If You Could Only Pick One ...

Monday, December 6, 2010

A friend recently asked me what I'd recommend as the one comic-book that people should be advised to read. (OK, he didn't put it exactly that way, but let's move along.) I opted to consider something that would simultaneously reflect standard comic-book-character storytelling with an outstanding script and, if possible, something that would also let a new-to-the-field reader see a variety of art approaches. After more mulling, I decided that a good introduction for an adult who grasps the storytelling challenges of fantasy (which is, after all, what a huge percentage of today's comics consists of) would be The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman and illustrators Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, and Malcolm Jones III. It reprints issues #17-20 of the comic-book series, so it's a sample of what can be found in an ongoing series. It's an anthology, so it's a sample of a variety of artistic approaches. It features an assortment of "what if" approaches for a fantasy character. At least one story ("Facade") ties into DC Comics continuity, analyzing what might seem to be a wonderful super-power, revealing the tragedy of what its reality would be. Another story is a World Fantasy Award-winning tale ("A Midsummer Night's Dream"). None of the tales is predictable; all are excellent. And there's the bonus of a behind-the-scenes look at how Gaiman approached a story, including the script he provided to the artist.

That was my choice and my reasoning. What would you have recommended? What has worked for you when you've tried to introduce comics to people who are interested - but new to comic books?


Brian Holguin,  December 6, 2010 at 6:46 PM  

Good question, Maggie! Bryan Talbot's "A Tale of One Bad Rat" is my go-to recommendation. A moving, emotional story of childhood tragedy and the redemptive powers of fiction. Beautifully rendered art that is clear and easy to follow for the novice, without ever feeling dumbed-down. And, it's back in print again!

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