Every week CBD’s Editor in Chief Pete DeCourcy asks the question and the crew (and special guests) give their answers, we’ll be doing this for 52 weeks. Tip of the hat goes to the gang at Scans_Daily for the inspiration.
This week’s question comes from my friend Kris:
Today’s Question: “I’m 22 and I want to read a comic that has romance, action, and humour. I’ve never read a comic before and I don’t want to read about superheroes. Where do I start?”
Anthony Falcone: Is this some sort of ploy on your part to get a date with this Kris woman?
Peter DeCourcy: Oh most definitely.
Anthony Falcone: You are a ridiculous human being.
Shelley Smarz (Comic Book Daily’s resident Comic Book Goddess)
There’s also Andi Watson’s Clubbing. I would have recommended Love and Capes but that’s got Supes in it.
Kevin Boyd (Director of the illustrious Joe Shuster Awards Committee)
Fables is the obvious choice, I agree. Y the Last Man would be another. I’m currently reading The Mystery Society Vol. 1 by Niles and Staples, and it seems pretty good to me. Brian Wood’s Local is pretty solid, as is Skim by the Tamaki cousins (Mariko and Jillian). I think Darwyn Cooke’s Spirit and Parker graphic novels are far enough afield of super-heroes, I’d probably recommend the Spirit first based on the romance, action and humour criteria. Then again, those criteria also make me think of Ennis and Dillon’s Preacher… I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great Two Generals and Northwest Passage are, although the romance elements are pretty light… same thing for Essex County (which everyone in Canada should be reading anyway)… there’s also Kill Shakespeare… my girlfriend loves BPRD, Hellboy and The Goon as well…
Peter DeCourcy: I once sold Preacher to someone as one of the best romances I’ve ever read. The whole book is about love and friendship.
Kevin Boyd: Absolutely. Love Preacher. In the late 1990’s it was my “go to” recommendation to anyone who couldn’t stand superhero comics, people remember the gross out humour, but the bonds formed and interactions between the three main characters are quite strong. Ennis’ best work, to this day. If she likes weird stuff then there are always Grant Morrison books like The Invisibles, We3. If she likes horror you can’t go wrong with The Walking Dead. If she likes literary comics then there’s a TON of stuff – Chris Ware, Dan Clowes (esp. Ghost World), the Hernandez Brothers….
Peter DeCourcy: I think that’s the strength of Ennis as a writer. As much crazy stuff he throws at you (Sex Detectives, Arseface, the Russian, Herogasm, The guy-with-the-dick-for-a-nose in Wormwood) it’s the relationships he creates that keep me coming back to his work.
I find the Boys to be a pretty mean and juvenile book most of the time, but then he’ll surprise you with something genuinely moving. The one moment that sticks with me more than any other moment in Preacher is when Cassidy kisses Tulip. It’s the most gut punching moment of the whole series and changes every moment you previously read.
I’ve had luck with getting non-comics reading friends and family reading the original 2 League of Extraordinary Gentleman series, Hellboy and BPRD (although all those choices are borderline superhero-y). There’s also Bone. I’ve also gotten non-comics friends into The Walking Dead, but that’s often a little light on the “romance” and “humour.”
Alexa Tomaszewski (reporter for Comic Book Daily and contributor to)
There are many great comics with romance, action and no super hero’s. The first place you should look for comics like this is in the independent section of your local shop. Lots of times artists just starting out create books and stories based out of the real world. And these stories are often just, if not more, powerful than those we read in mainstream comics.
For something a little more interesting I think DC’s Army @ Love is an interesting choice. I think the series is a bit of a throw back to the Young Love comics, but modernized to fit a greater readership.
Touted Desperate Housewives meets The War five years into the future the comic series explores members New Jersey National Guard based in the Middle East. Soldiers are young men out of high school, cooperate managers, and men who were pulled out of their lives back home. The story is modernized through the use of a “take no prisoners’ attitude and lots, and lots of sex where appropriate. You’ve got your action, your rom-com aspects and some good ol’ fashioned butt kicking!
Re: Greg Hyland’s Choices – The Walking Dead is an excellent example of a comic that follows normal people and tells a tale of survival. While it is light on humor and feel good times, it’s really quite the read. At least for those slightly desensitized.
Anthony Falcone (Writer of Whosoever Holds This Hammer)
Isn’t Tarot the real obvious choice?
On a more serious note I would recommend Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise. A romance story, a friendship story, and a thriller about a mysterious organization, SiP was one of the first independent books to gain a degree of mainstream notoriety. And with its strong female cast it has been introducing women to the world of comic books since the late 1990s.
A self-contained story is probably the way to go so I’d say King Of The Flies for a David Lynch-ish dark look at suburbia. How about indie classics like Love & Rockets or Ghost World; different takes on the world told in comic format. Or perhaps a genuine classic like Prince Valiant.
David Diep (News Editor, Part time Comic Shoppe Employee, All Time Sexual Dynamo)
I’m gonna suggest a manga title which might be as far as you can get from a superhero title! It’s a story that has got a mix of everything you asked for with a bit of drama and possible heartbreak at the very end. It’s called Voices of a Distant Star by Makoto Shinkai. It’s an adaptation of an anime OVA he did and it’s a beautiful story about a boy and a girl that are separated by an alien invasion. The girl goes off into deep space through light speed travel for training and to fight the invasion while the boy remains on Earth. While apart they continue to write letters to each other but since she is traveling through space at light speed, the time difference means the boy ages normally on Earth while the girl’s aging is drastically slowed. It’s got everything your friend wants and more!