Breach-Birth Comics

Consider this a preface as well. And yes I know I’ve misspelled it, but…

What comics exploded the flood wall of your comics status quo, and brought in a new expectation?

Give me five, and I’ll give you five. Actually I’ll give you my five first. Actually I’ll give you ten, and you give me ten. But first, five.

Okay, I was raised on Tintin, Asterix, Mad, and the Freak Brothers, as well as Marvel Team-Up, Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, and Not Brand Ecch. So it isn’t like I didn’t know there was something else out there. But what I’m saying is, there’s a unique tension in American superhero comics. And here’s what blew that shit up into the stratosphere for me, bit by precious bit:

1. Deathlok, by Rich Buckler

2. Cerebus, by Sim and Gerhard

3. American Flagg, by Howard Chaykin

4. The One, by Rick Veitch

5. Shade, The Changing Man, by Ditko and Fleisher

That’s pretty much chronological. Then came:

6. Coyote, by Englehart and Leialoha

7. The Price, by Jim Starlin

8. Paradax, by Milligan and I-Don’t-Know-Who [EDIT: I am reminded that this was Brendan McCarthy, and also that I’m an idiot]

9. 100 Rooms, by Jaime

10. Ed The Happy Clown, by Chester Brown

And after that I was done for. Got ahold of some Eightball, a little Maggie The Mechanic, then Hate came along…

Started reading The Comics Journal...

When Ed started buying Sandman and Watchmen, I just about turned my nose up at them both. Then he threatened to punch me in the face if I didn’t read them. And I think he was serious.

Let this be a lesson: the comics buddy system is to be encouraged.

We’ll do this again, Bloggers; only next time it will be “Intuition Comics”.

Intuition that there may be something else out there.

Those were interesting comics!

But these ones are the ones just after that.

So let’s have yours. Because I really don’t know. When did you — or, did you ever, to this date — discover that there might be other ways to apply genre conventions than just to uphold genre conventions? And did you subsequently bail out, or stay in. You see, I bailed out; Ed stayed in, and dragged me back in. I think he might have been a little bit pissed at me there, for a year or two!

But it was his own fault: he started shoving me Fanta titles in the first place. “Where’s Batman?” I mewled at first.

Fuck your Batman,” he told me sternly. “Read this Lloyd Llewellen rant. He’s the new Batman.”

Ah, the days past intuition…

My place in the gallery of history signed with an “X”, Jeeves.


13 responses to “Breach-Birth Comics

  1. Paradax by Milligan and ‘I-don’t-know-who?’???????????????!!!!!!!!!

    Brendan McCarthy!




    That’s definitely one, really the whole Strange Days thing is; otherwise it’d be – I’m probably a bit younger than you so – just Sandman, Preacher, Invisibles and that. X-Statix maybe.

  2. In chronological order of me reading them – Bachelo’s art in Generation X #1 , Morrison’s JLA #14, James Robinson and JH Williams’ Tangent: Green Lantern, Ronin, The 2nd Preacher trade, the first Ultimates and Planetary trades, Steranko’s Strange Tales #168, Automatic Kafka, Elektra Assassin, the “Superviolence” issue of Global Frequency, Sleeper vol.4, Akira vol.1, The Filth, Scott Pilgrim vol.2, Pulp Hope, Desolation Jones#2, and most recently Umbrella Academy, Kill Your Boyfriend, and Ask For Janice. Thats twenty.

    And the comics buddy system is the reason for me being in comics past Preacher and Promethea in the first place.

  3. Pingback: The Hall of Memories has Lovely Decorations « Psychopomp & Circumstance·

  4. Let’s see…1) Incredible Hulk 372 taught me to expect more from my comics, like well-rounded characters and humor. I know you’re not a Peter David fan, but I bought everything he wrote after that. Except Aquaman, cause he’s, you know, Aquaman.
    2) a few panels from Tomb of Dracula reprinted in a book about Dracula. Holy Moley, I didn’t know comics could look that good!
    3) Like many readers of my generation, Sandman was THE comic, head and shoulders above everything else I’d seen and, pointedly, not about super-heroes.
    4) Hellstorm showed me just how nasty comics could be.
    5) The Maxx, which touched me in a way other comics hadn’t previously.
    6) a tie between Stray Bullets and Preacher, only because I don’t remember which one I read 1st. They both combined the gonzo with the profane and creepy.
    7) Watchmen: oh, so *that’s* what everyone’s been raving about. Yeah, that’s pretty damn good.
    8) Kabuki (esp. Circle of Blood & Metamorphosis). Seriously, read it. David Mack’s sophisticated storytelling, gorgeous art, and intelligent emotionalism still blow me away.
    9) Howrad the Duck: oh, so *that’s* what everyone’s been raving about. Yeah, that’s pretty damn good.
    10) Lone Wolf & Cub. The duels! The sacrifices! The honor at stake! I could read another 28 volumes, easy. Ogami Itto makes every other action hero look wussy.
    11) Good-Bye, Chunky Rice. Craig Thompson’s art and writing are as beautiful and fragile as any I’ve seen in the medium. I loved Blankets, too.
    12) Palomar: oh, so *that’s* what everyone’s been raving about. Yeah, that’s pretty damn good. Actually, it’s the best comic I’ve ever read.

    I could probably list another dozen. 2.5 would be Green Arrow under Grell, 4.5 would be Kill Your Boyfriend, 5.5 Dark Knight Returns, 6.5 Starman, 8.5 Ghost World… I could go on and on.

  5. 1. Captain America #283, I think it was. Cap gets involved in a domestic-dispute-turned-hostage-situation. Not a good issue in retrospect, but it opened my eyes to possibilities. Eh, I was ten.

    2. The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics. A brilliant volume, larded with great Golden Age stuff, particularly humor comics. It had two comics that blew the top right off of my head: a Will Eisner “Spirit” story (the one about the flying schnook, I think) and the Bernie Kriegstein classic “Master Race.” Those left me slack-jawed. Eisner in particular exploded what comics could be. Even as a dumb kid who liked his comics with big ol’ punchy-splody in ’em, I saw that Eisner was a genius.

    3. The Jim Steranko run on “Captain America.” Like Eisner, but sixties-style. Again, to a twelve year old kid in the mid-eighties, that shit was unreal.

    4. “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron,” by Dan Clowes. Oh, you mean art comics can actually be affecting, rather than boring, pretentious, self-impressed twaddle? Incredible. Clowes showed how “fever dream” storytelling can actually work, and that a comic can generate a genuine emotional reaction beyond the cheap, simplistic charges from regular comics or the intellectual engagement with art comics. That shit makes you feel, goddammit. Comics can do that. They almost never do, but they can.

  6. In no particular order, the first five:

    1. American Flagg! #1.
    2. Fantastic Four #89 (the second part of the “Mole Man’s House” story), reprinted in an issue of Marvel’s Greatest Comics: among other things, it contained a Kirby Kollage, which freaked my impressionable mind right out.
    3. New Teen Titans #1 and/or Justice League of America #184 (both came out the same month): my first real brush with George Perez.
    4. Thriller #1, for Trevor von Eeden’s layouts.
    5. Justice League of America #144, the Steve Englehart/Dick Dillin “Origin … Minus One!” issue, quite possibly my favorite single issue of any comic book ever, and by now you’re probably sick of me raving about it.

    Second five:

    6. Doom Patrol vol. 2 #19, the first Grant Morrison/Richard Case issue.
    7. Sandman #8, by Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg; the first Death issue and, as they say, “an excellent jumping-on point” (which it was).
    8. The first Saga of the Swamp Thing collection, from “The Anatomy Lesson” through the Floronic Man arc.
    9. Watchmen, naturally.
    10. “Secret of the Waiting Graves!” from Detective Comics #395. This was the first O’Neil/Adams story, but I read it first towards the tail end of Batman from the ’30s to the ’70s. Going from a batch of ’50s and ’60s Sprang-style romps to eternally-young killers dependent on magic poppies was quite the eye-opener, especially at (again) such a young age.

  7. Brendan McCarthy of course! What in the world is the matter with me…

    Oh yeah that’s right: I had had a couple of belts under my belt. Miracle I could even type. But then that’s the thing I stop doing last

    Will correct it, Beast!

    And: these are all very interesting!

  8. In order of reading –

    1. McGregor’s Killraven / War of the Worlds (with a strong nod also towards his Black Panther and Luke Cage)

    2. Gerber’s Man-Thing (with a vigorous jerk of the head towards his Defenders, Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown)

    3. Veitch’s The One (with a raised eyebrow towards his Abraxas and the Earthman in Epic)

    4. Watchmen

    5. Morrison’s Animal Man (and Doom Patrol)

  9. 1. My dad thought comics were a great way to get the young me interested in reading, and he was right. I remember getting a Marvel UK reprint (SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY) when I was little more than a toddler, on a family holiday to the seaside. What I know know: it had a Romita Spidey where the hero was getting the tripe kicked out of him by the Kingpin, and a Kirby Thor, where the hero was getting the tripe knocked out of him by The Destroyer. Woah! Way to introduce me to the wacky world of moral uncertainty, dad.

    2. I was six whenever 2000AD started, and my cousin had the first couple of issues, complete with cover-mounted free gifts. That’ll certainly blow your mind wide open.

    3. Similarly, I was introduced to those first couple of issues of WARRIOR by the same guy (Geoff features heavily in the formation of my comics history and tastes). I was around 11 then. This is maybe the first time I’ve realised what a fantastically advanced child I was. Digging Marvelman and V For Vendetta at 11. Consider what was left of the top of my head blown off.

    4. Around the same time (1982), Marvel UK started publishing THE DAREDEVILS, featuring Alan Moore’s run on Captain Britain. Moore’s work was everywhere in the UK then, I was well aware that this was the same guy tearing things up in WARRIOR (and 2000AD, on HALO JONES and SKIZZ). Y’know how Moore used to casually write off Vertigo as something based on a bad mood he was in for a couple of years? This was the start of the bad mood, and it seemed like he was rewriting the rulebook. lus -reprints of Miler’s DAREDEVIL.

    5. Geoff came back from UKCAC 1987 with the Titan edition WATCHMEN paperback I gave him to be signed by both Moore and Dave Gibbons (it is), but something else: the first issue of DEADLINE. Dude!

    Anyway, there’s plenty of other comics I could mention. Borrowing TINTIN and ASTERIX albums from the mobile library parked outside my house. Buying issues of X-MEN #115 and AVENGERS #176 on the same day (I also bought NOVA #20 that day, but it failed to leave an impression). The joyous profanity of VIZ. Reading LOVE & ROCKETS #1 ’round at Geoff’s (yet another black and white anthology, I notice). Seeing my first newstand-distributed issue of ESCAPE (#10), and buying the Titan edition of DARK KNIGHT from an advert in it. Picking up a job lot of STRANGE DAYS at UKCAC ’88. Getting the first couple of issues of A1 around the same time. LUTHER ARKWRIGHT. CRISIS (the UK one), epecially when relaunched with Ennis and McCrea’s Troubled Souls. REVOLVER, with Rogan Gosh and Morrison’s Dare. And then, a huge gap until deciding to give that first SCOTT PILGRIM book a go. From Amazon. Welcome to the future!

  10. A. I was imbibing a steady diet of comics as a kid in the late 60s and early seventies–mostly DC, plus Spidey and the FF–when my horizons were broadened by the older and the brand-new:

    -“The Great Comic Book Heroes” by Jules Feiffer was a hardcover collection of golden-age vigor and excitement, featuring early appearances of the major superhero properties. Unlike the then-current fare, I felt like any damned thing could happen in these stories.

    -“Just a Story” was the first non-superhero story I ever dug. Written in the ’40s, it was reprinted in a JLA 100-pager. In retrospect I can see that it was a comics knockoff of a Warner Bros.-style gangster flick. Such pathos! I actually forced my dad to read it and admit that comics could after all be “art.”

    -The Spirit reprints as published by Warren. ‘Nuff said.

    -GL/GA by O’Neal & Adams, not only for their topicality, but also for the fact that is was apparent that GA and Black Canary had a sexual relationship–more apparant witht hem than with Barry and Iris in Flash–and the latter were married.

    -The death of Captain Stacy, followed by the unbelievable death of Gwen Stacy in Spider-man–“Can they DO that?!” I wondered. Appaerently they could.

    -Kirby’s Fourth World, particularly in Jimmy Olsen. ‘Nuff said.

    -Conan the Barbarian, which I, in my ignorance, initially thought was just a knockoff of DC’s Tarzan book. Um, I was wrong.

    B. As with other commenters above, the mid-’80s were another era of relevatory comics for me. Along with Moore on Swamp Thing and Watchmen, Miller’s Daredevil and Dark Knight, and Gen Colan’s Nathanial Dusk–all for the Big Two–the newly-empowered independants were the ones that really shook things up for me: Chaykin’s American Flagg, McCloud’s Zot, plus Nexus, Badger, The DNAgents–what a great time to be reading comics!

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