23 July, 2008

Six of the best! Comics for beginners

It has become a cliche that most people think of comics as a more or less a sub-genre of Science Fiction (superheroes in spandex), but of course there is a grain of truth to it.

Lots of people have argued, over the last 20 years, for comics as a medium (sequential art etc), so no need to rehash that debate. Suffice it to say that while many comics are genre fiction, the medium now embraces literary fiction and even non-fiction.

Here are six of the best comics for adults or children; they offer great storytelling and art, but are accessible enough not to daunt those exploring the medium for the first time:
  1. Asterix - the eponymous hero of a small Gaulish village persistently humiliates the Roman Empire.
  2. Tintin - amazing artwork and ripping yarns, full of mysteries and intrigues, investigated by the eponymous boy journalist.
  3. Bone - harking back to the early days of comics, Bone follows three cousins on an fantastical journey of epic proportions.
  4. Calvin and Hobbes - wistful, wise and hilarious adventures of a primary-schooler and his tiger, illustrated with wonderful brushwork.
  5. The Hobbit - beautifully illustrated adaptation of the Tolkien classic.
  6. Marvel Pocket Books - inexpensive pocket editions of classic superhero comics (from a more innocent age), with self-contained stories and art by masters of the medium, such as John Buscema and Jack Kirby. Perfect for a schoolbag (or a briefcase).
  7. Understanding Comics - a potted primer of visual culture and an eloquent explanation of what comics are and why they work. Not for the very young, but the beauty of McCloud's book is that it takes comic format, so children 10+ should be able get it.
Note: This list is a) a personal selection and b) safe for children.

Apropos of nothing, Rafael Rozendaal's Colourflip is the best website ever. [via Curtains for You, Kid]