his samurai rabbit with regularity. In spite of the very accessible nature of Sakai's story-telling, many have felt daunted about jumping into Usagi given its expansive history. Fantagraphics has treated us with a 1,160-page, two volume slipcase collection that reprints the first seven trade paperbacks worth of content, as well as 50 covers and lots of never-before-seen backmatter.
 
 

Jason is a mutant with the ability to squeeze 36 hours into every 24-hour day, which is why he was able to convince his wife he had time to join the iFanboy team on top of running his business, raising his three sons, and most importantly, co-hosting the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast with his buddies Vince B, Chris Neseman and David Price. If you are one of the twelve people on Earth who want to read about comics, the stock market and football in rapid fire succession, you can follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. SamIAm says:

    I really want that all-star superman absolute, but being a college kid, I have no money. :(

  2. Apotheosize Apotheosize says:

    75 Years is #1 on my list- amazing!

  3. stuclach stuclach says:

    Just looking at that 75 Years book makes my back hurt.

  4. lifesend lifesend says:

    How does 75 Years of DC Comics count as a colleted edition? 

  5. Taschen’s 75 years although not a straight up comic like everything else eclipses everything on this list in terms of shear awesomeness. Levitz gets all the credit but there was lots of other people that makes that thing shine. If you look through the credits you’ll see all the contributers. The book has to be held and looked through to fully grasp the greatness. I don’t think there has ever been a book of this quality and scale devoted to anything comic related.

  6. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @lifesend admittedly the term “collected edition” is a bit of a catch all in this case. It would’ve been unwieldy to say “Best Collected Editions, OGNs and Comics-related Books of 2010″ :) In all seriousness, this was initially going to be the “Best Shelf Porn of 2010″ but I kind of thought that term of art was a bit flippant given the beauty and craft of the works we’re showcasing.

  7. lifesend lifesend says:

    @Wood Yeah, I’m not sure what I would have called it myself, especially since 75 is the only exception.  The book is certainly a thing of beauty and deserving of a lot of recognition.

  8. Apotheosize Apotheosize says:

    @wallythegreenmonster

    Well put!  I have never seen anything like it- a true thing of beauty! 

  9. @Wood  @lifesend  –technically you’d call it an “Art Monograph”

    As far as comics i’d like to toss up an honorable mention for the Paul Dini/Alex Ross “World’s Greatest Superheroes” collection…sure its smaller than the originals, but pretty sweet for what it its. 

  10. @wallythegreenmonster: That’s just a reprint of the HC version that came out a couple years back so maybe that’s why it’s not here.

    @Wood: Some great choices there. I’d add the DC 75th Anniversary Poster Book too. So nice I bought two copies!

  11. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @davodtobin100 That poster book was likely worthy, but I limited my choices to books I either own or have seen and plan to own in short order. Haven’t had a chance to see that poster book in person yet. Same reason something like Acme Novelty #20 isn’t on the list. I’m sure it’s worthy, but I haven’t seen it in person or read it.

     

  12. nick0606 nick0606 says:

    Where’s Starman Omnibus Vol 5?!?!?!?!?!?

  13. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    I don’t know why I don’t own that 75 Years of DC book yet…

  14. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @conor  It’s beyond amazing. 

  15. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @nick0606 I collect a ton of hardcover collections, including those Starman Omnibus editions, but this list was meant to be reflective of the WORK (content) AND innovative presentation. As much as it’s great to have those Starman works in a collected form, I don’t think the package necessarily breaks any new ground, nor would it be terribly difficult to track down the issues if you were so inclined. It’s why things like The Walking Dead Compendium or the Fables Hardcovers or the Marvel Ghost Rider Omnibus, also didn’t make the cut.

  16. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @conor  I’m shocked you didn’t buy that yet.

  17. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @Conor I assumed you had two copies. :) In all seriousness, how many of these 15 volumes do you own? I have all but the Taschen book and the Incal book, but am trying to secure copies ASAP.

  18. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I have 11, 10, 8, 7, 4, and 2. 

  19. Jason Wood Wood says:

    @Paul You’re 40% of the way there. ;)

  20. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @josh  I was waiting to see if I got it for Christmas! It was on my list!

    @Wood  I have 14, 11, 10, 8, 5 and 4.

  21. @conor  -without sounding like a salesman, those big XL Taschen books are limited print runs, so if you wait too long you’ll have to settle for the shrunken down trade size later on

  22. @davidtobin100  —ah you know i never saw the HC for that…i’ve only seen the individual tabloid sized issues, but that makes sense. 

  23. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @wallythegreenmonster  You just said the magic words – ordered!

  24. @conor  SWEET!!—I can personally guarantee that you will loose your stuff the first time you go comb through it…also you will feel physically worn down from the weight. haha the box it comes in alone is sweet.

  25. EnFuego EnFuego says:

    Is Usagi Yojimbo a series worth checking out?  I seem to remember Josh saying that he read it for a while, but then stopped because nothing really happened storywise. 

  26. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @EnFuego  Well it’s #1 on the list. 

  27. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    I’ve been collecting Yojimbo for years so you know I’m totally getting the whole Usagi Yojimbo soon enough. At this point I’ve only been speculating on stories I’ve missed, which is probably as fanboy as I’m ever getting nowadays.

  28. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    That DC book is like the monolith from 2001! Great list, gives me some fodder for my next amazon account. Oh the list, I have 10, 8, 7 (well the small version) and 4. I want that Taschen book, though….

  29. Andrew Andrew says:

    Oh man! I am soooo close to pulling the trigger on the 75 Years of DC Comics!  I notice that Amazon states it is not eligible for free shipping, which is interesting. I wonder how much the shipping is?  I also don’t know where I would keep this thing. Decisions, decisions…

  30. @Andrew  –The book weighs in at like 15  pounds and they have to ship it in a bigger/sturdier box than they usually use for books. The book actually fits on one of my ikea shelves quite nicely (the one that is all cubes). The fully illustrated suitcase box that it comes in sits in my office as decoration. Yes i have a Golden Age superman watching over my shoulder all day long. =)

  31. Good call on the Incal Classic Collection. I just started reading it in softcover, and it’s outstanding.

  32. iSteve iSteve says:

    The 75 Years of DC Comics ranks as my #1.  It’s my favorite gift that I got this Christmas.  But it really is an awkward, back-breaker to read.

  33. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    @andrew I just ordered it, the shipping is $4. Not too bad.

  34. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    For anyone on the fence about the 75 Years of DC book…do it. It’s even better than you think it is. 

  35. ChrisCCL ChrisCCL says:

    Jason, Excellent list. I only own #4, #10 and #13. I really need to get my hands on Strange Tales and Dapper Men. I’ll wait for the softcover of The Incal. As for the 75 Years book, it’s just to big and expensive for me. Plus, as much as I would like to own it (I looked at a copy at my local Borders), I just don’t see the need. Your #1 book finally came out in 2010 even though it was suppose to come out in 2009. I’ve never read Usagi Yojimbo but would like to someday. This collection may just be my ticket. 

  36. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    Just got my shipment notice on the 75 Years of DC book!

  37. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @conor  Cool! So UPS should be getting that to you in….August!

  38. Zarathos81 Zarathos81 says:

    I’ve seen a lot on the Dapper Men book. It’s really getting my curiosity worked up.
    It’s kind of sad that we didn’t have any EC collections, like new Archives, this year that would have appeared on this list.

    My LCS has that DC thing on a discount because it arrived damaged. If I were a DC fan I would be all over it. It is a nice collection though. HUGE!

  39. nilcam nilcam says:

    I was starting to worry that Usagi would not make the list. Glad to see it there. <3 Wood.

  40. Oh boy, that 75th DC books look like the perfect murder weapon……I think. *darts eyes*

    Can I put my 2cents for the Futurama/Simpsons Crossover Crisis? A really great slipcover collection with the amazing crossover between the two Matt Greoning series. Not kidding, a funny and pretty damn good looking comic to read. Also, a dozen great pinups by mainstream and indie artists in the back. 

  41. Bendrix Bendrix says:

    @EnFuego It sure is. Just jump right in. Many issues are self-contained. I love the series, but I know what Josh was saying. It’s not like there are massive, status quo shattering developments over the course of the series. No “nothing will be the same anymore” arcs. Just great stories of a ronin wandering the land, with equaly great art, month in, month out. I’d say  that’s worth the price of submission, but to each his own. Just chek it out.