Well… This one is a toughie. It’s a top 8 because, while I like reading a lot of comics, I can think of only 8 that are REALLY what I could binge on for days and I don’t like bullshitting people by forcing some entries just to satisfy a number.
I’m from Europe and I never grew up with super hero comics. Comic book culture in Europe is VASTLY different from the one in America so don’t be surprised if you’ll see a lot of comic books that you don’t know. These are in no particular order but one of them is my absolute favorite. You’ll find out witch one but any one who really knows me can already sense what it is ;).
1. Alan Ford – Magnus & Bunker
This is one that was really in the height of popularity before my time. I was introduced to the series by my father. He has a really impressive collection of the Alan Ford series. I started reading it when I was staying at my grand parents house over the summer as a kid. I was bored so I looked over my dads old collection and started reading :P. The comic is a humorous take on the spy genre and a satire on social life around the world. The humor comes in when you realize that the main spy group (group TNT) is dirt poor and rely on antiquated weapons, strange homemade vehicles and stealing to get the job done. The art style is also very detailed and matured over the course of the series. The comic comes from Italy but found it’s biggest height when it was translated to Serbo Croatian language. It’s popularity massively grew in countries of former Yugoslavia and it enjoys a HUGE cult following.
2. Blankets – Craig Thompson
This one is a close runner up to being my favorite. Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets pulled me out of a huge slump. I was in a phase when I thought I should give up on illustrating and designing. The whole story is basically based on finding love, finding a purpose and fighting against people that tell you that you can’t do something you like doing or that it’s pointless. There is a specific chapter that really inspired me to continue. Thompson also illustrated and wrote other successful graphic novels like Habibi or Good-bye Chunky Rice. Sadly I couldn’t get my hands on them yet and I refuse to read them on a digital device because in my mind the whole experience is much better with a physical copy in your hand.
EDIT: I’ve managed to get a hold of Habibi and Carnet de Voyage. Both stunning books especially Habibi. Even when you hold the book in your hand without opening it, it’s a gorgeous book.
3. Dogodivščine Zvitorepca, Trdonje in Lakotnika – Miki Muster
Now this is THE comic book that inspired me to start illustrating and is by no stretch of the word my favorite. Miki Muster is a huge influence on my work, especially his comic series “the adventures of Zvitorepec, Trdonja and Lakotnik. Miki was inspired by Walt Disney and it shows. Later on he developed his own style all the same and his later period is all his own. He was a hard worker and self taught as an illustrator, designer and also an animator. You can read up on him more in this post.
4. Werner – Rötger Feldmann (Brösell)
This is one that is mostly popular in German speaking countries. I first came across Brösells characters via an animated feature that was based on his comics. Later on I had the luck of getting a couple of used copies of his comic books and instantly fell in love with the strange crude humor. Sadly the popularity of this comic is in the decline and every animated feature after the first two got worse and worse (as of writing this there are 5). The comics still rock though. Brösell is a lithographer but broke in to comic book illustration in his youth in the 70s. The comics are based on his and his brother’s experiences and lives. Most of the humor is based on a specific German dialect – believe it or not you can hear the dialect even through the text.
5. Garfield – Jim Davis
This is my guilty pleasure and I know some of you may scoff at me (especially manga and hero comic readers) but I like humor more than action and Garfield certainly is the definition of no action and all humor. The lazy cat’s sarcasm and quick wit are what draws me to the comic more than anything else. All the strips are published online and are free to look at. It’s really interesting to compare the very first strip to the current one since the art style is so drastically different. And yes… The CGI movies suck.
6. Asterix and Obelix – René Goscinny & Alberto Uderzo
Asterix and Obelix are basically a must read for any comic book fan in Europe. They can be considered an epitome of European comics because they found popularity outside of Europe as well. Not much to say about why I like it really. I just like it because the stories are great and the art is child friendly, yet good enough for adults to enjoy as well. The comic reminds me of my childhood when I would get the books in our school library (yes our library carried comic books :)) and spend hours reading them.
7. Better Days – Jay Naylor
This is a web comic that really pulled me in. Pages were published on a weakly basis and it spans 25 chapters. That’s A LOT for a web comic. To make things even more impressive Jay Naylor also publishes a follow up series called Original Life. Sadly the Original Life series is on hiatus. Let’s hope Jay finds the time to continue the story. Better Days deals with political views, struggles of single parenthood, growing up, teenager problems, sexual abuse, war, etc. It’s by no means a children’s comic. The main characters are Fisk and Lucy Black. Siblings whose father died in action (he was a soldier) and now their mother tries to raise them as best as she can with a whole shitload of problems in their way. It’s a good read and when I first found it I binged on it for days.
8. Calvin and Hobbes – Bill Waterson
What kind of person doesn’t like Calvin and Hobbes. I’ll tell you what kinds of person. A person with out a sense of childhood wonder and imagination, no sense for sarcasm and mostly for adventure. Don’t be fooled… The comic is drawn through the eyes of a child and his world of imagination, wonder and smart wit but it’s not drawn just for children. The comic is so expertly executed it can be enjoyed by children and adults. I know I like it.