Monday, February 28, 2005

top 40 reasons i love comics

These are the reasons I love comics. Coming up with a Top 40 is a bloody process. Look at the stuff I love that didn't make it: Age of Bronze, All Star Squadron, Animal Man, Arkham Asylum, Peanut Butter & Jeremy, Astro City, Blade of the Immortal, Cerebus, Clan Apis, Watchmen, Sock Monkey...

The bottom 30, alphabetically:

Goscinny & Uderzo created some of the most enduring characters. With Asterix, they gave me hijinks during the Roman era. Bonus: the hilarious puns for names of people of various nationalities.

Along with Madman, Mike Allred's The Atomics is a funky hop, skip and jump into semi-surrealist superheroics, which simply means it's great fun to read. A mix of melodrama, action and the absurd, his brightly colored comics affect me like no other.

When Warren Ellis took over the reins of Stormwatch, the reading public took notice of his delicious writing. His fantastic run culminated in the now oft-imitated widescreen action of the first 12 issues of The Authority. Seeing how the title has devolved after him makes me want to weep.

Master of the dialogue, Brian Michael Bendis' take on multiple-word-balloon characterization is unmatched. Though he is very weak on plot resolution, his books (including Powers, Alias/The Pulse, Torso and Ultimate Spider-man) are great reading.

Jason Lutes' intense drama of people in difficult circumstances in Berlin during the time of war and uncertainty is an excellent example of how the comic book medium can tell stories like no other.

Though uneven in many places, the pure joy that is Jeff Smith's Bone mixes the "simplicity" of cartoons with the complexity of deeper issues.

Linda Medley's stories take place in the world of fairy tales with her own modernist twist. Unlike Fables, Castle Waiting manages to retain the all-important "sense of wonder".

Paul Chadwick's Concrete is the study of man trapped in a stone body, which allows him to explore themes like loneliness, longing and hope.

Louis Cha's Return of the Condor Heroes is a dizzying multi-volume martial arts melodramatic extravaganza, utterly flawed and relentlessly breathtaking.

A cast of thousands, drawn by George Perez, engaged in the struggle to end all struggles. Crisis on Infinite Earths - the DC fanboy in me loved it endlessly.

Along with Alan Moore's Watchmen, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns paved the way for a darker, more introspective method of character building.

Master of single surreal abecedaries and mindtickling single panel strips, Edward Gorey's publications, like Amphygorey, are like a bolt of lighting during a clear day.

Bill Willingham's Elementals looked into a skewed perspective of superheroics, and offered us a truly shocking Big Reveal with Shapeshifter.

James Strum's The Golem's Mighty Swing made me actually take an interest in baseball. True, observant and wise, this book is something everyone must have.

Sergio Aragones and Mark Waid made the word "mulch" funny in this series of unfortunate blunders courtesy of Groo the Wanderer, a dumb but well-meaning barbarian (and Ruferto, his intelligent dog).

Beautiful design complements the honest writing of Chris Ware. Originally found in installments in Acme Novelty Library, Jimmy Corrigan shows that there is a world beyond the saccarine optimistic drivel found in majority of todays escapist placebo comics.

Haven't read Ben Katchor's Julius Knipl books? Do yourself a favor and get Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer - see how comics can tell stories in a different way.

In the void of Sandman, Mike Carey provided Vertigo with a richly imagined fantasy series about Lucifer, the Prince of the Air. It's amusing to think that he also authored one of my new favorites, My Faith in Frankie.

The Pultizer Prize awarded to Art Spiegelman's Maus is well-deserved. Curiously, of more interest to me is the relationship between father and son than the actual horrors of Nazi concentration camps.

When I was at university, Strikeforce: Morituri was one of my fave books. The premise (you get powers but have a maximum of one year to live and use them) is compelling, and the first year's worth of stories are particularly entertaining.

Bloom County gave me Opus and his wish for wings.

In Persepolis, author Marjane Satrapi's recounts of her days as a young girl in Iran. Heartbreaking and wise, these memoirs are something to be savored and shared.

Warren Ellis is adept at fashioning stand-alone stories. With Planetary, he wrote several that are standouts. And the art by John Cassiday is nice little bonus.

More exciting than Whiteout, Greg Rucka's Queen & Country gives us modern-day espionage steeped in actual political occurances. And Tara is a babe.

Brian Vaughn's story of six kids who discover their parents are evil resonates with many empowerment fantasies. Runaways is fast-paced, with snappy dialogue and great characterization.

Carl Banks and Don Rosa gave us Uncle Scrooge , Donald Duck and the Junior Woodchucks. Majority of the stories are suprisingly well-crafted, outstripping most of anything published today.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Andy Helfer's The Shadow, that's who. Memories of "The Seven Deadly Finns" still makes me smile.

John Ostrander's Suicide Squad was ahead of its time. 2nd and 3rd tier villains given a chance at redemption by doing government dirty work opened many doors in terms of developing themes and character.

The revitalized Teen Titans by Geoff Johns pales in comparison to the height of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's run. At that time, it was the best-selling comic book, beating the popular X-Men.

Alan Moore is known for many things, but his recent best is Top 10, a police drama set in a melting pot of science, gods and everything you can think of.

Next: The Top Ten Reasons I Love Comics!


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