The Comic List, Vol. 2
Here come the capes!
What is the difference between a comic and a graphic novel?
There is a difference, yes. But for me, combine, say, Saga #1-6, and you get a graphic novel. It still is a comic for me.
Why should I write a comic?
One of the best things about making a comic, even conceptualizing it, is that it’s almost like making a film. Your film. One where you’re the director, cinematographer, the writer, even the producer! The cast gets picked by you, irrespective of caste, color, shape, or number of limbs. You choose the location where you have to shoot. You decide the weather in which you shoot, the lighting, the point at which you start your narration. Everything. And what you wish to say, that is something you decide. You can create your own superhero team or show what animals really think of us. You can depict the problems faced by space pirates. Or you can just talk about how your father passed away. It can be personal. It can be universe-spanning. It can be a bitter look at the way society treats people. Or it can be a story of hope and belief. All you need, is a story and a will to get it done.
The stage is yours.
This is something which should be seen after you have you read all the other ones. Why then, is this on the top of the list? Simply because it’s that good. That the entire world of superhero comics is too vast and too weird to be shoehorned into a handful of blockbusters. The writer, Warren Ellis, is known for explaining big science in his comics. And he does not disappoint here. So, when you’re done with reading the superheroes, take this and curl up in a corner. As one of the characters say ‘It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.’
The Ultimates and Secret Wars
This is just an excuse to get Esad Ribic on the list. Seriously. His art, coupled with Jonathan Hickman’s blockbuster narratives, is too beautiful a combination; just animate the panels and you have the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While The Ultimates was a 9 issue run for them, and one which built on Mark Miller’s initial run, Secret Wars was THE event for Marvel; all the big players and events of Marvel, from the start, were literally smashed together, creating a whole new world (rather, worlds). Hickman has made up a whole interconnected series of comic books, (the order being found here), all of which led upto this (again) 9 issue series. Superhero comics do NOT get bigger than this.
DC has this approach; when they do their big stuff, they throw everything at it. Everything will include a multiverse, the extra-dimensional beings overseeing it; Darkseid taking over the world; timespace distortions, a wonder horn…you get what I’m saying. For a first timer who has no idea of any of it (me!), this sounds very intimidating and too big a barrier to get over. But here, all of this sensory overload strangely works. Or maybe it’s just Grant Morrison.
The Omega Men
The writer here, has gone on to create one of ‘Marvel’s best series of the year’ in The Vision, and is currently in charge of Batman. The series, however, is why people started talking about him in the first place. Gorgeous covers, a rather rare nine-panel layout, and a story which ‘doesn’t lecture you. It enlightens you and then says, “So, what do we do?”’
If you remember this from the eponymous movie, hold that thought. The source material is actually much more moody, and rather depressing. People love this, though; Del Toro loved it so much that he fought for making those 2 movies. Yes, Hellboy does eventually go to hell. But before he does, he meets all sort of occult phenomena, and introduces them to his fist. Hellboy wrapped up this June.
Creators: Mike Mignola
All Star Superman
This image. It sums up the entire series. Superman is dying. He knows it, and those closest to him know it. So what does he do now? How will the world react? And what does he leave behind? Grant Morrison, with his storyline and Frank Quitely, with his art, make sure that Superman stays with you, long after you have turned the last page. Him, and that small, defiant feeling of hope.
Creators: Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely
A book which changed the face of superhero comics. As countless reviews have said, this is a story about how even superheroes have their flaws, and their own personal dark basements in the head. Goodreads is bustling with reviews from readers who have fallen in love with the story and the author. And yes, there are also those who can’t understand the fuss about it. Me? I liked it. Not much, but then I came late to this. For better or for worse, this is compulsory reading for every comic lover.
As usual, no amount of lists will suffice. I will recommend where you can find more exhaustive lists though. 100 best superhero comic runs (NOTE: the comic keeps on publishing. The creators are part of it only for a specific ‘run’) can be seen here. Comics in general? Here.
Tired of superheroes? The comic world has a way, way ,way too many alternatives to offer.
And if you’re thinking of how is it back in India, take a look here.