Comics. I love comics. I’ve read comics, I’ve sold comics, I’ve reviewed comics and I’ve written really, really, really small press one-off indie comics that one time. They’re an incredibly fun, versatile medium and my whole life, including my time served in the retail trenches, they weren’t given the respect they were due. But now, at long last, that’s starting to change and anyone who thinks different probably has family members who watch The Walking Dead .
This week’s question is: What comics do you read, and what comics would you recommend to new readers?
From my point of view, there’s nothing more exciting than introducing new readers to the medium and showing them the sheer breadth of genres on offer – Y: The Last Ma n (in which everything with a Y chromosome dies – aside from one pop-culture nerd and his pet monkey) is still one of the greatest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read; Doom Patrol is the trippiest, most intelligent team tale I’ve ever read; All-Star Superman is the only time I’ve ever found the boy scout interesting; Grant Morrison’s entire New X-Men run is boldly brilliant; the first 24 issues of Astonishing X-Men run is a brilliant transition point for fans of Joss Whedon; and WE3 is one of the most bizarre but affecting animal stories I’ve ever read.
I’ve just finished reading a graphic novel, Hector Umbra by Uli Oesterle, which is a joy. The story is slightly bonkers in the best possible way. If you like Constantine via Marvin the Martian with a bit of sex, drugs and German dance music thrown – and who the heck doesn't! – then this is for you. I defy anyone not to find something to love in this book.
I’m often asked which comics I would recommend for a first time comic reader. I find this an impossible question. Comics come in so many forms and genres it really does depend on the genre that you like. I would ask you what films and books you like and what TV series you watch and then make some suggestions from that. Saying that, there are a few comic books I wouldn’t recommend for a first time reader, firstly Watchmen . Read a pile of other stuff first – honestly, you’ll appreciate it more. Powers I love, but the layout is often confusing and I think that would really put off a new reader. If anyone reading this would like some comic recommendations, I would happily make personal recommendations for you. Just let me know your genre preferences and I’ll point you in the direction of some fabulous comics!
I’ve tried Marvel and DC but I’ve really never been a fan of superheroes. I have friends who lend me Iron Man and Superman and X-Men and the like. But none of it ever takes. I’m a fan of the house of Tharg all the way. Getting Tharg’s Thrill Power from such a young age has spoiled me to pretty much anything else.
As to what I’d recommend, I would probably turn to something from 2000AD ’s myriad of back catalogue graphic novels. And it would depend on who I was recommending things to. I have introduced many friends to stories for the pages of 2000AD with much success.
If I was recommending Judge Dredd , there would be a long list of possible stories but either America or The Pit would probably top that list. Other recommendations would be The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson for a fantastic all round story, Bad Company by Peter Milligan, Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy for a slice of future war, Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie for a British take on ET . For comedy I’d recommend DR & Quinch by Alan Moore and Alan Davis, for a British take on superheroes. I’d recommend Zenith by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell. I could go on and on... But for a total comics newcomer I think Halo Jones would be my first choice: it’s just such an all-round brilliant story and there’s something in it for everyone.
Outside of 2000AD I would probably recommend Preacher , The Walking Dead and We3 . But there are many more titles to rave about. There’s a comic for everyone out there and as I said earlier, it really would depend on who I was recommending stuff to... But my first port of call would always be 2000AD.
52 is still a lot of comics to sort through, but have no fear! I’m here to help you filter out the worst. You can feel good about leaving out the underwhelming Catwoman , Red Hood And The Outlaws , Suicide Squad and Justice League International from your collection. The best of the 52 includes: Batwoman , Justice League , Action Comics , Detective Comics, Batgirl and Animal Man , whose stories and art deserve a "Bravo!" and thumbs-up for effort.
If you haven’t read any of the new DC books yet, get to your nearest comic book shop now and discover your own favourites. And let me know when you have a few in your collection because I wanna do tradesies.
Some fantastic recommendations for some fantastic comics so if you're even a little interested, track down your local store here: http://www.comicshoplocator.com/Home/1/1/57/575
And yes they do have listings for stores outside America and Canada.
In the meantime, join us next week when we ask one of those age old questions, written in stone on secret walls hidden beyond the furthest reaches of humanity's knowledge:
Who or what would you like to see as a Doctor Who companion?
The internet is creaking under the strain already. See you in seven