Saturday, April 12, 2008

Comics You Should Be Reading

I don't profess to being one of those people who learned how to read via comics, or to have followed a particular comic religiously since childhood. On the contrary, I really only got into comics around 2002 and during college. Don't get me wrong, I knew all of the major super heroes growing up, mainly from all the cartoons I watched along with a smattering of general pop culture. I knew that the Flash was fast, that Batman had issues, and that Gambit and Rogue should just kiss and get it over with. My first real brush with comics came in college when a friend of mine lent me some of his Hellboy comics with the assurance that I would like them. I did. Since then I've slowly been exposed to the vast world of comics culture, and have discovered, both on my own and through friends, comics that I really enjoy and that inspire me. So here's a quick list of comics that I get a kick out of, and you might too.
  • Hellboy - Being an avid fan of folklore, mythology, and history in general, Hellboy delivered a one-two punch to my geek gut and introduced me to the incredible art of Mike Mignola as well. I could ramble on about all the little nuances of composition and use of light and shadow but let's just keep it to the fact that these books are a treat and always delight me on many levels. 
  • B.P.R.D. - An offshoot of the Hellboy universe, BPRD brings to life some of the greatest and and most bizarre characters and has become perhaps one of my favorite series to date. The outstanding team that puts together these comics never fail to deliver solid top-notch stories that I look forward to every month. Guy Davis' art and Dave Stewart's colors make me incredibly happy.
  • Atomic Robo - This newly published comic combines the comforting pb & j goodness of what comics should be: action-packed, funny, and just plain enjoyable. I mean, really, when it gets right down to it, I just want to be entertained here. A robot built by Nicola Tesla that battles Nazis, giant radioactive ants, and all manner of weird stuff while still managing some great sarcastic wit is all I ever need. Indiana Jones-Rocketeer-X-Files-Pulp-era-goodness. And an awesomely-designed robot...that wears pants.
  • Nextwave - Even if you don't read comics, you need to pick up the trade paperback of this series. I don't think I have ever laughed out loud on so many occasions while reading as I have with this comic. Seriously, don't even attempt to so much as drink a Hi-C juicebox when reading this thing, or it will come out your nose. Also, Stuart Immonen's drawings are awesome. 'Nuff said.
  • Casanova - I don't think I could describe this comic in any way that would make sense. Let's just say that it's beautifully bizarre and you should probably just read it.
  • Fables - So if you took, oh, I don't know, every fairy tale, folk legend, tall tale, nursery rhyme, ever in existence... and presented them in a modern day setting you would have the insanely intertwined fairy tale soap opera extravaganza that is Fables. I read the first issues that came out back in 2002, but fell behind in the onslaught of continually released issues. I think there are about 9 trade paperback collections out now, and I've slowly been catching up every now and again. James Jean's covers for the series are breathtaking and never cease to amaze.
  • DC: New Frontier - Aside from the Justice League cartoon, these books were my first introduction to the rest of the DC comics universe. As if it wasn't enough that Darwyn Cooke both writes and draws these comics, they're really good too. It seems unnatural.