I read a lot of comics last year, but not too many that were any good. Things have gotten somewhat bleak. Here are the ones I loved:

  • Phonogram -- Technically it's a comic about practitioners of music-based sympathetic magic, but really it's about britpop, and an excuse for the author to rant about music. There are extensive multi-page footnotes in every issue. A recent issue was composed almost entirely of Long Blondes lyrics. The first series was awesome, but the second one ("The Singles Club") is even better. I can't recommend this highly enough. I love a lot of the bands name-dropped in this comic, but even without the encyclopedic knowledge necessary to get all the gags, I can appreciate the absurd levels of ranty obsession that it takes to make something like this. Oh, and the art is incredible too.

  • Atomic Robo -- It's got kind of a Hellboy thing going on (Atomic Robo is a mechanical man built by Nikola Tesla who fights Nazis and Lovecraftian horrors) but it's a lot funnier. Love this.

  • Mister X -- MISTER X! Dean Motter! OMG! There was a new Mister X miniseries this year, and my heart went all a-flutter. If you don't already know this one, just go get the Mister X Archives, ok? It's Important.

  • Ignition City -- Fantastic retro-future premise about where old spacemen go to die. This is the best thing Ellis has written in years. Unfortunately, the ending is kind of weak, and the art is half great and half crap. Pagliarani draws incredible ray guns, space ships and intestines, but can't draw actual human faces to save his life.

  • Scott Pilgrim -- It's about slackers, mostly, and and ninjas, a little. At first I found the anime styling a little off-putting, but it's hilarious and zany.

  • The Boys -- A secret team devoted to beating the shit out of superheroes, just because they deserve it. Sometimes you need to see Superman get punched through the face.

  • Powers -- Still great, but it takes so long between issues I usually forget what's going on. I should probably switch to just getting the GN comps every 3 years or whatever...

  • Buffy Season 8 -- The first dozen or so were great, but it has been steadily losing my interest. I haven't given up yet because I'm a pathetic fanboy.

I still have not found a reasonable way to find out about new comics that I would enjoy that doesn't lose all the signal in the unrelenting noise of superheroes. (Oh look, another X-Men spinoff. The Nickelback of comics. Die in a fire.)

Also, some webcomics, of which my feed reader contains quite a few, in alphabetical order:

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39 Responses:

  1. alex_victory says:

    As a fan of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, you're probably aware of cancelled/on-hiatus Parking Lot is Full and Perry Bible Fellowship. But hey, if not -- links.

  2. j_b says:

    Thanks for the update.

    I'm also taking a look at Platinum Grit (from Oglaf's author).

    Not sure if it's your speed, but I've been enjoying the comic Girl Genius for a while. Phil Foglio's art style took a bit for me to get used to, but the storyline is fun, and upon re-read, the series riddled with plot elements revealed (years) later in the story. It won a Hugo last year.

    Was also kind of bummed to learn Drew Hayes had died, I was just reading thru my Poison Elves GN's and googled him last week.

  3. barrkel says:

    I first noticed Kieron Gillen, the writer from Phonogram, writing reviews for PC Gamer UK over ten years ago. He was recognizably quite good then too.

    • lionsphil says:

      (If you still care about his PC gaming writings, his current thing seems to be over here, with other PCG veterans. He hardly writes for the print mag any more.) More topically, he's responsible for their Sunday linkdump, and tends to end it with a musical one these days.

  4. joel says:

    You may like the books in the Treasury of Victorian Murder series by Rick Geary.

    Incidentally, the San Francisco Public Library has copies of these books. I found them while browsing at my local branch.

  5. amaranthyne says:

    Like many people, I enjoyed Logicomix.
    Otherwise, I'm going to have to recommend you go abroad...

    I continue to enjoy the few volumes I've read of Les Citès Obscures, whose volumes, according to Wikipedia, are apparently also available in English.
    The Hunting Party is fantastic.

    I love love love my German graphic novel of the life of Goethe, but I am not sure it's been translated.

    Osama Tezuka's Phoenix manga are stunning, with 4 being the finest among the handful I've gotten my hands on.

  6. nothings says:

    Since you've got a lot of things on your webcomics list that I read, here's a few you don't list, in case you haven't seen them.

    Platinum Grit (as noted above drawn and co-written by Oglaf author - lj update feed is _gertrude_)
    Sin Titulo (on hiatus, but author promises to return to it full time in February-ish)
    Octopus Pie (a bit Scott Pilgrim-y without the insanity)
    Anders Loves Maria (slow updating, nearly over)
    Scary Go Round aka Bad Machinery
    The Intrepid Girlbot
    Gunnerkrigg Court

    I mostly find new webcomics by reading the webcomics thread on the Somethingawful forums. Naturally this requires wading through a lot of dreck. But I found half of the above comics through there, and it also turned up this.

    • jwz says:

      Oh, I didn't realize that was the Platinum Grit guy. I read that years ago when it existed in paper form. But, the fact that it's now some crazy Flash thing with no RSS means I'll never read it. Oh well.

      • nothings says:

        I think the Platinum Grit authors' intent is to still publish in book form every so often, although they've switched publishers enough that I think there's still only the same two or three books there were ~four years ago.

      • nothings says:

        Oh yeah, about Platinum Grit on the web--I'm not trying to convince you to approach webcomics differently, but in case this figures into your existing preferences: Platinum Grit updates very infrequently (once or twice a year, maybe?) with a new chapter meant to be read all at once. So I'm not sure it's the sort of thing you'd read on an RSS feed directly anyway? The update announcements are on LJ so are RSS-able. For whatever that's worth.

        But yeah, the Flash thing is kind of dumb.

  7. latemodel says:

    Very much love Cat and Girl and TfD. For whatever reason, it seems strange to me that you like Virus/Subnormality. I love it, even if it feels like a guilty pleasure sometimes, but somehow it doesn't seem like your kind of humor.

  8. eyeteeth says:

    Wow, I'm in some l33t company there! Thanks for the plug!

  9. I'm quite fond of Plan B.

    Chris Sims does weekly comics reviews called "The Week in Ink" on his blog.

  10. dojothemouse says:

    RASL issues 4 & 5 came out this year, and were rad. At this rate, though, reasonable people may wish to wait until it is completed.

    Criminal "Bad Night" came out this year and was just as good as other Criminal books. Some of my friends hate it because it is crime noir cliche. Other friends love it because it is crime noir cliche.

    Terry Moore's Echo (not the superhero) remains ludicrous and fun.

  11. oletheros says:

    In ascending order of obscurity
    Y the Last Man
    Asterios Polyp
    DMZ by Brian Wood
    Northlanders by Brian Wood
    Umbrella Academy
    Finder by Carla Speed McNeil
    Dungeon by Lewis Trondheim
    The Rabbi's Cat by Joannes Sfar
    Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim
    The Life Eaters by David Brin
    Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson
    Three Fingers by Rich Koslowski
    The Homeless Channel by Matt Silady

    • jwz says:

      I read the first two issues of Finder and hated it a lot. Didn't care enough to get past more than one issue of Fables or Y. I'm still reading DMZ but frankly it's been boring me for about a year. Wood's done some good stuff, but nothing has grabbed me like Channel Zero did.

  12. rpkrajewski says:

    It's time for your local rag to run an article about how comics aren't just for kids any more, featuring the usual suspects from 1990s.

  13. n0man says:

    Necessary Monsters. (unfortunately on hiatus, but they swear they're coming back)

    Also, Dead Winter.

  14. poitoi says:

    <3 cat and girl, so I'm suirprised XKCD isn't on your list...

  15. roninspoon says:

    I found out just recently that Darwyn Cooke released a comic adaptation of The Hunter last summer. According to the press Westlake liked it so much that he approved the use of Parker as the main character's name, something he hasn't done for any of the popular film adaptations of the book, including the popular Point Blank and Payback.

    I picked it up and it's a great graphic novel. Unless you don't care for Darwyn Cooke's animated illustration style.

  16. thefowle says:

    thanks for the webcomics list; its all to much effort to strike out on my own and figure out what i need to read.

  17. cryllius says:

    You may have seen this, but Axe Cop. The concept (it's written by a five year old but drawn by a more competent artist) is definitely new to me!