Eight Comic Books to Read Before You Die

Chris Ullrich

Chris Ullrich is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. In addition to ComicMix, he is a contributor to some of the most popular entertainment sites on the net, including The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), Download Squad, Cinematical, Comic Book Resources and LAist, where he has served as Technology Editor.

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22 Responses

  1. Esbat says:

    I can honestly say I've only read and own DKR.

    • Rick Marshall says:

      Esbat! Great to see your name pop up here!Now get reading — you have a full list of books to get through before I can send a ninja after you.

      • Esbat says:

        Well if they're available at the local library or good will, I will… so far the best reads I've found at the library was Ultimate Daredevil/Elektra, Batgirl Year One, and Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1 & 2

  2. Alan Coil says:

    Y: The Last Man is too recent to be on any all-time list. And while I liked it a lot, I don't think it was THAT good.

  3. mike weber says:

    I've only read about four of them – and not all of a couple of those.I was more or less out of comics when Moore took on "Swamp Thing", and for some reason never picked upon "Sandman".That said, i'd argue for at least some of "The Spirit".

    • Rick Marshall says:

      I DEFINITELY agree on The Spirit. There's a lot to be learned from Eisner's full-page title panels.I've read all of these stories with the exception of Daredevil, Marvels and Sandman. I think I would probably add Transmetropolitan to the list, though.

  4. J. Andrew World says:

    I am surprised that "Understanding Comics" is not on the list. Perhaps because it isn't fiction? I am not sure, but "Understanding Comics" should be on there. I also feel if the entirety of "Planetary", which is arguably the best comic since "Watchmen" (and I can construct that arguement, if you really want me too) and "Transmetropolitain" are both missing from the list.

  5. Glenn Hauman says:

    Hell, I read most of them before they came out in trades– geez, I even worked on one of the books. I'm going to die early, ain't I?

    • Mike Gold says:

      That wouldn't be EARLY, Glenn. Welcome to the dark side.There's lots of really important stuff not on this list — pre-1986 stuff that makes Dark Knight look like a Baby Huey one-pager. Certainly The Spirit. O'Neil and Adams' Batman. Englehart and Rogers' Batman. Kirby's Fantastic Four. Steranko's Nick Fury. Kurtzman's Two-Fisted Tales. Kurtzman's Frontline Combat. Kurtzman's Mad. Cole's Plastic Man. Kubert's Tarzan.I'd mention Chaykin's American Flagg!, Ostrander's Wasteland, Wheatley and Hempel's Breathtaker, Grell's M.I.A. (my favorite Sable story arc) and O'Neil and Cowan's The Question, but, shucks, I'm way too shy and retiring to do that.

      • Linda Gold says:

        Also, O'Neil and Adams' Green Lantern, but you knew I'd say that.

      • Dan says:

        Steranko's Nick Fury was my favorite book in high school, even topping (barely) the FF. The art and story were just so far ahead of anything else being published at the time. I periodically pull out the copies I bought at Rich's Drug Store and the same sense of wonder I felt as a kid returns. You can tell the Chronicle's list was put together by someone not familiar with the wider history of the medium.

        • Mike Gold says:

          Steranko's relatively small output had an overwhelming influence on the medium, particularly here in the States. A lot of artists — young and old, but particularly those learning their craft — looked at this stuff and said "hey, I didn't know you could do that." Of course, Jim had his influences — Jack Kirby and Alex Schomburg stand out — but when it came to storytelling, the man was sailing uncharted waters. I've love to see him at it again; we'll just have to settle for his occasional covers, like on Baen Publications' Spider series.

          • Dan says:

            Not to overtly flatter you, Mike (I think your ego can handle it), but the Question was always at the top of my reading pile when the original O'Neil/Cowan run was being published. It was a book that always got me thinking and wanting more. Definitely in my top 5 series.

          • Mike Gold says:

            Thank you. And my ego thanks you.I'm real happy DC's reprinting the stuff in trade right now.

    • Rick Marshall says:

      Is it impolite to call dibs on some of your stuff?

  6. Rick Oliver says:

    Oddly enough, I've read most of the comics on the list, although I've been pretty much off comics since I left the business in the mid-80s. My own list would have to include Ditko's Dr. Strange. I'm also partial to Vaughn Bode's Cheech Wizard, Windsor McCay's Little Nemo, and Walt Kelly's Pogo, although technically those were comic strips — but the latter two collected in book form make for some fine reading. (I haven't been able to find it, but I could swear there was a Pogo strip where the main characters are tromping across a ridge at sunset in silhouette, and one of them says "These silhouettes sure save a heap of drawing.")

    • Mike Gold says:

      Fantagraphics is going to be doing a Peanuts-number on Pogo soon — the whole thing in hardcover. I'm looking forward to that.

    • Dan says:

      Now I'm going to have to look thru my boxes for the Cheech Wizard books. I'd forgotten all about them. Thanks, Rick.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I find it hard to believe that no one put "Lone Wolf and Cub" on the list. It certainly belongs.I admit to a weakness for "Camelot 3000" also. Mainly because I remember it as a big departure from the ongoing nature of comics at that time in telling a story from beginning to end.

  8. Van Jensen says:

    When I talked to Jeff Smith a couple months back, he said he's designing the Pogo book for Fantagraphics, and the only hangup is trying to track down all the strips.Re: The list, I've read everything but Daredevil and Marvels (I'm just about to start into it for a retrospective article). I'm about 80 pages into Bone: One Volume Edition. Only 1,220 to go!I also really, really loved The Question. DC's new Zen and Violence collection is great, and I know a lot of people in their offices were thrilled that it was finally being rereleased.As far as Y: The Last Man, it's definitely one of my favorites, but if pressed to pick one of BKV's books, I'd opt for Pride of Baghdad.