I’ve never been a huge comic reader. I love graphic novels for their relative shortness and intensity of plot, but I never got into actual series. Now that I’m fleshing out two shorts and some smaller scenes a friend made into a full-length web series, I’d like some good recommendations.
To get a feel for the tone of the series, here’s a link to the rough cut of the first episode:
Thanks for the feedback. I know not that many people use the Garage, but I love the platform it provides for people to view your films.
Let’s help Judicial Joe out, people!
I don’t read many superhero graphic novels these days, but I would recommend Watchmen.
I would recommend a couple of (unfortunately) lesser-known titles. Bratpack and Maximortal are both done by Rick Veitch and they are about the superhero experience in “the real world” (i.e. our world). Bratpack is about the superhero sidekick and branding potentials and Maximortal is a more realistic take on the mythos of Superman throughout American history.
The Dark Knight (Frank Miller)
Batman: The Killing Joke (Alan Moore)
Watchmen (Alan Moore)
Incognito (Ed Brubaker)
The Absolute Authority Vol. 1 (Warren Ellis)
Daredevil Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Brian Michael Bendis)
Captain America Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Ed Brubaker)
Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One (Joe Casey)
As I mentioned, I haven’t read a lot of comic books/graphic novels, but, fwiw, I really liked Incognito (the perfect fusion of noir and superhero format) and Batman: The Killing Joke (I’ve heard some people call the latter the greatest comic book of all time. I don’t agree with that, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement.)
Was Miller’s Dark Knight really that good? What’s Absolute Authority about?
“Was Miller’s Dark Knight really that good?”
Yeah, it is . . . although overall, I really I prefer Miller’s run on Daredevil which preceeded Dark Knight, but it’s really too much of a time investment for a causal reader.
. . . it’s sort of a revisionist superhero team thing, so about halfway between the Avengers and Watchmen.
I read most of Miller’s Daredevil in high school, and I remember liking it. (I picked up his Ronin because of it. Didn’t care for that, especially the ending, which seemed like I was missing pages.)
The Authority sounds interesting. I’ll check the library.
Have you read anything by Ellis? (I seem to remember him coming up here at some point). He’s one of the more interesting comic writers these days. Doktor Sleepless is another one you might be able to get into.
I’m on the second book of Transmetropolitan. (A mixed bag so far. The satire is a bit heavy-handed. I liked the issue involving the people who turn into a gaseous form.) I also liked Iron Man Extremis, which is what lead me to Ellis. (You and DiB gave me some titles.)
Yeah, I liked Extremis also. I think I mentioned Fell to you already. Oceans is another of his series that I liked (there’s been talk of making that one into a film).
Unfortunately, my local library doesn’t carry Fell, but it does have Authority, so I’ll add it to my queue. (Hopefully, they carry Miller’s Dark Knight.)
Have you read Miller’s Batman: Year One? It’s a less revisionist take on the character, but it’s good too.
No, I haven’t any of his Batman comics. (There seems to be a bunch—e.g., Batman Returns, etc.). Which one should I start with?
This reminds me- Recently Marvel started a boot camp for their new artists because they had never been comic book readers as kids. Seems they were good artists but had trouble with the narrative elements that are involved in comic book narrative (Panel lay out etc) Howard Chaikin runs it. Interesting because it used to be that the only people who wanted to become comic book artists were fans….
A friend of mine gave me Irredeemable and Incorruptible (a spin off) that detail the reversal of a Superman style character into a villain and a villain into a superhero in the second. The writing is pretty good and the art is great.
They tap into the myths but there are real-world implications for the choices made by the main characters, not just the kind of revisionism that seems trendy.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again is a sequel to Dark Knight, and it’s skippable. Year One is probably the best to read first because it deals with the first year as Batman, while the Dark Knight stories are the Batman coming out of retirement. The thing he’s done most recently All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, is not really worth reading, imo (though Jim Lee’s art is cool).
What from that, the other essential Batman stuff are Jeph Loeb’s Hush, The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but I would read Year One before those if you can.
Seems they were good artists but had trouble with the narrative elements that are involved in comic book narrative (Panel lay out etc) Howard Chaikin runs it. Interesting because it used to be that the only people who wanted to become comic book artists were fans….
You mean artists who weren’t fans of comic books now want to become comic book artists? That’s interesting.
Btw, the comment about narratives resonates with me as I think the narratives got really crazy after a certain point (I’m guessing in the late 80s.) I’m thinking of the alternate universes, characters from the future, aliens from other planets, getting into the storyline. These things have really made a mess of the comic book universe—at least that’s my impression. But I grew up reading the comic books from the 60s, 70s and early 80s, so…
I’ll hunt down Year One.
The Sandman is a comic series that I absolutely loved. Also Tintin and Asterix are ones that I love, but they have extreme nostalgia connected to them, so I’m biased.
What I consider to be the greatest comic series of all time though, and one I would suggest to everyone, is Bone. Just an amazing series.
Not sure those would be much help with a superhero project, but I agree with the them as “should reads.”
I don’t read comics but I love a good graphic novel. The Sandman series is excellent of course.
My favorite graphic novel series ever is The Beast Trilogy by Enki Bilal -
I also love anything by Moebius.
Superheroes are kind of a pitiful dead corpse, but you should try some of the really important old stuff:
It’s a noirish detective comic that takes place in a world with superheroes and villains. The homicide detective stars of the comic only work cases involving ‘powers’ and one of them used to be one himself. It’s serious, violent, often funny, and goes some crazy places. One of my all-time favorites.
Hm. I guess if I were writing a history of postmodern comics, my list of epochal moments/issues would look something like this:
Crisis on Infinite Earths (DC): the first major attempt to revise the superhero universe, streamline mythologies and eliminate inconsistencies. Resulted in the death of the Flash, Supergirl, numerous “universes” and the weakening of Superman.
The Dark Knight Returns (DC): probably the most important revisionist work, catapulting the Batman legend into postmodernity, aligning him against Superman and the ethos of benevolent heroism, and launching first overt comics deconstruction of apocalyptic culture of violence, media representation, identity politics and sexual metaframes.
The Watchmen (DC): in conjunction with DKR, most significant effort to transpose comics universe and ethos into contemporary poltical/social discourse. Rather than heroes defeating villains, the recurring postmodern theme of (super-powered) individuals helpless before institutionalized power and ideologies.
Frank Miller’s Daredevil (Marvel): marked a significant shift in comic book illustration and storytelling to a more adult, expressionistic, and eastern style of representation. Miller’s writing mimicked hardboiled noir writers like Chandler and Elmore Leonard while his evocative, sometimes abstract comic panels paid homage to cinema and early Japanese manga. While dissimilar in style to manga, Miller nevertheless served as a significant conduit to expose more readers to Japanese illustration.
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series (Vertigo): a significant mainstream success, crossing over to female readership, young hipsters/emos and intellectuals with its reworking of Jungian archetype and mythology.
Ultimates (Marvel): essentially, the entire alternate-reality “Ultimate” project by Marvel was an attempt to update and modernize their core franchises while freeing them from issues related to previous continuity. This allowed them to tackle riskier subject matter such as sexuality and politics a la DC’s Watchmen, capturing the hipper, more sophisticated mood of comics discourse.
X-Men (Marvel): Deserves mention as the most successful comic franchise. An endless stream of new heroes and mythologies, pitched at the core youth market with its promise of “outsider” identity politics. Too many significant “moments” to distill, however. The modern mythos begins with the Dark Phoenix saga.