September 16th, 2002


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07:30 pm - Canonical list of comics...
Ok, so in response to my earlier list of canon books... this my list of canon comics....

Things of note this list is meant to represent things that one should read to get a good sampling of the American comics medium. It's comprised of more or less definitive works in medium. Not necessarily the best works (though some of them may be). In particular, Action Comics #1 is not very good, but is very important. By the same token, its meant to give you a sampling of books that would make you well rounded in comics, as such, Fantastic Four #1 and Sandman as a series run are missing. Also, I concentrated on American (or at the very least Western) comics. Manga is a totally different art form.

I suppose I will do movies next.


There are 30 titles listed below. All represent a Trade Paerback, Graphic Novel or Entire series run, unless otherwise noted
---

  • Action Comics #1 by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
  • The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch
  • Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Cerebus by Dave Sim
  • Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  • The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin
  • The Death of Gwen Stacey/The Day the Green Goblin Died by Stan Lee
  • Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
  • Detective Comics #27 by Bob Kane
  • Elfquest: volume 1 by Wendy Pini
  • God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont
  • Hellboy by Mike Mignola
  • History of the DC Universe by George Perez and Marv Wolfman
  • The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  • Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid
  • LifeDeath: A Love Story by Chris Claremont
  • Love and Rockets by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
  • Mage: The Hero Discovered by Matt Wagner
  • Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
  • Omaha, The Cat Dancer by Reed Waller and Kate Worley
  • Preacher by Garth Ennis
  • Safe Area: Gorazde by Jos Sacco
  • Sin City by Frank Miller
  • Tales of Beanworld by Larry Marder
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Jim Laird
  • The Ultimates 1-6 by Mark Millar
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
  • Watchmen, tradepaperback by Alan Moore
  • Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow by Alan Moore



So what have you read?



thanx to jameel and Wayne (and others to a lesser extent) for much help with this list.

(34 comments | Leave a comment)

 
Canonical list of comics... - graffiti.maverick

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Comments:


[User Picture]From: inmostlight Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:04 pm (Link)
I haven't read comics in years, but I remember loving Hellboy. Didn't Mike Mignolia do that, though?

I was also quite pleased to hear that they're making a movie of it, that actually sounds like it might not suck.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:19 pm (Link)
Yes, he did... my mistake... I did it all from memory... good catch, and I have fixed it.
[User Picture]From: akacat Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:22 pm (Link)
I don't disagree with any of your list--although there are a few comics on it that I haven't read. I was going to ask where on Earth I'd go to find a copy of AC1 to read, but a quick google search resolved answered that question.

I'd just add "Strangers in Paradise" by Terry Moore, and "Desert Peach" by Donna Barr.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:46 pm (Link)
Stangers in Paradise was one of the possibles I was thinking about, but it got bumped in favor of Love and Rockets. Much like when I was doing the canon books list, I decided that in order to get a good mix of stuff I couldn't have both.
[User Picture]From: akacat Date: September 17th, 2002 - 01:39 pm (Link)

Re:

Hmm. They are very similar in theme, aren't they. I never noticed really, because the personalities (of the books and characters) are so different.
[User Picture]From: lahabiel Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:41 pm (Link)

My fave, with the possible exception of "God Loves, Man Kills"

Grant Morrison's THE INVISIBLES (first series)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 05:50 pm (Link)

Re: My fave, with the possible exception of "God Loves, Man Kills"

Hmmm... good favorite, but I don't know that it mattered enough in the grand scheme of "comics" to be considered canonical. There is a lot of stuff that I liked that i had to bump from the list too. (in favor of things like AC#1, which I actually don't care for, yet I realize its significance).

That said, if I'd gone to 50 instead of just 30, I probably would have picked Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2002 - 07:04 pm (Link)
I have read:
Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Bone by Jeff Smith
Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
Love and Rockets by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
Sin City by Frank Miller
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Watchmen, tradepaperback by Alan Moore

I think I have a somewhat different perspective... As I said elsewhere, I dislike lists, but I'll play, because I love to rec comics. I think there are missing some really important American comics (your list is definitely not about "Western" comics, it discards continental European and South American comic artists/writers). Number one Krazy Kat by George Herriman, fabulous groundbreaking, surreal, funny, one of the best comics ever. Also I think Little Nemo by Windsor McCay is really important, and fun to read. There are a number of others where I would say that I would never compile any list for somebody starting to read comics that was shorter than to contain all of those:

Disney Comics by Carl Barks, from the period of 1940-1950 mostly. The guy invented Uncle Scrooge and many, many major Disney characters!! He transformed Donald from a short-tempered Duck into a multi-layered complex character. His comics continue to sell in the millions of reprints, especially in Europe. His style and range of expression is amazing. How could any list miss him?! Maybe Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strip should be mentioned too, because AFAIK he transformed Mickey from gags only to ongoing adventures.

A Contract with God by Will Eisner
The Spirit by Will Eisner
a lot of his other stuff is great also, but for comics as a medium, definitely these two.

Twisted Sisters Anthologies, both of them for a great overview of women comic artists of the more alternative type. And there needs to be some representation of the whole genre of (pseudo-)autobiographic comics, personally I'm partial to Dirty Plotte, by Julie Doucet, but that large subsection needs to be present some way.

There needs to be some representation of EC comics from the 1950s, if I were to pick a favorite from all of those I've read, I'd select Impact #1 for Al Feldsteins and Bernie Krigsteins "Master Race" of course. But probably if you want to represent influence on comics as a whole probably also at least one of their horror and science-fiction titles each in such list. (I can't come up with any outstanding issues at the top of my head.)

Also I'm very partial towards these two comics
Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, by Daniel Clowes
Cages, by Dave McKean

--Rat Creature (http://www.ratcreature.net/blog/)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 07:49 pm (Link)
I agonized with Wayne for a long time over whether or not to include the Spirit. Ultimately decided against it. Eisner is one of the most influential artists of the medium, and definitely his work can be seen in just about anyone else's modern work (american or otherwise), he coined the term sequential art. But, the list wasn't meant to show historical influence so much as to familiarize the reader with aspects of the form. As such, the Eisner got bumped, because everything he brought to the table was shown by someone else in one of the other books... not because he wasn't innovative, but because he was so innovative that most of the other people copied him. For the same reason, I left off anything by Jack Kirby. Obviously, Kirby is the most influential talent of the form, but he is so copied that he isn't unique enough one of the must reads, IMO. Does that make sense?

Krazy Kat (and Nancy) got left out for the same reason.

Yeah, like I said, I was concentrating on American comics, because to go beyond that just made the job too big to narrow down. The only reason I renegged slightly to say not quite American is that the most prominent creator on my list was Moore, and he's a Brit. Granted though, he did all the work I cited here for American comic companies.

Another bump from the list was Marvelman/Miracleman, which would have covered your EC gripe. That was just because I had so many Moore things there already that I wanted to mention someone else. I would have hated to have to get rid of Jeff Smith's Bone to feature yet another Alan Moore comic. That said, yes I realize the list is very Big Two(Marvel/DC) heavy. I was also very disappointed in not being able to get something from the original Captain Marvel run on the list, or some Dark Horse.

Disney I wanted to mention, as well as Archie just because of the staying power and ubiquity, but there was no definitive work (I almost said "pick any Archie comic, they're all the same) and I figured people would be familiar enough with them, that they weren't worth bumping something else. To a lesser extent, that's why there's no Sandman on the list. On the other hand, even though everyone is familiar with Superman, Batman and Spiderman, I did put their initial appearances in because they are so entrenched in the medium that to read them brings understanding to any other book that one might read.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2002 - 08:25 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 09:12 pm (Link)
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 17th, 2002 - 05:35 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: brotherless_one Date: September 16th, 2002 - 07:40 pm (Link)
Action Comics #1 by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel
* Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
* The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch
* Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
* The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin
* The Death of Gwen Stacey/The Day the Green Goblin Died by Stan Lee
* Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
* Detective Comics #27 by Bob Kane
* God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont
* Hellboy by Mike Mignola
* History of the DC Universe by George Perez and Marv Wolfman
* The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
* Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid
* LifeDeath: A Love Story by Chris Claremont
* Mage: The Hero Discovered by Matt Wagner
* Preacher by Garth Ennis
* Sin City by Frank Miller
* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Jim Laird
* The Ultimates 1-6 by Mark Millar
* Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
* Watchmen, tradepaperback by Alan Moore
* Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow by Alan Moore

I don't quite get the inclusion of The Ultimates. Its an entertaining read, but not particularly invovative and some what derivative of The Authority (which is also listed). Also, I love The Killing Joke as much as the next guy, but as far as cultural impact goes, I wouldv'e gone with either "A Death in the Family" (death of a cultural icon) or even "Ten nights of The Beast"(the first "series within a series" format book) . As a series which erased almost every sterotype about "funnybooks" and its target audience during the late 80's to mid-90's, The Sandman definately warrants inclusion ( I know you tried to cover that with the Death series but they were two distinct series; one was about life, the other about the art of storytelling).

Oh, EC comics! That didn't even occur to me until just now...



[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 08:18 pm (Link)
Oddly (well not so oddly) the ones you picked to talk about are some of the ones that we spent the most time debating over.

I don't quite get the inclusion of The Ultimates. Its an entertaining read, but not particularly invovative and some what derivative of The Authority (which is also listed).

Actually, I would have bumped the Authority if I hadn't gone to 30. Its too hard to understand if you aren't already familiar with comics lore and conventions. Planetery even more so (which is why it doesn't show up). Ultimates is included for 4 reasons. 1) its readable as a standalone and engaging. 2) Its a fine example of the innovative direction that the Authority has taken the industry lately. 3) It came out recently, more recently than anything else I mentioned in fact, and I wanted something very modern... this is the same thing that helped Have A Nice Day make the other list 4) Its still being published (the only superhero series I recommended that was).

Also, I love The Killing Joke as much as the next guy, but as far as cultural impact goes, I wouldv'e gone with either "A Death in the Family" (death of a cultural icon) or even "Ten nights of The Beast"(the first "series within a series" format book)

, Wayne and I discussed this a lot too.... We came to the conclusion that although Death in the Family is very defining in the Batman mythos, Killing Joke was more defining to the industy and medium. It basically created the Prestige Format for in continuity one-shots. "Ten Nights of the Beast" is another good call, but again, I think that the simple popularity of the Killing Joke over it, as well as Moore's remarkable style with the writing of it made it more relevant. Also worth noting is that the Killing Joke created Oracle who has now become one of the most ubiquitous characters in all of comics.

The Sandman definately warrants inclusion

Sandman is most notable for getting people into comic book stores than for defining the industry. It defined a niche, true... but IMO, Death: the High Cost of Living was a better read in that niche, and the niche simply isn't big enough to be worth taking up two spots (and to the extent that it is, Preacher more than adequately fills that gap... and Preacher is so much more). Much of Sandman was good and much of it was bad, so i didn't think I could recommend the entire run, like I did with Preacher or the Authority and there is no single arc that I can point to as an excellent self-contained read the way I can point to as definitive of comics the way I can to say "The Death of Gwen Stacey" or Detective #27. Given all that, and the fact that it is no longer being published, I couldn't forgive its faults to give it a recommendation the way I did Cerebus. If this were a defining books in comics history list, things would have definitely been different. Much like the Spirit.

Oh, EC comics! That didn't even occur to me until just now...

Yep... I talked about the why of that in my reply to Rat.
[User Picture]From: max1975 Date: September 16th, 2002 - 09:58 pm (Link)

sandman, death, preacher

i found high cost of living pretty boring, actually, and in no way lacking the general flaws of sandman (the main one being neil gaiman's beating us over the head with his philosophy). if you need to pick a gaiman book (and i would think you do, but i'm no comics expert) you needn't pick the whole sandman run...fables and reflections would do nicely.

i don't think preacher and sandman fill the same niche at all.
From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 10:13 pm (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 08:30 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 08:51 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:32 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:53 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:24 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:37 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:44 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 11:00 am (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 04:19 pm (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 04:39 pm (Link)

Re: sandman, death, preacher

From: anisodragnfly Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:37 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:18 am (Link)
From: max1975 Date: September 17th, 2002 - 11:20 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 01:11 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 01:35 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: jameel Date: September 16th, 2002 - 10:43 pm (Link)
I'll save some space and just list the issues that I haven't read:
  • Love and Rockets
  • Omaha, the Cat Dancer
  • Safe Area: Gorazde
[User Picture]From: jacquez Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:44 am (Link)

figured i should play

I have read:

# The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch
# Bone by Jeff Smith (some of it)
# Cerebus by Dave Sim (some of it)
# Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
# Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
# Elfquest: volume 1 by Wendy Pini
# Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman (and Maus II, which wasn't as good)
# Preacher by Garth Ennis (some of it)
# Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Jim Laird
# Watchmen, tradepaperback by Alan Moore
[User Picture]From: anisodragnfly Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:16 am (Link)
* Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
* Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
* Elfquest: volume 1 by Wendy Pini
* Omaha, The Cat Dancer by Reed Waller and Kate Worley
* Tales of Beanworld by Larry Marder
* Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
* Watchmen, tradepaperback by Alan Moore

i don't know Love and Rockets but it's hard for me to believe it's a better example of the form (whatever that form is) than Strangers in Paradise.


 

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