Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gateway Comics and the Totally Rad Show

A former student of mine, now in his mid-20s, has started getting into comics for the first time since he was child. He's actually going to appear as a special guest on the Splash Page this week, with Chad Nevett and I, but he was asking me for advice on what to read now that he's finished Watchmen. It's hard to follow that up with something, obviously, but he's a big fan of The Totally Rad Show and they recommended, of all things, Supreme Power. That's a terrible recommendation, isn't it? It's slow-moving and it's unfinished. What could a new reader possibly get out of reading such a thing?

Does anyone think that was a good recommendation for a reader new to comics?

What trade paperbacks would you recommend to my former student?


Chad Nevett said...

I don't know what is a good recommendation for a "new reader to comics." It's a case by case basis. Any guess at a general recommendation will be wrong. I've always found that sort of thing frustrating on blogs and message boards, and in magazines. "For the action lover..." and "If he loves House, he'll love..." because any time I've fallen into the suggested category, they're lucky if half of the suggestions appeal to me in any way.

For Justin, I'd recommend the Warren Ellis Authority stuff and maybe the first arc from Millar's run (so, really, the first two trades should do him fine). Hell, maybe even The Ultimates. Those series deal with some of the similar moral questions of Watchmen (in their own ways--and with the Ellis stuff, it's very subtle... but not really), but also have big action and I get the impression that he'll dig that.

randyhate said...

what was it about watchmen that he enjoyed?

without knowing specifics i think guiding him to sleeper or the losers would continue to ramp up his desire for more quality works.

Rob Pugh said...

If he liked Moore, recommend him more Moore stuff. I generally recommend creators - Moore, Ellis, Ennis, Morrison, Rucka, Bendis, Brubaker in particular. Equip him with some creator names and have him hit Amazon and it's blurbs to see what appeals.

If that's too much work, I'd make generalized recommendations for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Transmetropolitan, Checkmate, or Whiteout.

Molly said...

I'll have to keep an eye on the responses to this too, since I'm kinda in the same boat.

Timothy Callahan said...

I can't imagine any new reader liking Checkmate or the Losers, but that might just be me.

Justin seemed to like the moral ambiguity of Watchmen, so Chad's on the right track with Ellis.

I recommended early Morrison, of course--and other Alan Moore works.

But it's certainly an interesting question, because a LOT of people will be reading Watchmen as their first "adult" graphic novel in the next nine months, and what do you follow it up with? I'm almost tempted to recommend something that's completely different--like Bone.

Molly said...

Oh, and as far as recommendations, I also love Watchmen and haven't read many other comics, and one of the first comics I read and loved was The Dark Knight Returns, which is frequently mentioned in the same breath as Watchmen.

Chad Nevett said...

Molly, what did you like about those books?

marcwrz said...

good follow-up to Watchmen, hmmm The Ultimates vol. 1, its that same "realistic" vibe and the art is gorgeous so he'll appreciate that. Following that, Sleeper is always recommended IMO. lol

also, Invincible Vol. 1 hardcover.

complete storyline and then he'll be hooked. Walking Dead trades are good too.

Finally, Morrison. Which you already will recommend. Get him the first 3 issues of FC and see what he thinks, that would make for great Splash Page

randyhate said...


i agree with the hesitancy on the checkmate recommendation - a bit too slow for someone you are trying to hook, but curious why do you feel the same about the losers?

i also like the idea of recommending something totally different like that great shazam mini by the bone guy. that was really excellent.

Rob Pugh said...

I didn't recommend The Losers, but I can't imagine why it wouldn't be accessible to the new reader. It read like a TV show or movie more than anything else, which people pick up free of background all the time. I mean - rogue CIA agents - you don't get much more "one line" than that. Or just call it the A-Team with the CIA instead of the Army.

As for Checkmate, I'll admit it's complex, but it seemed to me that Rucka always did an exemplary job of keeping it accessible. All you really need to know is that it's spies in the world of Superman and Batman.

I imagine that anyone who can follow Watchmen, with it's structure, time cuts, and back up pirate stories wouldn't have too much trouble with either The Losers or Checkmate. FWIW, IMHO, etc, etc.

Second the DKR as a great classic recommendation.

And for moral ambiguity, I liked both Fire and Torso, by Bendis. And Brubaker's Criminal, Scene of the Crime and A Complete Lowlife.

Timothy Callahan said...

I like Checkmate--or at least the Rucka issues--well enough, but I wouldn't say they were particularly great. Too many characters getting in the way of story, at least until about issue 10 or so.

The Losers I dropped after issue 6. Perhaps it improved, but I thought it was just generic secret ops/betrayal stuff with art that, while stylish, did not help to differentiate the characters at all. The Losers is the Boondock Saints of comics. (That was probably too harsh!!!) But I don't think it's in my top 1,000 comics, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the last, oh, 60 issues of the Punisher series that just wrapped up.

Of course, one could recommend reading Preacher.

I'd also second The Dark Knight Returns.

Molly said...

Chad: I think the most basic thing that I like about both Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns would be how they take familiar characters (superheroes in general in Watchmen, Batman specifically in DKR) and do something different and unexpected with them. They're heroic, but not in a straightforward, all-American way that most people might think of when they hear the word "superhero." It's been about 4 years since I read DKR so I can't really think of what specifically I liked about it, I just remember being very caught up in the story and the art and what had been done with the character of Batman (since I'm not a big comics reader, I haven't seen as much done with Batman's personality as someone who reads comics regularly probably has). As for Watchmen, I just love it. I love the alternate history, I love the sense of impending doom, I love references to everything from Shelley to Bob Dylan, and I have an odd fondness for stories where a group of people has to be assembled for an adventure, especially people who used to work together--even in a shitty movie like Armageddon, I love that part of the story. I basically love Watchmen for the reasons most people love Watchmen, I think.
Wow, that got long. Oh, but, on the subject of superheroes done differently, I would also recommend Demo (but then, I recommend Demo to anyone for any reason I can find). Since I'm already apparently writing my dissertation here, I'll just list the rest of the comics I have read and enjoyed (and Tim, this is just the same list I gave you when you told me about your upcoming class): Maus, Persepolis, Our Cancer Year, and Fun Home. I don't know which of those to recommend, though; I'd have to know his tastes in books and/or movies.
Okay, enough from me for now.

randyhate said...

"The Losers is the Boondock Saints of comics."

wow, amazingly harsh...
i only read it once and have not desired to really go back and look over it again, so you might be correct, but i do remember it getting far better as it went along. but it has been years so.

but i mainly suggested that as it seems to be a book someone into The Totally Rad Show might get into. of course my only knowledge of TRS is from reading wiki on it yesterday after seeing it here, so maybe not so much.