Monday, February 27, 2012

Favorite Comics Part One

I realized recently that as much as I talk about comics in my day-to-day life (there are times I feel like that's all I talk about), I haven't really blogged about specific ones very much. I don't feel much of a need to offer opinions or reviews of current comics. There's a lot of that already available out there, and it's a big part of what I do at Phantom every day. I want to talk about some of my all-time favorite books.

I should preface this by saying that in general I have a tough time answering the question, “What's your favorite (fill in the blank)?” Music, movie, TV show... whatever. I have consumed a lot of media over the years, and I have a wide variety of tastes and moods, and my answer changes depending on the wind of that particular day. I like very different things for very different reasons and singling out any single one of them as an absolute favorite only addresses the reasons I like that one thing, and ignores a whole lot of my reasons for liking something else.

So, in my attempt to approach this topic I set a couple of ground rules. I didn't want to talk about long, ongoing series, like the Avengers or the X-Men. These types of books are incredibly formative for me, but given their nature of changing creative teams and never-ending story arcs I would find it impossible to really talk about what any specific title means to me, simply because the specifics of that changes over time. I didn't want to make a comprehensive list of titles and go into analytical detail about why I believe them to be good. I'm not going to talk about Watchmen, or Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, or some of the other really well-known and critically acclaimed graphic novels that typically end up on these lists. I think that both of these are amazing, historically significant works that changed the course of comics history (there are others as well). I love both of these stories, but at this point I tend to approach both of them from a more academic point of view. They are comics that stimulate my intellect and as a result my enjoyment of them has changed over the years. They are “brain-comics” for me.

The books I want to talk about here are “heart-comics,” the ones I simply love and feel nostalgic for. These are the books I always think of when asked about favorites. While I think there are legitimate artistic reasons for including them on a list of good comics (and I'll touch on some of that), I'm not going to pretend that this is an objective criticism. These are comics that simply spoke to me at a certain time and place in my life and came to mean something personal. Debates can take place as to the relative merits of any of the books I plan on discussing, but that's not what this is about. No matter what kind of “Best Of” list anyone puts out it automatically begs people to disagree with it. Feel free. While I fully support the idea of genuine critical analysis of any work of art I also know that the bottom line for any of us is our own personal reaction. The best reviews in the world won't convince any of us to love something we hate. The worst reviews won't make us give up the things we love.

The upcoming blog posts on this topic are an exploration of my own interaction with this art-form I love, highlighting some of the books I love the most. Hopefully some of you will be inspired to try these comics and come to love them as much as I do. If not, it doesn't matter.

So what comics are on my list?

You'll have to keep reading.

1 comment: