[Courtesy AW Comix]
I am going to forewarn you that I will be using the words blown away mind blowing and taken aback, a lot. I compiled this list on those factors. There are many comics that I have read and loved and enjoyed over the years but I have tried to come up with the real turning point eye opening ones that have ‘Blown me away’ and left me humbled. The list is in no particular order.
‘Grande vampire’ by Joann Sfar.
I originally saw this in Montreal in French, I cannot read French but I bought it anyway. Years later I bought the ‘first second’ collection. The French one is almost better as it is a larger. But the ‘first second’ is complete and in English. Sfars art work has this lovely sketchy but brilliantly drafted feel to it, like he drew it in his sleep with ease. The characters seem childish but have funny little adult quirks and complications. You could just keep reading this kind of comic for a long time hoping that it will not end.
‘New York diary’ by Julie Doucet.
I had this given to me and it really took me aback. I love the diary style and the frankness of the story. I love how she draws peoples heads bigger than normal and usues a wide variety of shading styles. It’s such a shame to me that she has given up comics, I really hope that one day she can come back to comics in a way that she feels comfortable doing them, as it would be such a waist of talent if she did not.
‘Snoid comics’ by R.Crumb.
Not the first crumb that I picked up but still a great example of his work. Crumb really blew my mind when I discovered him through the documentary. It really inspired me to draw more and create unique comics. I initially found it hard to get out from under his shadow and I’m occasionally reminded of that when people say, “I can see you’re influenced by crumb”
‘David Cote was good and bad’ & ‘Brat X’ (colliers) by David Collier.
I almost did not pick up this issue of Colliers, I had never heard of the artist or book. But there was a photo inside the cover that had been taken in Canada so I gave it a shot. Reading this comic blew me away. Collier fits so much information both intellectual and emotional into his comics. This comic and Brat X were both wonderfully drawn and written tributes to lost friends. I later picked up ‘Hamilton Sketchbook’ as it was on sale and was really surprised at how simple sketchbook drawing could tell and capture a narrative. This was a big inspiration to start my sketchbook zine 7 pages. Collier is such an underrated cartoonist, in my mind he is one of the finest writers in comics today.
‘Shrimpy and Paul’ by Marc Bell.
A friend actually sent me a clipping of a Marc Bell comic from a Vancouver newspaper. Immediately the art just took me aback. Even though you can see the influences from other artists (like Crumb for instance) his work still seems original and extremely well drawn and conceived. Reading this collection of Shrimpy and Paul just seemed like drinking honey straight from a hive, how could this guy be so good I wondered (and still do) I really hope to see more collections of comic work from Marc in the near future.
Icehaven (Eightball #22)& Deathray (Eightball #23)
I have always been a big Clowes fan and have followed his work from early Eightball days. He is one of a few artists who I would buy his work no questions asked.
His Eightball stories Icehaven and Death Ray just blew me away in how they told stories and how well they were conceived. I love how they are fragmented and even drawn in different styles in parts but still work as a whole. To me I find it hard to imagine how comics could be any better than this. In years to come when all the hype of the ‘Graphic novel’ has settled people will look back and these two comics will be like beacons of pure unflinching light.
‘Wimbledon green’ by Seth.
Also not the first Seth work that I have read but I just really loved this book. Seth is overly self deprecating about its quality saying they are only ‘Sketchbook comics’ but I think that if he can do material this good in his sketchbook then he should do more. Once again I like the fragmented nature of the book, it really exemplifies the versatility of the comics medium.
‘Choas mission’ by Peter Lorenz.
This was a recent find in the Winnipeg public library. It did not even look all that interesting at first but I thought I would give it a try. The first few pages were hard to follow but as the story went on I enjoyed it more and more. Lorenz has that same quality as Joann Sfar a loose sketchy spontaneous feel to his drawing and writing. I loved how some of the characters in the story were skeletons of wizards. It is something I would like to try in some future stories. He was the winner of a Doug Wright award for best emerging talent in 2006, which must have been bitter sweet for him as he has been making comics since the early 90’s it seems.
Steve Ditko spidermen
Not sure what the first Ditko Spider Man that I saw but for some reason his art has this lovely naive quality to it. I also love the 6 panel grid that they used in these early Spider Man comics and the whacky misaligned screen dot colouring.
‘Peep show’ diary collection by Joe Matt
I first read a friends copy of this book and really liked Joe Matt’s every day observations and humour. I also liked his clean and economic artwork. His work is definitely a big influence on me wanting to make autobiographical comics.
‘Kiss Memory’ by Tim Danko
I nearly foolishly did not buy this book/zine/comic/artists book as it cost more than any zine I had ever seen ($7) and it was quiet small. Later the store called me about some money they owed me (from selling my comics) and I asked if I could use it to buy the book, as I had kept thinking about it after my initial pass. Thank goodness I did pick it up as it has to be one of my all time favourite artist books/hand made zines that I own. I often pick it up and marvel at its beauty. The words inside are like brilliant poetry that keep echoing through your mind after you have read it. Apparently there were other issues in this series and that fact that I haven’t seen them or don’t own them haunt me.
‘King cat comics’ (free book with Mcsweenys) By John Porcelino.
I think this was my first introduction to John P’s king cat comics. I loved the simplicity of the drawings and references to zen and nature the world universe etc. Also something about the tiny format of this zine really suits John’s work.
‘Against Pain’ (free book with Mcsweenys) by Ron Rege.
I had read other Ron Rege work but none grabbed me as much as this free little comic about a girl who decides to become a suicide bomber but chickens out at the last minute and later gets arrested. The panel designs and artwork are just mind blowing. I love how the art looks like something made in illustrator with vectors but obviously is not as it has a beautiful line quality.
(These are just major points in my reading, there is so much stuff I had to leave out like all the fantastic Australian comicers and other alterative artists)