Hopefully Lee will forgive me for paraphrasing the title of his column in order to put out this call to action, but I need you all (readers and writers, both) to suggest some “must-read” comic titles.
Using my Unreality cred, I applied for a press pass to this year’s NYCC. Guess what, the silly bastards actually approved it! I am way pumped to be the first on-the-ground reporter for Unreality, and am even more pumped for all the stuff I will inevitably buy. I’m no stranger to cons: my day job lets me work the American Library Association’s annual conference every year, which is kind of an even nerdier version of a comic-con (oxymoron?). The ALA Comic/Graphic Novel Pavilion just gets larger and larger, and Gail Simone even stopped by this year’s meeting. Librarians dig comics!
I know both SDCC and NYCC seem to be getting further and further away from comics, and I’m sure I’ll find plenty of fodder for Unreality posts by focusing on film, tv, and gaming. The thing is, I used to be pretty into comic books during my teenage years, and I miss it. I probably won’t pass a Fake Geek Girl test or anything, so if you’re the type to administer one of those you can stop reading here and go back to your regularly scheduled life of being an exclusionary jerk.
So what should I read, everyone? To give you an idea of my tastes, I’ve included a selection of comics and graphic novels I’ve read and loved, but don’t be afraid to suggest stuff that’s just plain great.
The Uncanny X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
This was my introduction to comic books. Before this, I thought comics were what I read while eating my cereal every Sunday morning. I had no idea who these all people were and I definitely struggled to understand every intricacy of the plot (I was pretty young when I read it), but still I devoured it.
I often fantasized about having telekinetic powers and the like, so all the psychic projections and battling was right up my alley. Plus, Jean Grey was made of thought. That’s like being made of dreams. Crazysauce.
Elfquest: The Original Quest
Elfquest is often regarded as a “girl comic,” but I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy, violence, and sexy stuff. These elves are pretty sexy, you guys. Even if you aren’t much for fantasy, you’ll be hooked by the deep character development.
At the time, I was very into the fact that it was co-written by Wendy and Richard Pini, with artwork by Wendy. Big ups to ladies in comics!
My local library had the beautiful, full-color graphic novel versions of the issues that made up “The Original Quest,” and I remember checking out a new volume every week. I just pulled Book One (published in 1988!) off my shelf and I see the aforementioned American Library Association calls it “one of the most important works in American fantasy of the last few years.” That’s pretty high praise. The ALA is my brah.
Here’s hoping the Pinis come to NYCC so they can sign it.
Most nerds have at least a passing familiarity with Neil Gaiman, and I’m certainly no exception. I even waited in line for three hours (at ALA—eff yeah, you’re detecting a theme) to get him to sign a book to my husband and me. My husband’s name is also Neil, and I’m sure my half-exhausted, awkwardly mumbled request to “just put Sara and Neil, like you, your spelling of ‘Neil,’ he’s just like you” was not as embarrassing as it seemed at the time, and was, in fact, charming.
The Sandman is a series I read over and over again, and was a defining part of my most angsty of teenage phases. I still love it. My best friend and I dressed up as Death and Desire for Halloween 2012. Don’t tell us to slow our roll.
V for Vendetta
I read V for Vendetta shortly after finishing The Sandman, and decided from then on out I’d pretty much read anything written by Alan Moore. I also loved Watchmen and From Hell, for the record. I’m no philistine. I even liked the movie version of From Hell. Okay, I might be a philistine. I liked it for different reasons, okay? Johnny Depp reasons.
Anyway, I fell in love with V and used to fantasize that he’d end up being a badass woman in disguise—one who looked uncannily like me, obviously. I was only slightly disappointed when it didn’t happen, much like when I heard James Purefoy was set to play V in the film adaptation. Purefoy’s a good actor, but the casting didn’t get my blood pumping. Then he dropped out and Hugo Weaving, the great love of my fantasy life and current king of The List, stepped in to take his place.
I was actually worried I’d died and gone to heaven.
Other Titles I’ve Enjoyed, and Glaring Omissions from my Oeuvre
The Dark Knight Returns: Obviously fantastic, but I haven’t read any other Batman titles. Not even The Killing Joke!
The Death of Superman: This was my first experience with word-of-mouth advertising, as every single one of my friends was reading this. There was no escape, and I’m glad of it. It was cool to be part of the zeitgeist.
Preacher: I <3 Proinsias Cassidy.
Saga: This is a new title, and I’ve only read the first issue (which I picked up from the Image booth at—wait for it—ALA), but I’m digging it so far. Anyone else reading it?
Gail Simone: Nothing. I’ve read nothing from Gail Simone. This is especially tragic because she follows me on twitter (#humblebrag). Please rectify immediately, Unreality peeps.