Friday, July 23, 2004

Those colored-picture books

Salon has an interview with Alan Moore up, and the New York Times ran an article in their magazine a few weeks ago on graphic novels (you have to pay to read it now, but it's still here), and I'm in love with comic books all over again.

Of course, I never really fell out of love with comic books. I was a big X-Men reader in the early 90s (I came in right when Chris Claremont left), and I still love what Peter David and Larry Stroman did with X-Factor, even if it didn't last. (Is Larry Stoman still working in comics? I haven seen anything from him since Image Comics took a shit on his Tribe project.)

But everyone needs a place to start, right? And as much as I love Marvel and DC, there are some really great artists and writers out there using the comics medium to produce some really great, thought-provoking, and beautiful work. Some, like Adrian Tomine and Chris Ware, I'd put up next to any "literary" writer working today. So here's my list for those looking to dive in somwhere other than their local newsstand. (Check the "graphic novel" section of your local bookstore. You'll be surprised at how big it is.)

(All titles are available at

In no particular order:

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes (Yes, the movie was based on the comic.)

David Boring by Daniel Clowes

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware

Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman (Nonfiction, may be in the Holocaust or Jewish History section)

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Particularly good as a companion to Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.)

From Hell by Alan Moore (Jack the Ripper plus a whole lot more.)

Watchmen by Alan Moore (A brilliant alternative take on the idea of the superhero.)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vols. 1 & 2 (Argues, in a roundabout sort of way, that the literature of the 19th century had its own superheroes.)

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (Almost a regression to my newstand/comic book store days, but Batman is a character with a lot of storytelling potential, and Frank Miller does a lot with him.)

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (Not my favorite work by Alan Moore, but since I'm listing the Frank Miller.)

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud (Companion volumes, in comic form, of an almost academic, but completely acessible argument for the history and potential of storytelling in comics.)

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