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Monday, December 21, 2009

What Am I Reading?!? -- Thanks to Chris Mautner for asking me to participate in this week's What Are You Reading? at Robot 6.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Programs I Can't Live Without -- A recent PC catastrophe resulted in me (well, my friend Brian, really) reformatting my computer's hard drive, and reinstalling windows. Most of my important files were backed up, but of course all my applications were gone. Which led me on the path of finding out what I really need to be happy with my computer.

It's actually a great feeling to start fresh like this; the machine may be over four years old now, but with a new Windows XP install and four years of registry changes wiped out, it hums along now like nobody's business. Here's a list of the applications I find are essential to my computer.

* Panda Cloud Antivirus - I had been using Kaspersky for my antivirus needs, but at $60.00 to renew it and money being tight right now, I was looking for a free alternative. The first day or so I wasn't sure Panda Cloud was the app for my needs, but the past two weeks or so it's been getting the job done quietly and without hogging resources.

* Google Chrome - At the moment I find no one browser meets all my needs, but the speed and reliability of Google Chrome give it the edge over Firefox, the latest version of which I'm not entirely happy with.

* Mozilla Firefox - On the other hand, some sites are just not ready for Chrome yet, so I have Firefox to fall back on. If you're wondering, the only thing I use Internet Explorer for is Windows Updates. Other than that, I don't use it, because it's just too much of a virus and malware magnet.

* Auslogics Disc Defrag - This defragger seems to me to be the quickest and most efficient at getting everything on my hard drive where it belongs and running smoothly. I run it once a week.

* Media Monkey - I've used a lot of MP3 players over the years, but this one organizes my collection and has tons of other features that I really like. Its interface is also very intuitive and easy to use.

* uTorrent - Essential for downloading free, legal torrent files.

* Microsoft Word 2007 - If you've spent much time here, you know how I feel about giant corporations. That said, I've never found a free word processing program that is as useful, fast and essential to me as Word 2007.

* VLC Media Player - Absolutely the best player for all sorts of video files. VLC will play just about anything.

* FTP Client to be Named Later - FTP, File Transfer Protocol, is an essential part of running a website. Most of Comic Book Galaxy these days runs off Blogger's online interface, but for the legacy parts of the site that are still hand-coded HTML, I need an FTP client to get them up to the site. Since the crash, I have yet to find one that works for me, but I am not sure if the problem is with the applications I've tried, or on the server side of things. If you have an FTP client you swear by, not at, leave a comment and let me know what works for you.


Download my free new eBook of nearly four dozen interviews with comics creators, Conversations with ADD, by clicking here. A full list of interview subjects can be found here.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best Comics of the Decade -- I don't know that I would have had the time to create this post if it weren't for Tom Spurgeon and his readers creating their superb list of titles for consideration as the best comics of the decade. Even so, the list as seen at The Comics Reporter is both enormous and enormously intimidating, and of course I have not read everything on it. Far from it. But of what I have read, I've decided to pick five from each category as the very best that I have read.

Note: Where I've reviewed a title, the title appears as a link to my review.

Thanks to Tom for making this possible, and I encourage everyone to check out the full list at TCR and start working on their own best-ofs.

A note on methodology: I had a very hard time narrowing some categories down to ten choices, never mind five. Ultimately I whittled each category down to which titles I felt were essential, and then from those (sometimes as many as two dozen titles) I picked the five that, if I were going to spend the rest of my life alone with just five books, those were the ones that I would pick. In some cases I had to leave off titles that were painful not to include (Fun Home), but I felt that sticking to five titles in each category would create the most essential and useful list (for me, if not for you).


* Art Out Of Time, Edited By Dan Nadel, Harry N. Abrams (2006)
* Best American Comics, series, various editors, Houghton Mifflin
* Drawn & Quarterly, series, Edited by Chris Oliveros, Drawn & Quarterly
* McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Vol. 13, Edited by Chris Ware, McSweeney's
* MOME, series, Edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics

Archival Editions and Re-Releases

* B. Krigstein Comics, edited by Greg Sadowski, Fantagraphics (2004)
* Complete Peanuts, series, Charles Schulz, Fantagraphics
* Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, series, Jack Kirby, et al, DC
* The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson, Andrews McMeel (2005)
* The New Love and Rockets Books, massive volumes, Los Bros Hernandez, Fantagraphics

Original Long-Form Comics/Translated/Definitive Collection

* A Treasury of Victorian Murder, series, Rick Geary, NBM
* Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Drawn and Quarterly (2008)
* Ice Haven, Dan Clowes, Pantheon (2005)
* The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Phoebe Gloeckner, Frog Press (2002)
* The Ticking, Renee French, Top Shelf (2006)

Comic Book Series

* Conan, Kurt Busiek et al, Dark Horse
* Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Oni Press
* Sleeper, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, DC
* Street Angel, Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca, SLG
* The Filth, Grant Morrison and Chris Weston, DC

Manga (Translated)

* Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Drawn and Quarterly (2006)
* Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Drawn and Quarterly (2008)
* Monokuro Kinderbook, series, Kan Takahama, Fanfare/Ponent Mon
* Solanin, Inio Asano, Viz (2008)
* The Push Man and Other Stories, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Drawn and Quarterly (2005)

Newspaper Comics

* Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel
* Maakies, Tony Millionaire
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell
* This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow
* Zippy, Bill Griffith

On-Line Comics

* Achewood, Chris Onstad
* American Elf, James Kochalka
* George Sprott, 1895-1975, Seth, New York Times Sunday Magazine
* Mister Wonderful, Daniel Clowes, New York Times Sunday Magazine
* Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch

Works On The Subject Of Comics

* B. Krigstein Vol. 1, Greg Sadowski, Fantagraphics (2002)
* Meanwhile... A Biography of Milton Caniff, RC Harvey, Fantagraphics (2007)
* Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers and Pirates, Bob Levin, Fantagraphics (2005)
* Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution, Patrick Rosenkranz, Fantagraphics (2003)
* Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell, Fantagraphics (2008)

Websites and Blogs About Comics

(This category was not on Tom's original list, but I found the idea of comparing the best comics writing online vs. the best comics writing in print too crazy-making to adhere to on my own list. I suggested to Tom that he spin off sites and blogs to their own list, but I don't know yet what he thinks of that suggestion.)

* Chris Allen Online, by Chris Allen
* Comics Comics, by Dan Nadel, Frank Santoro, Tim Hodler, et al
* Jog the Blog, by Joe McCulloch
* Journalista, by Dirk Deppey
* The Comics Reporter, by Tom Spurgeon, et al


Download my free new eBook of nearly four dozen interviews with comics creators, Conversations with ADD, by clicking here. A full list of interview subjects can be found here.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Irrelevant to My Interests, or: Five Things I Just Don't Give a Shit About -- Here's a list of five things that some people, maybe you, I dunno -- really seem to think are important. And I just don't give a shit.

1. San Diego Comicon -- Maybe twenty years ago when this was about comic books, if I lived within a two-hour drive of San Diego, I would have gone and seen what it was all about. As it stands, though, it seems to be about movies and TV shows with comics as a far distant third-place concern. Not only do I not give a shit, but the mountains of internet coverage it gets every year is infuriating, taking the place of space that could have been devoted to bringing attention to comic books. Look, I think local and regional conventions are great, but San Diego seems to me to be an International boondoggle that does more harm than good for comics as an artform. That said, Tom Spurgeon and Mark Evanier's annual pieces are usually entertaining despite my hatred for disinterest in the subject.

2. CBLDF -- I probably should care about this, but the contrarian in me rebels against being told to eat my Wheaties. Plus, isn't the hot-tub incident guy still involved? Why was he not kicked to the curb? And why on earth would anyone own a business if they didn't have the wherewithal to defend themselves financially and legally if they get into hot water? Are you a professional or not?

3. Fort Thunder -- Was Reggie 12 from FCBD a few years ago by a Fort Thunder guy? If so, that's the exception. Virtually every other exposure I've had to Fort Thunder-style comics has left me wanting to gouge my eyes out with a rusty melonballer. Hey, Rusty Mellonballer, isn't he a Fort Thunder alumnus? Seriously, much is made of the importance of Fort Thunder as a "movement" in comics. What is it moving towards other than visually incoherent nonsense?

4. Embedded Videos -- Maybe it's my Kaspersky security settings, maybe it's my distaste for having my browser slow to a fucking crawl every time some blogger loads up twelve YouTube videos in one post. But nothing -- NOTHING -- sends me away from your website faster than an embedded video. I JUST DON'T CARE. I like to read, so write some words already, and try to make them relevant to my interests.

5. Cover Letters with Review Copies -- Dear Small Press Creator, Publicist or Whatnot: Nothing you can say in a cover letter is ever going to make the comic book you've published one bit better, and the chances are very, very good that you are going to say something stupid that will make me think less of it than I would have by just reading the damn thing. I'm fine with you enclosing a business card or even a short note with the date of publication and contact information, but almost any other information is extraneous at best and damaging to your efforts at worst. Let the work speak for itself.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Five for Contrarianism -- On Friday, Tom Spurgeon asked readers to name five "Five for Friday" categories that would be difficult to populate.

I have picked the responses that stood out to me as ones actually able to be fully filled-out.

List Five Really Excellent Comic Book Shops You've Personally Been To

1. Million-Year Picnic (Cambridge, MA)
2. Modern Myths (Northampton, MA)
3. Earthworld (Albany, NY)
4. The Beguiling (Toronto, ON)
5. Crow Books (Burlington, VT)

Name five comics writers you consider at least on par with whoever you consider to be the top five writers in prose, film or television

1. Alan Moore
2. Dan Clowes
3. Jaime Hernandez
4. R. Crumb
5. Renee French

Name five writers on comics you could see writing for the New Yorker if the magazine introduced a regular comics section next week

1. RC Harvey
2. Tom Spurgeon
3. Christopher Allen
4. Christopher Butcher
5. Timothy Callahan

Name five good comics shops within reasonable traveling distance

1. Earthworld (Albany, NY)
2. Electric City Comics (Schenectady, NY)
3. Comic Depot (Greenfield Center, NY)
4. Excellent Adventures (Ballston Spa, NY)
5. Aquilonia Comics (Troy, NY)

Name five five-for-fives for which you would have to be one of the answers

1. Name five people blamed for evangelizing about Street Angel during the blowback resulting from the initial spread of positive word about the title.
2. Name one of the five people who contributed to the introduction of Barry Windsor-Smith's Young GODS and Friends collection.
3. Name five comics bloggers approached by Marvel Comics to pitch to write a series for them in the early part of this decade.
4. Name five people who thought Kramers Ergot #7 might have been priced a bit too high and had the unparalleled gall to say so publicly, and therefore should be killed.
5. Name five early Comic Book Galaxy contributors who have not gone on to be a famous comic book creator or editor-in-chief of a top-five comic book publishing company.

List five readable comics based on television properties

1. IDW's Star Trek efforts.
2. DC's Babylon 5 series.
3. The Prisoner
4. DC Star Trek comics written by Peter David.
5. OK, you got me, I can only think of four for this one.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Five Fondly Remembered Convention Experiences -- That was Tom Spurgeon's most recent Five for Friday topic, and you can find mine in there somewhere.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My Eisner Picks -- Tom Spurgeon posted the list of 2009 Eisner Award nominees yesterday, my picks are in bold. No choice in a category means either I haven't read any of the nominated works or have no preference in that category.

Best Short Story
* Actual Size, by Chris Ware, in Kramers Ergot 7 (Buenaventura Press)
* Chechen War, Chechen Women, by Joe Sacco, in I Live Here (Pantheon)
* Freaks, by Laura Park, in Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse) [my review]
* Glenn Ganges in Pulverize, by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2 (Fantagraphics)
* Murder He Wrote, by Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto, and Andrew Pepoy, in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #14 (Bongo)

Best Continuing Series
* All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
* Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, and Peter Gross (Vertigo/DC)
* Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
* Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and various (Marvel)
* Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
* Groo: Hell on Earth, by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier (Dark Horse)
* Hellboy: The Crooked Man, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)
* Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
* Omega the Unknown, by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, and Farel Dalrymple (Marvel)
* The Twelve, by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston (Marvel)

Best New Series
* Air, by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC)
* Echo, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
* Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca (Marvel)
* Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend (Vertigo/DC)
* Unknown Soldier, by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids
* Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper, by Kazu Kabuishi (Scholastic Graphix)
* Cowa!, by Akira Toriyama (Viz)
* Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Image)
* Stinky, by Eleanor Davis (RAW Junior)
* Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens/Tweens
* Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children's Books)
* Crogan's Vengeance, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
* The Good Neighbors, Book 1: Kin, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (Scholastic Graphix)
* Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
* Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

Best Humor Publication
* Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero, by Douglas Paszkiewicz (Arsenic Lullaby)
* Chumble Spuzz, by Ethan Nicolle (SLG)
* Herbie Archives, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)
* Petey and Pussy, by John Kerschbaum (Fantagraphics)
* Wondermark: Beards of Our Forefathers, by David Malki (Dark Horse)

Best Anthology
* An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
* Best American Comics 2008, edited by Lynda Barry (Houghton Mifflin)
* Comic Book Tattoo: Narrative Art Inspired by the Lyrics and Music of Tori Amos, edited by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
* Kramers Ergot 7, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
* MySpace Dark Horse Presents, edited by Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn (Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic
* Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw
* Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
* The Lady's Murder, by Eliza Frye
* Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, by Elan Trinidad
* Vs., by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari

Best Reality-Based Work
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
* Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (Houghton Mifflin)
* Fishtown, by Kevin Colden (IDW)
* A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child, by Rick Geary (NBM)
* What It Is, by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album -- New
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
* Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
* Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* Three Shadows, by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)

Best Graphic Album -- Reprint
* Berlin Book 2: City of Smoke, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Hellboy Library Edition, Vols. 1-2, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
* Sam & Max Surfin' the Highway Anniversary Edition HC, by Steve Purcell (Telltale Games)
* Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse)
* The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite, deluxe edition, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba (Dark Horse)

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Strips
* The Complete Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (IDW)
* Explainers, by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)
* Little Nemo in Slumberland, Many More Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
* Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles (IDW)
* Willie & Joe, by Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project -- Comic Books
* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
* Creepy Archives, by Various (Dark Horse)
* Elektra Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)
* Good-Bye, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly) [my review]
* Herbie Archives, by "Sean O'Shea" (Richard E. Hughes) and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
* Alan's War, by Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)
* Gus and His Gang, by Chris Blain (First Second)
* The Last Musketeer, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
* The Rabbi's Cat 2, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
* Tamara Drewe, by Posy Simmonds (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material -- Japan
* Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz)
* Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
* Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
* The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
* Solanin, by Inio Asano (Viz) [my review]

Best Writer
* Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)
* J. Michael Straczynski, Thor, The Twelve (Marvel)
* Mariko Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)
* Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* Bill Willingham, Fables, House of Mystery (Vertigo/DC)

Best Writer/Artist
* Rick Geary, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (NBM); J. Edgar Hoover (Hill & Wang)
* Emmanuel Guibert, Alan's War (First Second)
* Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second)
* Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library (Acme)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
* Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
* Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales, Thor (Marvel)
* Guy Davis, BPRD (Dark Horse)
* Amy Reeder Hadley/Richard Friend, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* Jillian Tamaki, Skim (Groundwood Books)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
* Lynda Barry, What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eddie Campbell, The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (First Second)
* Enrico Casarosa, The Venice Chronicles (Atelier Fio/AdHouse)
* Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
* Jill Thompson, Magic Trixie, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Best Cover Artist
* Gabriel Ba, Casanova (Image); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Jo Chen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity (Dark Horse); Runaways (Marvel)
* Amy Reeder Hadley, Madame Xanadu (Vertigo/DC)
* James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
* Matt Wagner, Zorro (Dynamite); Grendel: Behold the Devil (Dark Horse)

Best Coloring
* Steve Hamaker, Bone: Ghost Circles, Bone: Treasure Hunters (Scholastic Graphix)
* Trish Mulvihill, Joker (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)
* Val Staples, Criminal, Incognito (Marvel Icon)
* Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien: The Drowning, BPRD, The Goon, Hellboy, Solomon Kane, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); Body Bags (Image); Captain America: White (Marvel)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Lettering
* Faryl Dalrymple, Omega: The Unknown (Marvel)
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
* Scott Morse, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! (Red Window)
* Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #19 (Acme)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
* Comic Book Resources, produced by Jonah Weiland
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
* The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael
* Comics Comics, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (PictureBox)

Best Comics-Related Book
* Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd DePastino (Norton)
* Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens, edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner (Underwood)
* Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
* Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier (Abrams) [my review]
* The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Best Publication Design
* Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! designed by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
* Comic Book Tattoo, designed by Tom Muller, art direction by Rantz Hoseley (Image)
* Hellboy Library Editions, designed by Cary Grazzini and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
* What It Is, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Willie and Joe, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)

The Eisners will be awarded during the San Diego Comicon this summer. Note that Fantagraphics Books is celebrating its nominations with a 15%-off sale on nominated works, and Top Shelf is offering a free copy of Nate Powell's excellent comic Please Release with purchase of his nominated graphic novel Swallow Me Whole.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

20 Men I Admire -- A meme imported from Roger Green's blog...

In no particular order, but numbered so I can keep track:

1. Carl Sagan, for bringing knowledge to a world that embraces ignorance.

2. Charles Darwin, ditto.

3. Roger Green, for sharing his blogging tips with me and also being a great human being.

4. James Howard Kunstler, for calling it as he sees it, and usually getting it right.

5. James Kochalka, for living his dream.

6. Alan Moore, for calling bullshit on corporate servitude, and for bringing good writing to comics.

7. Ed Dague, for being a genuine journalist even after his retirement.

8. Hunter S. Thompson, for Truth, Justice, and Gonzo.

9. David Gilmour, for bringing poetry to his guitar.

10. Roger Waters, for creating Dark Side of the Moon with Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.

11. My son, for being a far better human being than I could have ever taught him to be.

12. Rob Vollmar, for seeing comics more clearly than I ever can.

13. Chris Butcher, for speaking more clearly and intelligently about the comics industry than just about anybody.

14. Orson Welles, for insisting on the purity of his brilliant vision.

15. Michael Moore, for getting frustrated and actually doing something about it, again and again.

16. Jon Stewart, for being one of the last real newsmen in America, and being very funny as he does it.

17. Roger Ebert, for plainly explaining the sublime and wondrous for decades.

18. Barry Windsor-Smith, for sharing his incredible gifts with the world.

19. Steve Ditko, for being one of the greatest comic book artists ever, and for insisting on doing it his way no matter what.

20. Bernard Krigstein, for bringing intelligence to comic book art.

Sorry it's so comic-centric, but, you know, that's my life.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009's Most Anticipated Graphic Novels -- I read a lot of really good comics last year (here's my best comics of 2008 article), and as always the past decade or so, I remain amazed at the diversity of the artform and by all the little surprises that pop up during the year (Solanin, for a recent example) in addition to the expected wonders from known talents.

[Note: As I was preparing this piece, Douglas Wolk over at Savage Critics posted a pretty comprehensive list of comics and graphic novels coming out in 2009, click on over and have a look. Thanks to David Wynne for pointing that list out to me. At the end of this list, I am highlighting just the stuff off that list that I intend to buy.]

I always look forward to any new work at all from Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Renee French, James Kochalka, Diana Tamblyn, Jason Marcy, Alan Moore, and Los Bros Hernandez, to name a few. I'm definitely hoping the Fantagraphics history book comes out this year, although "delayed indefinitely" gives me enough despair to leave it off my official list of five most anticipated books, below.

Speaking of lists, I asked some notable writers and other comics-involved folks to share their lists of whatever five comics or graphic novels they were most looking forward to in 2009. Not everybody came up with five, but I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond with their thoughts. While you're reading along, take note of the titles that stand out in your mind, and make sure you let your retailer know you want a copy of anything that catches your eye here. Recent reports suggest Diamond may be making it harder to find some stuff within the Direct Market, so it's in your best interest more than ever in 2009 to stay in top of what's good in comics, and to find whatever good sources you can to keep you supplied with the very tantalizing array of titles slated for release this year. All I can say is, if you find a good comic book store that genuinely works hard to service your needs, support the hell out of them in whatever way you can to help them make it through the current economic environment.

Here's my list of five comics and graphic novels I am most looking forward to this year:

1. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi [Drawn and Quarterly] -- Tatsumi's series of deluxe hardcovers (reprinting his highly personal and political fiction) have been some of the best comics of the past few years. A Drifting Life is his epic stab at autobiography, and is pretty much the graphic novel at or near the top of most artcomix readers' want lists in 2009. [Buy A Drifting Life from Amazon.com.]

2. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman [Abrams ComicArts] -- If it seems like there's a resurgence in appreciation for EC Comics in general and Kurtzman in particular these past couple of years, let me tell you that it almost always seems that way. As long as I've been reading comics (hint: Nixon was still President when I started), readers have studied and loved Kurtzman's unique approach to cartooning and creating comics, and this book promises to be one of the most sought-after comics related art books of the year. [Buy The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics from amazon.com.]

3. You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler [Fantagraphics] -- Tyler's Late Bloomer (also published by Fantagraphics) was a stunning collection of autobio comics, and marked Tyler as someone on my permanent "must read" list. I can't wait to see what she has in store in this new release. [Buy You'll Never Know, Book One: "A Good and Decent Man" from amazon.com.]

4. George Sprott 1894-1975 by Seth [Drawn and Quarterly] -- It seems like a long time since we've had a new Seth volume to immerse ourselves in; this one collects strips that were available online, but I think his style quite obviously lends itself most ideally to print, and this should be one of the great artcomix delights of the year. [Buy George Sprott: (1894-1975) from amazon.com.]

5. Alec: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell [Top Shelf Productions] -- Okay, if you aren't salivating already at the very thought of all of Campbell's Alec stories in one mammoth volume, I don't know how I can help you. These are the gold standard of autobiographical artcomix, and come hell or high water, I will find away to afford this in the pricier hardcover format. It'll be well worth the expense, as this is one I'll be re-reading again and again and passing on to my kids someday as an example of just how high the comics artform could aspire with the proper amounts of will, determination and talent. [Buy Alec: The Years Have Pants (a Life-Size Omnibus) - Hardcover Edition from amazon.com.] [Buy Alec: The Years Have Pants (a Life-Size Omnibus) - Softcover Edition from amazon.com.]

...and here's what others had to say.

Dick Hyacinth (Blogger)

1. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: I feel that I need this much, much more than the Ditko or the Kirby books, and I really like Ditko and Kirby.

2. Babel #3: I'm just guessing it's coming out this year; hopefully I'm right. I think the first two issues of this are David B's best work, so I can't overstate my anticipation for this.

3. A Drifting Life: I'm guessing this will be the most-cited book.

4. The first volume of the new complete Pogo series: This really isn't coming out until November?

5. Little Nothings Vol. 2: Should be out shortly. Hopefully Trondheim will keep doing these strips for a long time to come.

Diana Tamblyn (Cartoonist)

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Oni Press (due February)

O'Malley has turned the Scott Pilgrim book releases into an event. I think a lot of people anticipate these like you do a major movie release. I'm sure this will be THE book at the Feb NYC Comicon.

I am always shocked at how retailers really under-order the book though on release week (except for the Beguiling of course). They always seem to be surprised when they sell out of the 3 or 5 copies they ordered in the same day! Then shocked again when their re-order of 3 copies sells out. I really hope that they are more on the ball the fifth time around. I know I'll be picking up my copy on the day of the release.

George Sprott by Seth, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due May)

Okay, I admit I actually didn't read this when it came out in serial form in the New York Times. This is an expanded and re-mastered version though, so will be even better than that version I'm sure.

Plus you can't beat having it in book form. I'm really looking forward to it. I loved, loved, loved Wimbledon Green and this story seems to be in the same vein.

Cecil and Jordan in New York, by Gabrielle Bell, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due March)

I think this was originally solicited for November of last year and I was bummed when it didn't come out. I love Gabrielle Bell and I think she's just getting better and better. This collection of stories features full-colour work by her that looks really lovely. The one short story has been adapted by director Michel Gondry.

Nancy Volume One, by John Stanley, published by Drawn & Quarterly (due June)

Continuing in the new tradition of all the reprints coming out (Popeye, Little Orphan Annie, Peanuts), this book reprints some of the classic Nancy strips with an eye-catching cover design by Seth.

My mom's favourite comic when she was little was Little Lulu by Stanley, and I still have a few of those old comics. They are great!

Ten Against the World, by Scott Morse, published by Red Window (due Summer 09?)

Morse just wrote about this project on his blog. It's to be a 160 pg Kirby/Toth inspired monster comic set in the 1950's. He is doing the whole thing with his cintiq in two-colour. Not sure when it will be out. Maybe for SDCC? He also might release instalments online. It will be printed by his own Red Window press (which often gets distributed by AdHouse Books).

Stop right there, you had me at Kirby/Toth. I think I'm welling up here... What a great sounding project!

And finally, I will add a sixth...

Parker, by Darwyn Cooke, published by IDW (due Summer '09?)

This project was announced last year but I'm not sure when the first volume is supposed to come out. Back then they said Summer '09. Here's hoping!

It's to be four full-length graphic novels that adapt the Parker crime books.I am a big enough nerd that I even bought the promo art cards done for SDCC off of eBay.

They're gorgeous!

This is a project made for Cooke and I can't wait to get it.

Augie De Blieck (Columnist)

Absolute Superman for Tomorrow: I know it wasn't terribly good, but I think it's some of Jim Lee's best artwork. As I recall, he was in Italy while he drew this one, and there's a definite European sensibility rubbing off on his art here. Much more restrained layouts, detailed backgrounds and props. Beautiful work.

Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome - Speaking of European comics...I loved the first volume: charming, humorous, easy on the eyes. I want more!

Absolute Planetary Volume 2: OK, this hasn't been announced yet. It might not be a given for 2009, but I hope it makes it. I've held off reading the last 10 issues or so of the series for the Absolute edition. I'm anxious.

Chickenhare Volume 3: It's fun, it's anthropomorphic, it's action-packed, and Dark Horse didn't pick it up. Wait, nevermind. This one can't count.

The Comic Book Podcast Companion by Eric Houston: I admit it -- I wasinterviewed for the book. I can't help but anticipate it. Published by TwoMorrows in May.

Saga of the Swamp Thing HC, Book One - I've read and enjoyed the first two trade paperback collections of Moore's heralded run on the title. But then never went any further. Put it all in hardcover format, and
I'm sold!

Brian Cronin (Blogger)

The five books I'm most anticipating (I am sure there would be more if I knew for sure everything that is coming out next year) are:

Joshua Cotter's Driven by Lemons - It sounds like a risky endeavor, working directly from his sketchbook, but I am looking forward to anything new by Cotter (from AdHouse Books).

Alan Moore's new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books - It's new Alan Moore and there are supposedly going to be TWO of them in 2009! Kevin O'Neill's covers look great (from Top Shelf).

George Sprott: (1894-1975) - I liked this Seth work while it was appearing in the New York Times Magazine, and I think it will read even better as one solid work (especially as Seth is going to go back and do some changes to make the collected work seem worth reading to those who already read the serialized story) (from Drawn & Quarterly)

Mike Dawson's Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms - I really loved Mike Dawson's Freddy and Me, and while I wasn't exactly blown away at the Ace-Face short story in Project: Superior, I bet in the long form, Dawson will be a lot more impressive (from AdHouse Books).

Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library #20 - It WILL be out in 2009, right? Well, I always look forward to it, so it has to be on the list (distributed by Drawn & Quarterly).

Steven Grant (Writer/Columnist)

The only graphic novel I'm eagerly awaiting this year is mine, Piecemeal, from Vertigo. I haven't been paying attention, so don't know what others are even scheduled to appear.

Though now that I think of it my webcomic Odysseus The Rebel will likely be collected as a graphic novel this year by Big Head Press, so that's two...

Rob Vollmar (Writer)

The gruesome answer is I can’t think of many graphic novels to which I’m specifically looking forward. I could name fifty cartoonists and/or writers whose work I will gladly pick up if they release some. The only new writers I’ve really enjoyed of late are Jonathan Hickman and Greg Pak, though I’d like to see some non-franchise work from Pak. By and large, I’d say that the comic strip reprint market is getting the largest chunk of my dollars so that will hopefully mean new volumes of Peanuts, Nemo, Little Orphan Annie, Krazy Kat, and a holy host of others too large to own up to. I’m excited to see new work from Nate Powell, Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Hans Rickheit, Chris Ware, Jeff Brown, Farel Dalrymple or Marc Bell when and however it comes. There is still a wealth of good material coming over from Europe so you can throw Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, Manu Larcenet, Christophe Blain and Guy Delisle on there too. I’m looking forward to Naoki Urasawa’s PLUTO starting up and am still enjoying a few new offbeat manga like Wild Animals from Yen Press, Kingdom of the Winds from Netcomics, Bride of the Water God from Dark Horse and Sand Chronicles from Viz’s SHOJO BEAT line.

Overall, my impression of the North American comics industry is that it is in a rapid retraction both financially and creatively from a peak that hit about 2005 and began actively cooling off in the first quarter of 2007. There are fundamental problems with the economic arrangements by which graphic novels are produced and eventually distributed that I don’t think have been dealt with yet and are hampering the growth of the form.

Johanna Draper Carlson (Blogger)

The Big Skinny by Carol Lay (Villard), and I'm very much looking forward to Fanta's collection of Sam's Strip (originally due before Christmas).

Grant Goggans (Blogger)

1. The ten-buck Skinny Showcases coming in the summer (The Creeper, Bat Lash, Eclipso)

2. Nikolai Dante: Army of Thieves and Whores

3. Top Shelf's Marshal Law Omnibus

4. Stickleback series three

5. Playboy's Complete Gahan Wilson

Leigh Walton (Publicist)

Top Shelf is having such a big year I had to make two lists! Hope that's okay.

All-new material:
and Kevin O'Neill
The legend continues! You'll have to read this with the book in one
hand, Wikipedia in the other hand, and both buttocks on the edge of
your seat.
2) FAR ARDEN by Kevin Cannon
Kevin's book blew me away. Originally constructed from a series of
24-hour comics, he welded the whole thing into a seamless,
rip-roaring, epic adventure that ripped my brain out of my head,
zoomed around the world with it, and slammed it back in the other
3) SURROGATES: FLESH AND BONE by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=612), not to
mention the SURROGATES movie! The original graphic novel is a
perfectly executed, thoughtful thrill ride, and we're so lucky to be
getting not only a prequel book but also an eight-figure big-screen
adaptation with Bruce frikkin' Willis!
4) THE 120 DAYS OF SIMON by Simon Gärdenfors
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=648) Descend
into the decadence of contemporary Swedish youth! Well, sort of. Simon
G may just be the most adorable vagabond ever -- these are the true
stories of his four-month journey across Sweden via the kindness of
strangers willing to share their couch... or their bed! And did I
mention he's a rapper and bona fide pop star?
5) JOHNNY BOO 2 (TWINKLE POWER) and 3 (HAPPY APPLES) by James Kochalka
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=606 and
http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=644) These
aren't just comics for your inner five-year-old. These are comics that
MAKE you five years old. It might be my favorite Kochalka work ever.

New editions of past masters:
1) ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS by Eddie Campbell
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=618). The
monumental edition that this monumental work has deserved for years.
2) AX edited by Sean Michael Wilson and Mitsuhiro Asakawa
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=645). Remember
when people thought that manga would dry up because all the good
licenses would be gone after a few years? Ha. The age of grown-up
manga is just beginning.
3) The Complete ESSEX COUNTY by Jeff Lemire
(http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=640). The
thrill of this trilogy is watching Jeff depict a frigid landscape full
of frigid people with art that looks like he's inking with his own
blood. The heart and soul poured into his depictions of people and
places betray the deep wells of emotion that these characters wish
they could ignore. And it's gonna read even better as a single volume.
4) MARSHAL LAW by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill
Righteous indignation turned up to 11. I still can't really believe
that this was first published by Marvel Comics. It's the the missing
link connecting Watchmen, Dark Knight, American Flagg, and The Boys --
and somehow more insane than any of them.
5) [tie] VOICE OF THE FIRE softcover by Alan Moore
Metafiction for the masses! Somehow, after all these years Alan Moore
can still leave you shaking your head over his way with words... and
this is 300+ pages of some of his best ever.
5) [tie] LOST GIRLS single-volume edition by Alan Moore and Melinda
Gebbie (http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=219).
One of the most notorious graphic novels ever published gets a new,
more affordable edition! A lot of people who had trouble justifying
the price of the first edition will finally get a chance to see what
all the fuss is about.

David Wynne (Cartoonist)

First of all, I'm including collections in this. I've got back into buying mostly periodicals over the last few years, so I'm just geared more that way right now. The books I'm most looking forward to are often things I'm already reading in serialised form.

Also, I'm not going to do this in any particular order- Just the order I thought of them.

1: Bryan Talbot's Grandville. A steampunk detective thriller with anthropomorphic animal characters? I can't think of anyone other than Talbot who would have my money without question for the premise. Since it's him, I can't wait.

2: Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and a, so far as I can tell, as yet un-named artist. 200 pages, black and white, digest hardcover graphic novel from my favourite living crime writer, as part of the launch of the Vertigo Crime line of books. This ticks more of my boxes than I knew I had.

3: Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, due in the spring from Top Shelf. I started following this online when they began serialising it a page at a time at webcomicsnation (like all the cool good looking people do); but a couple of months in I stopped reading it, realising that I wanted to wait till it was done and read the whole thing at once. Since then I've read the occasional page, and I can't help but at least look at each new one, just because they're so pretty. The story has me intrigued as well, apparently something to do with art-smuggling in WWII- although the writing is enigmatic enough in the early pages that I'm not certain about that.

4: Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp's No Hero. I loved Black Summer, which, in the way it married thrills and spectacle with thought provoking political and scientific questions and then wrapped the whole thing inside a surprisingly fresh take on an old genre, was the nearest thing I'd read to classic 2000AD material in a long time. No Hero seems, so far, to be very much in the same vein- and I look forward to reading the whole thing in one go, cackling like a disturbed child as I turn the pages.

5: Hellboy: The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo. I love Hellboy, and I found the art transition from Mignola to Fegredo be not only painless, but in fact highly refreshing. Needless to say, this latest volume will be a must buy for me, just like every other book in the series so far.

I have an honourable mention, of sorts -- I agonised a great deal over whether or not to include the next Scalped TPB in this list, since I am looking forward to it very much indeed (it promises to be a doozy, too); in the end I decided not to on the grounds that Scalped is really a long-form work, in the mould of books like Preacher and Transmetropolitan, and as such I won't really regard it as a complete graphic novel untill the whole thing's done. The individual trades are just larger periodicals, really.

JK Parkin (Blogger)

Paul Hornschemeier: Life with Mr. Dangerous (Villard)
Gene Luen Yang/Derek Kirk Kim: The Eternal Smile: Three Stories (:01)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 (Top Shelf)
Jeff Lemire: The Nobody (Vertigo)
Brendan McCarthy's Spider-Man/Dr. Strange project (Marvel)

Dan Fish (Cartoonist)

1. New LOEG

2. Classic Captain Britain team-up with Black Knight (From Hulk Weekly) from Panini

3. Whatever the first comic happens to be that I'll be reading curled up with a milky coffee on my first quiet weekend after unpacking into my new house.

Various V-Hive Folks

Casanova coming back, really. [Kieron Gillen]
LoEG. Nothing else. [Nick Locking]
I am very much looking forward to Fantagraphics actually publishing and shipping the two-volume slip case collection of Humbug I've had on order forever and a day. [Brian Wells]
The new Scott Pilgrim is the only comic I'm actively looking forward to. [Andrew Wheeler]
The last issue of Planetary (Only 11 years after the preview was released). [Mark Annabel]
Habibi by Craig Thompson...and the new Scott Pilgrim. Reprints, the DC Showcase Presents: Suicide Squad collection, DC Showcase: Jonah Hex, Vol. 2, and since those two are just wishful thinking, I'll end with a real possibility, Paul Pope's Battling Boy. [Benjamin Russell]
Whatever Garth Ennis will be doing. I'd say LoEG but not if it's going to be another Black Dossier. [Robin Shortt]
Ian Rankin's Hellblazer OGN [Ade Brown]

Joseph Gaultieri

1. The remainder of Final Crisis
2. Seaguy II: Slaves of Mickey Eye
3. LoEG: Century
4. the remainder of Umbrella Academy II
5. Phonogram II

1. The promised collection of Morrison-influencing Bat-comics (though I suspect it's been replaced by the death themed volume out in a few weeks).
2. Showcase: Strange Adventures (those are some awesome covers. Surely the contents won't disappoint!)
3. JLA: the Deluxe Collected Edition volume II (Rock of Ages!)


Finally, as promised way up top, and using Douglas Wolk's list of expected 2009 releases, here's my planned purchase list for this year:


Lewis Trondheim: Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome (NBM)


Gilbert Hernandez: Luba (Fantagraphics)
Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely: All Star Superman vol. 2 (DC)
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe (Oni)


Larry Gonick: Cartoon History of the Modern World Pt. 2: From the Bastille to Baghdad (Collins)


Gilbert Hernandez: The Troublemakers (Fantagraphics)
Yoshihiro Tatsumi: A Drifting Life (Drawn & Quarterly)
Ariel Schrag: Likewise (Touchstone)
Paul Hornschemeier: Life with Mr. Dangerous (Villard)
Tom Spurgeon/Jacob Covey: Comics As Art: We Told You So (Fantagraphics)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 (Top Shelf)
C. Tyler: You'll Never Know, Book 1: "A Good and Decent Man" (Fantagraphics)


Seth: George Sprott 1894-1975 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Jaime Hernandez: Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray (Fantagraphics)
Fletcher Hanks/Paul Karasik: You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! (Fantagraphics)
Ben Schwartz, ed.: Best American Comics Criticism (Fantagraphics)


David Mazzucchelli: Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
Peter Bagge: Everyone Is Stupid Except for Me (Fantagraphics)


James Jean: Process Recess 3 (AdHouse)
Eddie Campbell: Alec: The Years Have Pants (Top Shelf)
Alan Moore/Curt Swan: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Deluxe Edition (DC)
Warren Ellis et al.: Planetary vol. 4 (WildStorm/DC)
Charles Burns: Skin Deep (Fantagraphics)
Michael Kupperman: Tales Designed to Thrizzle (Fantagraphics)
Zak Sally: Like a Dog (Fantagraphics)


Los Bros Hernandez: Love & Rockets: New Stories #2 (Fantagraphics)


Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #2 (Top Shelf)


Gary Panter: Dal Tokyo (Fantagraphics)


VA: AX Vol. 1 (Top Shelf)


R. Crumb: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis (Norton)
Farel Dalrymple: The Wrenchies (:01)

Whew! Here's to hoping the economy picks up. This looks like another banner year for comics and graphic novels. I can't wait. Thank you to all who sent in their lists, and please feel free to share your thoughts and these or any other 2009 releases in the comments.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Responses to My 100 Must Read GNs -- I'll try to keep this updated with new links as I find them or they're sent to me, followups to my list of 100 Must-Read Graphic Novels:

Logan Polk's 50 Must-Reads, most of which are not on my list, although many of them almost made it.

Which books on my list cartoonist Jason Marcy has read.

Johnny Bacardi does the same, quibbling about a "difference" between "graphic novels" and "trade paperbacks." Johnny, Johnny...! You're supposed to be hip to the jive, Daddio!

Blog This, Pal looks at the list. And says I "took the high road," surely a first.

Writer/artist Gary Spencer Millidge is happy at being #51.

David Wynne looks at my list and comes up with his own list of 50. Good man, Dave!

More links as they come in...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

100 Must-Read Graphic Novels -- According to Eddie Campbell, "anyone who thinks there are more than a few dozen so-called 'graphic novels' worth reading is an idiot." Sorry, Eddie, I beg to differ. Here's my list of 100 Must-Read Graphic Novels. Funny part is, I limited most creators to two or three slots, or Eddie Campbell's oeuvre would have made up a good half-dozen all on their own, and the list would have been closer to 200.

100 - Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella by Lewis Trondheim (NBM)

099 - Reid Fleming: Rogue to Riches by David Boswell (Deep Sea Comics)

098 - Real Stuff by Dennis Eichhorn et al (Swifty Morales Press)

097 - The Norm in Color by Michael Jantze (thenorm.com)

096 - Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Drawn and Quarterly)

095 - Life's a Bitch: The Collected Bitchy Bitch by Roberta Gregory (Fantagraphics Books)

094 - Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

093 - Curses by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn and Quarterly)

092 - American Splendor: The Best of American Splendor by Harvey Pekar et al (Ballantine)

091 - War Stories by Garth Ennis et al (two volumes) (DC Comics)

090 - A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Abraham Lincoln by Rick Geary (NBM)

089 - Storeyville by Frank Santoro (Picturebox)

088 - All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC Comics)

087 - Spent by Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly)

086 - My War with Brian by Ted Rall (NBM)

085 - Mad Night by Richard Sala (Fantagraphics Books)

084 - Late Bloomer by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics Books)

083 - The Collected Hutch Owen by Tom Hart (Top Shelf)

082 - God's Bosom and Other Stories by Jack Jackson (Fantagraphics Books)

081 - Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge (Fantagraphics Books)

080 - Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)

079 - Ripple by Dave Cooper (Fantagraphics)

078 - Conan: Born on the Battlefield by Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth (Dark Horse)

077 - City of Glass by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli (Harper Perennial)

076 - Bone One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)

075 - Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon)

074 - Daddy's Girl by By Debbie Drechsler (Fantagraphics Books)

073 - The Gypsy Lounge: Lunchtime Variety Criminals by Jasen Lex (Aweful Books)

072 - Marvel Boy by Grant Morrison and JG Jones (Marvel Comics)

071 - The Walking Man by Jiro Tanaguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

070 - Waterwise by Joel Orff (Alternative Comics)

069 - Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen (Alternative Comics)

068 - Good-Bye by Yosihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

067 - Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

066 - The Push Man - by Yoshiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

065 - Shuck Unmasked by Rick Smith and Tania Menesse (Top Shelf)

064 - Paul Has A Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn and Quarterly)

063 - Monkey vs. Robot by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

062 - Hellboy by Mike Mignola (six volumes to date) (Dark Horse)

061 - Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie (Top Shelf)

060 - McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 edited by Chris Ware (McSweeney's)

059 - The Legend of Wild Man Fischer by Dennis Eichhorn and J.R. Williams (Top Shelf)

058 - The Fart Party by Julia Wertz (Atomic Books)

057 - Demo by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (DC/Vertigo)

056 - The Silver Surfer by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)

055 - Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus by Jack Kirby (four volumes) (DC Comics)

054 - Pizzeria Kamikaze by Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka (Alternative Comics)

053 - James Sturm's America by James Sturm (Drawn and Quarterly)

052 - Palestine by Joe Sacco (Fantagraphics Books)

051 - Strangehaven by Gary Spencer Millidge (three volumes to date) (Abiogenesis Press)

050 - The Outer Space Spirit by Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer and Wallace Wood (Kitchen Sink) (Out of print; stories available in The Spirit Archives Vol. 24 from DC Comics)

049 - Top Ten by Alan Moore, Zander Cannon and Gene Ha (two volumes) (America's Best Comics)

048 - The Placebo Man by Tomer Hanuka (Alternative Comics)

047 - We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC/Vertigo)

046 - David Boring by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)

045 - Cages by Dave McKean (NBM)

044 - Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics Books)

043 - Crecy by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres (Avatar Press)

042 - The Maakies by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics Books)

041 - The Book of Leviathan By Peter Blegvad (The Overlook Press)

040 - Fantastic Butterflies by James Kochalka (Alternative Comics)

039 - B. Krigstein Comics by Bernard Krigstein (Fantagraphics Books)

038 - Jay's Days: Rise and Fall of the Pasta Shop Lothario by Jason Marcy (Hairy Bald Guy Books)

037 - Gødland by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image Comics)

036 - Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley (four volumes to date) (Oni Press)

035 - The Filth by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston (DC/Vertigo)

034 - The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)

033 - Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC Comics)

032 - Marbles in My Underpants by Renee French (Oni Press)

031 - Catwoman Volumes One through Four by Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, et al (DC Comics)

030 - Bluesman by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo (NBM)

029 - The Castaways by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo (NBM)

028 - DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics)

027 - Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (DC Comics)

026 - The Journal Comic by Drew Weing (Self-published)

025 - 32 Stories by Adrian Tomine (Drawn and Quarterly)

024 - The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best (First Second)

023 - It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)

022 - Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca (SLG)

021 - Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (DC Comics)

020 - Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Marvel Comics)

019 - Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (three volumes to date) (Marvel/Icon)

018 - Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (four volumes) (DC/Wildstorm)

017 - Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)

016 - The Complete Peanuts by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics Books)

015 - King-Cat Classix by John Porcellino (Drawn and Quarterly)

014 - Locas by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)

013 - The Frank Book by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books)

012 - The Ticking by Renée French (Top Shelf)

011 - Bob and Harv's Comics by Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb (4 Walls 8 Windows)

010 - Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)

009 - Alec: How to be an Artist by Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)

008 - Hey, Wait... by Jason (Fantagraphics Books)

007 - Ghost World by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)

006 - Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

005 - American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

004 - Ice Haven by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)

003 - Louis Riel by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly)

002 - Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner (Frog LTD)

001 - From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)

What do you think? Is Eddie Campbell right, or are there more than a few dozen graphic novels worth reading? I think every book on this list demands the attention of anyone that loves good comics and wants to know all the very best works the artform has to offer, and I think this list is just a beginning.

What's on your list?


Speaking of graphic novels, buy some cheap and with free shipping during the ADD Blog graphic novel sale!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Books About Writing Found on My Desk -- In no particular order:

Roget's Super Thesaurus by Marc McCutcheon

Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors

AP Broadcast News Handbook by Brad Kalbfeld

On Writing by Stephen King

The Elements of Editing by Arthur Plotnik

The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) by Strunk and White

The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm writing more lately, and enjoying the process a lot. I don't know what to credit it to, but it's certainly due in part to a conversation a week ago with Roger Green about his blogging process. So, thanks, Roger.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

ADD's 2007 Year in Review -- Let's look back at a great year for comics. First up:

THE BEST of 2007

* Crecy, Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres (Avatar) -- This one took me by surprise, and ended up being by far one of my favourite comics of the year. The way Ellis uses the lead character's narration is pretty unique in comics, and adds a layer of comedy and depth to the true story of a crucial historical battle. This is one you have to experience to really appreciate how accomplished it is. [Full Crecy review].

* Criminal, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon) -- Although I didn't review any single issues of this in calendar 2007, it was still my favourite monthly read and a more entertaining and well-crafted title than any other five comics you could name from either Marvel or DC. The second story arc, "Lawless," just wrapped up, and it was one of Brubaker's best pieces of character work ever, with Phillips contributing his usual amazing artwork -- he's the very best artist currently creating monthly comics, no question. [Criminal #1 review].

* Marvel Zombies: Dead Days and Marvel Zombies 2, Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips (Marvel) -- Nothing captures the real spirit of Marvel's heyday better than this perverse reimagining of their core characters, which has become a franchise unto itself. Stick with the books by Kirkman and Phillips, and know you're in for a grand time. [Marvel Zombies 2 #1 review].

* I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics Books) -- Junky and presumed-forgotten comics by one of the artform's weirdest minds were recontextualized by Fantagraphics and editor Paul Karasik into one of the must-read collections of the year. You may never look at superheroes the same way again, and never have as much fun reading them. [I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets review].

* A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Saga of the Bloody Benders, Rick Geary (NBM/ComicsLit) -- This was one of the finest and most fun original graphic novels of the year. You don't hear much about Geary on the comics news sites, but he quietly has become one of the most unique and dependable storytellers in the entire medium. [Bloody Benders review].

* Please Release, Nate Powell (Top Shelf) -- If there's a more thoughtful and interesting artcomix practitioner than Nate Powell, I don't know who it would be. He's someone you'll be hearing a lot more about in the years ahead, and the stories in this collection are a good indicator why. [Please Release review].

* Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel) -- I didn't review this, but I don't think there was a better value for your superhero dollar than this 99.9 percent perfect collection of possibly the greatest superhero comics of all time. The misspelling of Steve Ditko's name on the last page is the only flaw I could detect, but Jesus, what a flaw to have in an otherwise exquisite presentation of these essential comics.

* All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC) -- The most fun I've had since, well, any other Morrison and Quitely project you could name. One of the greatest, most entertaining teams working in corporate comics.

* Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly) -- Any other creator delivering a novel this dense and entertaining would probably be hailed in every corner of the blogosphere, but the excellence of Shortcomings is by now expected, and therefore possibly not as thrill-generating. But rest assured, this exploration of race and relationships is Tomine stretching, even if just a little bit, and that makes it more than worth your attention. [Optic Nerve #9 (Shortcomings Chapter 1) review].

* The Complete Peanuts, Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics) -- This series is well into the most glorious era of the best comic strip ever, and you should definitely be reading along to see how the magic happened, day after day, for half a century. I recently reviewed David Michaelis's Schulz biography, Schulz and Peanuts, as well.

* Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty (Dark Horse) -- I don't know if this title will bring any new readers to comics, but if you were ever a fan of Whedon's TV work, this is the most note-perfect adaptation/continuation you could possibly have asked for. Even writer Brian K. Vaughan's arc is keeping me entertained, and that's quite an accomplishment considering his stuff usually not only leaves me cold, but makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

* Spent, Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly) -- I suppose this is the sort of story anti-artcomix folks are talking about when they damn all artcomix with the "navel-gazey/autobio/masturbation" accusation. Fuck them, I love Matt's stuff. [Peepshow #13 (Spent Chapter 1) review].

* The Boys, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite) -- Anyone who dismisses The Boys as mere foul-mouthed satire is missing one of the wildest and best superhero rides around. The book just gets better with every passing issue. [The Boys #8 review].

* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni), and Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (DC/Wildstorm) -- All right, I haven't read these yet because they come out today. I admit it. But by this time tomorrow I will have likely read both, and based on previous volumes in both series, I have no doubt they belong on this list. If I'm wrong, I'll happily come back and edit this post. But I don't think I'll have to. Related: As much as I miss Moore's ABC line, I am pleased as punch for him that he's out from under his indentured servitude to DC, a company that has gone far out of its way to shit on him time and time again. And I look forward to supporting every project he chooses to create with any other publisher. DC really, really fucked up when they decided (multiple times) to alienate the best writer ever to work in comics, and they will likely lose hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in future revenue as a result of their petty, vindictive bullshit. Fuck anyone who had a hand in Moore's decision to separate himself permanently from the company.

And now, because there was just a lot of it, here's some of:

THE WORST of 2007

* Martha Washington Dies, Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons (Dark Horse) -- I don't know what I was expecting from this, but having really enjoyed the original series back when it debuted, this came as something of a shallow, pointless kick in the teeth. [Martha Washington Dies review].

* Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver (DC) -- Noogies. Fucking noogies. Who does Geoff Johns have pictures of, and what farm animal are they sodomizing, exactly? I can't believe anyone would even have to ask if Geoff Johns still sucks, but there it is. He sure as fuck does. [GLSCS #1 review].

* Tales from the Crypt #1, various (Papercutz) -- Very possibly the worst idea of the year, if not ever. [TFTC #1 review].

* Thor #1, J. Michael Straczynski and Oliver Coipel (Marvel) -- "How mightily it fails to impress," I said, proving just how pervasive Thor's pseudo-Shakespearean dialect might be. This was one big, malodorous turd in the mighty small punchbowl that is "what I expect from Marvel these days." [Thor #1 review].

* The Highwaymen #1 (DC/Wildstorm) -- The creators of this exercise in generic tedium were shocked when the title was canceled after a handful of issues. I sure as hell wasn't. [The Highwaymen #1 review].


What am I looking forward to in 2008? Hopefully more surprises like Crecy and I shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, and more expected excellence like Criminal, All-Star Superman, Scott Pilgrim, anything by Rick Geary, and The Boys. And I really hope Dark Horse collects (in hardcover, goddamn it!) Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth's Born on the Battlefield, one of the most compelling Conan stories ever presented. I'd also like to see Barry Windsor-Smith's Paradoxman collection from Fantagraphics, and see Marvel get its head out of its ass and release BWS's Thing graphic novel.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Five by Five -- Once upon a time, Tom Spurgeon used to ask a new question at the end of every workweek and ask for a list of five answers. The feature was succinctly called "Five for Friday," and I enjoyed responding to it in its day. Since he's not doing it anymore, and since answering the questions was always a thought-provoking exercise, I thought I'd post some of my favourites here.

* Five Desert Island Comics

5. THE COMPLETE CRUMB COMICS. The older (and wiser) I get, the more I appreciate Crumb's skill as an artist, and more importantly, his fearless reportage about his own life and the world around him. Few artists have so completely, evocatively and fearlessly chronicled the era in which they lived, and how they lived in it, and I would want to have the Fantagraphics series with me on my desert island because it's literally every comic Crumb has ever done. You'll note that few creators in the history of comics could easily compile such a project, but Crumb's visionary retaining of all rights to his work have, no doubt, made the legal end of such a massive undertaking as easy as pie.

4. THE COMPLETE PEANUTS. If I'm limited to five series, you can bet that the previous entry and this one are my way of making sure that I have a ton of reading material to wile away the long days and nights with. THE COMPLETE PEANUTS will, by the time it's over (around my 50th birthday, egad!), collect a half-century of some of the very best comics ever created, by one of the artform's sublime masters. The Seth-designed hardcovers will look great on the shelves in my hut, too, in-between my coconut-shell bookends.

3. STREET ANGEL. Yeah, it's only five issues and a trade paperback, but STREET ANGEL is among the most inventive entertaining comics I've read in the past couple of decades; I literally despair at the thought of never being able to read them again, so, I'm bringing them along to the island. Yar!

2. ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY. One thing I will need as the years "ware" on is a challenge; Chris Ware's unique, literary series will provide me with a number of them. The work itself is challenging, requiring close attention in order to fully immerse oneself Inside the worlds he creates. But even more challenging will be my years-long effort to build all the paper toys that are a part of almost every issue of ACME. Hopefully there'll be some Elmer's Glue on the island, or at least an old horse I can render down in order to make my delicate, ephemeral playthings.

1. EIGHTBALL. Issue #22 of this series, featuring the story "Ice Haven," is widely regarded (in my house anyway) as the finest single issue of any comic book ever produced. Epic in scope, filled with flawed, endearing and human characters, and encompassing a mystery that re-engages me fully every time I read it, the issue (or the Pantheon hardcover version titled "Ice Haven") is absolutely indispensable to anyone who wants to experience the greatest joys comics can contain. But the rest of the series holds wonders, as well, from the Ghost World stories to the snarky short pieces about Christians, the secret gayness of sports and Jim Belushi (!), to such landmark serials as "David Boring" and "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron." One of the very best comic book series ever created, I absolutely would be lost without a complete set of EIGHTBALLS to keep me company, there on the island.

* Five Artists I didn't like as a kid but appreciate now:

1. Mike Sekowsky
2. Don Heck
3. R. Crumb
4. Nestor Redondo
5. John Buscema

Plus, five I didn't appreciate then and my opinion hasn't substantially changed:

1. Alex Saviuk
2. Alan Kupperberg
3. Vince Colletta
4. Rich Buckler
5. George Tuska

And yes, it is a mystery to me as well why I have come to appreciate Don Heck's artistry while still not caring for Tuska's work, despite what seem to be a lot of similarities in their work to my eyes...

* Five Cartoonists I Just Don't "Get."

Here are five cartoonists I can't read even if I try real hard.

1. Jennifer Daydreamer -- Harmless, but every story I've read leaves me wondering why anyone but her needs to read them.

2. Andy Runton -- I get the appeal for anyone under 10, but am mystified by the adoration adults lay at his doorstep. I can't even ready all the way through one of his stories, and I've tried numerous time. My kids love his stuff, though.

3. Marc Bell -- A nice ink line, but too far removed from the boundaries of my
perception to be readable to me.

4. Danny Hellman -- A dead ink line, a bitter spirit I interpret as a self-recognition of an utter lack of talent, and a toxic effect on the greater community of readers and creators. More than anyone else, Hellman is a cancer that should be excised from comics.

5. Doug TenNapel -- Contemptible co-opting of the style of Will Eisner and others in a transparent attempt to bring Jesus to the heathen comics masses.

* Five Things That Crucially Changed How I Saw Comics

1. The Comics Journal, circa 1979
2. The Passiac Book Center's 100 Comics for $10.00 deal in the 1970s
3. The Bud Plant Catalog, circa 1980
4. A circa-1978 visit to Heroes World in New Jersey
5. Fantaco in Albany, NY (first visit, 1981)

* Five Things I'd Like to See Happen to Comics in the Future

1. All comics retailers adopt standards of excellence for the appearance and upkeep of their shops, to make the stores as welcoming to children, women and brand new readers of every stripe as most currently are to developmentally stunted Geoff Johns fans.

2. Stores that (admirably) carry a full(er) line of manga and alternative/indy/art comics actually mention that fact in their advertising and on the outside of their stores.

3. Retailers insist that their staff actually follow news in the artform and industry of comics, so that uninformed clerks can not look ridiculous to their customers who read newspapers and the internet and can actually, you know, take more of the customer's money when they are begging to give it to the store.

4. Retailers get out to Borders, Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores once in a while and see what their real competition is doing to serve their customers in the area of comics and graphic novels.

5. Retailers stop wasting so much display space on superhero comics: The fucking things are nerd heroin. The nerds will find them. Better use the space to display, face-out, the graphic novels that are making news so that when the bored wives and girlfriends are looking around the shop, they actually recognize something they might
actually want to read -- and buy.

* Five Comics That Comics Right Now (May, 2005)

1. Or Else -- The status quo of artcomix is represented in this experimental, lovely ongoing title from Drawn and Quarterly; one of the best things they've brought to the marketplace in years. Kevin Huizenga joins the pantheon of creators I'll follow for life, in the footsteps of Crumb, Clowes, Moore, Hornschemeier and Ware.

2. Sea of Red -- Would this even exist if not for The Walking Dead, and the entire Steve Niles/IDW axis of horror comics? There's a large, untapped market for nicely-illustrated horror comics, and Sea of Red typifies what that market is looking for.

3. The R. Crumb Handbook -- We are in an era of beautiful, landmark collections and retrospectives concerning some of the greatest talents in comics history. From B. Krigstein Vol. 1 to the Chris Ware monograph to Comic Art magazine and Levin's Rebels and Outlaws book, now is the time to read in-depth examinations of the greatest works in the artform and the creators that made them happen.

4. Sleeper -- This one is representative of corporate comics' inability to nurture and grow quality titles by some of their most gifted creators. That Sleeper, or Human Target, to name a similar case, are unable to find an audience is an indictment of the approach and priorities of the powers that be at the highest levels of corporate comics. The failure of these great books is a dark stain on the records of incompetent executives and marketing personnel, and heads should be fucking rolling, not to put too fine a point on it.

5. Comics Festival -- This Free Comic Book Day offering, which I recently reviewed, is a joyous "So what?" to my point about Sleeper: Here's Darwyn Cooke, who should be all rights be a superstar in corporate comics, delivering in just a few panels the definitive statement on current trends at DC and Marvel. Here's many of the best comics creators working today giving their all in a free comic that shows the world how great an artform we have.

* Five Recommended Editorial Cartoon Collections

1. Anything by Tom Tomorrow
2. The Bush Junta
3. Freedom Fries
4. Attitude edited by Ted Rall
5. Attitude Vol. 2 edited by Ted Rall

* Five Recommended Anthologies

1. Kramer's Ergot 5
2. Zero Zero
3. The Top Shelf anthologies
4. Comics Festival!
5. Origins of Marvel Comics

* Five Recommended Porn Comics

1. Dirty Stories Vol. 1-3
2. Small Favors
3. R. Crumb's "Joe Blow"
4. Birdland
5. Fucklesuckle Funnies

* Five Titles I Looked Forward to in 2006

1. Bluesman - NBM
2. The Ticking - Top Shelf
3. More Ganges and Or Else from Kevin Huizenga
4. My Day in the Life of Jay by Jason Marcy
5. The Paradoxman and The Thing GN by Barry Windsor-Smith

* Five Things I Miss About Comics

1. Superhero art one-one-hundredth as dynamic and engaging as that in Byrne and Austin's Uncanny X-Men or Miller and Janson's Daredevil.

2. Amazing Heroes.

3. FantaCo, the Albany shop and publisher I got my books at in the 1980s.

4. Spinner racks. The ones in comics shops don't count, they make it worse.

5. Raoul Vezina, Wallace Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, among too many others.

* Five Recommended Superhero Comics, 1938-1964

1. Wallace Wood's Daredevil
2. The Spirit in Outer Space by Jules Feiffer and Wallace Wood
3. Steve Ditko's Blue Beetle
4. Steve Ditko's Captain Atom
5. Carmine Infantino and John Broome's The Flash

* Five Important Figures in Comics Not Primarily Creators

1. James Sime
2. Jim Crocker
3. Christopher Butcher
4. Jeff Mason
5. Eric Reynolds

* Five Recommended Runs, Four Issues or More, of Superhero Comics, 1980-2005

1. Street Angel #1-5
2. Promethea #1-32
3. X-Man #63-75
4. The Authority #1-12
5. Wildcats - Vol. 2 from where Joe Casey takes over (#5? #6?) until Vol. 3 ("Wildcats 3.0") when "Coup D'Etat" rips the shit out of what was a great book for a long, uninterrupted run. Also Alan Moore's Vol. 1 run of Wildcats.

* Five Living Cartoonists I Wish Published More Frequently

1. Robert Crumb -- I know he has a literal boatload of work in print, but the recent magazine pieces he has done have given extremely promising hints of what his current style is like. I would kill to see him do a complete, original graphic novel right now.

2. David Mazzucchelli -- Probably one of the greatest cartoonists alive, and yet we hardly ever see anything at all from him. The three issues of Rubber Blanket and the occasional anthology contribution leave me wishing for more, a lot more.

3. Adrian Tomine -- If he could put Optic Nerve out on a bimonthly basis, I could call my wife a regular comics reader and not be lying. The industry needs a New Mainstream that looks more like Tomine's blend of naturalistic humanism.

4. Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo -- The Castaways was nominated for an Eisner, and BLUESMAN showed that not only was Castaways not a fluke, but that the creative team was capable of quick and measurable growth.

5. Gary Spencer Millidge -- I know Strangehaven's meticulous approach is demanding and time-consuming, but this is another yearly-or-so effort that I wish came out much more often.

* Five Comics with Great Cover and/or Production Design

1. The Maakies books from Fantagraphics -- the perfect format for these strips.
2. American Elf HC
3. Blankets HC
4. Project Superior HC
5. Mother Come Home

* Five Titles I Loaned or Lost and Never Got Back

1. ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS -- Loaned to the boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend who shared an interest in comics. He moved away and took the book with him. The book was a Christmas gift from my parents in the late 1970s that I read in utter wonderment by the light of the Christmas tree as everyone else slept that morning. There's not much I wouldn't give to have that copy back, although I do have a later printing that I acquired a year or two back. It's not quite the same, though.

2. CEREBUS, near-complete collection -- File this under "lost," when I sold it cheap to my friend Marshall in one of my periodic exoduses (exodii?) from comics. He later lost it, too, and probably regrets it as much as me.

3. FACTOR C -- A hand-drawn and hand-stapled comic book that I created in high school and college, thinly veiled autobio that integrated a fictional local crime ring (headed up by the aforementioned Marshall as "H the Unspeakable") and owed a heavy debt to Frank Miller's Daredevil. I have no idea whatever happened to those.

4. THE COMICS JOURNAL, near-complete collection. When my wife and I moved house in the mid-'90s, some 150 or so TCJs were left in the trunk of my car. I meant to bring them in eventually, but had no idea the trunk wasn't waterproof. One rainstorm later, here's a trunk full of multi-coloured cornflakes.

5. Autograph Book -- In the 1970s, my parents mailed a blank autograph book to the offices of Marvel Comics. It was signed and sketched by Stan Lee, Dave Cockrum, Jim Shooter, and at least a dozen other Marvel stalwarts -- some doing full, pencil-ink-colour finished drawings in it. Later I had Dave Sim draw Cerebus in it (I think at a FantaCon in the '80s in Albany). Again, no idea whatever happened to this book. It was blue and about 4X6 inches, so, if you have it, that's where it came from, whoever you are.

* Five Comics Industry Events You Would Have Liked to Have Witnessed

1. Gary Groth interviewing Todd McFarlane for The Comics Journal
2. Paul Levitz finding out LOEG was going to Top Shelf
3. Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb conceiving American Splendor
4. Alan Moore writing the final chapter of Voice of the Fire
5. Deni saying to Dave whatever it is that made him the way he is

* Five Places I've Purchased Comics

1. Earthworld Comics, Central Avenue, Albany, NY
2. Electric City Comics, Van Vranken Ave., Schenectady, NY
3. The Comic Depot, Route 9N, Greenfield Center, NY
4. The Beguiling, Toronto, Ontario
5. Modern Myths, Northampton, Mass.

* Five Recommended Stories 16 Pages or Less

1. "Street Angel" by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca from the 2004 Slave Labor Free Comic Book Day comic

2. "Standing Behind Old Jewish Ladies in Supermarket Lines" by Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb

3. "Fistophobia" by Renee French

4. "The Thirteen Fingers" by Richard Sala

5. "It's Just So Cute" by Paul Hornschemeier

* Five Things I Enjoy in Comics, Not Writing or Art

1. The smell of the paper and ink (most often with Drawn and Quarterly)

2. Letters pages (genuinely a lost art these days, even in comics that think they get it right)

3. Quality reproduction of great artwork. Thank God for Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Alternative, Top Shelf and AdHouse.

4. Reliable schedules, be it monthly or yearly, it's nice to know the next one will be there when you expect it.

5. Appendices -- especially Chester Brown's and Alan Moore's.

* Five Completely Random Comics Related Things

1. Learning the meaning of "Erstwhile," which many comics writers still, apparently, haven't.

2. The Passaic Book Center "100 Comics for Cheap" deals from the ads in 1970s comics,
which included comics far more entertaining and well-done than any such deal today would likely provide buyers. I discovered work like Kirby's The Demon this way.

3. Mustard dripping off my hot dog onto the comic one day when I was reading a George Perez-era 1970s Fantastic Four comic while eating lunch.

4. Marvel Value Stamps. I never cut out even one of them.

5. The Mad Maple, AKA "T.M. Maple," one of the most famous letterhacks of all time.

* Five Things I Remember About My First Comic Shop

My first regular comics shop, other than the few I visited once or twice in my pre-teens, was FantaCo in Albany. Here's what I remember most:

1. Being amazed that (the now sadly departed) cartoonist Raoul Vezina had to work in the shop; wasn't he living it up off the huge profits from SMILIN' ED COMICS?

2. The copy of World War III Illustrated (#1 or 2, I would guess) that I had in my pile when I checked out on my first visit in 1981, only to find somehow I left it behind in the store. It would be nearly two decades before I crossed paths again with the work of Peter Kuper.

3. Buying the counterfeit Cerebus #1 there, knowing it was fake, but thrilled to finally be able to read that story, then only available in the high-priced back-issue market.

4. Seeing Wendy and Richard Pini at a signing there and being surprised at how normal they were. It was as if the people who made comics were just, you know, people.

5. The copy of Metroland I would always grab from the left side of the door on my way out every week; FantaCo is gone, but Albany's free alternative newsweekly is still chugging along.






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