I am trying to find new comic books to read – unfortunately, the algorithms at Amazon are good for discovering things that are related to stuff you’ve already bought, but it is not great for making suggestions for completely new stuff.
So, I thought I’d ask people here. What comic books do you suggest I check out?
I’d prefer stuff I can buy in tradeback (but single issues on comiXology also works), and stuff that isn’t too heavy on super heroes in the traditional DC/Marvel sense. I will obviously read superhero comics, if they are good enough, but I don’t feel like having to follow an entire superhero universe.
Comics I have read in the past and enjoyed, include:
- Y: the Last Man
- The Goon
- Locke & Key
- Umbrella Academy
- Manhatten Project
- Morning Glories
- Strontium Dog
- Judge Dredd/Judge Anderson
- The Runaways
- The Rat Queens
- Paper Girls
- The Wicked + The Divine
- Most Alan Moore stuff
I have also tried getting into the Walking Dead series, but it didn’t work for me.
rejiquar works says
You might like _Sweet Tooth_, about a part-deer boy in a post-apocalyptic world. (Going off Y, Saga). Spinning is about a woman who participated in competitive figure skating. (Papergirls). Also Lumberjanes. (Papergirls). All of them are available as collections, I checked ’em out of the library.
Kristjan Wager says
Thank you for the suggestions. I have read Lumberjanes, which I enjoyed, but not Sweet Tooth and Spinning – haven’t even heard about spinning before.
Marcus Ranum says
Hugo Pratt, Bourgeon’s les naufrages, Yslaire sambre, Jodorowsky/Jimenez’ Meta-Barons, John Muth’s M, Adamov/Cothias mortelune,
Unfortunately those are all great works that are hard to find/untranslated/collectible (except the Muth) but judging from your list of likes I can practically guarantee you’d enjoy most of them (though they’re generally depressing)
Of course there is Maus.
There was a great short series about a bunch of house-pets that had been ‘upgraded’ into horrible war machines by scientists. I can’t bear to think of it and can’t retrieve the name. If you really want me to try, I will.
Usagi Yojimbo is really good, or was.
Love and Rockets
Moebius’ incal always felt to me like something Iain Banks probably read around the same time I did.
Marcus Ranum says
Oh, also The Invisibles.
Marcus Ranum says
OK even looking at the cover art of We3 makes me cry. The dog is so noble. It’s so sad.
I also recommend Usagi Yojimbo.
Another animal comic is the Hugo-award-winning Digger, by Ursula Vernon. The title character, Digger, is a female wombat engineer, who gets lost digging a tunnel and comes up in a strange country far from home, where humans and anthropomorphic animals mix. She’s very practical, has no time for gods or magic, but gets caught up in local events. She ends up having to teach morality to a demon-shadow-baby (“Don’t eat anything you can talk to!”), and befriends Ed, an outcast male hyena from a local matriarchal tribe, and one of the most tragic characters I’ve seen. Seriousness, silliness, a talking statue of Ganesh, and an oracular slug.
Very super-hero-y, Astro City by Kurt Busiek. It’s his own universe. Somewhat differently-told than the traditional Marvel/DC; many stories are from a person-in-the-street perspective, or follow a story arc about a particular hero. An early one, rather Chandler/noir, was about an indestructible ex-con trying to lead a normal life, but someone’s killing off his former friends, low-power villains who he is not supposed to associate with, and he has to figure out who’s doing it. Astro City has been published off and on over the last 20 years, currently in a good run from Vertigo. Occasionally mawkish, reminds me of J. Michael Straczynski a bit. If you liked Moore’s Top Ten, this is very similar.
Somewhat super-hero-y, Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. The 2 main characters discover that when they have an orgasm, time stops for a while. They initially use this to rob banks to save a local public library. And where you have sex criminals, you must also have sex police…. The 4th wall sometimes breaks when the authors appear, and they sometimes stop the comic to discuss things. Amusing. One character who appears later on is asexual.
Hellboy and its spinoffs are fun; I am fond of the character and Mignola’s art.
Note: Digger is readable as a webcomic; it ran 2007-2011, http://diggercomic.com/. Ursula Vernon has written a lot of other stuff.
While we’re on webcomics:
Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio; the storyline is about halfway done after 15+ years. Steam-punk, though they prefer the term “Gaslamp Fantasy”. Set in an alternative late-1800s/early-1900s Europe, it’s a world of “Sparks” , mad scientists who can create life, build robots, etc. Agatha Heterodyne is the Girl Genius, who initially does not know who she is; her parents kept her safe and her Spark hidden due to an unknown attacker trying to wipe out Sparks some years past.
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell. Also very-long-running, about Antimony Carver, a girl in a strange somewhat-technological boarding school that’s across a river gorge from a magical forest. Far less twee than it sounds. Art style changes over the years. I have NO idea where this comic is going or how much further the storyline will extend. Possessed stuffed toys, a living shadow that falls in love with a robot, a woman who has existed since the Earth solidified, and Coyote the trickster god.
Maybe I can help, being a voracious consumer of comics who will never undestand the american obsession with superheros (Watchmen is the only work in this genre that I genuinely loved). So here are some of my favourites, off the top of my head:
In the space opera genre, I second the suggestions of Jodorowsky-Jimenez’ Meta-Barons and Moebius’s Incal cycles. Fun fact: both sagas are by-products of Jodorowsky’s aborted, over-ambitious Dune movie project (you can learn all about this in the wonderful documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune).
I also second Bourgeon’s epic series, The Passengers of the Wind (historical fiction about the French and English slave trade), The Companions of the Dusk (medieval fantasy), and Cyann’s saga (science-fiction). The storytelling and world-building in all these is just incredible.
In the memoir genre, I warmly suggest: Spiegelman’s Maus (a foundational classic), Craig Thomson’s Blankets (Southern US coming-of-age), Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis duology (on growing up as a rebellious girl in post-revolutionary Iran and then as a foreign student in Europe), Sowa-Savoia’s Marzi (childhood memories from communist Poland), and Guy Delisle’s lighter-hearted contemporary travelogs in various troubled places, starting with Pyongyang (a cartoonist’s surreal work trip to North Korea).
From the US, I also loved Christopher Baldwin’s (very different) Bruno and Spacetrawler. The first one cronicles the (mostly intellectual) adventures of an intelligent but hopelessly troubled young girl, while the second one is a dark-humored intergalactic picaresque of a bunch of UFO-kidnapped earthlings.
Among the classics, the hugely influential Hugo Pratt is an obvious choice, although his poetic and fragmented storytelling style may not be everyone’s cup.
I am also very partial to many Italian comics which are probably very hard to find in translation, for instance Magnus’ Unknow cycle (the adventures of a cynical mercenary through the troubled 70’s), the multi-authors Hammer hard space-opera series, and Zero Calcare‘s recent successes (depicting the author’s mundane (mis)adventures through a surrealist lens and with a wicked self-deprecating humour). For sheer artistic prowess, power of vision, and versatility, I believe Andrea Pazienza remains unparalleled to this day — but good luck finding any of his stuff outside of Italy!
OK, I have much more but I’d better stop here.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Also, though it was a limited series and thus not a long-term project, I Kill Giants is the single best comic series (limited or otherwise) that I’ve ever read. It is both magical/fantastical and disturbingly grounded at the same time.
At the end of the book, you’re not exactly sure what “really” happened, but you are certain you understand the hero’s experience, and wow, what a wonderful way to subvert the genre’s expectations.
Strangers in Paradise (like Bone, above) doesn’t necessarily fit well with the books you’ve listed above, but if you’re willing to go outside your typical reading niche, it’s a very, very well done book.
Last suggestion? Hmm. I had one a moment ago. Oh! Concrete. I think you would like it.
Pretty Deadly, by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Mystical fantasy western. It drops you into the story with little to no exposition, so it’s a bit confusing in the beginning, but worth it. Also, great art by Emma Rios.
Bitch Planet, also by KSDC. Dystopian women-in-prison comic about an Atwoodian world where uppity women are sent to an off-world prison. Fascinating story and characters along with the best name ever given to a comic.
Monstress, by Marjorie Liu. Asian infused fantasy tale with great art by Sana Takeda. If you liked Sandman, this is probably a good bet.
Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis. Police procedural about a pair of detectives assigned to the powers unit, which investigates crimes involving superheroes (crimes committed by and against people with superpowers). It got turned into a series on the Playstation Network that I watched the first episode of and didn’t like. Comic is much better and a fascinating commentary on fame and celebrity.
Catwoman, by Ed Brubaker. Vols 1- 3 (Trail of the Catwoman, No Easy Way Down, and Under Pressure, respectively). Catwoman becomes protector of Gotham’s east end, home to Gothams’s most marginalized citizens. I’m not exactly an unbiased source for all things Selina Kyle, but this is the best stuff written for her.
Persepolis, written and drawn by Marjane Satrapi. Autobiographical tail of a young woman growing up in pre-and post-revolutionary Iran. It doesn’t have the fancy art of Monstress and Pretty Deadly, but has an interesting, black and white style that complements the story.
Spider-Gwen, Vol 0. by Jason Latour. Takes place in an alternate universe where Gwen Stacy got bit by the spider and Peter Parker is dead. Well told ‘reboot’ of the Spiderman origin story that captures everything good about the Spiderman character. Gets bonus points from me for the appearance of Spider-Pig.
Oops, I really wish this board had an edit feature. Spider-Gwen V.0 is not an origin story (It’s not like you don’t know how to become a spider-person). Also, I didn’t notice that Ivo also mentioned Persepolis, so I’m technically seconding it rather than recommending it, which should let you know how good it is. Since I read the complete addition, I keep forgetting it’s in two volumes instead of one big one.
Seconding Gunnerkrigg Court, with the caveat that the first couple of stories or so are a bit clunky, visually and narratively. But, wow, they improve enormously as you go on.
There’s also Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics. I was faintly reminded of Locke & Key (which you list above), because the main character is a human bonded with an eldritch abomination from another dimension (or something like that) that is visually portrayed as having many oval eyes, but the story and worldbuilding are completely novel. Kind of slow in coming out, though.
I kind of like Squirrel Girl, but I can also see the fun goofiness as being a bit too cutesy, if that makes sense. You might like it; you might not. It helps to be a little familiar with the Marvel Comic universe, but the stories are more about subverting traditional superhero tropes than taking them seriously. Anyway, a qualified recommendation rather than otherwise.
A while back, there was the Animatrix set of short animations set in the Matrix universe, sort of. The one I particularly like was called “Beyond” (and you can find a clip from it on Youtube: youtu.be/tBJe53IA9DE), where some kids are playing in a house where time and space and gravity are all weird.
Also a while back, there was the story of a young woman, Elena Filatova, who rode through Chernobyl on a motorcycle taking pictures (Wikipedia says that it was a hoax).
Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland took the idea of a place where everything has gone weird (and I don’t know if it was inspired in any way by Beyond), in a truly disastrous way, and a young woman who makes her living riding through the area photographing the results, and came up with The Spill Zone. It’s made available online first, and then several chapters are published in book form and restricted online.
I didn’t see the comment already recommending Monstress. Oh well. Seconding! And you can see the awesome art at Marjorie Liu’s site.
A few more thoughts. I’d like to give a qualified second to Astro City, which Mynax recommended. I really liked Busiak’s universe and his perspective on the superhero genre, but I’ve always felt it never really lived up to its potential. Except for “The Tarnished Angel”, the Chandler/noir volume Mynax mentioned, which I loved. You should definitely read that.
Then there’s Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl, by Roman Dirge. It really tickled the reformed Goth Kid in me. It’s not for everybody. But, if at any time your wardrobe was mostly black and you consider Lydia from Beetlejuice or Wednesday Addams a role model, you’ll love it.
Since nobody else has mentioned Will Eisner, I figured I’d put his name out there. Especially considering how many of these suggestions have won an Eisner Award. Fagin the Jew is an interesting retelling of Oliver Twist from the perspective of Fagin and A contract with God is an good anthology of his short stories.
Preacher, by Garth Ennis, with art by Steve Dillion. One of the major, modern graphic novels and currently a series on basic cable. If you don’t mind (or like) graphic/gruesome violence this is a good read.
Also, there’s a a series out there about an aardvark that I would like to recommend the first 3 books of, but after writing them the creator has gone off the deep end and made Scott Addams look like Terry Crews, which makes me loathe to give him any publicity and/or money. This is all I feel comfortable saying about that work.
I’d like to say this is all I’m going to write about this, but deep down I suspect it isn’t.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Seconding Squirrel Girl. I love that book. And if you liked Lumberjanes, you’ll like SG. It’s not that they’re the same, but the folks who don’t like SG because of it’s liberties with conventional comic tropes won’t like Lumberjanes either.
Jenora Feuer says
Seconding Maus, Usagi Yojimbo, Digger, Girl Genius, Bone, Strangers in Paradise. Many of the others I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t read.
drken’s comment about the aardvark… yeah, I agree with that. The first three books tended to be more parody, while the later went deeper into author tract. It’s worth noting, though, that the ex-wife of the aardvark-creator was also fairly heavily involved in the comics industry on her own, and obviously took all the business sense of the pair (as well as the non-aardvark comics) with her when she left to found Renegade Press.
One comic that I haven’t seen recommended yet: Atomic Robo. It recently moved to the webcomic first model like Girl Genius did, so all the back issues are online, and that’s somewhere around sixty issues worth by now. Chronicling the adventures of a robot created by Nikola Tesla back in 1923, in a world where Mad Science has a tendency to work, it manages to be a fun modern ‘pulp’ to a large extent. It also jumps around the timeline, usually alternating books between modern day and back in the past, which can give you some easier entry points for the series. Has a companion series called ‘Real Science Adventures’ which tends to do side stories and stories in the same universe but not involving Robo himself. Like the story of Tesla teaming up with George Westinghouse, Charles Fort, Erich Weiss (Houdini), Annie Oakley, Wong Kei-Ying, and Winfield Scott Lovecraft (H.P.’s father) in 1893 to defeat an industrialist plot to take over the U.S.
There was one i read called… “Showa: A history of Japan” which was really interesting, but I don’t remember specifically if that was the title. I found it a good read. It was a long time ago, so hopefully that was the name. The graphic novel of Coraline was pretty awesome too. Good art.
Looking more closely at the image in wikipedia, the art doesn’t look familiar… Could be a different one..
Sorry that’s not very helpful.