Monday, September 19, 2005

My Most Important Comics

I'm going to relate the most important comics in my life, as Patrick did in his last Think About Comics column, wherea I will let you know comics that were influential in my comics reading. I'm not going to list comics important to comics history in general, and will use Patrick's examples of Zap Comix #1 and Action Comics #1, but things that altered the course of my reading personally.

1. Marvel Universe Trading Cards, series 1. No, not a comic obviously, but it was what introduced me to the world in the first place. Several neighborhood friends were collecting these from the local Schinder's and I followed suit like the little lemming I was, soon falling in love with Shadowcat, holding her little purple pet dragon close, prompting me to read her comics.

2. Excalibur #48. This was my very first comic book, introducing me to characters I still have the utmost affection for: Kitty Pryde, Meggan, Captain Britain...god, I loved these comics. I soon collected all of the back issues of the series and followed it religiously. Like Patrick, I was completely ignorant of a comic shipping schedule, so I went to the store constantly looking for a new issue. I remember being sick one time, after issue #55 came out (which I regarded as my favorite comic for a long while) and begged my mom to pick me up the next issue, as I was left on quite the cliffhanger. My mom obliged me and came home with...another issue #55. lol. Oh, well. I loved her for the attempt. After beginning this series, I realized that Kitty had been in X-Men and bought back issues with her first appearance and when she joined the X-Men, yadda yadda yadda. I was thus introduced to the Marvel Universe overall, reading Fantastic Four and Avengers soon after. I also recognized Alan Davis' artwork, though at the time I didn't know who he was or realize that I would recognize him in other comics later on.

3. Wizard: The Comics Magazine. If it weren't for Wizard, I wouldn't have even been aware of other characters outside of Marvel. I knew there was a DC, Image and Dark Horse, and was soon directed by the magazine toward something new. But honestly, while collecting it early on, I was mostly keeping tabs on developments within the X-Men universe, having been totally submerged in that world by then.

4. Meridian #1. Yes, Crossgen's Meridian. Laugh all you want, but from Wizard's promptings, I checked out this series and it released me from my Marvel obsession. The floodgates opened and I delved head-first into the Crossgen universe, as well as DC, Image, Dark Horse... It was here that I first really began to love comics, I think. After Excalibur's cancellation, I was barely collecting X-Men comics and then, out of habit. Crossgen really reinvigorated my excitement about comics. It got me to seek out other types of comics that weren't necessarily superheros, but were sword and sorcery (Artesia), fantasy (Bone) and sci-fi (A Distant Soil). And I was really getting myself deep into the comics industry as a whole, venturing out to the Chicago comic convention and stores that, you know, actually carried comics that weren't Marvel and DC.

5. Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. Amid this comic awakening, Patrick persuaded me to try my first adult comic in the form of Sandman. It was the first time that I really realized that comics could be written for an adult audience, could actually be intelligent and reflective. From here, I've gone on quite a Vertigo kick, from Midnight, Mass and Lucifer to other lines, like ABC's Promethea by Alan Moore.

6. Love & Rockets: Blood of Palomar. And venturing into adult comics inevitably led me to my first alternative comic. It was the first book I read that was about real people, without fantasy elements, that could really be considered comparable to literature. Since then, I've ventured into the territory of things like From Hell and Lynda Berry.

7. Greg Rucka. Somewhere in all that discovery and excitement, I actually began to seek out comics by specific creators. It seems so strange now to not watch for creators on titles, but there was a time when characters were the end all and be all for me. Greg Rucka was the first such creator that led me to other books. I'd read his Black Widow trade by Marvel, follwed shortly by Elektra, and realized that they were by the same person, and I loved them both! So, from there, I checked out Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia and his Whiteout and Whiteout: Melt series.

7. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I've gotten into manga quite recently, beginning with Miyazaki's masterpiece. It's another door of comics that been opened for me, leading the way for other great works, like those in Shojo Beat, that gave me a true gift with shojo manga in the form of Ai Yazawa's Nana.

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