Courtesy of Publishers Weekly…

File under the totally expected: Chris Ware’s amazing Building Stories has topped the seventh annual 2012 Critics Poll for best graphic novels of 2012. A visionary boxed collection of 14 separate books, pamphlets and fold-outs, Building Stories collected Ware’s last decade of comics to tell the stories of the occupants of a single apartment building. The central character — never named — is a disabled young woman who dreams of finding love. Ware’s precisely diagrammatic yet eloquent drawings follow her mundane activities and her inner torment. Meanwhile, an enervated married couple on another floor shows that even finding love doesn’t solve any problems, and the building’s owner, an older woman, reminisces over her life. Throwing it all into relief are the absurdly bright adventures of Branford, a bee.

While much of the material in Building Stories (Pantheon) had been printed before — the central narrative, if such a thing could be pinpointed, originally ran as a comics strip in the NY Times Sunday Magazine — when collected together the final product is a stunningly immersive experience with no beginning and end, as quotidian-focused as the lives of its characters.

Ware’s opus was an immediate critical hit, and received the top spot in PW’s overall Best Books for 2012. It was also a popular success — the book sold out its 40,000 print run before Christmas and a new 25,000 print run won’t hit these shores until later next week. A third printing of 25,000 copies is also expected in March.

While Ware’s achievement was a stunning triumph for graphic novels as a literature all its own, it was far from the only one in a year that saw graphic novels cover more topics than ever with more and more authority. The remaining books mentioned on the poll are, as always, a fantastic snapshot of an artform that is still reinventing itself in the multi-media era.

Critics participating in this year’s poll: Alanna Abbott, Lucas Adams, Chris Barsanti, Steve Bunche, Casey Burchby, Johanna Draper Carlson, John DiBello, Glen Downey, Heidi MacDonald, Calvin Reid, John Seven, Noah Sudarsky, Laura Sneddon, Kelly Thompson.

Read the complete article here, with the other top vote getters: Ware’s ‘Building Stories’ Tops PW Comics World’s 2012 Graphic Novel Critics’ Poll

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