A comic list-o-blog making its way around the blogosphere courtesy of Steve Lieber and Tegan's Bloggity-blog-blog, who are challenging other bloggers to come up with their own list of eleven graphic novel titles that libraries should shelve. Fortunately, I must say, our local library has a GREAT selection of graphic novels already - got to read Craig Thompson's Blankets and Warren Ellis' Orbiter through there, neither of which I could afford to buy right now.
But assuming my library had jack squat in the way of sequential art, here's 10 titles I'd say are must-haves to introduce any kid OR adult to graphic novel pleasures:
1. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Start with the heavy lifting, but this remains the best examination of the comics medium and what it means and is possible of, told in a friendly, thoughtful way.
2. Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1, etc. by Marvel Comics. There's tons of classic Silver Age Marvels that are worth reading, but for my money those early Ditko/Lee Spidey tales are the place to start. I first read 'em in Marvel Tales reprints back in the early '80s and fell hard for the whole goshdarn medium.
3. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons 'Nuff said. I'd pick this over Dark Knight Returns for a representation of the best of "superhero" comics.
4. American Splendor by Harvey Pekar Thanks to the indie movie, more folks might know who this is. A great way to show how diverse comics can get.
5. Like A Velvet Glove In Iron or pretty much anything else by Dan Clowes The Superman of indie comics. I bought my first issue of Eightball, #5, years ago and realized there was more to comics than men in tights.
6. Hate by Peter Bagge The flip side to Clowes, a fond reminder of the mid-1990s indie comics explosion. Funny and true and appealing to mature teens I'd think.
7. Superman from the '30s to the '70s A pipe dream, this huge tome is out of print now and hard to find on eBay, but my library had this back in the day and I took it out so many times I felt like it was tattooed on my brain. A great survey of the Man of Steel from the crude beginnings to the flashy 70s. Any of the modern-day "Best of Superman" collections might work, too.
8. Stray Bullets by David Lapham, vols. 1-7 For lovers of hardcore crime fiction, a graphic novel equivalent. The "Pulp Fiction" of comics.
9. The complete Neil Gaiman Sandman libraryAs epic, dense and fantastic as Tolkien in my mind, one of the best fantasy epics comics have produced.
10. Bone by Jeff Smith Good for kids and fun for adults, another epic fantasy only comics could produce.
There's literally dozens more tied for #11, from Love & Rockets to V for Vendetta to Batman to Cerebus to the Freak Brothers, but that's off the top of my head as good a list as any. Libraries actually helped get me into comics years ago courtesy of that Superman 30s-70s book, and more libraries today could be as good as my local one about carrying the best of the genre.
Anyway, this big ol' post is my hail and farewell from the world of blogging for a little while; we're off to California with the in-laws for a week's vacation from newspapering to visit with my own parents, have a mini-family reunion and introduce little Peter to as many friends and relatives as possible to blow his puny brain. I might check in or I might stay far away from the Internet for a change of pace, but in any case, cheers!