Comics Reporter: The 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs

The Comics Reporter presents a eclectic, intriguing list of 50 excellent comic book titles. 200809281150.jpg
2. A Complete Run Of Arcade

One of the two or three great comics being made during the 20th Century's lousiest period for great comics, the fallow era between the heyday of the alternatives and Jack Kirby's DC resurgence and the rise of the indy- and alt-comics movements signified by RAW, Love and Rockets and the extended narrative era at Cerebus. You can see Arcade's influence in every great anthology that's come since, and nearly all of it holds up as compelling comics today -- in fact, nearly every contributor is a significant cartoonist right now, which is astonishing.

CR Sunday Feature: The 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs


  1. Holy cow! Barnaby is #5, which is totally cool. My 70something paleo-conservative father introduced me to this old stalwart of PM (a leftist NY daily from the 1940s). It’s just wonderful, and I heartily second The Comics Reporter’s recommendation.

    I should elaborate. Some of the recommendations (a stack of Kirby comics, for example) are great, but not necessarily ones you can explain to the uninitiated. (And Jack Chick? I’m not sure I have the space to spare for, to quote, its mix of Christian Brotherhood and terrifying, at-times deplorable view of the modern, secular world.) But just hand someone Barnaby, then be prepared to have to beg to get them back.

    Think Calvin and Hobbes, but replace the tiger with a surly trouble-making fairy godfather. Oh, and there’s a world war on, at least at the start (1942?).

  2. Need to add:

    1) The Tick (pre cartoon series)
    2) Sam & Max (ditto)
    3) XXXenophile
    4) Bone
    5) Cheech Wizard (did I miss it, or did the author leave out Vaughn Bodé?)
    6) Rog-2000
    7) Plastic Man
    8) E-Man (and Nova)
    9) The Green Team: Boy Millionaires

    And just to be difficult…

    10) Omaha, the Cat Dancer

  3. Oh, and online comics…fairly recent vintage…

    1) Spacemoose
    2) Bob, the Angry Flower
    3) Sluggy Freelance

  4. Just picked up, “Soon I Will Be Invincible,” a novel about superheroes and supervillains. I guess it bends the genre quite a bit… but it does read like what I think a comic book would read like. Wait, was that threadjacking? Never mind, keep talking comics amongst yourselves, please.

  5. That’s a great list. #28 in particular (The Smithsonian Collection Of Newspaper Comics) is a beautiful book.

  6. …This dip left out a few that could have easily replaced some of that esoteric indy crapola. There’s some good indy books that got totally ignored in place of the fluffy bunny drek:

    1) A complete run of Curt Swan’s Legion stories in Adventure.

    2) Dave Cockrum’s The Futurians.

    3) Tower Comics’ original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

    4) A selection of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos.

    5) The complete Not Brand Ecch.

    6) Jim Steranko’s runs on Captain America and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.

    7) Jim Valentino’s classic normalman!

    8) Mark Evanier & Dan Speigel’s Crossfire.

    9) Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai’s Groo the Wanderer

    10) The complete run of Hitman.

    11) Both issues of Brother Power, The Geek.

    12) Watchmen. ’nuff said.

    13) Layton & Michelini’s Hercules 2 minis and a GN.

    14) Miracleman. ’nuff said again.

    15) Brat Pack and its sequel, Maximortal.

    16) Absolutely nothing by Warren Ellis, Todd McFarlane, or Rob Liefeld. Having a small stack of Archie comics is pennance enough.

    …As I said, too much indy crap in that list. Indy snobbery used to pollute the usenet comic book news groups more than spammers and trolls ever did. Just because it’s indy doesn’t automatically mean its better. It rarely is.

  7. @ #7 Om

    “indy crap?” The world is too full of ‘isms’ already. I read what I like, whether it is mainstream or ‘indy’. I won’t be tethered by someone’s crap concepts of what is crap and what is not. I prefer to think for myself.

  8. I’d include “Strangers in Paradise”, “Metal Hurlant”, and some of the Brit newspaper comics, like “James Bond”, “Modesty Blaise” and such. Lumping the great older newspaper strips in one bunch is ridiculous – “Tarzan”, “Flash Gordon”, “Rip Kirby”, and the immediate postwar high points in newspaper strips should be broken up into must-haves for their own sakes. “Krazy Kat”, “Thimble Theater”, and “Little Nemo in Slumberland” should be at the top of any want list by themselves. What happened to “Asterix”? “And no Italian western comics? No “Valentina” by Crepax? No “Wonder Warthog” How soon we forget – they should be specific additions. I’d try to steer someone to valuable additions to appreciate as comics – I’ll catch flack for it, but the early “Peanuts” was nonpariel, sublime work – then for me it went downhill after a few years into a mid-level of commercialism, and I wouldn’t recommend it after that point. Maybe 100 things is a better number to aspire to.

  9. I’ll pass on most Metal Hurlant (Moebius excepted) but give me Reid Fleming, World’s Angriest Milkman or give me nothing at all.

  10. Watchmen and whatisname from Reid Fleming get at least a reference. Given the limited format, some good stuff will get missed or passed over. My list would have both series of Shade the Changing Man (Ditko, Milligan) — but I doubt others would.

    I’d actually have a Peter Milligan section: Shade, Human Target, Bad Company, X-Force/xstatix, Animal Man, that pervy four parter with the guy who uses very dark and arty techniques, Egypt, The Minx… The guy rarely puts a foot wrong*.

    (*sales and other incomprehensibilities aside.)

  11. dont forget Grimjack, is man good?( or anything by moebius) dope rider, anything with rapheal keyanen’s artwork, den by r.corbin, druillet, sergio , alan moore.

  12. @DIMMER (12):

    Is Shade available in trades now? Last I checked (several years ago, admittedly) it wasn’t – except for a single, first volume. Heard they’d abandoned their plans to publish the complete series in trade format. But I’d love to buy it if it were available.

  13. When I was in grad school and was discovering computers and serious comics at about the same time, I was blown away by the 1994 CD-ROM The Complete Maus. It adds a whole level of complexity to Spiegelman’s comic, with drafts of the drawings, audio commentaries by Spiegelman, and excerpts of the tape-recorded interviews with his father that Spiegelman used in creating the comic. It’s amazing–and even now I haven’t seen many other examples of multimedia works that so successfully merge text and supplemental media.

    Not entirely sure how well it would run on newer OS’s, but it still works on my Win98 machine.

  14. “”indy crap?” The world is too full of ‘isms’ already”

    …I don’t see “isms” in “indy crap”. But what the frack? You can read whatever you want, but as the philosopher once said, “Just because the turd is polished doesn’t mean it still ain’t shit.”

    Side Note: Add to my list the following:

    1) E-Man (can’t believe I forgot that one!)

    2) The complete run of Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck, with Steven Grant & Paul Smith’s Christmas one-shot included as the only non-Gerber HTD story that deserves to be canon!

    3) Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!

    4) The complete run of Herbie, the Fat Fury

    5) Barr & Bolland’s Camelot 3000

    6) At least one issue of the Bierbaum’s disgusting run on Legion of Super-Heroes that’s been used as birdcage lining, as befitting the whole run of the “Five Year Crap”. Mylar bag optional.

    7) The complete collection of Bob Stevens’ There I Was…, which showed the true stories of the US Air Farce much in the same way that Sad Sack was an accurate documentary series on Aaaaarmy Life.

    8) Oh, and a small stack of Sad Sack throw in for when you need a surge during your three minutes of quality time in the can!

    9) A complete run of The Inferior Five.

    10) A complete run of Captain Carrot and his amazing Zoo Crew!

    11) The first 12 issues of Micronauts.

    12) The entire run of ROM: Spaceknight.

    13) A copy of the original print run of All-Star Batman & Robin #10. You f*****g know g*****n m***********g well why, you c*********g c***s :-)

    14) And one that I’m going to kick myself with my one leg for forgetting: Scott McCloud’s classic Zot!

    …No doubt I’ll think of more :-)

  15. Metostopholes @18: WOW. OK, so much for getting anything else done tonight. This internet thing, she is some fun.

  16. @15: Sadly, no: the first trade didn’t sell enough, so further installments are not due anytime soon. Personally, I think the opening issues are a little weak, compared with, say, “A Season in Hell”.

    Maybe in a different dimension they have all the issues collated in hardback. I do love falling back on the many-worlds theory as a pick me up.

  17. In other news, every comics nerd in existence can easily come up with their own list, and thinks that everyone else’s list sucks. I can’t comment on this list, because it’s been Boing Boinged.

  18. OK, just read the Google-cached version of the page, and… seriously, folks… if you’re really upset because he didn’t specifically mention something like E-Man, you’re really, really not getting the point. It’s meant to make you a well-rounded comics reader, not to be a “best of” list or to pay tribute to your favorite hobby horse.

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