11 January 2010

Trouble with Comics: The Group Blog of Comic Book Galaxy: The 15 Best Back Issues I Read in 2009: Medifast coupons Medifast diet

Remember those days when you could sift through long boxes for hours?

I still love to do that, and am just as happy buying back issues as new comics (though these days eBay is my preferred supplier). Not as good of a deal as Medifast coupons. These coupons will help you purchase great food through Medifast. In fact, with the price of new comics, back issues are usually a much better deal. As you'll see below, my strongest interest is in '80s and '90s independent stuff, but I love to try all kinds of things. The great thing about collecting comics is that there's always new areas to explore.

Anyway, in addition to my best of 2009 list, these are the best back issues I read last year:

1. Birdland - I think I've said more than enough about Gilbert Hernandez's vastly under-appreciated erotic series.

2. Cartoon Cavalcade (edited by Thomas Craven) - This was an unusual and unexpected find at the Strand bookstore - a 450 page hardcover comics anthology from 1944. A Medifast diet is a great thing to start while your reading Cartoon Cavalcade. The Medifast diet also will save you money with their monthly coupon giveaways. And for only $7.00! My first instinct was that I had just scored a major find, and that the book must be worth a lot more, even missing its dust jacket, but it's actually available through Amazon's used book service for about the same price. The book is a wonderful helping of pre-war cartoonists, mostly politically-minded humorists in the New Yorker/Harper's vein, although there's plenty of diversity on display. The book is divided into three sections by period, and each section is accompanied by an introductory essay, putting the politics of the time and the cartoonists included into context. It's a great primer for anyone interested in learning about comics pre-history, or just looking for some damn fine black and white illustrations.

3. Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary - I didn't read the high-end, hardcover McSweeney's reprint, but rather the original Last Gasp pamphlet from 1972, on browning newsprint with torn pages and one staple missing. Yet somehow it felt like the perfect way to experience this underground classic for the first time. The story of Justin Green's struggles with adolescence, paranoia and crushing Catholic guilt over his emerging sexuality are timeless and fascinating; clearly this book was the blueprint for later autobiographical cartoonists like Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Jeffrey Brown, etc. But what fascinated me most about this book was the incredible amount of symbolic and representational panel compositions. This book is a study on how to tell comics stories in a non-linear sequential format, allowing the text to carry the narrative while the artwork spirals off into one fascinating visual metaphor after another. I'm glad I finally got around to reading this book, and I can definitely see why it's considered one of the best comics of the century.

4. Disappearance Diary – I reviewed this book here. It's easily one of the best manga books I've ever read.

5. The Wild, Wild Women - I wrote a short blog piece about my discovery and fascination with the great satirist, Virgil Partch, aka "Vip."

6. Hate #1-30 – I'd read some of these issues years ago, but I finally filled in the holes and read the entire 30 issues for the first time this year. This series gets better with age, and is one that absolutely MUST be read in the original issues rather than the collections. Bagge’s letters pages are gems unto themselves, including the classic "Buddy look-a-like" and "win a date with Stinky" contests. The final six issues also featured loads of incredible backup stories by all kinds of great artists, including Adrian Tomine, Alan Moore, Gilbert Hernandez, Rick Altergott, Dame Darcy, etc. Now if I could just track down all those Hate Annuals; they're surprisingly hard to find.

7. Eclipse Magazine #1-8 and Eclipse Monthly #1-10 - These two early '80s anthology series included at least four masterpieces - Trina Robins' outstanding adaptation of Sax Rohmer's Dope (seriously, why hasn't this been collected?), Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers' Coyote and Cap'n Quick and the Foozle, the first Ms. Tree graphic novel by Max Allen Collins and Terry Beatty, and Doug Wildey's Rio (one of the best Westerns I've ever read). The latter series also included Steve Ditko's Static and tons of other great short strips.

8. Vanguard Illustrated #1-7 – This was another great anthology series from the early '80s. I went a little scan-crazy writing a tribute to this forgotten series over at Unattended Baggage.

9. Doctor Strange #48-53 –The classic story by Roger Stern and Marshall Rogers.

10. Spider-Man #27-28 – Can you tell I went through a bit of a Marshall Rogers phase this past year? I know this may seem like an odd and kind of random inclusion, but this story reunited Rogers with Don McGregor (writer of the incredible Detectives Inc. series, also from Eclipse, which was reprinted in HC by IDW this year, though sadly not in color). This was a surprisingly good Spidey story focused on guns and children, rather than the latest villain du jour.

11. The Adventures of Tintin volume 2 - I'm almost embarrassed to admit that up until this year I'd only read the first volume of the Adventures of Tin Tin, so this year I decided to check out the second volume from the library, and man, I get it. You don't have to be a kid to appreciate the stunning, immensely detailed artwork of Herge. Nor do you have to be a kid to get caught up in Tintin's exciting adventures, or laugh at Snowy's comic relief. These books are timeless; "King Ottokar's Sceptre" in particular was just awesome, though all three stories were amazing. I'll definitely be looking for vol. 3 in 2010.

12. A1 vol. 2 - The second volume of this British anthology series wasn't as good as the first one published by Atomeka Press, but it did contain one forgotten gem, the "King Leon" three-part story by Peter Milligan and Jamie Hewlett. There were also some decent short pieces, and generally great art.

13. Heavy Metal - I recently discovered a new favorite artist - Jose Maria Beroy. While on a trip to Philadelphia over the holidays, I randomly picked up two old issues of Heavy Metal for $5 - the July 1989 issue and the November 1991 issue. Both contained stories by Beroy. Beroy is an immensely talented Spanish artist who's done very little work in English. His style reminds me of a cross between Darwyn Cooke and Bryan Talbot. He apparently did a Deadman mini-series for DC comics in 2002, and some Star Trek special one-shots for IDW as well, so I have a few back issue purchases in my future, but if you have the opportunity, get yourself a copy of the July 1989 issue of Heavy Metal and see what I mean.

14. Doctor Strange Classics #1-4 - Inspired by ADD's great post on old Baxter paper reprints, I sprung for these on eBay and oh, what a treat! The great Steve Ditko, in full color, on perhaps his greatest superhero story, all for under $10. Technically, I don't think these are Baxter paper, but still, they're not too shabby and a great, cheaper alternative to the Marvel Masterworks hardcovers!

15. Mr. A – Speaking of Ditko, I also took advantage of the Ditko reprints that came out this year. I don’t agree with Ditko’s Ayn Rand-inspired objectivist philosophies, but the artwork in this book is the best Ditko work I’ve seen (though I’m far from a Ditko completist). I'm looking forward to reading The Avenging World and Wha!?! next.

So, those were my favorites. How about you?

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Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

"browning newsprint with torn pages and one staple missing" - well, yeah, it IS the way those undergrounds SHOULD be read, not on some glossy white paper, or heaven forbid, in some squarebound BOOK.

January 11, 2010 12:18 PM  
Blogger Martin T said...

Some great stuff there, Marc. I'm on the lookout for Vanguard Illustrated, myself. Birdland, too. And Eclipse magazine, and - well, you get the picture.

I bought a lot of back issues in 2009, but typically for me haven't read many of them yet. I did manage to read half an issue of Open Space, all four(?) issues of Chris Claremont's The Black Dragon, and John Byrne's The Lost Generation, which gets the occasional kicking on the internet but I enjoyed immensely. I've got a whole bunch of Badger back issues to read sometime, amongst other things.

January 14, 2010 7:08 PM  
Blogger jim kosmicki said...

not only was Rio collected, but I think there was a followup album from Epic (?) and a mini-series from Comico -- THIS is something that IDW needs to publish in a complete volume. and then somebody needs to get the rights cleared up and republish the Comico Jonny Quest series too.

January 15, 2010 5:36 AM  
Blogger Marc Sobel said...

I haven't read Lost Generation, but there's some good old John Byrne stuff out there worth tracking down. I remember really enjoying Doomsday +1, which I think was later reprinted as Doomsday Squad by Fantagraphics.

I also had no idea Rio was collected (obviously), but I definitely have to track it down, esp. the sequel. I'm not usually a fan of Westerns, but that story was really fantastic.

You're right about Comico, too. I was glad to see one of my favorite series - Steven Seagle and Tim Sale's Amazon - was recently reprinted by Image.

January 15, 2010 8:55 AM  

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