Back when I was about 14 my friend Jeremy Glass took me to a local bookstore during an open campus lunch, for the express purpose of picking up comic books. This was back in 1993 when things were going crazy, what with Image just starting up and all. For that first year I was reading pretty normal mainstream stuff from Marvel (Infinity War & other assorted Adam Warlock books), DC (Reign of the Supermen) and Image (WildCATs, Gen 13 other Homage studios books). Which was all well and good, but if I hadn’t eventually found some of the books I’m about to list after that first year I doubt I’d've been reading comics at all by the time I was 16.
Scud: the Disposable Assassin
He’s a robot, that’s an assassin, living in a messed up crazy future and his main rivals are a monster of the apocalypse and Ben Franklin as a voo doo priest. At the time I first read this I only knew half of that, the first issue of this I bought was #6, when Scud was down in Kansas with his werewolf arm and it was just so hilarious. I couldn’t get over how crazy everything was in the book or how great it looked! I was seriously hooked. Scud really helped form what my idea of humor was, the strange and wonderful with a sarcastic edge that was also full of childlike glee. This book continued to come out on into my early 20s when I was working ACME Comics and I pushed it as much as I could, I really was all about this book. Then it stopped being made just short of its to be last issue, and to tell the truth, even if Rob didn’t come back 10 years later and wrap it all up this would still be one of my favorite books ever.
Sam Smith is your everyday kinda guy working a crappy job and who can’t even ask out the girl he has a crush on. The comic follows the day he unwittingly goes up against some robots and gets mixed up with clones, evil scientists and a conspiracy as old as the Bible. I don’t think anyone ever read this book except for me and Rabbi and that’s a shame. The art had a slick style and the dialog was snappy. It is also one of the few comics out there that deals with an actual adult characters, and not just a bunch of older stuck-in-neutral teens and for that reason it makes the giant robots that much more fun. It’s an even bigger shame that we haven’t seen far more work from Christopher Hicks!
Scott is a normal 23 yr old boy in a band who meets a new girl. To win her love he must defeat her 7 evil ex-boyfriends. While I started reading all the rest of the books on this list in my late teens and early 20s, this is the only one I started with in my late 20s and I think that makes me appreciate it more. It reminds me of me and my friends in our mid 20s and all the stupid things we did, going to shows, dressing up for no reason, drinks, house parties, playing in bands, that kind of stuff. Plus it has this 80s/90s video game vibe and references that just sends it over the top. This book makes me giddy and I can’t wait for the last book to come out, or the movie.
The book follows 5 members of a secret organization battling against physical and psychic oppression using time travel, magic, meditation, and physical violence. I took that description from wikipedia because I just couldn’t think of how to sum it up. Its about everything, its about nothing. This book opened my eyes, accept life as it come and to stop being so hard on myself. This book made me a fan of Grant Morrison’s writing and directed me towards the novels of Phillip K. Dick who then became one of my favorite authors. It’s lame to say, but this comic changed my life.
In the far flung future there’s space ships, aliens, and robots, yet, everything is still pretty much the same. Hockey, ska music, drunken ranting and being stupid in your 20s are all still there. I could never get enough of this book, and even when he isn’t working on it, creator Evan Dorkin does put out plenty of other quatlity work, but this is the book that touched me the most. I can identify with Halby & Blue! I want to go see the Trombone Girls open up for the Mad Planets! I want to pin a Jersey Devil’s badge on my plaid jacket!
In the end I can honestly say all these books created distinct worlds that felt lived in and awesome, and just slightly different than our own. That’s the closest thing to a common thread that these books have going on. Maybe that’s something I like, stuff that’s pretty regular but at the same time a little more heightened, a little bit of irreality to go along with the everyday.
Comics I love that didn’t quite make the list “Madman”, “Bone”, “Dork”, “NextWave”, James Robinson’s “Starman”, “Planetary”, “Seaguy”, “Doom Patrol” (Drake and Premiani’s run, Grant Morrison’s run & John Arcudi’s run especially) and at various times “Deadpool”.