What are the 115 best comics of all time?

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The Hooded Utilitarian recently asked readers to vote on the top comics (books, strips, and gags) of all time. They ran the list of the top 115 vote getters. Here are the top 10:

1. Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz [50 votes]

2. Krazy Kat, George Herriman [46 votes]

3. Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson [45 votes]

4. Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons [31 votes]

5. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman [28.125 votes]

6. Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay [25.5 votes]

7. The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez [24.5 votes]

8. Pogo, Walt Kelly [24 votes]

9. MAD #1-28, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al. [23.75 votes]

10. The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al. [22.333 votes]

All are worthy of being included, I think. My top 10 picks only have one match with the above list, though:

1. The Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge Stories, by Carl Barks (#12 on the list)

2. The Little Lulu Stories, John Stanley, with Irving Tripp (#62)

3. Robert Crumb's oeuvre (#17 and #32)

4. Daniel Clowes' oeuvre (#59)

5. Jim Woodring's oeuvre (#76)

6. The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez (#7)

7. The EC Comics Science Fiction Stories (#96)

8. Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, by Gilbert Shelton (not on list)

9. Kamandi, by Jack Kirby (#11, kind of, since Kamandi was in Kirby's Fourth World universe even though he didn't encounter characters from New Gods or Forever People)

10. Jean "Moebius” Giraud's oeuvre (#34)

And I have a zillion runners up who, on any other day, might have made it onto my top 10: Seth, Chris Ware, Al Capp, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Vaughn Bode, Charles Burns, Rand Holmes, Jack Davis, Peter Bagge, Frank Frazetta...

The Hooded Utilitartian's International Best Comics Poll

116

  1. To me, comics always seemed somewhat like flowers: some were nice, some were nasty, but all were an integral part of the universe without regard to my opinions. It never even occurred to me that somebody might have had to draw those pictures.

  2. 1. Frank – Woodring
    2. Calvin & Hobbes – Patterson
    3. Maakies – Millionaire
    4. Watchmen – Moore
    5. The Search for Smilin’ Ed – Deitch
    6. Zap Comix – Various
    7. JImmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth – Ware
    8. Black Hole – Charles Burns
    9. Tales Designed to Thrizzle – Kupperman
    10. DR & Quinch – Moore/Davis

  3. Peanuts. Peanuts? Seriously – Peanuts?

    How the hell does that insipid piece of shit rate higher than Herriman, McKay, Watterson or Breathed? Or Kelly, or Spiegelman … Jesus.

    How did it make the top ten at all, let alone number one?

    Peanuts? Well who the hell forgot Ziggy? Garfield? And The Family Fucking Circus, while we’re at it?

    Peanuts. Even comic literacy is on the decline.

    1. Peanuts in first place feels like Lucy tried to play that kick-the-football trick on me, and I keep falling for it.

    2. You can’t include the last few decades of Peanuts, where you got the endless cookie jokes. But from the 50s through the 80s it was absolutely fantastic.

    3. Yes, Warren – Peanuts!   I’m goin’ to guess you’re fairly young?  In the sixties and even the seventies, there weren’t nearly as many mainstream comics available as today, much less alternative.  Peanuts had a huge audience and Charles Schulz was on fire.

      1. ‘Yes, Warren – Peanuts!   I’m goin’ to guess you’re fairly young?’

        43. There’s nothing at all groundbreaking in Peanuts. Never was. All it did was introduce mediocrity to the comics pages – a trend lamentably followed today. Don’t mistake popularity with the masses for something of quality.

        There are at least a dozen strips – before and since – in which even the slowest, most inane effort is still considerably superior to Schulz’s very best four-panel. That Peanuts beat them all out is a serious affront to anyone who actually values subtlety, wit, satire, or quality.

        Or, for that matter, something actually funny.

          1. Yes! Clearly my disagreeing with you means I ‘have no understanding’ of something! Obviously, mediocrity and Peanuts have nothing to do with one another.

            I mean, just because it turned to drivel for the vast majority of its lifetime doesn’t mean that Peanuts was all drivel!

            Why, at the start, it was nearly as good as that Pogo cartoon, which managed to remain more or less relevant and creative for most of its run, and didn’t fade into oblivion via a slow, sad, decades-long decline.

            No, no, clearly, Peanuts is superior. The best komeek EVAR. If it weren’t for your articulate, in-depth, and well-thought-out reply, I would never have seen the light.

        1. We appreciated Peanuts as an audience, not for the humor per se, but for the philosophy.  Schulz used his characters to puzzle about the Big Questions we begin to ponder as children, and continue to roll around in our brains for the rest of our lives…since there are really no answers. 

          And Schulz understood thoroughly, sometimes excruciatingly, the angst of being a child, especially at the time when his comic strip was most relevant.  It wasn’t always about being funny; his writing could be deeply touching.

          I won’t say you don’t ‘get it’, Warren.  I’ll go out on a limb and say, you *can’t* get it.  Maybe you had to be there, and then.  There were few such voices to speak for kids, and few to draw several generations together within a family using humor.

          1. Thank you. That’s an articulate and meaningful defense of Peanuts, and does more to explain its effect than anything else I’ve seen here. I appreciate the clarification, and have a better insight (I think) into why it’s taken so affectionately; however, I will maintain that it was not as effective, groundbreaking, or deep than most of the other comics it ousted from first place.

            EDIT: I was fond of Peanuts myself, as a child, and had several collections and retrospectives. It had its moments, but the quality of the strips indubitably ebbed as the 20th century rolled on, unlike other strips that preceded and followed it.

            Peanuts is to comics as The Simpsons is to TV cartoons. It started out good and quite edgy, but became a shambling, pointless monster that needed a stake driven through its heart. Occasional late-game flashes of brilliance do not make up for years of plodding drudgery.

          2. Your last response is quite a few miles away from your first few: “43. There’s nothing at all groundbreaking in Peanuts. Never was. All it did was introduce mediocrity to the comics pages – a trend lamentably followed today. Don’t mistake popularity with the masses for something of quality.”

            If you’re going to judge a strip from beginning to end, there aren’t many that don’t go south at some point. I agree, Peanuts got really bad and uninspired (and remained so for decades) and the Simpsons hasn’t been good since somewhere in the third season- but your original fighting words gave it no credit whatsoever, which is ridiculous. If you read the collections from the 50’s through the 60’s at least, it is a great, great comic that works on subtle levels rarely achieved by comic artists. As a kid, you appreciate it for reasons you can’t articulate or even be aware of; Peanuts speaks to kids much stronger than other gag-strips surrounding it on the newspaper page, even today. I think kids get that the strip understands their difficult situation and doesn’t candy-coat anything, yet still has the ability to remain innocent and whimsical in the face of the depressing harshness of human nature. It’s sad and dark, but absurd and silly too (mostly via Snoopy’s character.)  And, as an adult, you appreciate it for the craft, honesty and truth that spoke to you unconsciously as a child- you realize it helped you make sense out of a very puzzling and disorienting existence. Not to mention, the writing and artwork are uniquely Schultz, the mark of any great artistic achievement.

            Anyway, one can argue whether something belongs on a dumb list all they want, but your earlier specific comments about Peanuts are just inaccurate and ignorant. Personally, these lists are always useless and pointless, especially when lumping in comic strips, graphic novels, and comic series with multiple authors and artists all into one tub. Also, the American comic medium is young/small enough that all the lists are invariably composed of the same gang of rock stars. Gets boring quick! These lists might be more useful in 100 years, when people won’t remember half these names and need a good refresher as to the brilliant stuff coming out of the late 20th Century.

    4. I’ll grant you that you don’t like Peanuts, but I think you likely just glance at its surface qualities as you browse the newspaper page and didn’t follow it for years as its fans have.  It is a classic strip that had peaks and valleys, you had to follow it for a while to see what was really happening in the strip.

           Allen Smith

  4. My favorites would be Ennis and Dillon’s Preacher (tied for 100th place with fourteen other 4-vote-getters) and the Joe Lansdale takes on Jonah Hex.  I’m also a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, Bloom County, and the aforementioned Gary frickin Larson.  But I’m easy to please.  I liked Our Boarding House and Andy Capp in my indiscriminate youth.

  5. I always find things like Peanuts to be an interesting case on lists like this. It ran so long that it’s almost meaningless to talk about it as a whole.

    I think it is fair to say that when Peanuts gets voted as the greatest comic of all time, no one is thinking about the last ten or even twenty years of strips. Or rather, everyone under 35 is thinking about the the Peanuts they grew up with and scratching their heads. It’s worth noting that on the Wikipedia Peanuts page every section that talks about notable strips and critical influence talks about the 50s and 60s.

    So can something like Peanuts be judged just on a tiny slice? Does having three decades of space-filling reliability in the newspaper change the impact or legacy of the first two decades? Should these types of lists be judged based on an entire body of work or is it acceptable to take just the best twenty percent and ignore the rest?

    I can intellectually understand the respect that some have for Peanuts, but doesn’t have any place in my own top ten or even top 100. It finished saying everything it had to say before I was ever born.

    As great a tragedy as it felt like at the time, Bill Watterson’s decision to go out on top makes him one of the greatest and most professional artists I have ever respected.

  6. Checked the full list: my top 9 rank somewhere in the mix.  But you know who I think gets the short shrift?  Matt Groening (rhymes with complaining).  The Life In Hell strips of the late 80’s and early 90’s I think sum up excellently the American ennui with hilarity and rabbits with overbites.

    Sure, he cashed in with The Simpsons, (and you’ll hear no complaint from me), but his mastery of the witty social critique in a single square format was pretty dope imho.

    For the record (my record at least): Pogo, Barks’ Ducks, Lone Wolf and Cub, Maus, Calvin and Hobbes, Nausicaa, Gaimans’ Sandman, Barefoot Gen, Elfquest and Life In Hell…

    But so many stars in the genre: Animal Man 15 by Morrison was a heavy issue.  Sam and Max Freelance Police: so funny.  Panorama of Hell by Hideshi Hino, THAT sick manga was an eye opener…

    (I shoulda bought Hate instead of Ralph Snart, or Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children instead of Excalibur, but I was 14, what the #$%& did I know…)

    Yay comics!

    1. > Charles Schulz beat Tom of Finland? Outrageous!

      I would pay to see that on video.  (Either VHS or Beta.)

      “AUGH!” *WUMP* “AUGH!” *WUMP*

  7. We received 211 replies from all over the world

    Small sample size.  I suspect the results say more about the demographics (age, cultural background, etc) of their sample than they say about the value of these comics.

    Peanuts is probably on there primarily for historical significance, and significance within the industry.  If that’s the case, though, I’m surprised by the omission of Doonsbury. 

  8. What about Apartment 3-G? Sure, it’s lame now, but when Alex Kotzky was slinging the ink in the swinging 60s and 70s, it was strikingly beautiful. I’m a sucker for those soapy serial strips, like Rex Morgan, MD, Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter, Steve Canyon, Judge Parker, even ol’ Mary Worth the meddlesome grandma.

    Among recent comics I have enjoyed Maakies and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.

    1.  I’m a sucker for those soapy serial strips, like Rex Morgan, MD, Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter, Steve Canyon, Judge Parker, even ol’ Mary Worth the meddlesome grandma.

      Growing up in San Diego in the 70s, I generally got my daily fix from the Evening Tribune until it and the San Diego Union finally merged into a single daily Union Tribune, and I was such a voracious comic-strip reader that I’d even read the soapy ones you mentioned (except Judge Parker, which I’ve never seen).  In fact, in the interest of delayed gratification, I habitually made myself read Apartment 3-G, Steve Roper & Mike Nomad, and Brenda Starr before I’d allow myself to read the “fun” ones like Beetle Bailey and Crock.  Kinda like eating my vegetables, I guess.

      I still find it hard to believe that anyone ever bothered to read Mary Worth.  Omar Sharif’s bridge feature was more interesting.  As were the obituaries.  To say nothing of the legal notices in the classified ads.

      From her Wikipedia entry: “Many stories now begin with new people she meets in her volunteer work at the local hospital or at poolside parties at Charterstone, where she is known for her tuna casserole.”

      Prosecution rests.

      1. Apparently you have a lower tolerance for total insanity than I. The boringness of Mary Worth has always been exactly what made it great — two weeks to climb a set of stairs! Watching a meddlesome old biddy screw around with other people’s idiotic business is hilarious!

        Also: I’m surprised that Boing Boing hasn’t mentioned XKCD yet.

  9. Hmmm…briefly, I’ll say Peanuts, Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, The Wizard of Id, Andy Capp, The Far Side,  and Mad magazine were my favorites.  And maybe Brenda Starr. 

  10. Something odd about the Moebius link. Dumps me in the BB article “Search algorithms are editorial decisions”

    1. Sacrilege! Actually, as much as I like Don Rosa, reading his comics back-to-back with Barks’, you see what an astonishing influence Barks was on Rosa to the point where many many poses are near perfect facsimiles of Barks’ art.

  11. Boondocks
    Calvin and Hobbes
    Maus
    Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)
    Blankets (Craig Thompson)

    and of course . . . 

    Cathy (JUST KIDDING!!!)

  12. Amazed that I don’t see Jeff Smith’s Bone in the top ten, or Doonesbury, or Transmetropolitan. Having Watterson, Moore and Spiegelman up there is some comfort, though.

  13. “Comics” is misleading.

    1. Chris Ware – Lint (et. al)
    2. Daniel Clowes- Wilson (et. al)
    3. Crumb – My Troubles With Women (et. al)
    4. Charles Burns – Black Hole (et. al)
    5. Jim Woodring – Frank (et. al)
    6. Peter Bagge – Hate
    7. Hernadez Brothers – Love Rockets
    8. Marjane Satrapi – Persepolis I & II
    9. Adrian Tomine – Summer Blonde
    10. Calvin and Hobbes (to even it out though it could just as easily be number 1)

  14. Peanuts is to the modern comic strip what Jaws is to the modern blockbuster movie.

    It laid out everything that we’ve come to think of as a gag strip. Every gag strip was to follow, from “Garfield” to “Penny Arcade”, is following it’s template. Your view on this being a good or a bad thing may vary, but it’s place in comics history has been earned.

    That having been said: The Locas stories are superior to everything on both lists and I constantly hang my head and sigh at people placing a bunch of (well done) talking animals above it.

  15. “since Kamandi was in Kirby’s Fourth World universe”

    No it wasn’t. It was in the same universe as another Kirby-developed title, OMAC, though that was a post-Kirby development, but it was never considered part of the Fourth World even by Kirby himself. Any reference to the Fourth World as a comic series (as written by Kirby) means Mr. Miracle, New Gods, Forever People, those issues of Jimmy Olsen involving the above characters, and the graphic novel Hunger Dogs; c’est tout.

  16. I’m going to stick with newspaper strips because comic books are apples to oranges…

    Milt Gross Count Screwloose
    Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
    George Herriman Krazy Kat
    Winsor McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland
    Al Capp Li’l Abner
    Otto Messmer Felix the Cat
    Walt Kelly Pogo
    Milton Caniff Terry and the Pirates
    Hank Ketcham Dennis the Menace
    Barney Google Billy DeBeck

    Edit: DARN! I missed George McManus’s Bringing Up Father. Can I have 11 please?

  17. Personally, I think Maus is terribly overrated. It’s not well drawn, overly talky and pretentious. That’s three strikes for me when it comes to comics.

    1. >Tin Tin and Asterix are still both comics, right?

      Absolutely! A list like this without Tintin?

      (Also I just thought I’d add ‘Viz’)

      1. “A list like this without Tintin?”

        This list does have Tintin. It’s at #15.

        Count me in with the pro-Peanuts crowd. Charles Schulz performed the remarkable twin feat of developing the modern gag strip while making the central character a figure of empathy and pity for the reader.

        I’ve never gotten Krazy Kat, though. It seems like the sort of thing that can’t be appreciated without a 30-page monograph in The Comics Journal, a comic that only works in theory than in practice.

        I would also like to buck the consensus here and say that I like the MAD of the 1960s and 1970s better than the early issues, which I just don’t think are funny.

  18. I think it is fair to say that when Peanuts gets voted as the greatest comic of all time, no one is thinking about the last ten or even twenty years of strips. Or rather, everyone under 35 is thinking about the the Peanuts they grew up with and scratching their heads.

    Those who are aware of comics before they grew up scratch their heads too. Peanuts was great for its creative minimalism in the 50s and 60s when newspaper comics were well into their decline, but compared to the 1920s and 30s, when cartoonists were top paid celebrities with staffs of artists and millions following their strips every day, Peanuts just doesn’t compare. Nothing modern compares to the brilliance of golden age comic strips. They were created on an entirely different scale.

  19. Pretty much anything Carl Barks touched turned to gold… just brilliant, the total package of artist and storyteller. Neat piece of trivia: Spielberg and Lucas have openly credited Barks with the concept of the giant rolling rock in Raiders from “The Seven Cities of Cibola”. Man, I loved those comics…

  20. How the great Richard Corben is continually left out of these lists is beyond my understanding…

  21. Ernie Buhsmiller – Nancy. 

    btw –  my Kaspersky detected a Trojan at the linked site.  be advised.

  22. More like Greatest AMERICAN comics of all time. Forgive me for being one of those foreign comic reader types who have never read most of those comics mentioned here. (^-^)

  23. Just to mention a few that haven’t come up (trying to stay away from most of the superhero stuff because it would require too much back tracking through some extremely lengthy histories to pick the best periods), and in no particular order:

    Swamp Thing – So many great writers and artists involved I’m not going to pick only one period
    Eightball – Dan Clowes
    Yummy Fur – Chester Brown
    Black Hole – Charles Burns
    Frank – Jim Woodring
    Cerebus – Dave Sim
    Madman – Mike Allred
    Sin City – Frank Miller
    Watchmen – Alan Moore
    Hellblazer – The Delano period
    Mr. X – Dean Motter
    Sinner – Sampayo/Munoz
    Transit – Ted McKeever
    Grendel – Matt Wagner
    Doom Patrol – the later Grant Morrison stuff
    Plastic Forks – Ted McKeever
    Stray Toasters – Bill Sienkiewicz

  24. My list would have to include the exquisitely-reasoned-out visual grammar of Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy”.  Sure, it wasn’t a larf riot — no daily strip ever was, with the exception of “Peanuts”, “Calvin & Hobbes”, and “The Far Side” — but the composition and visual rhythm of those Bushmiller strips, that was like Kubrick cinematography.  The rising horizon… the trail of black… the necessary but sufficient number of rocks.

    I so love The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.  Fat Freddy and his cat had a memorable cross-over with Phil Dick once, in his short story “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”, aka “Frozen Journey” — the story’s central metaphor is the famous poster of Freddy talking about speed, the same drug that made most of Phil Dick’s early novels come out of him.  It’s a shame the Freak Brothers didn’t show up in too many other places.  I would kill to see a crossover between the Freak Brothers and Judge Dredd, especially if it was during the early days of “2000AD” when Dave Gibbons was one of the folks drawing Dredd.  I envision something like that “Dragnet” episode where Harry Morgan finds the baby floating face-down in the hippies’ bathtub and then vomits, except in bad taste.

    The Freak Brothers would have so many new opportunities in Dredd’s world, which contained millions of newly-invented vices.  “Fat Freddy, you idiot, you spent our last twenty dollars on BOING™!”

  25. Richard Corben  oeuvre (Den series)
    Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s oeuvre (Hvy Metal’s Infinite Garage stuff)
    Phillipe Druillet – anything really.
    Swamp Thing (Alan Moore and Tottleben, Veitch)
    Neal Adams (on a famous Batman/Joker story whose title escapes me)
    Jim Starlin’s Warlock series(  = maybe the best superhero plotline of all time).
    Paul Gulacy’s Master of Kung Fu issues
    Kamandi (love the Kirby Kamandi stuff – pretty good for a Planet of the Apes ripoff)
    Alex Nino (esp. his adaptation of “A Boy and His Dog” for Warren)
    Micheal Golden (#1-7 Micronauts).

  26. I don’t really think that this question makes much sense. Without finer delineation of what a ‘comic’ is, you’re attempting to select the ‘best’ of such wildly different concepts that it’s almost meaningless.

    Comparing graphic novels like Nausicaa or The Watchmen to gag strips like Calvin and Hobbes or The Far Side is like comparing your favourite album to your favourite ice cream flavour.

    “OK Computer got up there? I can’t believe people forgot about butterscotch!”

  27. C’mon, what do we have to do to get these moronic “Best [n] [somethings] of All Time” articles banned from the Internet?   It’s the laziest kind of writing there is.  I hesitate to even call it writing; it’s more of an infodump.  Just please stop.  I know you content creators (for I cannot call you writers) have to fill pages, but can’t you be even a little creative about what you fill them with?

  28. Oh, also, Mark, since you have the actual Carl Barks “Donald Duck” on your list as well as one of the best “underground” comics (“The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers”), may I suggest you complete the triangle with “The Air Pirates”?  It was certainly one of the most influential comics in terms of stirring up the ants of intellectual property rights… that’s right, I used ants to represent intellectual property.  Possibly even Flik™ from “A Bug’s Life®”.  Gotta go, the phone just started ringing and the caller ID just shows a picture of a frowning mouse with big ears.

  29. My list:

    1. Complete EC Segar Popeye
    2. B. Kliban’s oeuvre
    3. Blankets – Craig Thompson
    4. Ralph Koenig’s oeuvre
    5. Sergio Aragones’s oeuvre (excepting the Groo series)
    6. Calvin and Hobbes
    7. Tom the Dancing Bug
    8. Tintin series
    9. Zap Comix
    10. Maus – Art Spiegelman

    Best single purchase: Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Can’t recommend this book highly enough. There’s a whole slew of them used on Amazon going for under 10 bucks. You cannot spend your money better.

  30. Sorry, Calvin and Pogo both beat the snot out of Krazy Kat.

    And yes, Peanuts is top. It got pretty long in the tooth but in its day Peanuts was revolutionary. I’ll never forget the extended series where Charlie Brown got a rash on his head in the shape of the seams on a baseball. He went around with a bag on his head and became the most popular kid in school. The series ended up with an Alfred E. Neumann joke. Every other comic on the list owes Schultz for breaking ground on adult topics as well as surrealist humor.

  31. I can’t rate them, but my favorites include This Modern World, Bloom County, Doonesbury, Uncanny X-Men, The Dark Knight Returns, and of course Zippy.  I’m surprised that FF beat out the X-Men.

  32. I don’t care about specific order, but my own list would include:

    Jeff Smith’s Bone- Filled with strong, earnest and diverse characters and a vibrant universe.

    Sazae San- One of the oldest and longest-running comic strips ever AND features a female as a main character.

    Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Maus and Little Nemo I totally stand by.

    Asterix and Tin Tin, for reasons that need not be further explained.

    The Sandman- I know it tends to be quite ubiquitous, but it did attract a large crowd of new readers, and a then-unprecedented female readership, to the world of comics. It was what the doctor ordered at the time.

  33. Okay, I see it was really some ‘115 best’ list, and most of the titles I picked were on there, except for Sazae San (and I still think it belongs on there). It was also nice to see Marjane Satrapi included.

  34. For a good long perspective, including “what is a comic?”, I recommend George Perry and Alan Aldridge’s book, the Penguin Book of Comics. I’ve loved this tome for years. 

    Krazy Kat is probably the best comic of all time, but since the strip died like two hundred years before I was born, I’m going to vote for the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers as my favorite. They at least made my youth chucklesome, whilst providing a little social background. I still re-use their jokes (and Wonder Warthog’s jokes) in my everyday conversation, and nobody notices they’re stolen. Win win!

  35. C’mon. TinTin, The Far Side, Doonesbury, and Life in Hell all need to be on this list. I totally approve of Calvin and Hobbes and Krazy Kat. Do Archy & Mehitabel count?

  36. And yes, Peanuts is top. It got pretty long in the tooth but in its day
    Peanuts was revolutionary. I’ll never forget the extended series where
    Charlie Brown got a rash on his head in the shape of the seams on a
    baseball. He went around with a bag on his head and became the most
    popular kid in school. The series ended up with an Alfred E. Neumann
    joke………

  37. Peanuts, yes. Jaime’s Locas, hell yes (I’m still in love with Maggie, who will always be a prosolar mechanic in my book). Pogo and Al Capp, American classics. Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, my idiosyncratic choice, disturbing and funny. Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, just pure joy.

    Anything by Breathed? Really? Really? Ugly art, no real characters, pretending (and failing) to be edgy, and simply unfunny. Not an opinion, just the sad, objective truth.

  38. Peanuts, yes. Jaime’s Locas, hell yes (I’m still in love with Maggie, who will always be a prosolar mechanic in my book). Pogo and Al Capp, American classics. Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, my idiosyncratic choice, disturbing and funny. Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, just pure joy.

    Anything by Breathed? Really? Really? Ugly art, no real characters, pretending (and failing) to be edgy, and simply unfunny. Not an opinion, just the sad, objective truth.

  39. Having spent the first half of my life completely obsessed with comics, and the second half not quite as completely obsessed, this is a HUGE subject.  I’m kinda horrified by some of what wasn’t in the Hooded Utilitarian’s Top 10, but whatever.  Here’s my top 10 off the top of my head, and why:

    1) Krazy Kat – Herriman shaped the language of cartooning as an art form, and 75 years after his peak, the work is still untopped.  No other cartoonist has ever so completely created a universe that exists solely within itself. Herriman is not only a great cartoonist, he is one of the great American artists of the 20th century.

    2) The Spirit – Will Eisner is the greatest of the comic book cartoonists, bettering even Kirby.  He basically invented the graphic language of the comic book, and was the first to use that medium differently than the newspaper cartoonists. His 1940s Spirit stories are as close to perfect as anyone has ever gotten in the comic book medium.

    3) Terry and the Pirates – Milton Caniff set the standard for storytelling and action in comics way back in the very first years of this strip. If you don’t think he was important, start counting up how many artists did their best to clone his style.

    4) Peanuts – Sure, everyone grouses because the strip got stale at the end. Whatever.  The first 25 years of Peanuts are nothing short of eye-popping.  He changed the perception of what a comic strip could be and shaped the dialogue of American culture.  No one has ever had a run like Schulz did with Peanuts.

    5) Harvey Kurtzman’s war comics – I know, everyone loves Mad, and rightfully so, but Kurtzman’s treatment of war as a subject was so far ahead of anything else being done in the era that it’s kind of astounding that he got away with it.  And, let’s not forget that he was a motherfucker of an artist, too – absolutely 100% original. No one has looked like Kurtzman before or since.

    6) Little Nemo – I’m not really sure where to stick this in, but Winsor McKay’s gotta be top 10.  His outrageous experiments from 1906-12 still look modern, even a century after they were produced.  He didn’t leave much of a legacy, because, good god, who could follow in his footsteps?

    7) Robert Crumb – Without Crumb, much of the last 30 years of comic history would just disappear.  Justin Green’s Binky Brown meets the Virgin Mary may have been the first modern autobiographical comic, but it was Crumb who first made autobiography seem so right for the form.

    8) chris Ware – Probably the best cartoonist working today.  An absolute master of the form, Ware can do seemingly ANYTHING in comics and make it look easy.

    9) Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy – It’s easy to forget about Roy Crane since his strips were never quite as high profile as the major classics like Dick Tracy or Little Orphan Annie.  That said, Crane was an innovator’s innovator and he shaped the language of comics more than anyone except Bud Fisher and Caniff.  His adventure comics work in the mid thirties is among the best ever produced. Very telling that he was the main influence of both Milton Caniff AND Charles Schulz.

    10) Maus – I almost went with Dan Clowes here, but I can’t ignore this book.  Nothing that Art Spiegelman has done before or since Maus has ever come close this this book, but that’s probably because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of book.  A pinnacle of comics as culture.

  40. I think I’d have to group all the EC titles together, or my top ten would be pretty much all EC. I’d still separate MAD out for the #1 spot, though. Every day of my life I see the legacy of the original MAD in the art and culture that I love, and I don’t think its importance, or its genius, can be overstated.

    But then I’d almost certainly have to single out Kurtzman’s peerless war titles, too, and then it’d be very hard not to find a place for the horror line, and by that point it’d be churlish and unforgivable to leave out the sci-fi titles. Then I’d have to put in a nod to the New Direction range, as it was home to Krigstein’s Master Race, and by then I expect I’d be pushing double digits.

    Ah, well. EC for me, see? And if there’s any room left over, oh, let’s say late 80s Booster Gold.

  41. I would never place Peanuts at the top of the list, but I admire the strips of the 50s and early to mid-60s for their unique melancholy and quiet despair. I think those qualities made it a particularly apt reflection of the ugly, conformist, empty brutalism of the Cold War during the era bracketed by McCarthy’s rampage and the assassination of JFK. I never considered “funny” the goal of Schultz’ work. Instead of funny, there was Snoopy’s silent, transcendent exuberance in the face of a grey, cold, difficult world. Peanuts is one of the quietest works I can think of. 

    I really didn’t care for Peanuts in my childhood (in the 70s/80s), but I loved two elements of the depressing animated shows: Henry Mancini’s superb soundtracks and the overwhelming mood of isolation they conveyed. I read the 50s and 60s strips recently after conversations with some insightful Peanuts fans who were 16-25 years old at the beginning of the Cold War. And I suppose that’s what led me to my current respect for Schultz’ work.

    1. >  I really didn’t care for Peanuts in my childhood (in the 70s/80s), but I loved two elements of the depressing animated shows: Henry Mancini’s superb soundtracks

      The famous “Peanuts” music was by Vince Guaraldi (and his trio.)  For Mancini, you’re thinking of the “Pink Panther” cartoons, which not only used Mancini’s music from the Peter Sellers films, but also featured a live-action cameo by Mancini at the end of the one where the Pink Panther is trying to conduct an orchestra.

      My favorite is “Psychedelic Pink”, which is basically about Pink hallucinating wildly after he stares at an eyeball on a poster in a hippie bookstore.  The cartoon never mentions drugs, but it’s clearly just a depiction of a wacky, wacky LSD trip.

  42. Are we allowed to count seasons 4-10 of “The Simpsons”?  If not, can we at least count the episodes with Comic Book Guy, Radioactive Man, and/or Stan Lee?  (They are not all the same person.  I checked.)

    Also, I would like to give the booby prize to “Bazooka Joe” for finding a way to make the world’s smallest comic contain even less humor than you’d expect would be contained in the world’s smallest comic.  (The competing brand of gum, Dubble Bubble, had comics starring “Pud”, which is at least a funny name, if you’re of the right age to be buying single pieces of fluorescent pink gum.)

  43. Nice to see Bones by Jeff Smith made the list. My son and I met him Thursday evening at Fan Expo in Toronto. The nicest man you ever want to meet. Look for a Bones movie out in 2014ish (his words) made by Warner brothers and the makers of “Happy Feet”.

    One other note, why no mention of Mickey Mouse or Oswald by Walt Disney? If fraking “Nancy” can make the list, surely Mickey is better than her.

  44. Only American comics, of course.

    Some of the top 10 belong to the list – Maus, Krazy Kat, Little Nemo, The Watchmen.

    Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbs are comics for the comica illiterate – the comic equivalent of Celine Dion. If you like neurotic children, Mafalda is much better. And if you like mainstream comics Asterix should be up there.

    Does anybody actually read Pogo? I like it, but only comic buffs seem to read it. Not top 10material.

    My top 10 would have Will Eisner and Robert Crumb, as well as Moebius, Otomo, Pazienza, Breccia, Sacco, and Chris Ware.

  45. I love comics, grew up with comics, collected comics both superhero and underground, but I don’t think I’m as qualified as many others ITT are to come up with a GOAT list.

    However, It warms my heart to see Hernandez’s Locas stories make both
    lists.  He’s my all time champ.  The depth of his characterization, the
    quality of his content and dialog, and the art–those lines!  Composition and light effects used masterfully.  A sublime intersection of art,
    literature, and timeliness.  And he answers fan mail.

    Gilbert is awesome, too, let’s not forget.

    (I’ll also chime in with some love for Life in Hell, Dark Knight, Mad, certain X-men storylines, Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve and the strip he did in Pulse, TinTin (!), Crumb, Watchmen, Tom Tomorrow, Calvin & Hobbes to name most of what I know well and love.)

  46. 221 submissions. Not exactly a representative study. But I can’t resist putting in my own missing suggestions for a long list, in no particular order:
    • Jim Steranko’s “Nick Fury, Agent of Shileld”
    • Pat Mills’ “Nemesis the Warlock” (Kevin O’Neill’s first comic series)
    • Enki Bilal, anything by, but in particular “Nikopol” and “Hatzfeld” series
    • Joann Sfarr’s “Chat du Rabin”
    • Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright books and/or “Alice in Sunderland”
    • David Mack’s “Kabuki” series
    • Kasuhiro Otomo’s “Akira”

  47. Not having any of the belgian or french comics like Tintin (Hergé), Spirou & Fantasio (multiple artists including Franquin, Tome&Janry, and others), Gaston LaGaffe (Franquin), Asterix (Goscinny&Uderzo), Lucky Luke (Morris&Goscinny), heck, even the Smurfs (or other work by Peyo) shows this to be a itty bitty little contest, voted mostly on by Americans and a few Brits. Not really worth the electrons it is stored on…

  48. HI, I’m the editor of the Hooded Utilitarian, where the poll appears.

    The poll was organized by Robert Stanley Martin.  It was a poll of critics, cartoonists, scholars, and industry figures, not just of readers per se.  If you look at the list of people who contributed, it includes folks like Jessica Abel, Douglas Wolk, Paul Gulacy, Edmond Baudoin, Megan Kelso, Kim Deitch, and many other well known creators and critics.  We were very grateful for the level of response.

    Note that we’ve also printed in full every list we received in alphabetical order.  You can see them all here.  It’s pretty fascinating to see the wide range of comics selected.

    Most people who submitted lists were anglophone…but there were a surprising number of European contributors as well (especially from Italy.)

    Some of the issues raised here (like lack of European creators) are addressed in essays on the site. A discussion of the European artists on the list is here.  Other essays are here., discussing manga, women cartoonists, standards for selecting favorites vs. best, and other topics.

    Thanks again for the link and for the discussion.

    1. The list has more interest and relevance in my mind in you describing it as a list of favorites of insiders/creators vs. readers/fans.  Thanks for chiming in. 

  49. C&H & Far Side have been covered so let me throw ‘Foxtrot’ out there. I absolutely adore some of its super-geeky humor.

    I also have a soft spot for ‘For Better & for Worse’ (pre-reboot). Not the funniest strip but I grew up with those characters! I liked the mix of drama & comedic observations about family life.

  50. “Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbs are comics for the comica illiterate – the comic equivalent of Celine Dion.”

    Dude, even The Comics Journal, keepers of all that is highbrow in comics, listed Peanuts at #2 on their notorious “100 Best Comics of the Century” list, which bore a rather striking resemblance to this list overall. I can certainly understand that not everyone likes Schulz’s work, but the vehemence that some of you are taking toward its inclusion seems a bit weird.

    And those of you complaining that such-and-such was left off the list, you do realize that you can click through and see the whole top 115, right? And Tintin is right up there toward the top, Asterix is on there, Akira is there, and even Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury work is one there. The list still leans heavily toward American comics, but if you’re going to complain about something not being on the list, it would help your case if that something was actually absent from the list.

  51. Even though superhero comics dominate the comic book/graphic novel industry and have done so for more than half a century, no one seems to have noticed that Siegel and Shuster didn’t even crack the top 100.  Interesting.  (Although Superman is on the list twice, credited to other creative teams.)

    @Mark Frauenfelder: Segar’s Thimble Theatre/Popeye strips would fit in really nicely with your list of personal favorites.  If  you haven’t read them yet, the giant hardcover reprints The Complete Popeye from Fantagraphics are a great place to start.

    @Everyone else:  It’s spelled “Schulz.”

  52. Any list without mention of Zippy The Pinhead has completely missed the mark when it comes to my taste in comics.

  53. I only like the original Peanuts when all the characters were tall and christian, so revolutionary.

  54. I’ve never seen a comic list like this before, so maybe this is a common
    issue: But doesn’t it seem like we’re comparing apples and oranges here
    when we look at Peanuts vs Watchmen? It’s the same medium but they’re
    so completely different I’m not sure it’s saying anything about the
    quality of one over another.

    And now the obligatory “my favorite comics aren’t on here” note:
    Lucifer, and Transmetropolitan. Happy to see Sandman sitting at #22 but
    think it belongs in the top 20.

  55. I went in to correct my spelling and my comment to Warren has since disappeared.  What is happening when I see ‘edited by a moderator’?  I’m not aware of having violated the comment policy.

    1. The system has suddenly decide to announce every time that I open a comment to check formatting, remove extra line breaks, fix a link, etc.

  56. Would it kill Moebius to have his works kept in print for the English-speaking world? I love what little of his work I’ve been able to get my hands on, but most of the English editions are 20 years out of print and command staggering prices online.

  57. Eric, Robert Stanley Martin steered voters away from anthologies in general (RAW isn’t listed as separate entry either.)  Moebius (whose work appeared in Heavy Metal) is represented by several titles, though.

  58. Reading over everyone’s lists here, I am shocked to discover that I have read nearly all of this stuff.  I do find it interesting that Junji Ito is lauded on the site, but not by you fine folks.  If you enjoy spooky horror comics at all, you should remedy that omission immediately.

    Also, not reading comic strips, comic books and graphic novels is a form of illiteracy.  Not a thing I would proudly announce in public.

  59. We appreciated Peanuts as an audience, not for the humor per se, but for the philosophy.  Schulz used his characters to puzzle about the Big Questions we begin to ponder as children, and continue to roll around in our brains for the rest of our lives…since there are really no answers.  And Schulz understood thoroughly, sometimes excruciatingly, the angst of being a child, especially at the time when his comic strip was most relevant.  It wasn’t always about being funny; his writing could be deeply touching.I won’t say you don’t ‘get it’, Warren.  I’ll go out on a limb and say, you *can’t* get it.  Maybe you had to be there, and then.  There were few such voices to speak for kids, and few to draw several generations together within a family using humor.

  60. 1. Secret Wars II – Marvel
    2. Spider-Man vs Wolverine – Marvel
    3. Hulk vs. Thor – Marvel
    4. Spider-Man vs X-Men – Marvel
    5. Spawn vs Batman
    6. Atlantis Attacks – Marvel
    7. Muppet Babbies – Star
    8. Venom vs Carnage – Marvel
    9. Batman vs Superman – DC
    10. Its A Good Life IF You Dont Weaken – Seth

  61. As usual, Yamara comes in 116th.

    Sigh.

    Future winners:

    Lackadaisy
    Templar, AZ
    Cat and Girl
    What Birds Know
    Subnormality

  62. No webcomics, eh? So… apparently the criteria is it has to be published on mashed cellulose to get a mention?

  63. Looks like “best X of all time?” is always in English.

    Even just in this list, I am at least missing Mafalda (Quino, from Argentina), Persepolis, and a bunch of others that, well, weren’t written in English in the first place…

  64. No webcomics were included because no webcomic received enough votes to make the list, unfortunately. They weren’t exluded by design.

    Persepolis is on the list of 115, are are a number of other non-English language titles.  Mafalda did not make it — though Matthias Wivel wrote a nice appreciation of the strip for our site a while back.

  65. I absolutely do not understand all the Peanuts-hate going on…  It was a beautiful, well-drawn, revolutionary comic strip.  It pushed comics in the direction they’d go for the next half a century.  Its characters are iconic–empathetic, understanding, deep, cruel…  Cold self-loathing and loneliness long before they were done by anyone else in the medium, and done incredibly well, and using CHILDREN, no less.  Peanuts is honestly one of those things that really hits me at just the right wavelength: understated, depressed, accepting of a cold world, but still wonderfully optimistic.  

  66. The ten best comics are american/english? C’mon! What about Hergé, Manara, Crepax, Katsuhiro Otomo etc???

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