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Between the Panels: 2021 Special Edition - “Have You Read . . . ?”

As part of our interview series, I ask each creator to step into the role of fan and talk about which comics they admire, that spark their own creativity, and that they recommend to others. Below are the picks from our 2021 guest lineup, a wide sampling of works from different genres and time periods as varied as the people naming them.   – Kevin Sharp



Mark London @MarkLondonMCS (CEO/CCO, Mad Cave Studios)

If I had to pick one, it would have to be Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Its focus on philosophy, psychology, and symbolism is what makes that story stand the test of time. It is really a transformative comic that forces you to confront uncomfortable truths. There is so much depth within the plot and characters to analyze that one could easily write a whole book of essays discussing the many meanings in Watchmen.

Read the whole interview here.


Elena Casagrande @LaraWest (artist, Black Widow)

Blade of the Immortal, 100 Bullets, Hawkeye by Fraction/Aja… surely others too, but these are the first came to my mind. Because when I read them I forgot everything else, I was inside the books, thanks to the story, thanks to the drawings, they’re “squared.”

Read the whole interview here.


Sally Cantirino @sally_cantirino (artist, I Walk With Monsters)

I never get tired of looking at Becky Cloonan’s By Chance Or Providence.  I have both the black & white and color versions of it; I always find new details in it that wow me.

Read the whole interview here.


Kat Chapman @katchapman (writer/artist, Breakwater)

Kingdom by Jon McNaught. I’ve always loved his work ever since I bought his book Pebble Island about ten years ago. His work manages to create so much atmosphere, which is something I strive for as well. His artwork is stunning, and he loves to focus on micro moments and mundane details which is again something I enjoy doing in my work. Kingdom is full of feeling and so evocative..

Read the whole interview here.


Jim Rugg @jimruggart (writer/artist, Street Angel)

There are so many. I’m a fan of Dan Clowes’ comics, including Ghost World, David Boring, Patience, Ice Haven, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, Death Ray — and the qualities that I admire are attention to detail, character, and world-building. I find the psychology of his characters makes sense. Also his art style and design appeal to me.

Eleanor Davis is another favorite cartoonist of mine. I enjoy all of her comics and illustrations. My favorite book of hers is You & A Bike & A Road.

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault. Britt and Arsenault make picture books and this was their first graphic novel. It’s about a middle school girl struggling with her peer group. She reads Jane Eyre. Her little brothers are ninjas. And it’s just beautiful. One of the most beautiful books I have ever seen or read.

Elektra: Assassin by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz. This one amazes me. It’s two very creative cartoonists coming from the Marvel '80s and pushing the limits of that language beyond anything anyone had ever done in that system. It is overwhelming and breathtaking and spectacular. The greatest action story I can think of.

Alex Toth’s One for the Road. Toth is a favorite of mine. His draftsmanship and composition is flawless. One for the Road collects his comics about cars and racing. They are wonderful. Very cartoony. Very lively. They feature a variety of styles while still showcasing all the things Toth is great at. But these stories add a lot of humor and the cartooniness adds warmth and life to these strips. Delightful.

Read the whole interview here.


Jenn St-Onge @princess_jem4 (artist, The Ojja-Wojja)

I am forever in awe and adoration of Junji Ito. He’s made such a definitive niche in the horror industry and he does what he does so masterfully. There’s kind of a curse surrounding adaptations of his stories and I think it comes down to this really pure love and dedication he has for his art that is hard for an animation studio or live-action movie to properly emulate. Ito has such a wonderful storytelling style; Japanese horror media tends to have different story beats than western horror media does, and it’s very interesting to see those differences come across in his work, while still being really particular to him as a writer.

Also he is a huge cat lover and, as a fellow doting cat parent/gorehound, this hits me on a very spiritual level. If you’ve seen his scary comics but not the comic about him and his wife’s life with their two cats, you are missing out on an integral piece of comics history. Just saying.

Read the whole interview here.


Jason Shawn Alexander (artist, Killadelphia)

Cages by Dave McKean, and A Contract with God by Will Eisner. Both bring me right back to what I love about comics. Emotive works, superb storytelling, pacing, and art.

Read the whole interview here.


Brian Cunningham @bcunningham71 (former group editor, DC Comics)

The obvious ones are Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Byrne FF and Superman, Crisis on Infinite Earths (anything by Wolfman/Pérez, really), Akira

More recent series I admire are anything by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the Walking Dead series (which I found more entertaining than any of its TV show counterparts), anything by Darwyn Cooke, Saga. My favorite series right now is probably Firepower by Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee, and Matt Wilson — it ticks off a lot of boxes for me.

People might be surprised to see on my bookshelf all of IDW’s reprints of Milton Caniff’s body of work, which is tremendous. I have a “Howard Chaykin section” with a lot of his work. When I was in college, I really got into buying the entire run of Tomb of Dracula by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer — Marv’s versatility as a writer never ceases to amaze me. Recently, I’ve gotten into Fantagraphics’ black and white EC Comics reprints, especially the Kurtzman war material, which is a masterclass in storytelling.

Read the whole interview here.


Fabian Lelay @rocketsandpens (writer/artist, We Are the Danger)

Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. It was the first superhero comic I picked up after a long time away from the genre. From the art to the masterful storytelling, I found myself immersed in the mythos of heroes and such.

Read the whole interview here.


Breena Bard @EaselAintEasy (writer/artist, Trespassers)
 
I’ll cheat and name two: Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal and Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. I think since they both started as webcomics, they provide a really nice little bridge between episodic character studies and longer arching narratives, which is kind of a sweet spot for me. The sense of humor is so sharp, the pacing is masterful, and the illustration knocks me on my bum, I’m so in awe.

Read the whole interview here.


Wes Craig @WesCraigComics (artist, Deadly Class)

I’m just gonna rattle off a bunch of my favorites: Bone, Watchmen, Maus, Lint from Chris Ware. All-Star Superman, Signal To Noise, Akira, Harvey Kurtzman’s EC comics work. Mazzucchelli’s City Of Glass and Big Man. That issue of The Walking Dead where they killed Tyrese — that gave me a visceral jolt, which is rare with comics. Same with when Barbara Gordon was shot in The Killing Joke. If you can make a reader physically feel something, you’re doing good comics.

If I had to say one comic, though, I think it’d have to be Dark Knight Returns. It’s a huge, epic story, intense, funny, graphically very innovative. It’s a tie between that and Batman Year One which is beautifully drawn and colored and is Miller’s most concise, tightly plotted story. A great crime comic on so many levels.

Read the whole interview here.


Erin O’Neill Jones @ONeillJones (artist, DC’s Wonderful Women of History)

Whenever I’m prepping for a project, I try to re-read books that remind me why I love comics, you know, to pump myself up. So, I recently re-read Gaby Dunn and Claire Roe’s Bury the Lede. Every creative choice made by that team worked so well together, and I am obsessed with Miquel Muerto’s colors. My god.

I also just re-read Petra Nordlund’s Tiger, Tiger (tigertigercomic.com) from the beginning. Every time I read it I’m drawn in by something different. This go-round it was the surreal borderless dream sequences.

Read the whole interview here.


Catalina Rufin (writer/artist, Sharon’s Diary)

Rat Queens, published by Image Comics. It’s an aspirational work for me; I love the blend of the stereotypical high fantasy world with modern dialogue and situations. My favorite comics are ones about a group of oddballs with a powerful relationship to each other.

Read the whole interview here.


Lizzy Stewart @lizzystewart (writer/artist, It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be)

Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. Ooof, it’s so strong. It’s a joy to look at for starters. Tamaki has such a deft line; it wavers and it alters but it’s always expressive and confident. Yum. It’s also a way more complex book than it appears on first glance. It seems like it’s this anthology of strips, kind of light, kind of jokey but it's actually this incredibly wise and funny meditation on... absolutely everything. I think it’s brilliant and should be handed out to writers and artists and all humans.

As a bonus choice I’d also like to mention Heimat by Nora Krug. I read it last year and was blown away by the scope of the project, the strength of the writing, and the beauty of the book as a whole. I think it got some good press from critics but I don’t feel as though it’s been celebrated enough. It is genuinely a masterful use of comics/illustration to tell an incredibly complicated and difficult story. Read Heimat, everyone!

Read the whole interview here.


Maria Llovet @m_llovet (writer/artist, Porcelain)

Anything by Bastien Vivès I love. The way he uses visual narrative and the tone of his stories, I just adore them.

Read the whole interview here.


Ryan North @ryanqnorth (writer, Johnny Constantine: The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher)

[Jason Shiga is] honestly great. One of his recent books is called Demon, and if you're looking for a story that shows you how to take a premise and then escalate it every installment until it is as huge as it could possibly be, but feels so earned and so wild at the same time, I can't recommend Demon highly enough. It's only a slight spoiler to say that it starts with the premise of someone who, every time he dies, he wakes up in the body of the person nearest to him. From there you get a story that very soon is a battle for Earth itself. It's so great, and so fun, and so gross at the same time. I really love it, and him.

Read the whole interview here.


Charlot Kristensen  @Zolwia (writer/artist, What We Don’t Talk About)

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. It’s simply a masterpiece on every front. There’s not a comic aspect David hasn’t considered. The way he’s made everything from the colors, speech bubbles, typeface and character designs symbolic is simply mind blowing. Every time I go back to the story I discover new, hidden treasures. I would love for my layouts and art direction to become that strong one day.

Read the whole interview here.


Hayden Robel @HaydenRobel  (editor, Tapas Media)

Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado. They say all kids go through a dino phase and while Spielberg’s silver screen lizards* (non-avian dinosaurs—for those who want to excavate my modicum of paleo cred) was all it took for my '90s era obsession to erupt to a life-long love, it wasn’t til years later when I found a beat up issue of Age of Reptiles that I realized the power of comics as a vehicle for visual storytelling. Every claw scarred crag of scaly skin or blood-soaked bite is rendered in Delgado’s extravagantly detailed inks but what impresses me to this day is not just his timeless artwork but his commitment to the fundamentals of “show.” In Age of Reptiles there’s no spear chucking humans interjecting or time travel schemes to distract, just a vividly imagined vignette of ancient animals doing what they do, two story tall actors whose actions speak much louder than their roars. Literally, there’s no dialogue in Age of Reptiles yet Delgado’s dinos have all the drama, betrayal, and quiet moments of instinctual intimacy that make for some damn good saurian Shakespeare — or better yet, Kurosawa meets Jurassic Park.

Read the whole interview here.


Jamal Igle @JAMALIGLE (artist, The Wrong Earth)

Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris. It’s probably the most personal of Robinson’s work and part of the beauty is that you get to see Tony’s work evolve over the course of the series.

Read the whole interview here.


Nate Stockman  @StockmanNate (artist, Savage)

I remember being real blown away by Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. The use of shape and color and narrative language in that is about as good as it gets. Highly recommended!

Another would be Robocop vs. Terminator by Frank Miller and Walt Simonson. Completely subjective as it hit me at the perfect time, but look at what Simonson did with that series. It’s a complete artistic masterpiece. The storytelling was raw and exciting, and the rendering was world class. It represents everything I love about monthly comics.

Read the whole interview here.


Ian Boothby @IanBoothby (writer, Mannequin on the Moon)

The complete run of Peanuts shows so much growth and fearlessness to change.  Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker is probably the graphic novel I’ve bought the most to hook people into comics. Relentlessly witty and smart.  

Read the whole interview here.


Pia Guerra @PiaGuerra (artist, Y The Last Man)

Oh there are so many good things out there. The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, 20th Century Boys, Saga, Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon, and Pluto.

Read the whole interview here.


Corinne Halbert  @corinnehalbert (writer/artist, Acid Nun)

The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu because it’s just so phenomenal on every front. The storytelling, the artwork, the pacing, the drama. It’s the complete package and it’s one of my favorite series ever drawn.

Read the whole interview here.


Nicolette Bocalan  @skelehime (writer/artist, Stanley Needs A Nest)

The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis is pretty damn near flawless. I also reread You & A Bike & A Road — again by Eleanor Davis — and the first volume of Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo every time I start a new story.

Read the whole interview here.


Lucy Sullivan  @LucySullivanUK (writer/artist, BARKING)

I have a couple of absolute crushes. Anything by Eleanor Davis but most recently The Hard Tomorrow. It’s beautifully drawn and paced with a close-to-the bone story. I find I have an increasing existential dread about the world and Davis understands that feeling and envisages it perfectly. I also adore Gipi and have his latest book, One Story, next to read. I first found him through Garage Band and then Notes on a War Story. His ability to depict everyday moments amid stunning (and clearly Italian) landscapes is breathtaking. I love Gipi’s delicate line and skillful use of watercolor. Lastly is Taiyo Matsumoto. I read Gogo Monster while creating BARKING and have just finished Sunny #1. Again, it’s an ability to render the mundane as just as important and beautiful as any epic. I love Matsumoto’s storytelling and admire how his work remains distinctly Japanese without being like any one else. I would give my drawing hand to create anything near as good as any of their works.

Read the whole interview here.


Karla Pacheco  @THEKarlaPacheco (writer, Spider-Woman)

Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight. Honestly, I feel like you should read all of Achewood before you get to [that]. It changes the dialogue of how you talk; everyone I know who read Achewood, we all have a shorthand now. Chris Onstad with Achewood and Ryan [North] with Dinosaur Comics really did change a lot of dialogue and syntax for all of us online and writers of a certain age.

Read the whole interview here.


Richard Fairgray  @RichardFairgray (writer/artist, Black Sand Beach)

I know it’s obvious, but I really love The Spirit. What Eisner did with layouts was so interesting and even when it didn’t work — which was rare — it was still beautiful. 

Read the whole interview here.


Erica Harrell  @ericaharrell  (co-writer, Nuclear Power)

Scott Pilgrim Vol 3. When that came out, I was the right age to be gut-punched in the feels.

Read the whole interview here.


Desiree Proctor (co-writer, Nuclear Power)

Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. I loved the commentary on suburbia and the “American Dream.” 

Read the whole interview here.


Ariela Kristantina  @ARIELAkris (artist, Chain)

Recently, I follow the art more than the story — sorry, writers. So anything that has Raphael Albuquerque, Jock, or Jerome Opena, I'm usually buying those. Also, I follow most of Scott's works outside DC: American Vampire, Wytches, Nocterra … Aside from those, I love The Color of Earth — and two other sequels: The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven — by Kim Dong Hwa; a trilogy about a girl coming of age, set in beautiful landscape of pastoral Korea.

Read the whole interview here.


Tara O’Connor  @TaraOComics (writer/artist, Fly By Night)

I'd have to say Mercury by Hope Larson. I really enjoyed reading it and I've always loved her artwork; it's so calming and pleasing to look at. It was also one of the first comics I found with the main character and I sharing a name!  On another hand, it was also a comic I read a lot while my life at the time was very much up in the air, and it definitely kept me grounded to have something familiar and comforting. I don't think a lot of people realize how reading books during certain times of their lives can really have an impact, or if the writers and artists realize how much they are capable of, however unintended.

Read the whole interview here.




Last modified on Friday, 31 December 2021 00:18