Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Awesome Comics You Shoud Read

These are the notes for my Ignite Ann Arbor 5 talk, "Awesome Comics You Should Read." (When the video becomes available I'll link to it...)

Banana Sunday by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover is the story of Kirby, the new girl in school with three talking primates in tow. There's a little mystery, a little drama, and a lot of funny. It's a high school comedy with Coover's fantastic art. And monkeys. It's available in a collected edition. Tobin & Coover's latest graphic novel, Gingerbread Girl,  is currently being serialized online.
Available: UM

Star Drop by Mark Oakley is about Ashelle, a warrior princess from an interstellar empire who is tired of all the fighting so runs away to Earth. A Canadian suburb, in fact. The story, currently being serialized online, bounces between Ashelle trying to fit in on Earth and rebuffing attempts by her father's forces to bring her back home. There is a collection of the early installments available in print.

Beanworld by Larry Marder defies a simple summary. Fans of world-building will find a truly unique alternate world inhabited by anthropomorphic beans. It's about ecology (but not in a simplistic way) and the role of the individual within society. First published in the late 80s & early 90s, the original comics have been collected into hardcover editions, and a third volume of all-new material was published in 2009.
Available: UMAADL (old edition)

The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roger Langridge pulls off the seemingly impossible by capturing the essencse of the original Muppet Show television series and putting it on paper as a highly successful and amusing comic book. All of your favorites sketches return, like Pigs in Space and Veterinarian Hospital; the backstage antics; even Statler & Waldorf. Usually licensed comics are pale imitations of the source material, but this one nails it. There are several trade collections available.
Available: UMAADL

Bookhunter by Jason Shiga is a hardboiled detective mystery set in the Oakland Public Library ca. 1973. Shiga brings out the humor by having the characters play the situation—a priceless book is stolen from a locked room, and the library police are called in to investigate —absolutely straight. It's full of interrogations, library in-jokes and minutiae, and plenty of action, like a book cart chase through the card catalog room. It is alas out of print, but Shiga has put the entire work online for free reading.

The Marvel Adventures series of comics is Marvel's "All Ages" set of comics, which many interpret as meaning 'kiddie.' But the various comics that fall under that banner have often had some of the most fun super-hero comics of the past several years. The issue highlighted in my talk is Marvel Adventures The Avengers #12 by Jeff Parker & Juan Satacruz, featuring the story "Ego, the Loving Planet," in which the sentient planetoid Ego falls in unrequited love with The Earth. The Avengers have to figure out a way to convince Ego to leave Earth alone. Imagine Ego being voiced by Billy Dee Williams, and you'll get the picture. It's included in the third digest collection of Marvel Adventures Avengers, Bizarre Adventures, which also has the comic in which The Avengers are transformed into M.O.D.O.C. versions of themselves. (Also recommended are the recent Marvel Adventures Spider-Man comics written by the aforementioned Paul Tobin.)

Captain Britain and MI:13 by Paul Cornell & Leonard Kirk featured the classic super-hero leading a team that protected the British Isles from various threats. It was way too short lived, but it ended on a bang with its final storyline in which Dracula launched an attack on Europe from his BASE ON THE MOON! Firing VAMPIRES AT THE EARTH via MAGIC CANONS! That, my friends, is pure awesome.

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely is easily the best super-hero story of the past decade, and possibly the best ever. The creators accomplish the seemingly impossible task of creating an ode to the silver age of the classic super-hero while at the same time being incredibly modern. It is an examination of the myth of Superman and how it can still be relevant to us nearly 75 years after his creation. Issue ten may be my favorite: it hops around in time, Superman fights a giant robot, and there's one scene that causes me to well up with tears every time I read it (in a manly end-of-Toy-Story-3 way). I could easily do an hour on the awesomeness of All-Star Superman. It was collected into two volumes, and there's also an oversized deluxe Absolute single volume edition.
Available: UM, AADL

Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz takes place in a far future post-collapse world in which dinosaurs once again roam the Earth. Schultz channels the classic adventure comic strips of the past, bringing us manly men, strong & beautiful women, classic cars, and fearsome dinosaurs. It was recently collected into a single volume edition.
Available: UM

Gon by Masashi Tanaka is a wordless manga series about a small but tough Tyranosaur that someone survives extintiction and exists in the current epoch. He interacts with modern fauna with a keen sense of justice, protecting the meek and dishing it out against predators. There are seven volumes of his collected adventures available in the tankōbon format.
Available: UM

The Middleman by Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Les McClaine is about two operatives of a secret organization that protects the Earth from aliens, Lovecraftian horrors, man-sharks, evil monkeys, evil ninjas, evil robots, etc. It began life as an unproduced television pilot, which Grillo-Marxuach turned into a comic book, which was then subsequently picked up as a short-lived but also awesome televsion series. It was equal doses of action and humor, with a touch of pathos thrown in. There is an omnibus edition of the three comic series available.
Available: AADL

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks is a zombie story in which the characters have actually seen zombie movies. The main protagonist Joss is a big horror movie fan, and when a zombie outbreak hits her Canadian college campus she uses her knowledge (and suddenly-developing zombie-ass-kicking ninja skills) to survive. It was released as an original graphic novel.

Slide four features comics you likely already know about, but for completeness, they are:

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Promethea by Alan Moore & J. H. Williams III
Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and various artists
Fables by Bill Willingham and various artists
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Love & Rockets by The Hernandez Bros.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists
Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Persepolis by Mariane Satrapi
Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore and Charles Adlard

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

Slide nineteen features more awesome comics I didn't have time to cover in the five-minute presentation. They are:

The Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction & David Aja
Concrete by Paul Chadwick
2 Sisters by Matt Kindt
Ganges by Kevin Huizenga
Peculia by Richard Sala
Axe Cop by Malachai & Ethan Nicolle
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá
Global Frequency by Warren Ellis and various artists
Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison and various artists
Liō by Mark Tatulli
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man by Paul Tobin and various artists
Chew by John Layman & Rob Guillory
Simone & Ajax by Andrew Pepoy
Little White Mouse by Paul Sizer
Love and Capes by Thom Zahler
Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson
Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado
Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma
A Drunken Dream and Other Stores by Moto Hagio
Tiempos Finales by Sam Hiti
We3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
Keif Llama: Xeno-Tech by Matt Howarth

Slide image credits:

Slide 3:
Sky Ape © Phil Amara, Mike Russo, Richard Jenkins and Tim McCarney
Kobra (Vulcan) © Fleetway Publications

Slide 4:
Watchmen © DC Comics Inc.
Promethea © America's Best Comics
Swamp Thing © DC Comics
Fables © Bill Willingham & DC Comics
Maus © Art Spiegelman
Asterios Polyp © David Mazzucchelli
Love & Rockets © Gilbert, Jamie and Mario Hernandez
Sandman © DC Comics
Ex Machina © Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris
Calvin & Hobbes © Bill Watterson
Y, the Last Man © Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
Understanding Comics © Scott McCloud
Persepolis © Mariane Satrapi
Peanuts © United Feaures Syndicate, Inc.
Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns © DC Comics
Jimmy Corrigan © Chris Ware
The Walking Dead © Robert Kirkman
Scott Pilgrim © Bryan Lee O'Malley
Parker: The Hunter © The Estate of Donald E. Westlake; artwork © Darwyn Cooke

Slide 5:
Banana Sunday © Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover

Slide 6:
Star Drop © Mark Oakley

Slide 7:
Larry Marder's Beanworld © Larry Marder

Slide 8:
The Muppet Show Comic Book © The Muppets Studio, LLC.

Slide 9:
Bookhunter © Jason Shiga

Slide 10:
Strange Adventures © DC Comics

Slide 11:
Marvel Adventures The Avengers © Marvel Characters, Inc

Slide 12:
Captain Britain and MI:13 © Marvel Characters, Inc.

Slide 13:
All-Star Superman © DC Comics

Slide 14:
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen © DC Comics

Slide 15:
Xenozoic Tales © Mark Schultz

Slide 16:
Gon © Masashi Tanaka

Slide 17:
The Middleman © Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Viper Comics

Slide 18:
Zombies Calling © Faith Erin Hicks

Slide 19:
The Immortal Iron Fist © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Concrete © Paul Chadwick
2 Sisters © Matt Kindt
Ganges © Kevin Huizenga
Peculia © Richard Sala
Axe Cop © Malachai & Ethan Nicolle
The Umbrella Academy © Gerard Way & Dark Horse Books
Global Frequency © Warren Ellis & DC Comics
Doom Patrol © DC Comics
Liō © Mark Tatulli
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Chew © John Layman
Simone & Ajax © Andrew Pepoy
Little White Mouse © Paul S. Sizer
Love and Capes © Thomas F. Zahler
Cul de Sac © Richard Thompson
Beasts of Burden © Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
Age of Reptiles © Ricardo Delgado
Yotsuba&! © Kiyohiko Azuma/Yotuba Sutazio
A Drunken Dream and Other Stores © Moto Hagio
Tiempos Finales © Samuel Hiti
We3 © Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Uzumaki © Junji Ito/Shogakukan
Keif Llama: Xeno-Tech © Matt Howarth

1 comment:

Katy K. said...

What a cool-looking list, full of things I've not heard of before! Now I want to know: what of these would work in my adult collection, rather than teen or youth?