One of my favorite regular columns is the monthly Comics College by Chris Mautner at Robot 6, hosted by Comic Book Resources. Each entry is a great introductory overview of what’s best to read from the great comic book masters and why they are so good, making this a fantastic source for newcomers or people who’ve always wanted to expand their reading. It also covers their lesser known work and stuff that maybe should be avoided.
The great part of the column is that it is looking at masters from all over the art form of comics. It’s not just superhero creators, or just alternative comics creators. It’s both those, as well as manga, newspaper strips, underground comics, euro-comics, comics journalism and more.
This month’s subject is the Norwegian cartoonist simply known as Jason. This prolific creator tells funny genre mash-ups with a deadpan economy of dialogue and understated emotion with characters struggling over love and guilt. Next month, George Herriman will be featured. His classic comic strip Krazy Kat is among the most highly regarded in the history of comics.
The Comics College column debuted in August 2009 and has covered the following comics masters past and present (click on the link to be taken to the column):
- Los Bros. Hernandez (Love and Rockets)
- Jack Kirby (The Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World)
- Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, Phoenix)
- R. Crumb (Zap Comix, Book of Genesis)
- Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Mr. Punch)
- Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Acme Novelty Library)
- Lewis Trondheim (Dungeon, Little Nothings)
- Harvey Kurtzman (Mad Magazine, Frontline Combat)
- art spiegelman (Maus, In the Shadow of No Towers)
- Eddie Campbell (Alec: The Years Have Pants, The Fate of the Artist)
- Harvey Pekar (American Splendor, Our Cancer Year)
- Kim Deitch (The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Shadowland)
- Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Curses)
- Hergé (Tintin)
- Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts)
- John Stanley (Little Lulu, Melvin Monster)
- Seth (George Sprott: 1894-1975, Wimbledon Green, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken)
- Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City)
- Joe Sacco (Safe Area Gorazde, Palestine)
- Jason (I Killed Adolf Hitler, Hey Wait…)
- George Herriman (Krazy Kat)
- Jack Cole (Plastic Man, Betsy and Me)
- Adrian Tomine (Summer Blonde, Scenes from an Impending Marriage)
- Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, We3)
- Jessica Abel (La Perdida, Artbabe)
- Gabrielle Bell (Cecil and Jordan in New York, Lucky)
- Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Zot!)
- Charles Burns (Black Hole, Big Baby, X’ed Out)
- Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the Trenches, West Coast Blues)
- Phoebe Gloeckner (A Child’s Life, The Diary of a Teenage Girl)
- Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, Chicken with Plums)
- David B (Epileptic, Babel)
UPDATE: I’ll keep updating the list as new entries get posted.
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: While it may seem like it, I do not live in the future. For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
The talked-about hit Batman story by modern master Frank Miller (BATMAN: YEAR ONE, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) and artists extraordinaire Jim Lee and Scott Williams (BATMAN, SUPERMAN) is now available in softcover format! Lee and Miller join forces to tell a new version of Dick Grayson’s origin in a high-octane tale that unfolds with guest appearances by Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Black Canary and more! This volume collects issues #1-9 of the explosive series! Plus a Jim Lee sketchbook and a variant cover gallery.
This is either a train wreck or a satire that actually got away with using the source material it is satirizing. Or it’s Frank Miller either completely losing it or giving Batman fans the biggest middle finger ever. Or some combination therein. Very tempting.
It’s not as if one decides to wake up one day, argue existentialism with livestock, and fly a spaceship to the center of the galaxy to meet, greet –and eat – God. It just sort of happens. At least it does in the world ofGoats, the cult-hit webcomic wherein a clutch of brave if baffled barflies (including humans, chickens, and a cyborg goldfish) hit the interdimensional bricks to save the multiverse from certain doom kicked off by a cosmic computer glitch. You can’t make this stuff up–unless you’re one of the monkeys tapping on infinite typewriters who controls all reality. You’ll see…
The acclaimed graphic novelist Jason returns with his most eagerly awaited book yet, thanks to the inclusion of the title story, the world’s first (and likely last) chess western, originally serialized in 2008 in the New York Times Sunday Magazine “Funny Pages” section.
This 216-page hardcover book features five yarns — all brand new with the exception of the aforementioned “Low Moon,” which is collected into book form for the first time.
The new stories lead off with “Emily Says Hello,” a typically deadpan Jason tale of murder, revenge and sexual domination. Then, the wordless “&” tells two tales at once: one about a skinny guy trying to steal enough money to save his ill mother, and the other about a fat guy murderously trying to woo his true love. The reason we follow these two parallel stories becomes obvious only on the very last page, in Jason’s inimitable genre-mashing style.
“Early Film Noir” can best be described as The Postman Always Rings Twice meets Groundhog Day. But starring cavemen. And finally, “You Are Here” features alien kidnappings, space travel, and the pain and confusion of family ties, culminating in an enigmatic finale that rivals Jason’s greatest twists.
Funny, poignant, and wry, Low Moon shows one of the world’s most acclaimed graphic novelists at the absolute peak of his powers.
Don’t let the use of anthropomorphics fool you into thinking this is some kind of funny animals goof for kiddies. Jason is sly and brilliant. Highly recommended.
Outlaw Territory is a collection of stories from a rougher and grittier time in America. Tales of the old west from some of the best and brightest writers in the industry, lavishly illustrated by amazing talent both new and experienced. This book is sure to appeal to fans of such television and film as Deadwood and 3:10 To Yuma, as well as the work of No Country For Old Men author Cormac McCarthy.
Western comics used to be very popular and there used to be a lot of them. Here’s are a bunch of modern takes by a whole host of talented creators: Greg Pak, Joe Kelly, Khoi Pham, Dean Motter, Joshua Ortega, Steven Grant, William Simpson, Ivan Brandon, Andy MacDonald, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Max Fiumara, Johnny Timmons and Michael Woods. And check out that cover by Greg Ruth. Here’s a 5-page preview.