It would be fair to say I’ve read a lot of comics in my time. Quite a lot as it happens. In fact the only thing I would say that compares with the amount of comics I have read is the amount of comics I haven’t read. With that in mind I have a little sheet of paper that gets carried around in my wallet with me in case I get lost telling people what my name is where I live and not to feed me after midnight. Next to that piece of paper though is another one with a list of comics written on it so that if ever I’m feeling flush and want to spend a little extra cash I don’t get stuck with on of those inevitable “Arghhh what do I get?!?” moments. I affectionately refer to this, in case you hadn’t guessed as my Comic Book Bucket List. I don’t call it this because these are the books I want to read before I die (though it would obviously be easier to read them before I die rather than after) but because well… Ok, look I don’t know why I called it that, I just needed a catchy title, so let just pretend that these are the books I want to read before I die so we can give the article some pathos! I will freely admit that this list highlights some glaring errors regarding creators whose work I am still utterly unfamiliar with, but hey ho half the fun with comics, is that there’s always something you haven’t read turning up every month. So read on to find out what I haven’t read and why I want to.
Batgirl – Gail Simone
Before the American Vampire anthology I had read no Gail Simone at all. Given how highly her Batgirl run has been lauded though (seriously name one other writer who has been taken off a book only to be replaced by themselves?) I really should have been on this book since the get go. I also don’t read enough books by female creators, though that’s not so much a comment on my reading habits as it is the industry in general.
The Airtight Garage – Moebius
I recently read the Airtight Garage’s sequel “The Man from Ciguri”, and while it looked absolutely incredible the plot made about as much sense as going to McDonald’s for a salad. While I don’t expect the first chapter to improve my understanding (Moebius said the story was created to be deliberately unpredictable) it would give me an excuse just to stare at more of Jean Giraud’s beautiful artwork.
America – John Wagner & Colin Mcneil
I first saw this story in a friends issue of the Megazine many many years ago and it inspired me to start picking up 2000AD and read more of Judge Dredd yet somehow I’ve never gone back to read the story that kind of started it all. What’s more one time Megazine editor and screenwriter Simon Bishop once called America “The best Judge Dredd story ever”. & yes that is the same Simon Bishop who collaborated with Roger Langridge on The Straightjacket Fits. And speaking of Roger Langridge…
Snarked – Roger Langridge
To be honest I couldn’t tell you what Snarked is actually about. I know it’s a story featuring the Walrus from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and an all ages comic from Boom Studios. To be fair they had me at Walrus or at least they would have if I’d been paying attention the first time around.
Message to Adolf – Osamu Tezuka
Set at the start of World War II, Message to Adolf is a fictional story about the fortunes of 3 people named Adolf. 2 are young German boys living in Japan, one of whom is Jewish. The third is some moustachioed dictator. I originally found volumes 2, 3 and 5 of Osamu Tezuka’s classic Manga in Forbidden Planet for 50p each & picked them up immediately. I later found volume 4 for the £4.95, and volume 1 for for get the fuck out price of £60.00. I’m sure cheaper alternatives are available and one day I shall find them.
Casanova – Matt Fraction, Fabio Moon and Aabriel Ba
Ok, confession time again. I have never read any Matt Fraction books, which given how extensively he has written for Marvel is really quite odd. People tell me his work is incredibly sciency & stuff so it’s probably right up my street, but to be honest I’m not even sure what Casanova is about. People tell me it’s good though so I figure I should read it in the name of science, or something like that.
Wonder Woman – Anybody
While I eagerly await the first issue of Grant Morrison’s upcoming take on Princess Diana I have very little (practically none at all) experience of her in any other books that weren’t crossovers. A quick Google of “Best Run on Wonder Woman” doesn’t help much. In fact it only increases my options considerably. Seriously how do I decide between Greg Rucka, Gail Simone or George Perez? While people may say that the Azzarello run would be a good place to start as it’s in the new 52, I’m more curious to see how DC’s foremost female has evolved over the years under the hands of different writers rather than only see what she’s like in the here and now.
The Ballad of Halo Jones – Alan Moore & Ian Gibson
I’ve always had an interest in seeing where the big names started out and yet despite having read a great number of Alan Moore’s greatest works I can still lay claim to never having actually read the first of them. First published in 1984 Halo Jones was unique for 2000AD as it was a strip that featured something other than guys guns and gore, instead Moore and Gibson focused on a leading lady who was more of an average Joanne, albeit one in a futuristic universe. Thus was born one of the first major feminist characters in comics, and one that I hope to someday find out more about.
Phonogram – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Given how many computer games magazines I read in the 90′s it is almost inevitable that at one point or another I was reading an article written by Kieron Gillen. I probably didn’t realise though as I was young, impressionable and (much like the rest of the country) being swept up in the tidal wave of cool Brittania as Britpop flooded our little Island. It seems odd then to have not read Phonogram, A book about mages (or Phonomancers) living in London and using Britpop to interpret magic. Back in the 90′s we were all told things could only get better & while they may not have done in the years since the central hook Phonogram gives me hope that maybe they will for comics.
Anything by Robert Crumb
Yes, anything, anything at all. I know the guy is a master & pretty much responsible for the start of American counterculture comics, I’d just like to find out why!
This list is far from exhaustive. In fact these are just a select few of the books on a list that currently takes up 2 sides of A5 paper, and that was just what I was able to think of in 10 minutes. Given half a chance I’m sure I could think of enough books I haven’t read to fill up a book of their own & who in their right mind would want to read my inane ramblings?
Feel free to mock me in the comments for not having read various books or tell us what classic books you’ve missed out on that you’d like to read and why. In the meantime if you ever happen to see me in a comic shop looking confused and clutching a piece of paper, don’t worry I’m not lost, just trying to decide what to buy next…