The entire world is locked down, and the comics industry is taking a massive hit. So, of course, are thousands of others, but here’s one which can provide you with something to do while the majority of the planet is in lockdown. Here’s some recommendations to help you pass the weeks ahead.
First up the obvious ones.
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
In short the best superhero comic you will read. Forget the film, the TV series or attempts to integrate it into the DC Universe. This is a book I come back to about once a year and find something new in it, some 35 years after first reading it.
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Jansen, and Lynn Varley.
The second best superhero comic you’ll read. Sadly some of the impact has been lost due to the book being mined by film, TV and comics without anything new to say about Batman or comics itself. Only dive into the continuation series if you really are desperate for something to read, though a quick word about the Dark Knight Strikes Again.
Its clearly a reaction to the grim and gritty style of comics which came out of DKR and Watchmen, but the book changes tone halfway through when Miller took out his rage from witnessing 9/11 happen on his doorstep out on paper. It is more of a document of the time than a good read, so for that take heed before dipping in.
Maus by Art Speigelman
Part autobiography, biography and historical document mixed with slice of life. Maus is a remarkable, if often hard to read book but it is a comic which should be read. It is one of the best comics ever made.
Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth by Pat Mills, John Wagner, and various artists.
You can dip into any of the first 20-25 of the Judge Dredd Case Files (which collects all of Dredd’s stories in order of publication) and find a classic, but this is the story which made Dredd what he is today. This is the one which turned Dredd into the top feature in 2000AD and it’s a cracking story that ties right into the Judge Cal storyline. Wagner and co. were on absolute fire at this time.
Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
This is the comic that turned DC’s superhero line around and is still the Big Event comic that set the benchmark for the dozens of subsequent events since. This is big, sweeping superheroics and is just huge fun.
Daredevil by Frank Miller
There’s various editions of Frank Miller’s revolutionary run on Daredevil, but however you get it, these comics redefined superhero comics at a time where they were at a low for experimentation. Miller’s work here casts a shadow today with many a less talented creator trying to ape what Miller did.
Miller did a second run, Born Again, in the mid 80’s with David Mazzucchelli.
This is my favourite superhero story ever. It’s a genius bit of storytelling from a set of creators at their peak.
Love and Rockets by the Hernandez Brothers
To say Love and Rockets is influential is underestimating things. Created by Jaimie and Gilbert (with occasional work from Mario) there’s two main strips; Gilbert’s tales of working-class Hispanics and Jaimie’s tales of west coast American punks growing up. Both strips run more or less in real-time so we’ve seen characters age with new characters coming in. I’d recommend starting at the beginning then spending all the free time you have (which is a hell of a lot right now) working up til today.
Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben and others.
One of those massively influential comics that stands the test of time. Moore brought a talent and style to mainstream comics that’d previously only been hinted at with the likes of Steve Gerber. This is probably Moore’s most easily accessible work and it is gloriously drawn by his co-creators.
Justice League International by Keith Giffen, J.M DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire.
Superhero comics have drawn from many other genre but this was really the first time it’d drawn directly from sit-coms and the result was a self-aware, funny superhero comic which still had big fights and superheroic conflict but in a way that didn’t distract from the tone.
A Contract With God by Will Eisner
Arguably one of the first ‘graphic novels’, but that aside this is one of Eisner’s greatest works as he tells a handful of stories from pre-WW2 New York which may, or may not be semi-autobiographical in places.
So there’s a dozen to keep you going for now. If you do want to buy them please go check out your local comic shop first before Amazon as they need your money more at this time.