Monday, June 09, 2008

Favorite Comics

Myspace, Facebook, and Hulu, among others, are always asking for lists of your favorite books, tv shows, music and so on. I actually really like being defined by my taste in those things, but I always blank out a bit every time I fill one out, like when you go to blockbuster and then, as soon as you get there, you cannot remember a single movie you wanted to see, even though you know there are many. Also, my students are always asking for recommendations of things to see and read. Every term at least one student comes and asks if I could hand them a list -- right on the spot -- of the most important works of world literature across all time. I was asked this today. Usually I just cop out a bit and tell them to read a Bloom edited poetry anthology and the works of Shakespeare.

So. I have decided to do a series of posts on my favorite stuff. This will maybe not be so interesting for regular readers -- because nothing I say is likely to surprise anyone -- but I think it will be a good thing to have on the toolbar, and I can update it, and link to it, whenever I want. You could take this time to do the same -- you can make your lists in the comments if you like, just to have them, and then you will remember where they are. Lists are always fun. I expect to forget a few things. Remind me.

This is, as Borges says, a personal cannon (I have to find that essay again, but I don't have it near me now). It is not a "Best of" list. This is my desert island list.

Favorite Comics

A big part of my criteria here is Comics I Never Have to Apologize For.

Casanova (Fraction, Ba, Moon)
Steampunk (Bachalo)
Hellboy (Mignola)
Morrison's New X-Men: E for Extinction, Assault on Weapon Plus, Here Comes Tomorrow (Morrison, Quitely, Bachalo, Silvestri)
Frank Miller's Batman (ALL OF IT)
Sin City: The Big Fat Kill, The Hard Goodbye, A Dame to Kill For (Frank Miller)
We3 (Morrison, Quitely, Grant)
Ultimates 1 (Millar, Hitch)
Morrison's JLA: JLA: Earth 2 (Quitely), Rock of Ages, Prometheus, Crisis Times Five (Porter and Dell), One Million (Semeiks), Classified (McGuiness)
The Maxx (Kieth)
Toy Story (the Morrison and Quitely Story in War Stories)
Flex Mentallo (Morrison, Quitely)
Fantastic Four: 1234 (Morrison, Jae Lee)(I have to re-read this to be sure)
Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist (Fraction, Brubaker, Aja)
All Star Superman (Morrison, Quitely, Grant)
The Authority: The Nativity (Millar Quitely)
Sugar Rush (Joss Whedon, Fabio Moon
Zombies vs Robots vs Amazons (Ashley Wood)
Punisher: The End
Planetary 1-14 (Ellis, Cassaday)
Jack Kirby's New Gods
Spiderman Loves Mary Jane (McKeever, Miyazawa)
Scott Pilgrim
I do not know if these count as comics, but:

Edward Gorey's The Pornographic Sofa, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and The Doubtful Guest


Anonymous said...

Can I just say I also really love lists and being defined by them

In no particular order... here are mine:

Watchmen- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

The Dark Knight Returns- Frank Miller (Big Surprise, Right?)

Cerebus: High Society, Church & State I & II- Dave Sim and Gehrard

The Sandman- Neil Gaiman (Particularly Season of Mist, Brief Lives and The Kindly Ones)

The Ultimates- Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch (the whole run).

The Killing Joke- Alan Moore and Brian Boland

All Star Superman- Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely.

Batman: Year One- Miller, Mazzuchelli

Doom Patrol- Grant Morrison and Richard Case

Animal Man- Grant Morrison

The Best of The Spirit- Will Eisner

The Authority: Under New Management- Ellis, Hitch, Millar, Quitely

The Dark Knight Strikes Again- Frank Miller

All Star Batman & Robin- Frank Miller

Mark Millar's Ultimate X-men run

Those are the MUST reads... and while I don't quite hold them in as high esteem I would also reccomend:

Archer's Quest- Brad Meltzer, Phil Hester, Ande Parks

Madrox: Multiple Personalities- Peter David

Top 10- Alan Moore and Gene Ha

I don't know how to include the pretty pictues like Geoff does

Ping33 said...

Starman - James Robinson - Tony Harris/Peter Snejbjerg
Top 10 - Alan Moore - Gene Ha
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow - Alan Moore - Curt Swan
Supreme: The Return - Alan Moore - Rick Veitch
Books of Magic (Mini and Ongoing till John Ney Reiber left)Neil Gaiman/John Ney Reiber - Peter Gross/Peter Snejberg
Black Panther - Christopher Priest - et all
Avengers Forever - Kurt Busiek - Carlos Pachenco
Exterminators - Simon Oliver - Tony Moore
Invisibles (particularly V2) - Grant Morrison - Phil Jimenez - Steve Yowell
Planetary (all of it) - Warren Ellis - John Cassaday
Ex Machina - Brian K Vaughn - Tony Harris
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD - Jim Steranko
The Fourth World - Jack Kirby
Casanova - Matt Fraction - Gabriel Ba/Fabio Moon
Queen and Country - Greg Rucca et all
Thunderbolts: Justice like Lightning - Kurt Busiek - Mark Buckingham
Fables - Bill Willingham - Mark Buckingham
Enigma - Peter Milligan - Duncan Fegredo
Detective Comics 826 (Sleighride) - Paul Dini - Don Kramer
Detective Comics 475/476 (Laughing Fish) - Steve Englehart - Marshall Rogers
The first 100 issues of Fantastic Four - Kirby/Lee

Ping33 said...

Sandman has fallen off my list... as they years go by I find it less and less ...good. More cloying and pretentious. Still getting all 4 Absolutes.

Patrick Sanders said...


Hellblazer #27.

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

The Dark Knight Tetralogy


The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck

Anonymous said...

Transmetropolitan - Ellis and Robertson (good before, but becomes a favourite from Volume 5 onwards)

JLA - Morrison's entire run (includes Earth 2 and Classified).

Seven Soldiers - Morrison et al. All of it. Some (mostly) great art too.

The Invisibles - particularly Vol. 7 The Invisible Kingdom

Preacher - Ennis and Dillon. Until the End of the World, Proud Americans, Salvation and the Origin of Tulip O' Hare arcs.

Punisher Max - Ennis's entire run. A formula done well offers a unique satisfaction.

Acme Novelty Library - Chris Ware (Ware gets better with every issue. Although I miss some of the early anger, it's been sacrificed for more nuance and greater story telling chops)

Ultimates Vol. 1 (entire first run) - Millar and Hitch

The Losers Vol. 1 - Diggle and Jock

Angry Youth Comix - Johnny Ryan

Watchmen - Moore and Gibbons

From Hell - Moore and Campbell

V For Vendetta - Moore and Lloyd

Peanuts - A singular achievement in the history of literature.

Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer - Ben Katchor

Sharknife Vol. 1 by the Rey

Asterix (particularly Asterix the Gaul, Asterix and the Visigoths, and Asterix in Britain).

Spectacular Spider-Man #200

Paul Jenkins' run on Spider-Man from a few years ago.

Love and Rockets - Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. The entire first run of both Locas and Palomar, recently reissued in cool collections.

And the Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitz.

Ping33 said...

ooohhh From Hell... forgot that one. Add to my list plz.

When I said Invisibles V2 I was referring to the renumbering, not the trades. Issues 1-22 counting the trades: Bloody Hell in America, Counting to None and Kissing Mister Quimper

Geoff Klock said...

Watchmen is a book that, when I really think about it, I respect more than love. It is a bit like Citizen Kane. I can see what a big deal it is and why, but when I have friends over I am more likely to want to watch Grosse Point Blank or something.

Marc Caputo said...

Geoff: so funny that you use Citizen Kane as an example. It's what I use when I explain to people the difference between "the best" and "my favorite". Raging Bull is the best Scorsese film, but The Color of Money is my favorite. Sometimes, many times even, they may be the same. But to me, they are not automatically synonymous.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree on the 'best' and 'favorite' differentiation, it's kind of like a subjective lists vs an objective list.

I would put Watchmen at the top of a 'best' of comics lists while The Dark Knight Returns would be at the top of my 'favorites' list... but I also consider Watchmen one of my favorites as well.

Also, I would include Spiegalman's Maus near the top of a 'best of' list where it would probably be far down on a 'favorites lists'

The Citizen Kane comment is interesting in terms of Watchmen as well since, I think it may have even been here, that I heard someone talk about the upcoming movie adaptation as like "someone making a Citizen Kane video game"... i.e. how can a work that is so much about the medium itself be translated to another medium.

On another note, Color of Money is a Scorcese film? Did not know that.

Josh Hechinger said...

Starman - James Robinson et. all.

One Piece

Fantastic Four - Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo.

Scott Pilgrim

Excalibur - any issue where Alan Davis is involved; bonus points if Claremont is writing.


The Avengers - Kurt Busiek's run with Perez, Davis, and I thinK Dwyer?


Hanaotoko and Tekkonkinkreet - Taiyo Matsumoto

Heavy Liquid and 100% - Paul Pope

Jason said...

Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta (#1 with a bullet!)

Alan Moore's Supreme

Moore, Leach, Davis, etc. Miracleman

Moore and Davis' Captain Britain

Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen (interesting that this has become one of those "classics" that people apparently consider more of a chore than an enjoyable read; I LOVE re-reading Watchmen -- love the characters, love the dialogue, the images, the color, the interconnectedness, the running motifs ... and this is from someone who will probably never in his life sit through a second viewing of Citizen Kane)

Moore and O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Moore and Sprouse, Tom Strong

Moore and Williams, Promethea

Moore and Campbell, From Hell

Moore & Co.'s Swamp Thing 21-64

Moore's 1963

Moore and Zarate's A Small Killing

Moore and Gibson, The Ballad of Halo Jones

Claremont and Bolton's X-Men: Vignettes

Claremont and Bolton's The Black Dragon

Claremont and Bolton's Mirada the She-Wolf

Claremont's Uncanny X-Men 94-280

Claremont and Sienkiewicz, New Mutants 18-31

Claremont and Bogdanove, Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men 1-4

Claremont and Miller, Wolverine 1-4

Claremont and Art Adams, New Mutants Special Edition

Claremont and Art Adams, X-Men Annual #'s 9, 10, 12 and 14

Claremont, Lee, Portacio, X-Factor 65-68

Claremont and Larocca, Fantastic Four 17-18 (One of my all-time favorite mash-ups: The FF fight Batman and Robin ... in THE MATRIX!)

OTHER stuff
Kyle Baker, The Cowboy Wally Show

Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, X-Men #55-65

Peter David's Hulk 331-467

Dave Sim's Cerebus 1-300

Frank Miller and Romita Jr., The Man Without Fear (DD miniseries)

Anonymous said...

Without wanting to take up space from the lovely lists, this often comes up in relation to Watchmen (and it is also why you'll never see the GN Jimmy Corrigan, on anyone's favourites list, rightly I think).

I agree with Jason - I re-read Watchmen at least once a year. Because I enjoy it and also because there's a risk that we - the comics community - start to take it for granted: "yeah, yeah, we all know it's great but it's not good." Does that make sense? You can't get too cool for school over Watchmen.

Citizen Kane might be an apt analogy, but that neat, morbid movie, doesn't have anything like the Rorschach in prison chapter, or the Dr Manhattan on Mars chapter. Although it does have a memorable musical number. Technically innovative, nuanced, skilled, whatever else these bits of Watchmen are, they're also really really entertaining.

Geoff, I like that you like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. It's the better version of Ultimate Spider-Man as far as I'm concerned.

And I'm sorry that I got into comics too late to appreciate Claremont (I know - as soon as I get the cash I'll catch up).

hcduvall said...

I'm both drawing a blank and fully capable of going on forever. So the short list:

-The whole series is the best comics ever, but Flower Cupid is the bestest of all.

Asgardian Wars
-No knock on the other fellows, but Art Adams is better than sliced bread.

-The whole run is astonishingly good to great, but "A Dalliance with the Damned" with Christopher Rudd is probably my favorite.

Watchmen or Moore's Swamp Thing run

-Preciousness aside, I think it holds up well. Ramadan or the business with old man telling his granddaughter a story in Fables and Reflections. I (shockingly) no longer have total recall of every story I've read.

Safe Area Gorazde
Fate of the Artist

I'm giving things I like terribly short shrift, but I'm stopping here.

Patrick Sanders said...

"Watchmen is a book that, when I really think about it, I respect more than love."

Ditto. I also feel the same way about Cerebus.

As somebody once said, "just because it's a masterpiece doesn't mean you have to like it."

Marc Caputo said...

BTW, still working on my list...

Watchmen - I love it AND I respect it.

Cerebus - I love it until around 180-190 (and I don't drop off because of the women stuff) and I respect it. After that, I don't love it and I don't respect it, mainly because of the way he just dropped the narrative.

Anonymous said...

New Mutants Annual #3, "Anything You Can Do...!"(Claremont, Davis)

New Mutants: Demon Bear Saga (Claremont, Sienkiewicz)

New Mutants #51, "Teacher's Choice" (Claremont, Nowlan)

New Mutants #52, "Grounded Forever" (Claremont, Leonardi)

Magik (Storm and Illyana Limited Series) (Claremont, Buscema)

Uncanny X-Men: From The Ashes (Claremont, Smith)

X-Men: The Asgardian Wars (Claremont, Smith, Adams)

Uncanny X-Men #207 "Ghosts" (Claremont; Romita, Jr.)

Uncanny X-Men #215 "Old Soldiers" (Claremont, Davis)

Uncanny X-Men #247 "The Light That Failed" (Claremont, Silvestri)

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (Claremont, Anderson)

Excalibur: The Sword Is Drawn (Claremont, Davis)

Astonishing X-Men Volume One: Gifted (Whedon, Cassaday)

The Sandman: Brief Lives (Gaiman, Thompson)

Death: The High Cost of Living (Gaiman, Bachalo)

Cages (McKean)

Hellblazer #27, "Hold Me" (Gaiman, McKean)

Miracleman Book Four: The Golden Age (Gaiman, Buckingham)

Hicksville (Horrocks)

David Golding said...

A lot of Morrison, some Moore, some Miller, Maus, sure... but also:

Enigma, Peter Milligan

Amazing Spider-Man, Gerry Conway

Squadron Supreme, Mark Gruenwald

The Defenders, Steve Gerber

Hulk, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O'Malley

Bruno, Chris Baldwin

New Gods and Mr Miracle, Jack Kirby

Avengers and Detective Comics, Steve Englehart

Daredevil, Stan Lee & Gene Colan

Daredevil, Ann Nocenti

Epicurus the Sage, William Messner-Loebs

Flight 714 and Destination Moon, Herge

Locas, Jaime Hernandez

Nick Fury, Jim Steranko

Sandman, Neil Gaiman

And probably a lot more. I'm still reading.

Stephen said...

If I do a list it will require some thought. But I totally agree with this:

Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen (interesting that this has become one of those "classics" that people apparently consider more of a chore than an enjoyable read; I LOVE re-reading Watchmen -- love the characters, love the dialogue, the images, the color, the interconnectedness, the running motifs ...

This is why, as I said in this essay I wrote on it, that Watchman is, odd as it sounds, underrated: so many people say the sort of thing Geoff says above. But I, for one, love it as well as respect it.

Who was it who said that the surprising thing about Shakespeare is that he really is amazingly good despite all the people who say he's amazingly good? Watchmen's like that. (Maus too.)

Then again, the great weakness of Geoff's first book -- which I loved and will defend far more strongly than, say, Geoff himself will these days -- was always its section on Watchmen. Using the Freudian schema that Geoff himself likes to use, there is serious avoidance of Watchmen in that book, not only dragging out the Miller DKR discussion for as long as he can, but even spending a really strangely long time on the Killing Joke before dipping briefly into Watchmen. -- In fact, I think it is a fundamental lack of understanding of Watchmen's true power that is why, for all my admiration of it, I finally disagree with Geoff's overall thesis.

But then again, I actually liked Citizen Kane a lot too -- have watched it with great pleasure numerous times. So what do I know. (Actually, come to think of it, there are more comparisons between Watchmen and Citizen Kane than just their technical importance... such as their narrative structures. Interesting....)


Stephen said...

Oh, and Geoff? You're definitely going to have to apologize for some of the things on that list. -- That's another discussion, though. :)

And its inclusion, even provisional, makes me want to pick up Morrison's FF 1234, which I've never read. Anyone else like that one?


Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

"The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good." Robert Graves

LOVE that quote. Applies to the Beatles too.

I like the bit in Geoff's book about Watchmen -- had lots of great insights that really opened my mind. Unless you're just saying it was too brief, in which case I guess I agree. I liked all the bits in the book when Geoff talked about Alan Moore and was surprised when I started to read his blog and learned that he doesn't seem to really like Alan Moore all that much, not even the works he explores in the book.

(I was just reminded of the Watchmen bit today when I listened to Geoff on Comic Geek Speak. In his book, he noted that Rorscharch's journal is a synecdoche for Watchmen as a whole. But on his latest CGS appearance he claims he does not know how to spell "synecdoche." Geoff is a man of contradictions ..)

Anyway, glad I'm not alone in thinking Watchmen is just a rip-roaring read apart from the more "intellectual" aspects of it. I really liked Mikey's point about how there are some sequences that are just really dynamic and kinetic, like Rorschach in prison.

(By the way, there's an interview somewhere with Alan Moore where he's asked if he still likes Watchmen now. His answer is something to the effect of: Sometimes he'll pick it up to re-read but think, "Good god, there are too many words in this, forget it." Other times he'll actually read it and think, "Hey, this is still pretty good.")

Geoff Klock said...

Mikey -- That is exactly what Spiderman Loves Mary Jane is. I had not thought of it like that before.

HCD -- I am with Ping on the subject of Sandman. I grew up on it, and I loved it, but it seems so ... D&D now. To be fair, I may not be reacting to the book, so much as the kind of person I was when I liked it.

SF -- That IS a great quote about Shakespeare. Robert Graves. Who knew?

I think my thesis is dead right about Watchmen. But I will admit that my argument to that effect is seriously limited, and that is my fault. The research required to argue about how Watchmen deals with its influences is huge, because Watchmen draws on EVERYTHING. But still, that is no excuse. If one of you want to write the definite treatise on Watchmen -- and it would be a book length analysis -- I will totally blub the back with something like "That's what I should have said if I had been as smart as this guy."

Let me say that I am very UNSURE about FF1234. It ended up on the list more because Morrison often works with very weak artists -- which is why I cannot put The Invisibles on the list -- and I really like Jae Lee. I remember liking the book a lot, but I would really need to re read it.

Jason -- I know what the word means. It is just the pronunciation that throws me. And the spelling. :)

One of the things with this, is that "favorites" is so effected by phases. Right now I am not in a Watchmen mood, and have not been for years.

This is why those stupid bank verification questions like What is your favorite book MAKE NO SENSE. I had to spend hours on the phone arguing with the bank a few days ago because I could not remember the answer to the security question about my favorite book -- because I had changed, of course. I read a lot of books. What do these people want from me?

Geoff Klock said...

also I added Sin City. I will be adding to this pretty much forever.

Stephen said...

I think my thesis is dead right about Watchmen

Of course you do. And I certainly think you have a plausible case. I just disagree with (aspects of) it.

...but we'll duel this out some other time.