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.
Pete continues to convalesce so Scott is filling in this week. Here is the question:
As an adult reader what was the first comic that made you sit up and say “this is why I read comics”: please tell us why.
The first one would have to be issue 50 of Bendis’ Daredevil run where Murdock ultimately declares himself the “Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen” That entire (three or four issue) story had an epic, hard, grungy feel to it; it felt like a defining story for the character at the time. It really had this tense, goosebumpy “wow, this is actually happening” feel to it.
Other than that, I would also have to say the Sinestro Corps War. Before the overhyped, overblown Blackest Night story, there was this. The one that kickstarted the Green Lantern craze. It was in my estimation a definitive story for our era, and there really wasn’t a moment of the story I didn’t enjoy, or wasn’t captivated by. More than anything it boiled the GL mythology down to single conflict and summarized its entire premise. It’s a great story, and its epic scope help define comics for me. I don’t feel like there’s a better story I’ve read since I began reading comics again.
David Diep (News Editor, Part time Comic Shoppe Employee, All Time Sexual Dynamo)
For me, it’s all about Fables. Granted I have a sieve-like memory but I can distinctly recall Fables being one of the first comic books I’ve read that wasn’t superheroes or intended for younger readers like the Uncle Scrooge and Asterix. It wasn’t trying to be overly pretentious but managed to create a visual story clearly intended for a slightly older reader while drawing on the fables that everyone grew up with and are familiar with. If I had to think of a superhero comic that evoked that feeling, I would probably choose James Robinson’s Starman. It’s a superhero comic about a guy who doesn’t really want to be a superhero all that much. It never really read as a straightup action comic, Robinson did a great job of writing a story about Jack Knight becoming his own person in the confines of a superhero book.
Anthony Falcone (Writer of Whosoever Holds This Hammer)
I can’t believe you didn’t jump all over Andrew for giving two answers.
I always enjoy when an issue ends on such a great cliffhanger that we are desperately waiting 30 days to find out what happens next. One series that did this more than all others was Preacher. And my favourite moment was during the Proud Americans storyline (issues 18-26).
Jesse Custer storms the Grail fortress Masada to recuse Cassidy from Starr. And if you don’t know what I am taking about pick up the trades. Anyway at the end of one of the issues something is killing all of Starr’s men. Custer realizes who it is and in the final panel of the issue we see the Saint of Killers who says to our hero:
“Well Preacher, how fast you reckon you can preach?”
The Saint’s arrival was totally unexpected and ball-bustingly awesome. So awesome that I can barely explain it here without giving away too much of the series.
That issue made me say: this is why I love comic books. The characters, the story, the set-up, the cliffhanger. Perfect.
Kevin Boyd (Director of the illustrious Joe Shuster Awards Committee)
I’m 41 years old, I barely remember reading comics as a child, so when I read and enjoy a new comic it is as an adult, so this would end up being another list of what my favourite comics in general are. There are a few that have impressed me because they have brought something new to the medium, but generally they are more creator-centric. For example, the work of Alan Moore on a writing level from Swamp Thing to the latest LOEG, or Alex Ross on an artistic one from Marvels to his latest painted covers. There are many creators who I follow whose work I sit up and notice as pushing and stretching the boundaries of the medium and remind me why I still read comics.
Scott: Question rephrased for clarity.
So I’m looking for the first comic you read after high school or whenever you became an adult that completely amazed you and committed you for life to sequential art.
Anthony: And that is what I answered.
Scott: You started your answer with vague broad strokes that made it appear you really didn’t have a decent response.
Anthony: Every response I give is a decent response.
Scott: But wouldn’t a great response be something to strive for.
I’m going to have to say it was discovering Lethargic Comics Weekly. Had I not found those via my friends attending Sheridan College, I’d likely not have had my eyes opened to the whole small press scene and taken the path I did. It showed me, (us) that anybody could create their own story, and then share it with the world, without the need for publishers as gatekeepers. I knew about Aardvark and Warp and such, but that real grassroots type stuff was a real wake up call. And it helped that it was a parody comic with creators who were local and somewhat accessible.
I wonder whatever happened to those guys…;-)
Kevin: While I do remember the great comics that made me a lifelong reader: Mage, Cerebus, Elric, Byrne’s FF, Miller’s Daredevil, Stern and Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Wolfman and Perez’ Crisis, the Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, etc…. but like Chris, all of those great books came out when I was in high school (I graduated in June 1988). I’m sorry but I still stand by my answer — that I have not the foggiest idea as to what was the first book “post high school” was that made me sit up and take notice. A half-hearted reply would be Kurt Busiek’s and Alex Ross’ MARVELS in 1992. Correction: Marvels came out in 1994.
Jill Nagel (Our Correspondent from the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop)
Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I took a Popular Narrative class in University and book 7 was assigned reading. I’d been stuck in a rut of Marvel Superhero comics (which I still enjoy, don’t get me wrong) and Sandman helped me branch out from that. The class itself introduced me to other great books (Preacher, LXG) but Sandman was what really caught my attention and made me think.
Andrew: Dialing back, I like good stories. We all do. The two stories I mentioned hooked me, if not the latter example acting solely as a reminder as to why I love comics. So really it was that Daredevil issue. Up until that point it was a passing interest, but to see an issue long hand-to-hand fight between Daredevil and Kingpin ending in a rundown bar with hooligans and thugs watching; to have Murdock declare in front of them and a bloodied Wilson Fisk that he is the new Kingpin provided this feeling of awe that sucked me into Murdock’s world. It was the first time I truly fell in love with the Murdock character and it also served as the story that brought me back in…after I, uh…watched a…movie. Similar in content…
I’ve been a comic book reader since 1980 and was fully mired in the North American superhero mindset. All the genre changing stories like Watchmen, Dark Knight, American Flagg and Miller’s Daredevil run came out when I was young and impressionable. For me the first work that I fully appreciated as an adult was The Private Files Of The Shadow, a collection of O’Neil and Kaluta’s take of the sinister pulp character. It busted out of the superhero men in tights genre and presented something a little more historical. A second reawakening came when I finished Prince Valiant Volume 1: stunning artwork and a good story from seventy years ago.
Lots of great works we read as teens are even better now that we have life experiences to compare and contrast them to.