The Best of FoxTrot Paperback – Nov 23 2010
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About the Author
Bill Amend was named Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society in 2007. He creates FoxTrot cartoons for Sunday newspapers and maintains an online presence at foxtrot.com. He lives in the Midwest, with his wife and two children.
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Some of the strips are annotated with comments from Amend. Some of the annotations explain where the idea came from and others explain some detail about the strip (for instance, many of the names of teachers are named after teachers and friends of Amend). There are more annotations in Volume I than in Volume II. However, I was a little disappointed by the number of annotations. Unlike many comic strips, "FoxTrot" treasuries are notorious for having no annotations whatsoever. I was thankful that this "Best Of" collection has some, but for a set that covers two books and over 1,000 strips, there isn't a whole lot here.
I think my favorite storyline in the entire set was when Jason and Eileen Jacobsen actually were boyfriend and girlfriend. The entire story lasts for several weeks and it's one of the funniest and most touching in the entire series. I have been an avid reader of FoxTrot for years, but I had never seen or read this story. Amend has a short not explaining why their relationship ended. However, I find it interesting that their prior relationship was "forgotten"; when I was reading the strip it always seemed that Jason and Eileen liked each other, but Jason would never admit it. The characters could have referenced the prior relationship, but they never did and after reading this storyline I find that a shame. But, que sera, sera.
* The first week of strips
* Jason goes to 'Batman'
* Jason goes to summer camp
* Jason turns into a mini-Paige
* Jason vs. Laura Croft
* Andy becomes obsessed with Titanic
* Peter goes crazy from paranoia
* Roger's cigar
And lots more!
In this two book collection, there are reprints of old comics (the newest is from two years ago), one new three page essay, and one short, not entirely insightful comment for every 2 pages of comics. For a new fan, who didn't own any of the books, this is a nice collection of the best of Foxtrot to get them started. However if, like me, you own all the comics in previous collections, don't bother.
I would be surprised in all the new content in this collection took more than 15 pages put together.
Amend is perhaps notorious for never including any "bonus" material in his book compilations, but at the same time, he hasn't been one to shy away from interviews or convention appearances. So this best-of seemed like a great opportunity to get some insight into his creative process, character observations, and the origins of FoxTrot. Maybe some "scrapbook" material, sketches, rejected ideas, anecdotes...
Alas, it ends up feeling like a favorite musician's greatest hits album, where the liner notes are nothing but artsy photos. All we get is an introduction, described by Amend himself as "mercifully short" (don't be so hard on yourself, Bill!), and as also described by him, occasional annotations, which he wasn't kidding about.
To be fair, the annotations are about as frequent as those given by Watterson in his Tenth Anniversary Calvin book, although he had more space for each one. And Watterson included a surprising bounty of essays and analysis, which we don't get any of here.
As far as the actual comics go, it's fun to look at how much the characters have changed visually over the years (lankier bodies and more angular noses), and how much more ambitious Amend has gotten artistically, for an otherwise simply drawn strip. And it's amusing how many pop cultural milestones have come and gone in 20 years, as usually seen through the bespectacled eyes of a 10-year-old Jason.
It was nice to see the entire "Jason summer camp" storyline included here, but I was bummed to see that the "Eugene Blankenship" saga from "Pass the Loot" wasn't. All in all, it's great if you don't own all the previous books, otherwise there's not much here that really sheds new light on a modern comics classic.