Friday, November 14, 2008

On Needing Fresh Air…

So I’ve been making some changes recently… no, I’m not trying to make myself a better person or anything crazy like that. I’ve been changing the comics I read. At first, I thought it had started with the issue of ‘Scalped’ I read for the Second Printing 2.99 Challenge. But I think it started before that.

I look at my apartment and I see stacks of Marvel and DC super-hero comics, historically my favorite kind of book, sitting in piles, unread. For a while, I thought I’d just lost the energy to get interested in comics. I thought maybe that little geek in me was withering away and that I was going to sell my comics on eBay and turn into one of those ‘cool’ guys that plays kickball and watches ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’.

But, as we all know, a geek is a geek. I can’t change my inner geek any more than Graig can stop being Canadian or Ben can stop loving Miley Cyrus. I just needed to something else to make my little geek heart flutter.

I should’ve seen it coming. For close to a year, my favorite book has been ‘The Boys’. And I’m no Garth Ennis fan, to be sure. I just know good storytelling when I see it, and ‘The Boys’ simply rocks. So when that issue of ‘Scalped’ showed up, with its sex, violence, unpredictability, and refreshing character complexity, I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was sucked in. So I got curious…

I’d been hearing good things about ‘Walking Dead’ for a long time, so I figured I’d give it a try on the side. I mean, there are eight trades out right now, so I figured I could slowly read them over time. I read them all in one week. And then I tracked down the floppies I was missing.

I didn’t need to shut my inner geek down. My inner geek just got a little cynical. Most super-hero comics sort of suck right now. Sure, there’s a lot of shameless ploys and silly short cuts designed to make us keep buying, but when is that ever NOT the case? No, my problem is that super-hero comics are just too dark, gritty, violent, and overly sexualized. At least the dark, gritty, adult comics I’m getting into now admit what they are. They don’t call a comic ‘Teen Titans’ and then fill it with torture porn and cheesecake. I feel okay about reading a dark and violent comic when I know it’s supposed to be that way, and when it’s a legitimate part of the storytelling process and not just some man-child creator getting a good page rate for shitty slash fiction.

I won’t go cold turkey. Some super-hero comics will always be in my pull-list. You will pry that last issue of ‘Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane’ from my cold dead hands. But I’m willing to drop JLA and JSA to branch out a little… to see what else the medium has to offer… to get that much needed breath of creative fresh air. And this is where YOU come in, loyal Second Printer. Help me answer this simple question:

When Marvel and DC super-hero comics leave me cold, what should I be reading instead?


Thacher said...

If you liked Scalped, then Criminal, definitely. Really well done dark noir fiction, and every arc/trade is its own story (set in a shared universe), so they can be picked up in any order.

Casanova is another good one, very twisty, out-there, SF spy story with all kinds of sex robots, cloned heads, giant robots and slick assassins. Matt Fraction with Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

Ex Machina is also really good, although it's been drug down by lateness. Not as good as Vaughn's Runaways, but it takes the superhero story and mixes it with politics and real world history from 9/11 on.

Other quick favorites are Young Liars, Air, Hack/Slash, and Golly. Locke & Key was also really good. The hardcover should be pretty easy to track down.

KENT! said...

To clarify, I can always emigrate from Canada and become a citizen elsewhere, and Ben can stop loving Miley Cyrus and start loving Hannah Montana, but our hearts will remain true to the source, you are correct.

As for what you should be reading, try something from Jonathan Hickman's repertoire: the Nightly News in trade now and Pax Romana or Transhuman or Red Mass For Mars are all stellar book (wait for trade on each of those because they're frustratingly erratic mini-series). Try also Rex Libris from Slave Labor, the Damned from Oni press, or Atomic Robo from Red 5.

I'll also vouch for thacher's pics, Ex Machina and Golly, the others I haven't read.

Nick said...


-Welcome to Hoxford

Ongoing/Trades avail.

-Wormwood Gentleman Corpse
-Scott Pilgrim
-Umbrella Academy
-DMZ (Start with the first trade though)
-Star Wars: Knights of the Republic (Start with the first trade)

Not ongoing/trades avail.

-The Escapists It was a miniseries that came out awhile ago but Brian K. Vaughans' writing on it is top notch.
-Clive Barker's the Great & Secret Show

Stuff I am assuming you've read but maybe not..

-Y: The Last Man

I second Criminal & Young Liars as well.

Benhatt said...

Screw you guys - I don't need to stop loving Miley Cyrus. "Breakout" is pop at it's most quintessential.

However, as far as adult comics go the stuff I am reading now and can recommend is Fables, Air, The Greatest Hits, and, while it is obviously on it's last leg, 100 Bullets.

I will say you can't go wrong with Mage. Some day Matt Wagner will finish the trilogy and I will be able to do my "Mage is finished dance." It involves lots of popping and locking.

FInally, while a lot of it doesn't classify as "adult comics" I love most of the stuff that Oni has put out over the years from the old "Oni DOuble Feature" through "Love Fights," the Courtney Crumin comics, "Polly and the Pirates," "Side Scrollers," and you already know my love for Scott Pilgrim.

Jon said...

The only thing I could mention is Hellblazer, but that's obvious, so I won't.

Benhatt said...

The Goon. I blew through the first three trades yesterday. It is awesome.

Rob S. said...

Linda Medley's Castle Waiting. It's the sweet-natured flipside to Fables: Instead of Fables entering the human world, it's set in a fairytale world full of characters with a much deeper humanity than you usually see.

It's not full of sturm und drang -- the last couple of issues have been about bowling, for Christ's sake -- but it's a rich, engrossing comic just the same. And Fantagraphic's beautiful hardcover is a really economical way to read a massive amount of the series -- it reprints 20-odd issues for $30, I think.

Jeff said...

Everyone here has said what I'd already recommend: Goon, Scalped, Hellblazer, Scott Pilgrim, Casanova, Umbrella Academy, Ex Machina...can't go wrong with any of them.