This is for those of you who hear me talk about comics all the time, and don’t really know what I’m talking about or where to start.
These are some of the comics I care about, in convenient internet samplers that are free for you to read. (the PDF files will need a PDF reader, which you almost certainly have, although it may be annoyingly slow).
If you like them, please let me know and I can help you find cheap and easy ways to buy them — and recommend other things that you will like.
Comics are not scary. They are fun, easy, and worthwhile. See?
FABLES #1 (PDF)
Fables is the #1 most popular comic at Reed that’s still ongoing. The premise is that every character from every folktale and legend is alive, and they all live together in a secret part of New York City called Fabletown. The series begins with a murder mystery, but it expands to cover all sorts of genres. I personally believe that the series doesn’t really take off until issue #7, when regular artist Mark Buckingham arrives, but the charm and character interaction is there from the beginning, and you can already see how big and open-ended the universe is that writer Bill Willingham has created. It only gets better.
PREACHER #1 (PDF)
My opinion of this series has changed over time, but this is the book that hits closest to home for me. Reading SCOTT PILGRIM is like reading the fantasy version of my own life, but reading PREACHER is like having a favorite old uncle sit you down and teach you about life and loss and love and what it means to be a man. The funny thing is that the story’s got all kinds of supernatural elements in it — the story begins when the main character is possessed by an angel/demon, gains the power to control people’s minds, and sets out to force God to answer for his crimes — and it often veers into farce or black comedy, where no topic is too sacred or too disgusting to bring up. But behind all the blasphemy and “mature content” is a nakedly honest story about three people who need each other and keep screwing it up. And it’s written across a huge story that can honestly be called an American epic. They say the sky is bigger in Texas. PREACHER shows it to us.
I should probably talk less.
Y: THE LAST MAN #1 (PDF)
Plague strikes. All males of all species die simultaneously. Except one man and his monkey. A brilliantly-paced post-apocalypse thriller. Addictive.
SANDMAN #1 (PDF)
The first issue of the realistic-fantasy epic that changed comics. I have my quibbles with it, but it’s still the birthplace of characters and ideas that are very dear to a lot of comic fans’ hearts. And that Neil Gaiman, he can write a short story.
TRANSMETROPOLITAN #8: “Another Cold Morning”
First of three Warren Ellis comics. This is a short story from his futuristic-gonzo-journalism epic, TRANSMETROPOLITAN, which is just a masterpiece of smart writing. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a Reed student that didn’t like TRANSMET.
JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER: “Shoot”
A Warren Ellis short story that was never published due to its subject matter (school shootings) and timing (right when the Columbine massacre happened).
One of Warren Ellis’ latest efforts, this is like the pilot episode of a TV drama — about a homicide detective who just transferred in to a city that hates him.
EX MACHINA #1
Young maverick mayor of NYC deals with occupational hazards and the aftermath of his younger days, when he used to fly a jetpack and fight crime. Worth reading the whole issue just to get to the last page.
Cover and 6 pages of this lushly-illustrated, heartfelt memoir of family, religion, and especially first love.
THE WALKING DEAD #1
Zombie fiction as sociological case study. This is a thriller that’s genuinely thrilling, and it’s a perverse pleasure to watch all the characters sloooowly go insane.
FEAR AGENT #1
Texas spaceman flies through the universe kicking alien ass. With ray guns. Sheer action fun.