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Wednesday, 05 December 2012


I'll just have to recommend Baru's "L'Autoroute Du Soleil". A classic.

Sandman for me holds that place an old favorite song or movie does - even if you don't quite remember the words, you remember how it made you feel.

One omission from this list that I was sure would be included when I read your 4th paragraph is MiracleMan by Alan Moore. Just top-notch all around, with a devastating climax in the series. Unfortunately, I think I may have lost my original copies, and reprints are too high-priced.

Iredeemable is good, as is it's companion series Incorruptible. Alan Moore's Batman graphic novel and Love and Rockets were my gateway drugs.

And then there's this:

Multiple, differently colored lighting planes, visually and emotionally separating the subjects... That's kinda awesome. I'm amazed that more photographers don't appreciate comics/graphic novels (yeah, sorry, it's a silly distinction). Comics share the photographer's penchant for visual narratives, with none of that pesky physical reality getting in the way.

On non-fiction graphic novels, Maus is legendary. I also recommend highly: "Logicomix", and biographies of Niels Bohr - "Suspended in Language" and Richard Feynman - "Feynman".

The only graphic novel series I have read and bought, is Maus.

I was raised surrounded by Survivors.

Just my 2¢.

This week I've been reading The Ringworld Engineers. It hasn't been made into a graphic novel, though it would make a good one.

I read the dedication first, and a name which meant nothing to me the last time I read the book leaped out at me. It was Ctein.

It's a small world, unlike the one in the book.

I was never much for comics or graphic novels ... until I bought a retina iPad. Read the entire Sandman series in one marathon binge on the thing. It's really really great for this particular application.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel memoire. Witty, hilarious, sad and very sensitive. My absolute favourite besides Maus.

I simply want reality, don't care much for the super heroes.

I loved Strangers in Paradise, even though the mob subplot went on a bit too long, and early on Moore set up a flash-forward sequence then changed the plot and characters so much you could never get back there. Still one of my favourites, although I did drop Echo after about 20 issues when I realised i'd missed a few issues and didn't really care.

Even though Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan is basically "Hunter S. Thompson in the future" it still has credit as satire.

Taking a slight diversion, I do think SiP fans would get something from Ai Yazawa's manga NANA, the story of two young women who meet by chance on a train one snowy night to discover they have three things in common. They're both 20, they're both moving to Tokyo, and they're both called Nana. Nana Komachi is moving in with the guy she was going out with at college, and Nana Osaki is going to restart her punk band after her bassist lover left her to join a more popular band. Sadly this stands incomplete at 21 volumes since 2009 due to the author's ill-health. But even so it's a damn good read.

This was surprising. I never thought to see another of my great passions discussed here on TOP.

Since we're talking lists, here are some recommendations of mine from various genres:

- Almost all Alan Moore's work
He's a master on this art.

- "Enigma" by Peter Milligan
A "tour de force" in just one issue.

- "Logicomix" by Apostolos Doxiadis
Just brilliant.

- "Akira" by Katshiro Otomo
The greatest epic japanese masterpiece. Mind-blowing art.

- "The Filth" by Grant Morrison
Complex multi-layered story that will not leave your mind easily.

- "Wilson" by Daniel Clowes
Funny and tragic. A very unique take on comic strips. It may be my favourite from this author.

- "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth" by Chris Ware
Chris Ware is the poet of this medium. Even who isn't fond of graphic novels will have trouble not classifing this as a work of art in every aspect.

- "Madwoman of the Sacred Heart" by Alejandro Jodorowsky
One of the many collaborations between the great master Jodorowsky with the legendary Moebius. A funny, fascinating and enlightening experience in one volume.

- "Bone" by Jeff Smith.
Excellent fantasy entertainment. Also check Jeff Smith's new series "RASL", a Sci-fi-noir with Nikola Tesla references.

As Ctein is usually beyond reproach in every way, I'll phrase this as a question: why use the phrase 'opus magnus' when 'magnum opus' is in common use? For a moment I thought the common usage must be wrong, but I sat through too many Latin classes to forget that 'opus, opera' is a neuter noun and takes the neuter adjective form, ending with -um. In terms of word order, it doesn't matter. How about opus magnum, as a compromise? Or is this an inside joke that I don't get?

For a wonderful vision of what superhero comics can become if allowed to move beyond their formulaic origins, I highly recommend Kurt Busiek's Astro City Series. Like Sandman, Astro City was also originally published monthly, but the issues all collected into graphic novel form (aka "trade paperbacks").

A mandatory addition: Emmanuel Guibert's "The Photographer." It's the story of his trip as a photographer into Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, illustrated with drawings and (yep) photographs. (He shot Leica.)
Given Brubeck's death today, I have to mention Loustal & Paringaux's "Barney et la Note Bleu", for me the most visually beautiful graphic novel. Best to look for it in the used section of one of the very many graphic novel stores in France.

I am not realy familiar with this genre, but perhaps a cousin to this would be The Arrival by Shaun Tan. Not a word in it; it deftly "illustrates" the immigrant experience.

Sin City, Hellboy, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, The Invisibles, Akira, Elektra: Assassin. And yes, I find a nice parallel between photography and graphic novels.

Quick note in passing:

1. Google "Hawkeye initiative".
2. Be sure to complete any mouthful of beverage by swallowing BEFORE the results come up on your screen. I will NOT be responsible for any damage to your monitor otherwise.
3. Technically it's safe for work, but only barely.
4. A quick trip to the bathroom before you Google will help prevent incontinence from laughing so hard.

+1 for sandman. Another that I enjoy as a bit more literary is David Sims' Cerebus series. For me it starts to get overly preachy around omnibus #7, but I really enjoy the High society and Church & State stories. It's a victorian era fantasy story that features countless pop-culture references in sarcastic, parodying ways (a prime minister is obviously groucho marx, a secondary character is Elrod of Melvinbone, an albino with a sword named Seersucker who happens to speak like Looney Tunes' Foghorn Leghorn). It's quite funny while still being intelligent.

Sandman is the greatest, however. Natch.

Lots of great suggestions above, but not all of them hang together like a good novel should. Which is why Craig Thompson's Blankets and Habibi are so great. And any photographer would also enjoy his street-sketching journal Carnet de Voyage.

What scares me is that Ctein is moving on to teas. His previous columns ruined me as I am now wanting to pursue teas like I want to pursue cameras and gear. So many teas and so little time. What next Ctien? I am retired and Social Security won't cover this habit.

Another recommendation for Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan series. It's much funnier than Hunter S. Thompson (IMHO). And that two headed cat is so cute.

Alan Moore's From Hell is excellent and creepy. And might introduce you to psychogeography (I don't go for the occult side of it but the "realist" side is worth thinking about for the street walking photographer).

Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland is a sort of non-fiction graphic history (what is the term for "graphic non-fiction": graphic verity?) of Lewis Carrol's time living outside Sunderland (in NE England). Very wide ranging and engaging too combing not just drawn work but collages of images.

And finally meta example of "graphic verity" in Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics will give you an insight into how graphic novels really work. Recommended for those in the UI design business too (you are telling a story after all).

Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels are stunning in the quality of illustration. To be honest his work has had just as much of an influence on me as a photographer as the work of most other actual photographers.

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