A chicks guide to Comics 2 - must reads

A chicks guide to Comics 2 – must reads

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I was so excited to see such an enthusiastic response to A chicks guide to Comics – the primer, from my fellow we hearters. I know we had a few proud chick geeks out there, but I was surprised to see so many new voices join in the discussion! And if you’re looking to pick up a comic and see what all the talk is about, you couldn’t have picked a better time! From big publishing houses to indie internet sites – comics are more popular than ever. Lucky readers are reaping the benefits as the storylines and art found within comic book pages continue to evolve to higher and higher levels as this popularity increases.

As promised, today I am going to share some of my very favorite comics and offer a few suggestions on some on-going series and graphic novels. (If you’re not sure of the terms, make sure to read the primer.) Also, I’ll limit my superhero recs to just a few outstanding examples; but if you’re hankering for some Superman or Wolverine, there are treasure troves of resources online (I highly recommend Wikipedia), that can get you caught up with the current storylines.

Superhero:

Kingdom Come – This is a stunning example of a graphic novel AND my absolute favorite. It’s part of what used to be called ‘DC Elseworlds’ where writers would take standard superhero mythos and put them in different settings. Think Batman in Victorian England, or Superman raised by the Amish. Seriously, I’m not kidding. This particular series is set in the near future and is about a new crop of superheroes whose brand of heroism clashes with the older generations, leading to a battle that ignites a chain of events that changes the world. This will always will be my favorite comic, EVER.

Batgirl: Year One – If you like straight up superhero stories with kick-butt girl power, try this one. The tale of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, this one is is filled with both fun and poignancy. (Especially when you realize what they did to her in the movies. *SIGH*)

Watchmen – I’m obligated to mention this one. Seriously, they’ll come and take away my Comic Geek badge if I don’t. But there is good reason, this series upon which the movie is based (and stuck fairly close to) was groundbreaking as well as startling in its story and social commentary. It’s a rich, moody and complex and tale by a first rate author with gorgeous illustrations.

Mystery (Okay, with a little superhero thrown in):

Powers – An excellent crime-based drama that deals as easily with superpowers and basic murder mysteries as it does with immortality and the meaning of being human. It’s the story of a former superhero detective and his human partner as they navigate a world where regular people can have superpowers and use them for mundane or major crimes. It’s Law & Order: Superpower Unit. It’s definitely for mature audiences; there’s blood, violence and nudity but not in a gratuitous fashion. These are a little slower coming out and are best read in order; but it’s fascinating and one of my absolute faves.

Reality Based:

Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned – Think they’re just all tights and superheroes? Remember the beautiful life of Pedro from Real World: San Francisco? This was back when RW wasn’t all making out in hot tubs and roided-out jerks threatening to hit people. Judd Winick, a comic artist and one of the cast members wrote “Pedro & Me” and it always breaks my heart.

Nat Turner – How about some history? One of the most beautiful comics I’ve seen is Kyle Baker’s two volumes on Nat Turner and his slave uprising. Stunning black and white charcoal drawings with almost no text except for excerpts from Turner’s confession before he was executed. It’s stunning and beautiful and will truly move you.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale – Maus, by Art Spieglman, is the story of a young man relating to his father and his father’s experiences in the Holocaust. When you think of stunning storytelling and beautiful art in a riveting format, think Maus. I mean, it won a dang Pulitzer

Fantasy:

Fables – What if all those lovely fairytales you were taught were actually REAL? The characters of those tales, such a Snow White and Little Boy Blue, fled their world due to a major threat to their existence and are now living in New York among us “mundanes.” Even without its great writing and subtly lovely art, it would be a hoot just being able to pick out all the beloved fairytale characters in decidedly UN-fairytale situations. (AND they have an awesome commercial!)

Death: The High Cost of Living – This stand alone one-shot is a gateway drug into the beautiful, mystically mind-boggling world of Neil Gaiman and the “Sandman” chronicles. I’ve seen this reviewed as having a very MTV feel, and it does, mostly because it was written in the early 90’s. Death is a favorite character of most readers; upbeat, pretty and not the Reaper that you’d expect.

The Whedonverse – Buffy, Firefly/Serenity and Angel and more: Do you miss the worlds of Joss Whedon as much as I do? Dive back in with the comics that continue the stories and revel in the awesomeness all over again. Not only is there Fray (my first adult comic purchase – love it so much ~Tyna) the Buffy spin-off set far in the future and featuring the lone slayer (hmm…) of the time named Mel, but there’s also more Buffy! You can read Season 8 (!!) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in comic form, letting us know what happens once the world (and the Buffy gang) have hundreds of new slayers coming into their power. Plus you can read the continuing adventures of Angel (want to know what happened AFTER that apocalyptic battle in the series finale? Now you can in comics, read After The Fall – yep, as in the fall of L.A. into hell), two Firefly mini-series AND the amazing “Tale of the Slayers” and “Tale of the Vampires” TPB’s. Oh, and a little Dr. Horribleanyone? Many but not all of them are written by Whedon, and the cast of writers includes many veterans of Whedon series. And, of course, they all deal with our much-loved and much-missed favorite characters.

There are many more that I could mention but there’s no need for me to hog all the geekery. How about you? What do YOU recommend?

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13 thoughts on “A chicks guide to Comics 2 – must reads”

  1. Ok here is this long-time geek but new this year comic book geek’s must list:

    1.The Walking Dead-This is a very well written and drawn monthly that has been going since 2003. It is about what happens to the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. It sprang from the idea that no one ever finds out what happens after this type of catastrophe occurs. And it is designed to maybe never end. It is worth reading the omnibus editions to catch up on this genius work of art. The story line is just so compelling.

    2. Locke & Key- This is a little gem from Stephen King’s son Joe Hill. And to put it in very simple terms it is about some New England kids and some evil doings. It is so well written and drawn. You truly get sucked into the story. Catch up on this one as well. you won’t be sorry.

    3.Chew- This is a crazy monthly book that I didn’t at all want to like. But I can’t help myself. It is about a police detective who gets psychic impressions by eating things. Gross, right? And very interesting! Read more to find out why. You won’t be sorry!

    4. Frenemy of the State-This a new book that comes from actress Rashida Jones. I am excited and feel like it has a lot of promise. It is pretty much about a Hollywood starlet who becomes a CIA operative.

    And of course there are many more. But I think that this is a good representation of what has kept my interest piqued in comics.

    And totally go an see Scott Pilgrim VS. The World. I just saw it last night. And if you are a comic book/video game nerd you will be in love!!!!!!!

  2. Wow, between you, @lyssachelle and you, @kellie76, I now have a must-read list in my purse, and I really appreciate it! I think Reality-Based is my genre of choice (have you read Laurie Sandell’s The Imposter’s Daughter?) but I do love a good zombie tale, too!

    I don’t know where this would fit into the comic world, but I just got the funniest little graphic volume called Henry & Glenn Forever. The premise: “Henry and Glenn are very good ‘friends.’ They are also ‘room mates.’ Daryl and John live next door. They are satanists.”
    The “roommates” are Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. The neighbors are Daryl Hall and John Oates. I don’t think any of them would be amused but I sure was!

  3. @kellie76 – These all sound great! I’m a fan of Raishda Jones as an actress (ever since I saw her and her sister in YM back in the day!), so I’d love to read what she’s written, I had no idea she’d done a comic!

    @turboterp – Henry and Glenn sounds BRILLANT! I muse get it, especially since I still harbor a 90’s crush on Henry Rollins.

  4. Whoever does moderation, ignore the uber long comment I did. I’ll break it up (making it easier to read).

    I finally put The Sandman by Neil Gaiman on hold after my Myth and Fairytale professor (the one who has a PhD in Horror but teaches a Comic Book class) kept telling me to check it out since I’m a fantasy person. That and Fables. He’s very convincing.

    In terms of Western Comics though, here are some of my favorites:

    1. Les Schtroumpfs–In English, it’s The Smurfs. This comic–along with Rin Tin Tin–are the two comics I love that are hugely popular in Europe, especially Belgium, France and Germany. The comic is very different from the television show if I remember correctly. The comics I don’t think are sold here in America (major BOO). I read the comics in French when I took French in high school.

    2. Rin Tin Tin–God, I haven’t read this in ages (like The Smurfs and Batman). I loved that the comic had a German Shepherd in it. My dog obsession began at an early age as you might have guessed.

    3. Garfield–Yes, I know it’s technically a comic strip, but I LOVE Garfield as much as I love Marmaduke and Peanut strips containing Snoopy.

    4. Batman–Okay, I admit. I haven’t read Batman in a really long time. I picked up the most recent comic and was completely lost. If you’re wondering why I have to put in Batman, our family superhero name is the Bat Gang. My dad LOVES Batman (he’s seen every last movie and every Batman series and read the comics as a kid). I watched the 1966 reruns of Batman as a kid. All of us, in terms of superhero names, have Batman names. Dad’s Batman, Mom’s Batwoman, brother is Batboy (I refuse to give him Robin because I LIKE Robin), Zena is Batdog and I’m Batgirl. Don’t laugh.

  5. Okay, because @lyssachelle asked, here are some manga recommendations (or maybe I should make a post of my own @stef. Manga is practically a world of its own. I could go more in depth there).

    I’ll try to put the general ones I tend to suggest or this comment will get REALLY long.

    If you’re female and new to manga, I tend to suggest Fushigi Yugi. It’s one of my all-time favorites. I also suggest Hana Kimi. If you tend to love girly girl illustrations, I always recommend Card Captor Sakura (you cannot get girlier than CLAMP in terms of illustrations). An ongoing series I love is Vampire Knight (do NOT watch the anime, even in Japanese. I about cried it was so bad).

    If you’re male and new to manga, I tend to suggest the ongoing (yes, it’s still in serialization) series Naruto. It’s got a lot of action and comedy. Yes, it’s a series shown on American television (and it’s horribly dubbed AND censored. If you’re old enough, watch it the original Japanese version. It’s 10x better). I also suggest Fullmetal Alchemist (the English version of the anime is actually decent).

    If you’re okay with more “serious” topics like sexuality and trying to find out your place in the world/who you are, I love After School Nightmare. It’s one of my top 10 favorite manga, if I could choose JUST ten (it would be a challenge). I’ve read it four times and still get the same feeling at the end. The end comes with a huge twist.

    Obviously, anyone can read any of these; they aren’t just for females or just for males. I separated them based on where they fall in the broad manga categories. I read Naruto until Viz fast forwarded over 10 volumes in Shonen Jump to be more match where Naruto is in the Japanese version of Shonen Jump. I was so confused because there’s a lot that went on in those 10 volumes. A LOT.

    There’s a lot you need to know before you go from Westernized comics to manga and it’s not just about format. I was reading manga during the time where what would become the big manga companies still switched the format and language style to suit how Americans read (yep, I’ve been reading it for that long). Manga has a tiny learning curve, but really enjoyable once you get used to it. In fact, sometimes I go from reading a manga to reading a regular book and I’ll open the book the wrong way!

  6. I’ve got a few humble recommendations to add:

    1. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. It’s just as good, and quite different, from the movie. I think it captures that funny time just after high school when you don’t really know what you’re supposed to do with yourself that I’m sure many of us went through.

    2. Wet Moon by Ross Campbell. Truly awesom art and a weird offbeat story about a bunch of girls living and going to school in a sleepy southern town. The dialogue’s so entertaining, compelling and natural that I just keep going back and reading them over and over.

    3. The Abandoned, also by Ross Campbell. The same great art and dialogue as Wet Moon, but this time it’s a comic about zombies!

    4.Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura. Ripping tale about a young samurai’s daughter who vows to get revenge on the men who murdered her parents, and enlists the help of an immortal warrior who must slay 1000 evil men in order to regain his mortality. It’s a lot more complex than it sounds, and is an absolute must-read!

    5. I can’t resist mentioning Black Hole by Charles Burns. It’s a strange story about teens in the 70’s who are passing around an STD that causes physical mutations. Very odd, but cool.

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  8. Coming from a fellow Comic Girl “Nerd” I recommend:

    1. Strangers in Paradise – Reality based comic about two bestfriends. One girl is the perfect blonde with a past as a highclass call girl/kill trying to escape her former life. Her bestfriend is a ditsy brunette who just wants to get married and have the “American Dream”. What happens when both worlds collide?

    2. Ghost World

    3. The Walking Dead – Because every girl needs to be ready for the zombie apocalypse.

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