Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Hijacked from Is It Safe?.

The tendrils of my comicbook fetishism run kid-deep. When Dad handed those EC comics down, I was Saul on the road to Damascus. But what I became, only the choir gets.

Comics have become fad gadgets, the future of rock and roll, pop cultural effluvia. They’ve been called graphic novels, sequential art, graphic fiction, visual literature. But comics have always been comics to me. No superfluous, fancy-dress name to fix what ain’t broke - - - an endeavor I’ve always found . . . um, corny at worst. Marketing hoohah at best. Comics are comics, deal with it - - - my words to live by.

Comics are silly, kinky, freakish, sexy, shiny, narcotic, irrational, ecstatic. All of which describes the twelve below. The twelve comics I’d rescue from a building on fire. The twelve I’d take to a desert island. Not necessarily the twelve finest comics ever made but for the fact that they are. Why twelve? Why not? Well, ten plus one each from Alan Moore and Frank Miller, whom you can’t ignore. Geek lists like this are protean, variable. OK, fickle. And there are ,as always, the painful omissions. Bubbling under and bound to sub for what made the cut in an eyeblink: Enki Bilal’s The Nikopol Trilogy , Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (prefrably the entire colored Epic run),William Gaines’ Mad , Will Eisner's Spirit, Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s Inhumans, Kirby and Lee's Fantastic Four, Neil Gaiman & Kelley Jones’ Season of Mists,Ted Mckeever’s Metropol, Morrison's Doom Patrol and tons of multi-volume manga. Crucially missing - - - homebrew. That deserves a list all its own.

BLACK AND WHITE Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz) : Certified manga nut here and still this yakuza mash-up's a charm for diamterically opposing all known manga forms while staying ostensibly Japanese, of which I'm even more psycho for.

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Frank Miller & Klaus Janson with Lynn Varley (DC) : Smacks a bit of picking Citizen Kane- - - a bit obvious, a bit lazy, a bit you could see coming a mile away. But no Miller comic ever had this much vigor. No Batman comic either. Or Superman at that.

ED THE HAPPY CLOWN Chester Brown (Vortex) : What's it all about? To codify Ed is to tabulate what's in it, so let's - - - UFOs, giant rats, cannibal pygmies, magic beans, dismembered hands that travel through time, penis grafts, headless presidents, monstrous piles of shit and a cow. The headtrip is when it coheres. And does it. Comicbook dada, that'll stick.

FLEX MENTALLO MAN OF MUSCLE MYSTERY Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo) : Reformats superheroes into opiates. Forms fracture. Tropes subvert. Noise gains color. Morrison & Quitely’s Jeet Kun Do’s always been weirder, meaning better, than Moore's , than Gaiman's , than anybody else’s. Here they are now, going sensei.

HELLBOY Mike Mignola (Dark Horse) : Oh, this is pulp - - - recombinant, supersized, prog-rock pulp. And Mignola draws like a motherfucker. So granted, it's vibrant. But I love it for the Kirby Lovecraftian monsters. Big ones. Gigantic ones. Up the kazoo.

LOVE AND ROCKETS: BLOOD OF PALOMAR Gilbert Hernandez and LOVE AND ROCKETS: THE DEATH OF SPEEDY Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) : Gilbert's smalltown melodrama is so rich and layered, it's like Garcia Marquez, only sexier. Jaime's punk Mexican soap opera is so acute and immersive,it's like voyeurism, only funnier.

MADMAN Michael Allred (Dark Horse/AAA Pop) : Everything Allred signs his name on crackles with the joy, or a kind of amplified exuberance, that comics hooked me with forever. But this just sings like an acid trip , dig?

MARVELS Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross (Marvel) : Busiek’s in the know: nostalgia’s an aphrodisiac. What Lee & Kirby minted into prevailing tendencies he buffs to a sheen. Ross , at the height of his powers to floor, superconducts. Magic realism, then - - -with pictures that tick.

PLANETARY Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (Wildstorm):More a metacomic than you realize. Planetary combats the forces seeking to alter the shadow history of all our comicbook universes. And Elijah Snow 's a geek metaphor for every fanboy who's ever gone anal over continuity fuckups. Ellis's masterpiece.

POP GUN WAR Farel Dalrymple (Meathaus): The urge to draw parallels with Wings of Desire is there. But where Wenders was gazing at the quotidian through the eyes of gods, Farel’s doing the reverse, finding filaments of wonder in the supermundane.

SIGNAL TO NOISE Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (Dark Horse) : Meditates on death without putting an ankh around its neck. Nothing here for weirdos to dress up as, good. Had Neil been a Beatle, this’d be his White Album - - - and 1602 is a Ringo solo record. Beautifully envisioned. Genuinely profound. Fucking brilliant.

TOP 10 Alan Moore and Gene Ha (ABC): Metahuman NYPD Blue - - -conceptually, it's blah Then you read it and it isn't Steven Bochco, dog. Nor is it From Hell , right, but superhero cop dramas will win me over any time. A whore job, some say. Beg to differ. Vastly underrated, more like it.

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