Recommend Me Some Comics

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All right, today is my birthday and my parents gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card, among other things.
Not too long ago I read the Love and Rocket’s collection Locas, and loved it. One of my favorite things I’ve read. I asked my parents for Palomar, and found out that they got that for me but decided to send it back, saying it was “too pornographic”, so that’s why I got the B&N card instead. Which, although disappointing, I think is fair. It’s their money, so I don’t want them to buy me something they find objectionable. I’ll buy Palomar sometime in the future, with my own money that I earned. So I want to get another graphic novel/trade paperback type thing for now.

So here’s what I like:
Locas by Jaime Hernandez
Batman: The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller
The Sandman* by Neil Gaiman

After seeing American Splendor, I got the TPB with the movie photos on the cover and liked it. Maybe not as much as the others though.

I like Daniel Clowes, from what I’ve read. He’s just shy of being too perverse and nihilistic for my taste. My favorite of his stories is Ghost World. I also like 20th Century Eightball and Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron. I’ve also read David Boring and Ice Haven, but those weren’t as good. I understand he’s got some recent standalone Eightball issues that are supposed to be good.

So I guess what I want is something character based. Also, maybe something with a story arc, not just a comic strip collection.
I’m open to other things as well. Shoot away.

*I’m currently reading through it- I’m on Volume three but waiting for my brother to read it before I start it.

I highly suggest Adrian Tomine’s Sleepwalk and Summer Blonde - he’s like a much more sympathetic, character-centered version of Daniel Clowes. His stories tend to concentrate on loners and outsiders, but without the misanthropy of Clowes. Those two collections are two of my favorite books, period.

Also, check out Craig Thompson’s Blankets - one of those amazing coming-of-age stories and one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. If you’ve ever been a teenager or ever been in love (or both), it’s THAT book - full of longing and hope and heartbreak.

If you want a different take on superheroes, try Astro City.

For dramatic series, try Strangers in Paradise and Stray Bullets.

Thanks for the recommendations so far. So, while we’re here, did anybody else love the stuff in Locas? I thought the end was great. Oh yeah, and Izzy might be my favorite character in it.

You’d also love Box Office Poison, a nice thick trade paperback by Alex Robinson. It’s a “slice of life” comic: part coming-of-age story, part love story, and featuring a large cast of mostly-likeable characters that change and grow. Much more upbeat than Clowes’ work, and one of my all-time favorite comics.

You must try Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai.

It is an epic samurai tale, full of adventure, tragedy, humor, Japanese culture, and the hero is a rabbit.

Well… I ended up splurging. Here’s what I’ve ordered:

Summer Blonde
Astro City Volumes 1&2
Box Office Poison
Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1

All of which were cheaper on Amazon than on B&N, so I got some other stuff on B&N.

Please post what you think of our recommendations.

That’s a great selection of stuff! I think you’ll love it.

Locas is a killer collection - truly a beautiful borderline-museum piece, the type of thing you want to put in a glass case so it never gets messed up. Maggie and Hopey are two of the most real and truly alive fictional characters I’ve ever encountered, and their stories are so amazing.

I’m pretty surprised that your parents found Palomar to be “pornographic” - I always thought that those stories were less salacious than the maggie and hopey stories. Did they not leaf through Locas? :slight_smile:

“Box Office Poison” is a great choice, too.

I’ll bump this thread when I start reading them, Bosda. I’m looking forward to it. I used the free shipping on Amazon though, so it’ll take a few weeks.

VCO3, I’m a little surprised that you say that about Palomar. I guess it makes sense though, my parents are very conservative. My dad said stuff like “extremely graphic pornography on every other page”, which made me think that they were constantly showing penetration or something. He must have been exaggerating.
He also made it sound like there was a lot of sex just for the sake of sex.

I think my parents looked at Locas a little, but I was the one who bought it so they didn’t go through it as much.

From Locas I mostly got the impression that the sex was tasteful. I thought they appeared naked so much just because we got an intimate look at them, not because Jaime wanted to show their breasts as much as possible. Except maybe Penny Century. The most graphic part was when Hopey and Penny were messing around with Tex.

Maybe tomorrow I should talk to my dad about it. Could you maybe do me a favor and make sure it’s not like my dad describes it? This is something I want to approach cautiously. If it were really as graphic as my dad makes it out to be, I wouldn’t want to have my parents give it to me.

If you want to check out something that you won’t have to buy 50 issues of, I highly recommend Kingdom Come, illustrated by Alex Ross. It’s a miniseries about popular superheroes in the future (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more) - The Coles Notes version is that they have aged physically and are trying to live out the rest of their lives as normal people, but have to get together again when the world is threatened with armageddon. A very good storyline, and fantastic artwork to boot.

Hopefully it’s okay that I bump this thread, but I finally read all the stuff I ordered. Maybe nobody really cares, but I did say I’d tell what I thought about them all.

My parents let me read this shortly after my last post here. Anyway, it was really good, but I preferred Locas. Palomar kept skipping ahead too much. I think I also prefer Jaime’s characters. The characters I really like in Gilbert’s stories are the music teacher guy (I don’t remember his name. Hector?) and Guadalupe. I also found Vincenzo interesting because I wanted to go more into his head, and see how his physical deformity effected his life.
The library here at college had Luba in America. I started reading it (I didn’t have time because homework caught up to me) but that one I didn’t like so much. It seemed like it was all about everyone having sex, and I didn’t really like the characters.

Sleepwalk and Summer Blonde
I liked Sleepwalk a lot, it had cool little stories and the artwork was interesting. But by the time I finished Summer Blonde it started to wear thin. His characters start to feel almost like throwaways to hang stories on. Maybe his formula just doesn’t work for a lot of stories. I’ve tried writing lots of short character-focused stories before, and I kind of know how it gets to be; the characters really aren’t fleshed out well. You see only one side and they appear deeper than they are. I’d like to see him actually write a series of stories and hang on to the characters.
Still, I don’t regret buying them.

The best part about this was definitely the artwork. It was amazing and it reminded me of some of Vincent Gan Gogh’s stuff. As far as the story, it was okay, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. The style of storytelling is not one I’m used to with comics, most comics would have a lot of short stories about their experiences which would tell the larger story. I might have liked that better, but this is what it is. It’s more like a traditional novel. I guess this isn’t my kind of love story or something. Maybe that’s just what happens when you condense life into one large story. Still, I liked it enough.

Astro City
I haven’t read the second volume yet, but I really liked the first one. The first story or two didn’t really grab me, but after that I started liking it a lot. The Bouncing Beatnik is a great concept for a superhero.

Box Office Poison
I LOVED this one. Man, it was great. My favorite character was possibly Dorothy. I shed some tears when a certain tragic event happened somewhere like halfway through the book. I also liked Stephen and Jane a lot. Eduardo’s story didn’t interest me quite as much, but that’s largely because I would have liked it if he were more connected to the other characters. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, because I generally don’t like endings like that. Also, there were some grammatical errors. After I read it, I got BOP! and Tricked.

Another one that I really loved. In some ways I like this more than Box Office Poison because the storytelling is tighter. I even liked the way this one ended.

Usagi Yojimbo
I read the first volume. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed at first, because Usagi seemed like a generic tough guy, but as I went on it really grew on me. I like the way he draws the outdoor backgrounds, but I don’t like the parts where there’s a lot of people fighting in one panel, it’s not easy on my eyes to keep track of stuff.

I’m glad you liked Box Office Poison (my recommendation). I keep meaning to pick Tricked up for myself, but I haven’t been in any hurry.

I read Palomar a few months back, after you started your thread, since I found a brand-new copy of the hardcover discounted to $4 at a comic shop. (They don’t care about anything that isn’t superheroes or manga.) I loved it. While there was some nudity and sex, I found it all made sense within the confines of the story (real lives in a small village where people would be less inhibited and prudish about sex than Americans), and didn’t find it salacious.

Yesterday, my public library got me a copy of Locas I had requested via inter-library loan, so I just started reading that. I like it a lot too – I prefer Jaime’s art to Gilbert’s (not that Gilbert is any slouch), and I think I like it for the fantastical elements so far: dinosaurs, rocket ships, and superheroes as small facets of an otherwise “normal” world.

Oh, I absolutely hated Summer Blonde and became severely depressed after reading Blankets. But you can’t win 'em all!

Oh, the music teacher in Palomar was Heraclio, and I liked him too. I think he was our point of identification in that weird little village – the nice, normal guy who “escaped” to get an education in the outside world, but returned because he loved his home. Everyone else was too caught up in their strange little dramas and tiny worldviews.

Just out of curiosity, how old are you? I ask because I first discovered Love and Rockets when I was 16, and I much preferred Jaime’s stories and art over Gilbert’s Palomar stuff. I think I identified with Maggie and Hopey a lot. Now, not too many years later, I really admire the scope of Gilbert’s work. My Locas and Palomar books are definitely prized posessions!

Not an Adrian Tomine fan. I agree about the characters seeming like appendages of the story.

You should check out Chester Brown. He has done some really interesting autobiographical stories, including The Playboy and I Never Liked You. More recently, he did a massive comic strip biography of Louis Riel, a 19th century Canadian revolutionary. I actually came across **Louis Riel ** while wandering in the stacks at the public library, and it was in the Canadian history section, rather than the graphic novel section, which I think is really neat.