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THE BEST COMICS OF THE DECADE Selected by the editors of the Comics Journal (Fantagraphics Books: $12.95)

September 09, 1990|CHARLES SOLOMON

The first installment in a projected two-volume set, "Comics of the Decade" examines the graphic work being done outside the mainstream newspaper strips and comic books, stressing original approaches to storytelling and imaginative visual styles. Bill Griffith ("Zippy the Pinhead") offers a slyly satirical self-portrait of an artist torn between the conflicting claims of aesthetic purity and commercial gain. Matt Groening and Jules Feiffer provide delightfully acerbic commentaries on the follies of contemporary American politics and culture. However, not all the work in this anthology attains that level of excellence: Howard Cruse's rather heavy-handed portrait of a repressed clergyman lacks the insouciant charm of his "Wendel" series; John Callahan's cartoons about alcoholism seem merely crude. "Best Comics" proves that the comics needn't be restricted to the homogenized humor of "Garfield" and "Hagar the Horrible".

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