It has been brought to my attention by my illustrious editor that my last few columns of Seth Talks Comics have been negative and might actually alienate some readers. I’ll agree there might have been some less than positive insights, but I can’t alienate readers I don’t have, right!?!?! Nieces and Nephews, Uncle Manhammer has quite a long list of things he loves! Sure, going to the comic book store isn’t one of them, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll share a few of my favorites from Funnybook Land! Please keep in mind these are in no particular order, and I am mostly just looking at my bookshelf as I type this, because it would stand to reason everything on my bookshelf I enjoy. I’m not in the habit of keeping shit around.
First, I’ll start with Scud: The Disposable Assassin. Rob Schrab (one of those guys whose name you might not recognize but has been just about everywhere) created a world where you can buy self-destructing robot hit men from vending machines. But what happens when one realizes he’ll blow up if he kills his target? He maims him and puts him in the hospital, taking on other contracts to pay the hospital bills! The Image book contains everything, and I linked to Barnes and Noble if you wanted to buy it because Amazon can lick my unwashed taint. Anyway, you should buy it because it’s funny and the Dan Harmon penned spin-off La Cosa Nostriod might get the same treatment if we’re lucky.
If you’re down for a little magic in your life, or lung cancer, or a protagonist who isn’t likable but is pretty damn cool, Hellblazer is the book for you. The original series, which is the one you should get because the new stuff is dog turds, is a Vertigo staple that lasted 300 issues. Currently, they’re up to volume 17 of the complete trade paperback library, so there’s still tons of time to catch up. Now, the caveat here is that the book switches creative teams pretty frequently, so the tone of stories can shift pretty dramatically, but it’s still a horror book at heart. Garth Ennis’ run is a pretty solid start for most newcomers, but starting with Jamie Delano’s run is where the really fucked up stuff happens. Well, the entire series is pretty fucked up, to be honest, but it’s a good fuck up.
Even though I’m admittedly not a Marvel fan, they still have a few books I’ll look at…and their Tomb of Dracula Complete Collection Volume One trade (of which hopefully volume two will come out someday) is a steal. It contains the first fifteen issues of Tomb and the first four issues of Dracula Lives! If you’ve never checked this series out, Gene Colan’s pencils really bring the book to life. This and Howard the Duck are some of the best looking Marvel books of all time in my opinion. Marv Wolfman did a hell of a job with the narrative, too. The whole point is to hunt and kill Dracula, but the series doesn’t feel prolonged or strained because the heroes can never seem to seal the deal. Trust me, totally worth it.
I think the above listed are significant proof that I don’t despise everything, and I plan on doing more of these articles in the future (maybe even next week, because my pull list for next week is just as empty as this week’s and I need to keep up if I expect to collect my pittance at the end of the month) but I’d be remiss if I didn’t profess my outright love for Dave Sim and Gerhard’s Cerebus. Admittedly, I didn’t discover this one until several years ago, but not being on board during its heyday has allowed me to appreciate the work as it stands, which is the life of an incredibly volatile aardvark largely interested in instant and self-gratification. If you decide to take the plunge, I recommended reading the (300 issue) series first, then decide if you want to take the deep dive into issues and controversies the book has generated. One could probably generate a college level course over the work if one was so inclined. I’m not. Most folks will also say the High Society and Church and State story arcs are the high points of the series, but my preference is Jaka’s Story. The characters are presented in such a real and human way, and it’s such a departure from the previous two arcs, but it’s a perfect example of a graphic novel as literature.
If you disagree with my opinions on any of these, you’re wrong. So, try to do better next week when Seth Talks Comics returns where I’ll probably tell you about more books I love.