Readers of The Lost Art

Jean Rogers’ Top Twenty Comics

March 4th, 2009

Jean Rogers presents her top twenty comics; everything from classics, to stuff you didn’t know comics could talk about, to stuff only comics can do.


Three Classics

V for Vendetta
1. V for Vendetta – Alan Moore / David Lloyd (DC)

The Sandman
2. Sandman – Neil Gaiman et al (DC) – suggested volumes The Doll’s House / Brief Lives.

Shade the Changing Man
3. Shade the Changing Man – Peter Milligan / Chris Bachalo – early issues now in trade paperback as American Scream.

Milligan is the overlooked member of the “British invasion” of the 80s. He’s recently returned to comics with the jazzy, cheerfully cynical X-S series.


Three Classic Bandes Dessinees

4. Br. FranzSchuiten / Beno Peeters.

One of Schuiten and Peeters’ “Obscure Cities”, an intriguing story about development out of control, but the main attraction is the ravishing artwork.
5. Partie de Chasse (The Hunting Party) – Enki Bilal / Pierre Christin.

Partie de Chasse (The Hunting Party)

Bilal too creates fabulous images, but his solo stories tend to the incomprehensible: Partie de Chasse is the culmination of his collaborations with Christin, set at the very last gasp of the Soviet regime.
6. Asterix in Britain.

Asterix in Britain

Asterix you know already, though you may not know how lucky the English are to have him so beautifully translated!


Explaining why grown-ups can still love superheroes

7. Animal Man – Grant Morrison et al.
Animal Man

My first choice would have been Flex Mentallo, but it seems that’s not going to happen. Well, Animal Man is good too: it plays games with narratives, it takes one of the sillier superheroes and makes us care about him, and there’s a genuine point in what Morrison has to say about how we treat animals.

8. Alias – Brian Michael Bendis / Michael Gaydos.

Just because you have superpowers doesn’t mean you have to be a career superhero; Jennifer Jones chooses to be a private eye, instead. A story about living in a world with superheroes in it, not a superhero story – sadly this series got dragged into the Marvel mainstream, but the early stories are fine. Bendis shows off his flair for dialogue.?

9. Daredevil: Born Again – Frank Miller / David Mazzucchelli.

Even superheroes can be beautifully done; powerful and touching stuff. TheDaredevil story that everyone else keeps re-playing!


Stuff you didn’t know comics could talk about

10. Maus – Art Spiegelman


11.One Bad Rat – Bryan Talbot

The Tale of One Bad Rat

12. Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud

 Understanding Comics


Stuff you didn’t know comics could talk about… including everyday life

13. The Complete Alec – Eddie Campbell.

 The Complete Alec
Eddie Campbell’s autobiographical strip takes anecdotes about himself and his group of friends; the later How to be an Artist is fun for the insider’s eye view of comics, but the earlier stuff is more universal.


14. Ethel and Ernest – Raymond Briggs.
 Ethel and Ernest

Raymond Briggs has a fine gallery of portraits of ordinary working-class couples: look at When the Wind Blows and (another favourite) Fungus the Bogeyman. This reflection on his parents shows where they come from.?


15. Optic Nerve – Adrian Tomine.
Optic Nerve 

Adrian Tomine works a similar territory to Dan Clowes; aimless young people do the wrong thing and fail to relate to each other.


…and some stuff you can only do in comics

16. Nevada – Steve Gerber / Phil Winslade / Steve Leialoha.

Nevada explains what was going on with the chorus girl, the ostrich and thestandard lamp in the infamous “deadline doom” issue of Howard the Duck.


17. Rare Bit Fiends (any collection) – Rick Veitch.

Rare Bit Fiends is the title under which Rick Veitch collects his dream diaries. (The title is a homage to Windsor McKay – you wouldn’t call Little Nemo a graphic novel, would you? Because if you would, I’d add it to my list).


And some fun stuff
18. Finder: Sin Eater – Carla Speed McNeil.
Finder Sin Eater  

How to explain Finder? In the gray area between SF and fantasy, it describes a word of high-tech gadgetry and controlled environments inhabited by a number of different “tribes”, each with their own customs and appearance. The background is complex, and can be confusing, but the story is about human relationships.


19. Sleaze Castle. I’ve written about this before here!

20. Fables


Bill Willingham et al.Fables is the term which the characters from the fairy tales use to refer to themselves after they have been exiled from their kingdom by the Adversary,and have made their home in New York, where they set up their own enclave but conceal their nature from the local population. The book puts a new slant on familiar characters: Prince Charming, for example, seems to have been married to most of the women at one time or another. Nothing life-changing, but often fun.

(First published 11/07/2006.)

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