In June of 2005 I’ll be publishing an issue of Comic Effect, my comics review fanzine, devoted to the best in comics literature. I now begin rolling the ball on this project to hopefully generate on-going constructive feedback. The criteria of this week’s Level 1 is simple: Life is short, these books must be read. Now I don’t mean must in a literal sense. But to understand the potential of the medium, to appreciate the art form, you should not let these books pass you by. Over the next few weeks I’ll be unveiling three additional levels of the best that comics literature has to offer.

Level 1 has five selections. “Only five!” you cry aghast. That’s right, because life is short, and you should squeeze in the time to read these books. There are more, of course, but that’s why I have additional levels. For now, these are select books from the comics pantheon, the graphic novels you should read and absorb then hold out to others when they ask, “But are comics an art form?” These books are the affirmative answer. If you or anyone you know is interested in exploring comics as art, not just as pop culture, then you can’t go wrong with them. I, and hopefully many of my fellow CE contributors, will be discussing these and other books in Comic Effect #42. But for now, just read ’em. They speak for themselves.

Ah, but just for fun, I’m going to veer off track for a bit and apply the same criteria, Life is short, these books must be read, to different mediums.

Citizen Kane (directed by Orson Welles), The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa), The Searchers (John Ford), The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola), Chinatown (Roman Polanski).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (by Mark Twain), Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust), Ulysses (James Joyce), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner).

As examples in their respective medium, no other explanation is necessary. These films and books speak for themselves. So, without further ado, here we go: The Best In Comics Literature, Level 1. Life is short, these books must be read:

Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary (by Justin Green), Watchmen (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), Maus (Art Spiegelman), Palomar (Gilbert Hernandez), Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth (Chris Ware).

Next week: The Best In Comics Literature: Level 2! Life is short, but Summers and Winters are long. Further selections of comics that enhance the medium as an art form!

About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin