Sunday, 15 January 2012


Inspired by Miscommunicant's post on books, I thought I should get back to books. Trouble is, my current book is a bit like a Christmas pudding - rich, dense, with every ingredient, & a little of it goes a long way.

I'm wishing for the easy pleasures of comics. I never was a huge comic reader, when I was young, comic shops were the preserve of boys and not especially friendly to girls. But was introduced by friends to various comic writers and stuck with them. Here is my comic top 5, from someone who is nowhere near an expert.

5. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
To my shame, I know hardly any women comic writers. This is a genius autobiographical novel about her life growing up in Iran. She is a strong, feisty, political person who gives a child's eye view of all the insanity. It also reminds you that not everyone wearing a hijab is a) brainwashed or b) doing it voluntarily (when the regime insists that women wear them, her father says to a sanctimonious woman teacher 'if hair is so tempting to men, then why don't you shave off your moustache?') Great drawings too.

4. Elektra Assassin, Bill Sienkiewicz

Bill Sienkiewicz isn't a comic book artist. He's an Artist. He's also incredibly twisted and dark - I had to give up on his first series, Stray Toasters, which whilst being art of the highest order, is fantastically sick and twisted, enough to give you nightmares. Elektra is still dark, but you can cope with it. Just check out his artwork here and see what I mean.

3. Love & Rockets, Jaime Hernandez
Mexican-American brothers Jaime and Gilberto write in the tradition of Mexican telenovelas, with a twist of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gilberto is very talented too but it was Jaime's style we all fell in love with, he started out a bit sci-fi with robots and dinosaurs, and then got interested in his characters (punky Los Angeleno teenagers) and his story telling just took off. The Death of Speedy Ortiz was the finest comic story I ever read. I remember turning the page and seeing one of my favourite characters had been shot in the eye in a gang-fight, and literally gasping with shock, it was that visceral.

2. Sandman series (Neil Gaiman) with special nod to Death, the High Cost of Living; (Death spends a day as a human being - Death in the Sandman is a cute Goth girl, and a very appealing character) The Season of Mists (Lucifer gets bored of reigning in Hell and gives it up, only to start a massive bidding war for ownership from all the other deities) and The Dream Hunters (an ancient Japanese story which Gaiman made up himself - only people fell for it and he started to get enquiries from university departments and students of Japanese literature.) Neil Gaiman is just a great story-teller, playful and imaginative. But I think his graphic novels work much better than his straight novels.

1. The Killing Joke, Alan Moore
I have my doubts about Alan Moore, but I think his heart's in the right place. This is just beautiful, pure and simple.


  1. thanks for mentioning my post! I've never been huge with comics (although Calvin and Hobbes is the closest thing to Proust's Madeleine I have). There are a couple I love though, like Ghost World - Daniel Clowes - so worth reading. It's devastating, far more so than the movie. It's such a compelling look at alienation, and it never feels patronising to the teenagers its about. I also really like Adrian Tomine's collection of stories, summer blonde. He's great, too.

  2. You're welcome. I like Ghost World. I didn't know Adrian Tomine, will have to check him out.