Getting Started with Great Comics

Posted on October 31, 2010

2



YouTube’s resident-poet laureate Flan984 asked:

Dear Faust,

I’ve been trying to get into comics lately..my only experience has been, precisely, with Alan Moore (who I find absolutely brilliant), particularly with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series and “From Hell” (if you ask me, a work of “literature” by ANY standards)…could you advise me some other names or works for a beginner like me? Sorry for dear abbying you here, but I’d really value your insights. 😉

What a great idea- a “Dear Abby” column! Hence, the theme of this post.

Dear Flan984,

I understand your confusion in the genre, especially today with so many comicbook titles readily available both in paperback and online. Alright, I don’t know if that’s what a “Dear Abby” sounds like but I thought I would give it a try.  Back to my normal tone.

Every comicbook aficionado dreams of getting asked this question. In fact, he will readily give his opinion to anyone within earshot a list of his favorite comicbooks along with full, again, often unsolicited, critiques of current storylines, seemingly oblivious if people are even listening. So, first off thanks for the question Flan984.

Now, I find it easier to read comics that are slightly older, because they have completed their run and are usually available to buy in graphic novel form. This way you don’t need to wait an eternity, or two, for new books to be published. As with comics, they usually miss their publication date. In fact, most comics are notorious for missing their date of publication by 6 months or more.

I could not agree with you  more about Alan Moore. He is one of the greatest writers (not strictly a comicbook writer…but Writer with a capital “W”) on the planet. He is intelligent, ingenious with prose, and has a gift for developing characters and plots.

Author Alan Moore

If you are unfamiliar with Alan Moore’s books like “Watchmen” and “V for Vendetta”, I suggest reading something he first cut his teeth on, “Swampthing.” At the time the “Swampthing” storyline was simple. Swampthing was a man who was targeted for assassination by an evil corporation. Although the assassination failed, he was left deformed by the attack. (He ran out of his office burning to death and jumped into a swamp.) In summary, the chemicals and swamp organisms bonded to his skin, and he became Swampthing: A muck-encrusted mockery of a man. That is, until Alan Moore came along.

Onomatopoeia

Kevin Smith's character Onomatopoeia

You know what? Kevin Smith tells this story much better than I. After all he penned several good books, and even came up with his own DC character -Onomatopoeia- who has the odd personality quirk of repeating noises (he or she?) hears, like “Click” or “Snap”. Too bad nothing was ever done with him.

Kevin Smith on Swampthing by Alan Moore

If it doesn’t play my tumblr is not compatible on all browsers for some reason. Try internet explorer and copy and paste this: http://thefaustianman.tumblr.com/post/1372438838/kevin-smith-on-alan-moores-swampthing-from

I highly suggest reading the entire series of Swampthing (Volumes 1-6) as I do with all of the recommendations below, as long as the author stays the same (“Daredevil” has multiple volumes, but you only need to concern yourself with Smith’s.)  Whatever you do, please do not look these titles, characters, or authors up on Wikipedia, or read too much into the reviews, as all of them tend to give away the whole story. While the story will remain  enjoyable, it is not nearly as gripping for the reader to ride along with the character vicariously experiencing events as the plot unfolds. Fight Club is still fun to watch even if you know about Tyler. As is Star Wars despite knowing who Vader is. And yet, nothing replaces that first thrill-of-revelation the reader or viewer experiences along with the character.  All images are clickable opening new windows to Amazon for easy review or purchase.


Alan Moore's Swampthing Vol. 5

 

Kevin Smith's Daredevil

 

Kevin Smith's Batman: The Widening Gyre

Sam Keith's The Maxx Vol. 1

 

Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke

 

Jeph Loeb's Superman for all Seasons

Jeph Loeb's Batman: Hush

Advertisements