Level 2! Life is short, but Summers and Winters are long. Further selections of comics that enhance the medium as an art form!

Last week I plucked from level 2 four graphic novels that would contribute to a best of the best in comics literature (level 1). Level 2 is a pool of top-notch selections. Summers and Winters can be long, which means a lot of time for good reading, so I’ve split the pool into two lists that can be read during each season (of course, you can restructure the lists however you wish).


American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
Berlin by Jason Lutes
Frank by Jim Woodring
Mad #1-24, edited by Harvey Kurtzman
Pogo by Walt Kelly
Skreemerby Peter Milligan, Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon
The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse
The Golem’s Mighty Swing by James Sturm
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

Regarding Peanuts, fifty years worth of comic strips would fill a lot of summers, so I recommend two different routes. Start with The Complete Peanuts, Volume 1 (1950 to 1952) and Volume 2 (1953 to 1954) by Charles M. Schulz, published by Fantagraphics Books, or enjoy two excellent overviews: Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz by Charles M. Schulz, edited and designed by Chip Kidd, published by Pantheon Books, and Peanuts: A Golden Celebration, The Art and Story of the World’s Best-Loved Comic Strip by Charles M. Schulz, edited and designed by David Larkin, and published by Harper Collins. You can take both routes, of course, and really increase your enjoyment of one of the most beloved comics strips of all time. These books should be available at your local bookstore or comics shop.


A Contract With God by Will Eisner
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Cages by Dave McKean
“Dirty Job” by Bob Haney and Alex Toth, published in Our Army at War #241, February, 1972
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
“Neijishiki,” or “Screw-Style,” by Yoshiharu Tsuge, translated by Bill Randall, published in The Comics Journal #250, February, 2003
Little Nemo In Slumberland by Winsor McCay
“Master Race” by Bernard Krigstein and Al Feldstein, published in Impact #1, March/April, 1955
Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Strange Embrace by David Hine

A question some of you might have at this point is, “Aren’t there books missing from this list?” It’s true, there’s a lot missing. All will be revealed in two weeks.

In the meantime, next week: Level 3! Sure, they’re the universe’s greatest superheroes, but is it art?

About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin