Comics

I like comic books. I'd "borrow" my brother's comics before I learned how to read and look at the pictures. It was an adaptation of A Princess of Mars in DC's "Weird Worlds" that led me to the novel. It was the first book I really liked. That led me to others and ...well, may your addictions be as fruitful. Hey, comic books were my gateway drug.

My comic buying habits have changed. This is partly because of cost but also changes in the market and changes in my taste. I have few dollars to spend, don't like a lot of what is now being produced or how it is marketed, and so am picky. The current trend in running stories over multiple titles screws with the continuity in individual titles and drives me nuts. Below are some current titles but mostly comics I read in the past and loved. My liking a book tends to be the kiss of death for it.

Beware. This page is always a work in progress.

Comics
  • Preacher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, was a great comic. It is available in trade paperback format and now hardcover. Peacher was not a comic for the faint of heart and those easily offended. Ennis' intent seemed to be to see how far he could go and still have DC distribute the comic. I think he wanted to offend. It bordered on blasphemy. It was definitely sacrilegious, violent, obscene, funny as hell, and it only got better. I still sometimes wish Ennis would bring it back but it would'nt be the same. None of Ennis recent work is up to it.
  • Hitman was another Garth Ennis title that was so damn good it hurt. I actually liked it better than Preacher. Its kinda a Sergio Leone/John Woo/Sam Peckinpah western/superhero comic. OK try this, the hero, Tommy, is a killer for hire who sees himself as the Man With No Name and has a ethical line he doesn't want to cross, but he's also very practical. This leads to some very interesting situations. It is as irreverant as Preacher, in its own way, but not so intent to offend. The art is by John McCrea. Several of the issues were collected in trade paperbacks and if you can't find them new used are available. Recently Tommy returned for a two issue colaboration with the JLA. Ennis and McCrea were on hand. Good stuff, please send us more.
  • Bone was written and drawn by Jeff Smith. It was full of humor, adventure and romance in a fantasy world of enormous imagination. It is no longer in production but is available in collected editions.
  • Strangers in Paradise, by Terry Moore can be checked out at The Unoffical Strangers in Paradise Website. I think of it as a relationship comic with some adventure thrown in. The entire run is available in back issues and trade paperbacks.  Terry Moore also did Echo. I'd call it a character driven thriller with sci-fi overtones. Good stuff but now complete.  His new project is Rachel Rising. I'm still trying to figure it out.
  • Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty was a detective comic of the hard-boiled variety. Well written and drawn it is out of production and out of print. If you want to read this comic you'll have to hunt down copies in the back issue bins of the local comic shop or eBay. A novel of Ms. Tree, Deadly Beloved was recently published by Hard Case Crime. It uses the story line from one of the comic arcs but its still good stuff and I'll take Ms. Tree where I can get her.
  • Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai. The tale of a wandering ronin rabbit in 16th century Japan. The comic offers a historically and culturally accurate depiction of the period. Usagi wanders the countryside interacting with a multitude of interesting characters. The stories range from action-adventure to mysteries, to comedic fun. Sakai keeps getting better and better. Easily one of the best comics on the market today. All of the back issues are available in collections both trade and hardcover.
  • Frank Miller's Sin City is, I guess, best described as a noirish crime comic. It's released in story arcs of various lengths. There is also a strong resemblance to Andrew Vachss' work. I've been told, by a man who should know, that the inspiration was Spillane's Mike Hammer. I can see that. Sin City is dark, violent, and interesting.
  • Warren Ellis is the author of The Authority, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, and a mass of other titles. All are damn good. He and Darrick Robertson created an off-the-wall and irreverent future United States in Transmetropolitan that grew on you. It has also finished its run.
  • The Dreaming(The Neil Gaiman Page). Items related to writer Neil Gaiman and his creation The Sandman. The Sandman is lyrical, exciting, and, most of all, engrossing. Occasionally Gaiman does a Sandman related project but the original comics are in the back issue bin or reprint editions.
  • Omaha the Cat Dancer, by Reed Waller and Kate Worley. An erotic (not so) funny animal comic. It's kitty porn [sorry couldn't resist]. It has resumed production as a feature in an adult anthology comic magazine called Sizzle Back issues and collections are available.
  • Milton Caniff is the creator of Steve Canyon, Terry and the Pirates, and Dickie Dare. All damn fine examples of the comic art. Caniff is an influence to most adventure strips whether the artist/writer is honest enough to admit it or not.
  • I like Mike Grell. I've been following him since he was drawing Legion of Super-Heroes for DC but it was Warlord that got my attention. Grell's best work is in the adventure genre. Fortunately, at least for the short term, Grell's Jon Sable Freelance is available from IDW Publishing. You can also look up back issues of Grell's Warlord or read the revival currently ongoing [It ends with issue #16 damnit!] at DC. Grell is writing but unfortunately only drawing some of the issues. There is also Grell's take on Green Arrow that began with The Longbow Hunters. No superhero bullshit, no trick arrows, and best of all not the homage by Kevin Smith to the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams 60's liberal bullshit.
  • Read Sluggy Freelance or Bun Bun will hunt you down and kill you. Seriously, a comic that features a amoral lop-earred bunny with a switchblade and a blackmarket franchise in Viagra is worth at least a look.
  • Schlock Mercenary by Howard Taylor is a funny webcomic about mercenaries in space. The art started out a bit rough but the stories have always been top notch and it didn't take long for the art to catch up. If you don't like to read comics on the PC, Taylor has printed editions for sale.. Highly recommended. 
  • Donna Barr is the creator of Desert Peach and Stinz. Stinz is the tale of a gentleman centaur and his family in what once seemed to be a post WWI Europe but diverged  into something else. Desert Peach chronicles the WWII adventures of Rommel's gay brother in the German Army during the North Africa Campaign. Both are among the best comics in production today. My current complaint is that her current work is available only online. The prices are extremely reasonable, but I just don't have the money
  • I was a late comer to Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had seen the campy, crappy movie and thought little of it. So I let the first season come and go. At some point in the middle of the second season I caught an episode, was hooked, and followed it and Angel to their eventual conclusions. Like a lot of genre television, companion novels and comic books popped up. I was never attached to the novels. I looked at and never felt the need to read or collect the comics. The art was generally nice but the stories didn’t really meet the expectations created by the series. Then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, a comic book. It continues the adventures of Buffy and the gang and is every bit as good the the original series. Joss Whedon oversees the production and I suspect the creative process of the series has been transferred to this new format. What was originally planned as 24 issues is now up to issue 33 and I understand a ninth season is planned. It’s good stuff. Yeah, I’d like to have the series come back to television but the likelihood was always akin to a snowball in hell. This will do and though the format has limitations they are less than you would think and you don’t have to worry about the lead actress opting out. The comic is published by Dark Horse Comics and the back issues are available in trade paperbacks.