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What COMIC BOOKS have you been reading?

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05 Dec 2012 22:36 #138990 by bfkiller

dragonstout wrote: Just decided to put a hold on Saga at the library, I'll probably have finished Building Stories by then and will be able to tell from the first issue whether it'll drive me crazy or not.


Based on your previous posts, I believe you will hate Saga with every fibre of your being.
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05 Dec 2012 22:43 #138991 by Shellhead
Barnes, thanks for the tips on Judge Dredd. I've been interested since first noticing 2000 A.D. stuff back in the early '80s, but only dabbled a bit. It was like being curious about jazz pre-internet... none of my friends were into it, so I didn't know where to start. Plus, I was already buying a lot of other titles at the time. I tried a couple of crossovers. Batman/Judge Dredd was crappy and really expensive, but Judge Dredd vs. Aliens was very entertaining. I will be looking into volumes 3-5 of the case files soon. Well, after X-Mas anyway.

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05 Dec 2012 23:04 - 05 Dec 2012 23:06 #138993 by Michael Barnes
I hated Saga with every fiber of my being.

Shell, the thing about Dredd is that is chiefly a weekly series and it's really not as continuity-bound as other comics. It's kind of written to be pretty easy to get up to speed- the main things you need to know are pretty much public knowledge anyway. You wouldn't want to start in on like chapter 21 of a 30 part story or anything like that...but usually in the early goings there's plenty of recap.

What you may not know about Dredd is that he has an aversion to moustaches and does not trust Judges with facial hair.

You know, another option is the "best of" Brian Bolland Dredd book. It may be better as an intro, actually. There are also a couple of 2000AD "best of" books out there that include some of the top Dredd material. The Complete Case Files are just such a tremendous value even at the full $20 retail price, it's hard not to just go with those. But that route, you do get some of the B and C list Dredd content.

The new Hickman Avengers book is pretty impressive...it's written for folks coming in off the movie,it might be fun.

Top 10 fucking sucks. I tried to read it back in '99, quit reading it in 2012 at almost the exact same page. I've been thinking a lot lately that Morrison may actually be over Moore at this stage in my comics readership...Morrison hasn't stopped writing great comics.

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05 Dec 2012 23:15 #138994 by dragonstout

JonJacob wrote:

dragonstout wrote: I've started Building Stories, I think I'm about 7 pages into the little golden book and I've already been blown away twice, once by a powerful formal trick and once (well, honestly, constantly) by Ware's incredible skill at observation, which pulls me into the book and makes it feel real like nothing I've read in years and years.


I'm reading it right now too. I'm not going to say anything until I'm done but based on past books I've always loved the way Ware's comics look and thought his writing was forced and awkward. I'm hoping he convinces me otherwise by the end of this one.

Still, I always buy what he writes so my problems can't be that bad.

I'm a total, and I mean TOTAL, raving Chris Ware fanboy, I don't think I've seen a single thing of his I don't like, except some kinda lame covers; he's my easy pick for "favorite cartoonist of all time". To my mind he's the best writer in the business, though this does not necessarily mean "best wordsmith", as of course a ton of his writing is done via the pictures. This book, or at least the tiny chunk I've read so far, has more straight-up narration than usual, and I'll admit that it's not particularly what I'm responding to, though I loved (I dunno if you've read the golden book part yet) the part where the narration walks you around and through the building, and thought that formal trick was very effective. It's more the moment-to-moment panel sequences that *always* strike me by how real they are and how they observe some detail of life I've not ever seen replicated elsewhere.

I *do* think his wordsmithing is great in his humor blurbs, though, like his fake ads.

As I said, I've barely started; and there's no guarantee that I'll even read it in the same order as you! So far I'm reading it in Joe McCulloch (joglikescomics.blogspot.com)'s suggested reading order "designed to make you cry", but I'm a little uneasy with that as I feel like a total cheater.

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05 Dec 2012 23:20 #138995 by Shellhead
I really liked Top 10, but I can see why others might dislike it. I've generally been a fan of the better quality cop shows, and Top 10 manages to combine that style with superheroes in a novel way. The depth of characterization is great for such a large ensemble cast, and the easter eggs scattered across every page are fun in their own right. But on another level, Top 10 feels like a deliberate and even forced satire, directly throwing shit at Teen Titans and the Justice League as payback for past offenses by DC Comics against Moore.

Despite being a big fan of much of his earlier work, I firmly believe that Alan Moore has crossed the line into dirty old man territory in recent years. There seemed to be a conscious effort to include every major fetish into Top 10, and damned near half of Neonomicon was gratuitous and offensive. I didn't even try Lost Girls, but what I heard second hand about it was disturbing. And I really don't have any use for any of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though the first volume was moderately entertaining.
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05 Dec 2012 23:32 #138997 by OldHippy

dragonstout wrote: To my mind he's the best writer in the business, though this does not necessarily mean "best wordsmith", as of course a ton of his writing is done via the pictures.


Certainly that is where his writing shines. There is a two page spread in Smartest Boy on Earth where he tells the story of several generations of one character through a few pictures and it's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in a comic. Without any words at all (except some basic things in the panels like "wedding licence", or "adoption papers" and things like that). It's a huge part of why I buy everything he does.

Shellhead said:

Despite being a big fan of much of his earlier work, I firmly believe that Alan Moore has crossed the line into dirty old man territory in recent years.


Totally agree, but I think he's good at the dirty old man thing. I honestly believe, and it's clear in Lost Girls, that he's exploring erotica type territory and saying things using that medium that couldn't really be explored or said in other ways. I completely get that it's off putting for some people but none of these books, despite the overt sex and nudity, make for a good "one handed read" as Neil Gaiman said.

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05 Dec 2012 23:42 #138998 by Michael Barnes
I remember back in '99 when all of the America's Best stuff came out. I bought all the #1's, and League was the ONLY one that really felt like great Alan Moore. Promethea was OK. Tom Strong was a non-starter. Tomorrow Stories, eh. And then there's Top 10. So it was disappointing, and even back then I think I was thinking that maybe Moore was done writing great comics. But yeah, his great stuff is among the REALLY great stuff.

But I mean, really...what else is there? WildCATS? Supreme? Who cares about that stuff?

As for his erotic stuff...he's too intellectual to just write spank books.

I don't know, I think he was an artist that had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do in the medium in the 1980s, he completely succeeded in just about everything he set out to do, and after that...what? Where do you really go from Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell, and his one-offs like The Killing Joke, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, and of course the Swamp Thing run? Those books totally spoil Moore, because everything else just looks _paltry_ in comparison.

The funny thing about Top 10 was that it reminded me to read Marshal Law...and Marshal Law had some of the same ideas but in a much more savagely satirical context, and in a much more compelling book. The cop show thing, I get it...but it all felt so lame, and any book that introduces like 20-25 new supers in issue 1 is almost always suspect anyway.

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05 Dec 2012 23:49 - 06 Dec 2012 00:00 #139001 by dragonstout

Michael Barnes wrote: Top 10 fucking sucks. I tried to read it back in '99, quit reading it in 2012 at almost the exact same page. I've been thinking a lot lately that Morrison may actually be over Moore at this stage in my comics readership...Morrison hasn't stopped writing great comics.

What didn't you like about Top 10? (Edit: you answered this) By far my favorite thing about that comic were the easter eggs in the art, which is a kind of backhanded compliment.

Morrison or Moore, tough question! Morrison has definitely written more very good pages of comics than Moore, more great runs than *any* comics writer in history; but Moore's heights (Watchmen & From Hell) beat Morrison's. They've written a few directly comparable works:
Swamp Thing > Animal Man
Supreme, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, "For the Man Who Has Everything" < All-Star Superman
Promethea > The Invisibles

They're both better at exploring ideas than characters, and I think Moore has a wider range of ideas than Morrison, who tends to focus on the same ones over and over again. Moore is also inarguably more adept at utilizing the formal qualities of the comics medium; Morrison does not appear to think about that at all, which has helped to result in sometimes nearly unreadably bad layouts thanks to Morrison being willing to work with whatever random uninspired artist they'll throw at him. Moore on the other hand has carefully picked and nearly uniformly excellent collaborators, and is the only non-drawing writer I can think of who experiments so much with comics formalism.

Doom Patrol, All-Star Superman, and The Filth make a pretty great case for Morrison, though...and dang, I can't argue with how prolific he is.
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05 Dec 2012 23:57 #139003 by dragonstout

Michael Barnes wrote: I remember back in '99 when all of the America's Best stuff came out. I bought all the #1's, and League was the ONLY one that really felt like great Alan Moore. Promethea was OK. Tom Strong was a non-starter. Tomorrow Stories, eh. And then there's Top 10. So it was disappointing, and even back then I think I was thinking that maybe Moore was done writing great comics. But yeah, his great stuff is among the REALLY great stuff.

But I mean, really...what else is there? WildCATS? Supreme? Who cares about that stuff?

I remember buying all those #1s and being so disappointed, too, including by League (Promethea was far and away my favorite of the #1s, and ended up being my favorite in the end as well).

If we're comparing to Morrison, though, then I think that Promethea, Supreme, and Lost Girls are all Moore comics from the last two decades (and certainly From Hell, also from the 1990s) that are equal to all but the top tier of Morrison's comics.

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05 Dec 2012 23:59 #139004 by OldHippy
Morrison vs. Moore is easy for me.

Moore by a long shot.

I love Morrison but the only reason he is so prolific is that he is so repetitive. He seems to be constantly trying to perfect the same four idea's over and over again. The Invisibles may be amateurish in some ways but the seeds for almost everything he's written since are in there. Moore shows genuine curiosity in his work, he's always trying to challenge himself by writing something different then before. His ear for dialogue is infinitely superior and he presents characters he'd never agree with in person very honestly and with great integrity. I also don't feel the anger or pretension that I feel in Morrison comics. Moore is easily as deep in his themes but doesn't bang you over the head as much and seems to revel in knowing that these are "funny books".

He's also much better in interview and can be hilarious. I know that doesn't count but I can't help but mention it. His integrity is pretty amazing too.

I enjoy The Filth for example but that stupid bit with the black seamen chasing people around was more teenage erotic then all of Moore's dirty old man stuff put together. Then a lot of his stuff just seems like a bad version of Thomas de Qiuncy doing his opium dreams. I don't know how many drug fueled comics the guy has but it feels like too many to me.

I don't think any writer in the comics medium (and I'd be hard pressed to think of others in any medium) have worked so hard at being so versatile. Black Dossier was the final straw for me on cementing Moores rep as the most versatile writer I know of.

.. neither are my favorite though. But Moore is close.
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06 Dec 2012 00:08 #139006 by dragonstout
Morrison is also WAY the hell sloppier than Moore, for good and ill.

When Moore revels in knowing that they're "funnybooks", I feel like it tends to clang dead to the ground. The humor in his more serious stuff works great, but I think he's mostly tone-deaf about pure humor.

But yes, Moore has WAY more range, both in ideas and in characters. I think this might be where the "Morrison is better than Moore" feeling comes from; while Morrison's comics are certainly risky-feeling compared to everything else out there, he takes far fewer risks *with himself*, so his good output is more consistent and if you like one of them, you'll like them all. That is not at all the case with Moore.

I thought about bringing up outside-of-the-comics things like Moore's integrity and Morrison's reprehensible lack thereof, but it doesn't seem fair.

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06 Dec 2012 13:25 #139026 by Dair
JonJacob, you summed up my feelings of Moore vs. Morrision much better than I ever could have. I still enjoy Morrison immensely, but he just falls short when compared with Moore.

As for Building Stories, I cannot wait to read that. You guys are making me wish I had it already. Ware is doing things in the comics medium that I think are unparalleled.

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06 Dec 2012 14:06 - 06 Dec 2012 14:12 #139028 by Columbob

Michael Barnes wrote: Speaking of hardcovers of European sci-fi comics: Metabarons, Technopriests, or Incal, what's the best out of those?

Most would probably say (and probably rightly) Incal. But it's now apparently out of print again, at least the ORIGINAL book. I actually emailed Humanoids to see when it's going to be available again, no response.

Try Metabarons. It's REALLY cool. Jodorowsky used some of his ideas from the scrapped Dino De Laurentis version of Dune that was in preproduction in the 70s, and it shows. It feels very Dune...but it makes some CRAZY departures. There is some totally bad ass sci-fi stuff in it, but there's this almost folky, mythic quality to it. The art is obnoxiously great, too...some of the best space battle images I've seen in a while.

I want the Technopriests book that comes out like...today, I think?


Man, I just read all these series this past month. Great stuff, yet some dumb/juvenile crap too trying to be funny. Maybe it's funny for teens.

Incal is the original series, so you might want to start there, although I read Technopriests first. Doesn't really matter. The last (latest?) Metabaron is a bad-ass character in Incal, and the Metabarons series traces his lineage back to the original Metabaron, his great-great-grandfather. Every book is named after either one of the metabarons or his wife and the series follows the succeeding generations all the way to the "present". It asks some really interesting questions regarding familial attachment and separation.

There's this prequel Incal series too (Before Incal) and it's necessary to understand what comes in the Final Incal series which is still ongoing.

Technopriests is a spinoff and goes in-depth into the whole techno-religion dogma and institution of the same universe. Crazy virtual reality/life and messianic stuff, although maybe a bit lighter than Metabarons.

I borrowed the 3 issues of Megalex, which is another Jodo-verse series, we'll see how it goes.
The art in all of these series is really inspired too.

Right now I'm reading XIII by Van Hamme (Thorgal), it's heavily influenced by 70s Ludlum, especially the first Bourne book. Anyways, it's a pretty great mystery/amnesia/secret agents/assassins series. Pretty text and exposition heavy especially in some books.

metalface13 wrote:

dragonstout wrote: Read a few short HELLBOY stories: liked them a lot more than expected! I get so much enjoyment just out of the art, the action, the color, and the folklore, that I don't care that they're completely insubstantial stories.


Hellboy was best when Mignola was drawing it.


I think I read the first 2 omnibus of Hellboy and loved it all. Mignola rocks.

Speaking of Mignola, if you can get a hand on his adaptation of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser's trade paperback, get it! Some of the best classic Leiber Lankhmar stories.
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06 Dec 2012 22:26 #139046 by metalface13

Columbob wrote: I think I read the first 2 omnibus of Hellboy and loved it all. Mignola rocks.

Speaking of Mignola, if you can get a hand on his adaptation of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser's trade paperback, get it! Some of the best classic Leiber Lankhmar stories.


I do have that! Or at least I did. I can't remember if I sold it before moving all our stuff into storage. I haven't read any of the Leiber stuff novels, but I enjoyed the comic. It's a shame Mignola only does covers these days. I always felt his art was a lot stronger than his writing. He's a great visual storyteller and great at pacing. It's been a long time since I've picked up any Hellboy.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I will be receiving the final volume of iZombie when it comes out next week. It's a shame the series was canceled after 28 issues, but that's a pretty solid run. Chris Roberson apparently said a lot of pro-creator rights that rubbed DC the wrong way. Anyway, I just think it's a fun comic and Alred's artwork certainly doesn't hurt.

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06 Dec 2012 22:36 #139047 by Shellhead
I finally took the plunge and bought the Moench/Gulacy run on Master of Kung-Fu. After years of waiting for Marvel to reprint it, I began to realize that there was probably a legal issue. Turns out that the Sax Roehmer estate has become militant about protecting their rights to Fu Manchu, the main villain in that series. I even contacted the estate a few years ago and asked them to contact Marvel and work out a deal for MoKF reprints but never got a response. It appears that they are hoping for a movie deal that may never come about.

So, I bought back issues from a combination of three different online stores, to get issues #18-50 at tolerable prices (meaning most of them cost less than $4, the price of some of the new comics published by DC and Marvel). The last of the comic orders arrive a week ago Monday, and I read just a few issues per day, to try to savor the experience.

Turns out that Moench/Gulacy run wasn't consistently drawn by Gulacy. There were several issues drawn by lesser artists like Keith Pollard. But at least the majority of the writing was by Doug Moench, one of the best comic book writers of the '70s. Still, I was glad to buy all these issues, so that I was up to speed on everything when the best story arc arrived, spanning issues 45-50. Actually everything is pretty damn good starting around issue #38, after an atrocious filler story in issues #36-37.

Over the course of this run, there was some definite character development, and also a shift in tone in the overall comic. Initially, it was just wandering kung-fu hero stuff, like the popular Kung-Fu tv show of that time, or that Vanishing Son tv show from the mid-'90s. Every issue, Shang-Chi would come up against assassins and other minions of Fu Manchu, and defeat them with his vastly superior kung-fu. In time, Shang gets recruited by Fu Manchu's original arch-enemy, the now elderly Sir Denis Nayland Smith, who is now working for the british spy agency MI6.

This sets up an interesting tension, because Shang was raised from an extremely early age by Fu Manchu to be the best martial artist in the world. His insular upbringing leaves him as an idealistic innocent wandering through a cynical world, and now he finds himself in the mirror maze of international espionage. Spies, traitors, double agents, criminals and bureaucrats.

Shang-Chi is an unusual protagonist. Even during the most intense fight scene, he is musing on deep philosophical questions. He eventually begins to rebel against espionage, dismissing it as "games of death and deceit," but continues to help MI6 because of the friendships he has forged with other agents. And his relationships with his wicked father and manipulative sister are also interesting.

Early in the run, the letter pages were running a bit negative against Paul Gulacy, generally dismissing his artwork as derivative of Jim Steranko's style. Eventually, Gulacy's craft earns him considerable respect, with clever cinematography and dynamic action sequences.

Here, look for yourself. Paul Gulacy's website has re-colored scans of a few of the issues, and here's a link to a particularly good one:

www.gulacy.com/marvel/mokf/mokf38/mokf38-color.htm

After opening the first scan image, if you click your mouse on the right edge of the scan, you can advance directly to the next page. Click on the left edge to back up.
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