150 Greatest Cartoonists Countdown: #150 James Kochalka

This is the first of 150 posts covering a list I made of the World’s 150 Greatest Cartoonists! The list will be revealed from the bottom up on a regular basis until we get to number one.

The list is my top 150 that I wrote down, yesterday, May 8, 2007 (I actually wrote down 214, but we’re cutting it off at 150). I’m not a particularly consistent fella, and I’m sure the list would vary wildly depending on what day I formulated it on.

Some things to keep in mind:

1) This list is based on nothing other than my fleeting opinions of May 8, 2007. This is not a list of the most influential cartoonists, or most prolific cartoonists, or best draftsmen, or the best storytellers… just a list of the 150 cartoonists I felt were the best all-around cartoonists on this particular date. Some of them don’t draw, and just write comics. Some of them don’t write, and just draw comics. Most of them do both the writing and drawing.

2) There are some serious gaps in my knowledge. Although there are some non-US cartoonists on the list, by knowledge of comics is unfortunately skewed towards that which has been available in the US. Also, there are many, many more men than women… just as there have traditionally been more male than female cartoonists. In spite of being a web cartoonist, I really haven’t adequately experienced the wide world of webcomics either… there are so many of them, I wonder if anyone really has?

3) If I know you, you aren’t on the list. I don’t want to open that can of worms, and I can’t really be objective about the work of my friends, so although some of my comrades would certainly have made this list if they were considered, they weren’t.

Basically, an accurate title for this would be The 150 Greatest Cartoonists I Don’t Know, Based on My Limited Knowledge, and Only Accurate for the Date of May 8, 2007 Countdown! Let’s just call this ridiculous endeavor The 150 Greatest Cartoonists Countdown!, huh?

#150 James Kochalka

Mr. Kochalka is a pioneer of the webcomic diary, and his daily American Elf sketchbook comics are wonderful and almost always engaging, drawn with a beautiful zen simplicity. This is probably the best starting point for his work, and his sketchbook diaries have been collected by Top Shelf in two volumes so far. A partial bibliography of his work and a biography can be found on his wikipedia entry.

Don’t miss Kochalka’s hilarious Fancy Froglin’s Sexy Forest, which is probably the cutest obscene comic you will ever read. He has a lot of other comics worth investigating as well.

Click here to read about James Kochalka at lambiek.net.

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