by Amy Lee
Now that we've rounded up our own year in 2012, we'd like to take a look at some of our favorite books, movies, and other cultural moments in the past year. 

Books

Chris Ware's Building Stories
There's not a lot we can say that hasn't already been said about Chris Ware's masterpiece (already named to just about every best of list that's been published). This 14-part box detailing the stories of the lives of one building's inhabitants is both a visual and emotional treasure. 

Journalism by Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco's work has always been one of the best arguments for how comics can be a vehicle to report and explain the news. This book, a compilation of past pieces, also includes previously unseen material on the U.S. presence in Iraq.  

Drawn Together by R. and A. Crumb
Since the 1970s, R. Crumb and wife Aline have been drawing together. This book collects all of those drawings in one place to create an unexpectedly unfiltered look at both their creative process and personal relationship over the years. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from TOON advisor Art Spiegelman. 

The Best American Comics of 2012 
edited by Francoise Mouly
We admit this is a shameless plug for our fearless editor, Francoise Mouly, but don't just listen to us. The LA Times wrote that they "couldn't imagine a better editor" for the series, while the Boston Globe described the book as a "delicious Whitman sampler of American graphic offerings."

Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See by Francoise Mouly
There was also, of course, Blown Covers, which started as a website offering curious readers a peek behind-the-scenes of the New Yorker cover. The New York Times Book Review compared reading it to "standing in the corner of her office as she pins up rejected covers on the wall."

The Fallback Plan and Dispatch from the Future by Leigh Stein
A former TOON staffer (which doesn't influence our opinion at all, of course), Leigh Stein published not one, but two books in 2012. The first takes on the post-collegiate malaise while the second combines pop cultural literacy with emotional honesty. Buy them, read them, gift them to your friends and family. 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead 
This is a story about a bird looking for his home, and the toad who helps him. Everyone we know who has read this book has cried multiple times while doing so. 

Movies
The Secret World of Arietty directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Based on the classic children's book The Borrowers by Mary Norton about a family of very small people trying to survive, this Studio Ghibli treatment is beautifully animated and touchingly tender. 

This is Not a Film directed by Jafar Panahi
 In December 2010, Iranian director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to a 6-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making movies. Confined to house arrest and prohibited by the government from making movies as he waits there for the decision of the appeals court, Panahi nonetheless decided to make this movie. The film was smuggled out of Iran in a thumb drive hidden inside of a cake. This is a film that sneaks up on you quietly, that, without making any melodramatic pronouncements, highlights the injustice of Panahi's condition.

Monsieur Lazhar directed by Philippe Falardeau
An Algerian immigrant becomes the substitute teacher for a group of elementary school students whose previous teacher has just died. To say too much would be to ruin the impact of this gracefully told, unbearably poignant story. 
 


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