Doug: Our pal Redartz is your shepherd today, and he's talking comics -- and who doesn't like that? Take it away!
Redartz: Greetings, folks! Today I'm taking a fairly common topic and turning it sideways; sort of (and a special tip-of-the-hat to our friend Humanbelly, for inspiring today's title with one of his recent comments). Everyone has a favorite comic story, probably several (too difficult to choose just one). Many of these favorites are shared by many other readers, and often have achieved legendary status. Think of the Kree/Skrull War, the Galactus Trilogy, Avengers/Defenders war, Korvac saga. Or DC- there are the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Great Darkness Saga, Dark Knight Returns, Flash of Two Worlds. You get the idea; these are all stories which have (quite rightfully) earned their place in four-color history. Whether it's a single issue story or a multi-issue blockbuster, these are all stories which many, if not all, of us (and most comic fans) have read.
We are not talking about these stories today. My question for you: what is your favorite comic story that most folks probably have never read; perhaps never even heard of? Think of us sitting around in your living room, chatting about the greatest comic stories; surrounded by longboxes. These boxes are full of comics we share a love for, but you pull out a particular personal favorite that has flown “under the radar" of most readers. “Say, what is that?" I inquire. "This", you reply, "is the book that I mention when someone asks me to recommend something they've never read before."
To start off the discussion, I've rooted out three of my personal favorites. One humor, one adventure, and one historical; from three different eras, two of which may familiar to many of you, the other which may not be.
An indie comic from our beloved Bronze Age, “I Saw It” - the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima. This comic, by writer/artist Keiji Nakazawa, was published in 1982, and was my first exposure to anything like Manga. Nakazawa, as a small boy, experienced firsthand the bombing that ended WWII, but survived to adulthood. He became a comic artist, and used the opportunity to tell his tale. No blame or guilt is placed here, he simply describes (quite graphically) the effects of the bombing, and how they affected his later life. Extremely powerful reading, and enlightening.
Jonny Quest #2, from Comico, 1986. This is a superb story by writer William Messner-Loebs, penciler Wendy Pini and inker Joe Staton. This comic tells the story of Jonny's mother, and of how Race Bannon came to join the Quest group. I'll not go into great detail here (these aren't reviews, merely a tidbit to whet your appetite), but this story is dramatic, touching, and still features the adventure we'd expect from JQ. I've reread this comic again and again, , and it touches me every time. If you're a fan of Jonny Quest, you really should read this...
My humor selection is from the modern era: Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II, published by Bongo Comics in 2005. No doubt most are familiar with the Simpsons, and probably Futurama (Matt Groening's sci-fi romp), but perhaps haven't read any of their comics. This is a two-part story, written by Ian Boothby (a greatly talented writer, IMHO) and drawn by James Lloyd and Steve Steere, Jr. Long story short: the Simpsons are drawn into the future with Bender, Fry and the rest. The whole story is absolutely hilarious. 'Easter eggs' abound for fans of comics, literature and pop culture. Just a tiny sample of the references: underground comix, Star Wars, 2001:A Space Odyssey, Conan, the Village People and binary number theory. You will spend hours scouring each page for all the little touches and laughing all the while. I certainly did!
Now, how about you? What obscure gems do you recommend? I can't wait to hear about them...