I am a late-comer to the whole graphic novel/illustrated story/comic book party. Very late.
Not to mention the fact that I am not even well versed in the basics yet.
(I have yet to read a single issue of Sandman! Gasp! I know! I will get to it...eventually. I do love Neil afterall.)
I am not sure what kept me away from this wealth of story telling all these years. I suppose, probably not uncommonly, I had a host of stereotypes parading around in my brain ("well you see, superheroes just aren't my thing"). The problem being that those stereotypes are so, so wrong. Yes, of course there are superhero comics... and perhaps I should revisit that whole "not my thing" catagorization of them at some point, but in the meantime there are so many non-superhero-ish things to read.
[Note: I don't really mind the term graphic novel, but there is a fair amount of disdain for it in the comics world, since it comes off as snobish or contrived or something, but I don't really want to get into all that. I don't care what we call them, I just want people to keep making them. ]
A few favourite discoveries so far:
- Bruno/Little Dee/short pieces by Chris Baldwin
I think, if memory serves, that Chris Baldwin (a relatively not well known comics-writer, as things go, but a talented one) was my first introduction to comics that were neither superhero-related nor the stereotypical newspaper-funnies. I have no idea how I found him... oh wait yes I do. For a while comics.com was featuring Little Dee strips, and I liked them so much that I looked up the creator and found my way to his other work online. Namely Bruno. Bruno (warning: not all is sfw, but most is) is long, meandering, philisophical, endearing, strange, lovely. I was able to read it all because ... erm... I had a lot of time to spend in front of a computer. Not exactly my own time... but... I will say no more. ANYWAY. It totally hooked me. It took a few weeks to get through the whole of the archives and then I wanted to find MORE of that kind of thing.
The Little Dee gang.
The Bruno gang.
- Digger by Ursula Vernon
Another of my first introductions to non-typical (as per my assumptions) comics, and still a favourite. Ursula studied anthropology at school but became an artist because "there was more money in it". Ha! Anyway, she's clever and funny and has a style of story-telling that appeals to me. Digger is a fairly epic tale of a wombat who takes a wrong turn in a tunnel and ends up getting entangled with a dead god, some angry hyenas, a statue of Ganesh and a "shadow-child". It's good.
- Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee
Both of those led me (in a roundabout way) to Dicebox, and the discovery that a whole bunch of comics-makers (warning: some of those links do have nsfw content) live in the Portland-Seattle area, and that made me love them EVEN MORE because I was (and am) so homesick for the wonderful west coast. Sigh. Dicebox is on-going, and a bit slow-going, so it was best (for me) when I was new to it and could zip through the archives. So much interesting detail in the images. It looks like a ton of work.
Isn't it pretty??
And that led to:
- Blankets by Craig Thompson (and Goodbye Chunky Rice, and Carnet de Voyage)Absolutely one of my favourites. So, so lovely. Everything he does is gorgeous.
- Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Neat stories-within-stories kind of tale. Fantasy/medieval setting.
- Bee and others by Jason Little.
Not bad... kind of fun. Gets dumb sometimes, in my opinion, but still worth the read.
- What Birds Know by Emelie Friberg & Mattias Thorelli
Neat little fantasy story. Was stalled for a while but seems to be back on as of this month.
- The Paul series of books by Michel Rabagliati.
I've read a lot of them, but not all. Some in English (translations) some in French (orginal language). There's nothing wrong with reading them in English, except it sometimes makes me forget that the original language is French and I start to read them as anglophone stories from Montreal. Which they aren't. Anyway, they're great!
- The Magical Life of Long Tak Sam by Ann Marie Fleming
Which I just discovered is going to be a movie! Neat! This is not a comic, more like an "illustrated biography" including photos, illustrations, various ephemera, some short little comics, drawings etc. Highly recomended.
Well.... that is a pretty good list of my prefered illustrated stories. I have left out a few... including the Flight anthologies (because there's SO MUCH in them!) Kazu Kibuishi is fantastic though, and I love Copper and all his contributions to the Flight books, which he also edits. And there are lots out there that I'd like to read but haven't gotten around to yet. Thank the GODS for libraries (especially ones with comic/graphic novel collections!).