Houghton Mifflin has been publishing its “Best American” series (of short stories, essays, travel writing, etc) since 1915, but this month it introduces a brand-new edition: The Best American Comics 2006. To compile the anthology series editor Anne Elizabeth Moore, who’s also coeditor of Punk Planet, scoured graphic novels, alternative papers, the Web, and even self-published works, then delivered her top picks to guest editor Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor fame), who whittled the selections down to the 30 included here. Contributors include many of the usual suspects–Pekar pal Robert Crumb, Lynda Barry, Kim Deitch, Alison Bechdel, Jaime Hernandez, Chris Ware–and a couple of curveballs, like a new installment of Gilbert Shelton’s Zap classic, “Wonder Wart-Hog: The Wart-Hog That Came in From the Cold,” which sent me straight back to fifth grade. Happily, the editors have given the nod to some relative newcomers as well: animator Rebecca Dart’s wordless Rabbithead has the feel of a creepy, disturbing dream. Local artists Ivan Brunetti, Lilli Carre (whose work graces the book’s cover), and Anders Nilsen join Pekar and Moore at this release party. Cosponsored by Quimby’s, it includes a discussion and a slide show; according to Moore, the cartoonists will also be showing “their most embarrassing sex comics.” a Thu 10/19, 6:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 773-342-0910.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Greg Cook.