What is the absolute best of the best comics? What is the art form’s canon?
Robert Stanley Martin of the comics criticism and commentary blog/magazine The Hooded Utilitarian has been polling the minds of comics creators, the comics press, retailers, educators and other relevant people to answer that question. Suitable material can be comic strips, political cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, manga, webcomics, anything that can be considered sequential art and/or the combination of words and pictures to express something.
I’m told they have over 100 lists from several continents submitted so far. I was invited to submit my list, which I just did, even though it’s a completely and utterly impossible task. At the end of the month, they’ll shut the door and start the counting. So if you are in any way involved in comics, answer this question: What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant? Be sure to read the full guidelines. Then send your answers to email@example.com with a brief explanation of your credentials. In August, they’ll start to unveil the results, followed by the publication of everyone’s lists. I’ll reproduce my list over here, along with what I wish I included, embarrassing omissions and my reaction to the results.
I just submitted my choices:
1. FANTASTIC FOUR by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee
2. THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS by Gilbert Shelton
3. UNCLE SCROOGE by Carl Barks
4. KONA, MONARCH OF MONSTER ISLE by Sam Glanzman
5. LITTLE LULU by John Stanley and Irving Tripp
6. TALES CALCULATED TO DRIVE YOU BATS by George Gladir and Orlando Busino
7. THE KING’S STILTS by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
8. Hot rod monster T-shirt and decal art by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Ed Newton and Robert Williams
9. HERBIE by Richard E. Hughes and Ogden Whitney
10. LITTLE ARCHIE by Bob Bolling
I was hoping you would send a list in, Scott. Great choices!
This is really tough, to pick a mere 10. At the risk of being american-centric I’ve left off Möbius, Hergé, Asterix, Garth, Astro Boy and so many others that have made major impacts around the world. The EC & Warren books alone would overwhelm a list of 10. How can you ignore the entire Disney, MGM and Warner Bros. influences? Joker #1 comes to mind as a particular gem with its debut of Powerhouse Pepper. A silly favorite of my childhood is Brain Boy created by Herb Castle and Gil Kane. Frank Springer ultimately took over the artwork. How can you leave out Wally Wood, Steve Ditko or Neal Adams? Peanuts influence is profound. Anyway, here goes a vain attempt:
1. Mad #1 ~ Kurtzman/Gaines redefined the term “comicbook”
2. Air Pirates #1 the tabloid – Legal precedent and historic showcase of legendary comix artists
3. Krazy Kat ~ Herriman’s existential strip inspired so many, from Bobby London to Patrick McDonnell (even the late Jeffrey Catherine Jone’s “Idyll”?)
4. Pogo ~ The Walt Kelly influence is the basis for Bloom County, Doonesbury, Bone and so many others
5. The Spirit ~ It’s Eisner for Chrissakes!
6. Alex Raymond ~ Huge influence on generations including the EC crew, Eisner, Siegel & Shuster, etc.
7. Zap #0 ~ representative of all that’s Crumb.
8. Tarzan ~ Burne Hogarth’s Newspaper version of course. Hogarth raised the art form and inspired generations, including Joe Kubert, et. al.
9. Vampirella #1 ~ Frazetta cover, Vampire sex long before it was trendy.
10. Stan Lee ~ He made superheroes complex characters. He gave them souls.
Thanks for reading and posting, Richard. Did you send your list in to the Hooded Utilitarian. See their site for how, if you haven’t. Good list! What specifically of Stan Lee’s work would you include? I might disagree with you that Striperrella is one of the ten best comics. For Alex Raymond, I assume you mean his Flash Gordon comic strip?