My favorite comic of the past year by a clear head and shoulders has been The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon. In fact, when others were courting controversy by loudly bemoaning the absence of Marvel and DC comics in the nominations for Eisner Awards, I was to be found loudly berating anyone that would listen that it was a crime Nao wasn’t in the running at all. It should have been nominated in at least three categories, I’d argue.
History won’t judge this oversight well, I would rage. It won the Prix Spécial du Jury at this year’s 40th Angoulême International Festival of Bande Dessinée, I’d point out. The French don’t just throw those things around like confetti. They know what they’re talking about. And they hate the English, I’d generalize. How good must it be for them to forget Agincourt and Waterloo and give the prize to a Ros Bif? Then the ambulance arrived, that big guy injected something into my neck, and I can’t remember much of the next couple of days at all.
Anyway, remember those long annotations Jess Nevins does for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books? I love that stuff, although I’m starting to think Alan Moore only throws half those obscure references into these comics as a type of nefarious parlor game for his and Kevin O’Neill’s exclusive amusement, just to see what gets spotted by Nevins and his “divers hands,” and what gets missed. So, given my taste for the academic study of comics, I was particularly delighted to see this, a rather vigorous guide to Dillon’s The Nao of Brown by Seth T. Hahne on his Good OK Bad website. I’d never visited the site before, but it’s tremendous fun. Stylistically it’s somewhere between a set of Cliffs Notes on the book, a pedagogic examination of its themes, and an enthusiastic reader extolling his choice of graphic novel. In fact, the librarian in me sees this website as a great tool for anyone setting up a graphic novel book club.
Hahne’s other study guides for discussion groups choices include such classics as Asterios Polyp and Daytripper, so it looks like he too sees Nao as the equal of any recent multi-Eisner award winners. Damn it. Damn it all to hell.
(via Glyn Dillon’s Twitter)