Sunday, 29 March 2009

Recommended reading

Not a comprehensive list, just a few titles off the top of my head...

The Sandman: Dream Country

Includes the first part of Gaiman's take on Shakespeare's creative bargain with Morpheus in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", which won the World Fantasy Award for best short story and quite right too. The stories are all standalones: "Calliope", "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" and "Facade". Also has the annotated script for "Calliope" - I'm always interested in that kind of thing.

Nine great stories. A man terrified by his nightmares of falling. Haroun al-Rashid selling the dream of Baghdad to preserve its beauty. The start of Gaiman's great heart-rending saga of Orpheus. And then there's old Baba Yaga in her chicken legged hut. We're going to have to get her into Mirabilis at some stage.

Kingdom of the Wicked

By the brilliantly talented (so obviously we hate them) British author-artist team Ian Edginton and Matt Brooker, aka D'Israeli . The story has some similarities to the Sandman classic "A Game of You" but not in any sense a rip-off. They're both interesting and very different explorations of a theme (like The Matrix and Dark City, say) worth reading as companion pieces.

Tiny Tom Fish-Head and Wavy Davy Dali from Kingdom of the Wicked.

Summer Blonde

The far end of the comics spectrum from something like Watchmen. Adrian Tomine's stories of urban alienation often don't really quite go anywhere - but in the most intriguing way.


Another superb, disturbing, elusive graphic novel by Adrian Tomine. But don't take my word for it.

Jonathan Lethem: 'Shortcomings is as deceptively simple and perfect as a comic book gets.'

Nick Hornby: 'Reading a comic book suddenly becomes as rewarding as reading good contemporary fiction. Tomine has both talent and a writer's eye for the truth.'

Ghost World

So you've seen the movie and, good though it is, the graphic novel is much better. Daniel Clowes describes it as the examination of "the lives of two recent high school graduates from the advantaged perch of a constant and (mostly) undetectable eavesdropper, with the shaky detachment of a scientist who has grown fond of the prize microbes in his petri dish". So there you go. If Adrain Tomine is disquieting, Daniel Clowes's stuff is like being trapped in an elevator with a raving madman. In a good way, I mean.

The Golem's Mighty Swing

Golems, baseball, racial intolerance, the Great Depression and the American Dream. But it's not just the great comination of themes or the way James Sturm tells the story, it's the marvellously simple drawings that pack such movement and flow.

The Death of Speedy
One of the best Love & Rockets stories - which makes it almost the best you're ever going to read in comics.

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