Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Comics Canon, As Built By Democracy

UPDATED FRIDAY EVENING!

Bill Reed, over at Comics Should Be Good challenged readers to come up with 6 to 8 "great" graphic novels which would be suitable for a "Comics as Literature" college-level course. He stipulated "no superheroes" (except Watchmen), but that didn't stop superhero suggestions from rolling in.

HOWEVER, the list, which by my count (at this time) lands at 199 240 graphic novels, makes for an interesting look at what the Canon might look like, if we recognize that Canons are formed over time and not built by one guy with a list. Some of the suggestions are clearly out-of-place, but most of them would make interesting additions to a comics curriculum.

For your convenience, I've alphabetized all of the "great graphic novels" suggested by readers thus far (UPDATE: And because it is becoming a "list of everything ever, including really unbelievably mediocre stuff like Jinx and Cable & Deadpool," I've emboldened the twenty five books that I think would actually be good choices for a non-superhero focused college class on "Comics as Literature"):

100%
52
100 Bullets
99 Ways to Tell a Story
A Small Killing
Abandon the Old in Tokyo
Action Philosophers
Adolf
Age of Bronze
Akira
Alec
Alice in Sunderland
All-Star Superman
American Born Chinese
American Flagg!
American Splendor
American Virgin
Animal Man
Anthology of Graphic Fiction
Arkham Asylum
Asterix
Astonishing X-Men
Astro City
Astronauts in Trouble
Authority, The
Badlands
Ballad of Halo Jones
Ballad of the Salted Sea
Barefoot Gen
Barefoot Serpent, The
Barry Ween
Batman: Child of Dreams
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: The Long Halloween
Berlin
Big Numbers
Birthday Riots, The
Black Hole
Blankets
Blood Song, Eric Drooker
Blue Pills, Frederik Peeters
Bone
Books of Magic, Neil Gaiman
Boulevand of Broken Dreams
Box Office Poison
Buddha, Osamu Tezuka
Cable and Deadpool
Cages
Calvin and Hobbes
Camelot 3000
Can't Get No
Capote in Kansas
Captain America
Captain Confederacy
Cerebus
Chance in Hell
City of Glass
Clap Apis
Clumsy
Codeflesh
Comics and Sequential Art
Complete Copybook Tales
Complete Lowlife
Conan
Concrete
Contract with God
Corto Maltese
Cowboy Wally Show, The
Coyote
Crecy
Criminal
Daredevil: Born Again
Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born
David Boring
Days Like This
Death of Captain Marvel, The
Death: The High Cost of Living
Deogratias, Jean-Phillipe Stassen
Devil Dinosaur
DMZ
Domu
Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa
Dreamer, The
Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend
Dropsie Avenue
Eagle
Ed the Happy Clown
Electric Girl
Elfquest
Ex Machina
Exit Wounds
Fables
Fantastic Four
Fate of the Artist, The
Fax from Sarajevo
Fell
Filth, The
Flex Mentallo
Flight
Four Women, Sam Keith
Frank Book, The
From Hell
Fun Home
Ganges
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost World
Global Frequency
Goldfish
Golem's Mighty Swing, The
Goodbye, Chunky Rice
Goon, The
Grendel
Hate
Heart of the Storm
Hicksville
History of Violence
Ice Haven
Illustrated 9/11 Commission Report
Immortal Iron Fist
In the Shadow of No Towers
Interman
Invisibles
Irredeemable Ant-Man
It Rhymes with Lust
It's a Bird…
Jar of Fools
Jimmy Corrigan
Jinx
Journey
Kabuki
Kabuki
Kafka
Kamandi
Killer, The
King, Ho Che Anderson
Kingdom Come
Krazy Kat
La Perdida
Le Combat Ordinaire
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Left Bank Gang, The
Lieutenant Blueberry
Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron
Little Nemo in Slumberland
Locas
Lone Wolf and Cub
Louis Riel
Love and Rockets
Lucky Luke
Master Race, Bernie Krigstein
Maus
Maxx, The
Midnight Sun, Ben Towle
Miracleman
Mom's Cancer
Mouse Guard
MPD-Psycho
Mystery Play
Nightly News
One Hundred Demons
Palestine
Palomar
Peanuts
Pedro and Me
Persepolis
Phoenix
Planetary
Pogo
Poor Sailor, Sammy Harkham
Powers
Preacher
Pride of Baghdad
Promethea
Punisher: Born
Push Man and Other Stories, The, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Pyongyang
Rabbi's Cat
Rex Mundi
Road to Perdition
Robert Crumb Selection
Rogan Gosh
Runaways
Safe Area: Gorazde
Sandman
Sandwalk Adventures
Scott Pilgrim
Scout
Seven Miles a Second, David Wojnarowicz
Sgt. Rock
Shade the Changing Man
Shock SuspenStories
Shortcomings
Silver Surfer: Parable
Sin City
Sleepwalk
Sparks
Spider-Man
Spirit, The
Starchild
Stardust
Strangers in Paradise
Stray Bullets
Streetwise, Jack Kirby
Stuck Rubber Baby
Summer Blonde
Superman
Supreme
Swamp Thing
Tale of One Bad Rat, The
The One
Three Paradoxes, The
Tintin
Torso
Town of Evening Calm, County of Cherry Blossoms
Transmetropolitan
Treasuy of Victorian Murder
True Story, Swear to God
Two-Fisted Tales
Ultra Gash Inferno
Uncle Sam
Uncle Scrooge
Understanding Comics
Usagi Yojimbo
V for Vendetta
Vampire Loves
Violent Cases
Walking Man, The
Wasteland (Oni)
Watchmen
We3
Whiteout
Why Are You Doing This?, Jason
Why I Hate Saturn
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Y the Last Man
Yotsuba&!
You Call This Art?!: A Greg Irons Retrospective
Zot!

Some completely silly suggestions in there, I think, but well over a hundred non-superhero comics and graphic novels that would make interesting texts for discussion and analysis. What do you think?

7 comments:

Wndola said...

How could they have left off "Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters?"

Chad Nevett said...

I didn't pay too much attention to the thread, mostly because of the "no superheroes" rule, which would be like doing a class on 20th-century television and then saying "But no sitcoms!" I mean, you COULD, but the hole would be glaring.

Am surprised to see that someone mentioned Codeflesh, though.

Marc Caputo said...

"Ed the Happy Clown"? I don't know about that OVER "The Playboy" or "I Never Liked You" - on which I've come to a decision. "I Never Liked You" over "The Playboy".

And you can read about it soon...

Mike Phillips said...

Concrete is a must. It reminds me a little of Seinfeld in the way that it's about nothing and something at the same time.

Marc Caputo said...

I keep going back to Brown's stuff because I'm so engrossed in it right now, but maybe I wasn't viewing this list globally. Browns' autobio (or at least realistic) stuff means more to me personally than his flights of fancy, especially "INLY" but it occurred to me late yesterday that "ETHC" probably SHOULD be on this list because more than most of the works here(at least the ones I'm familiar with), it's the one that could ONLY be done as a comic, thereby showing the reach of the medium.

But it is a freaky ride, dudes.

Aurélien said...

How come there ain't no Enki Bilal stuff in that list ?!
The Nikopol trilogy (The Woman trap, and Equator cold, mostly), or The Dormant beast, or Decembre 32nd for instance, among many others.
No super hero thing,and worth the reading, worth the studying.

Blinkered said...

There are really BIG comic worlds beyond the USA and Britain. Explore them! There's more than Asterix, Lucky Luke, Lone Wolf & Cub and Jason out there!