Ten comics to read in your lifetime

Ten comics to read in your lifetime
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First Published: Fri, Oct 31 2008. 11 28 PM IST

The contenders: (left) Sandman is high fantasy literature; (above) few noir books or movies can match Miller’s classic, Sin City.
The contenders: (left) Sandman is high fantasy literature; (above) few noir books or movies can match Miller’s classic, Sin City.
This is the last edition of CF.
There have been a few scattered requests from readers to keep the column going, but nothing close to the reaction Ms Gandhi evoked when she said she wouldn’t be Prime Minister and so, CF will come to an end this week.
The contenders: (left) Sandman is high fantasy literature; (above) few noir books or movies can match Miller’s classic, Sin City.
The nicest thing said about CF—by a banker-turned-do-gooder—was that the column exposed him to a world that he didn’t know existed.
There have been several nasty things said about this column but because this is my space (and I’m going away), we will not dwell on those.
As someone who went to a so-called “convent” school back in Chennai where children are taught to end conversations with a Thank You, this writer is going to use this opportunity to acknowledge everything and everyone who helped.
Before that, however, is the small matter of a recent reader request on this columnist’s recommended reading list of comics.
Here goes:
1. Maus by Art Spiegelman, because it was the book that made the world realize that comics could be serious business.
2. The Sandman books (Neil Gaiman), which proved that a picture book could be high fantasy literature.
3. The Watchmen (Alan Moore), which made it to Time magazine’s list of the 100 best books of the century.
4. MW (Osamu Tezuka), because, in a way, the father of Manga started it all.
5. Sin City (Frank Miller), because noir never goes out of fashion.
6. The Druuna books (Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri) because sex never goes out of fashion.
7. The Lost Girls (Alan Moore) because of the reason given above and because people don’t usually expect a comic book to be allusive.
8. The Hell Boy books (Mike Mignola) because it is one of those kitschy action adventures that make you feel good (and inspired movies that have the same effect). And also because of Guillermo del Toro.
9. Transmetropolitan (Warren Ellis) because Spider Jerusalem is a journalist.
10. Constantine (various) because Constantine is Constantine (and not because of Keanu Reeves).
There, that’s out of the way.
Now for the acknowledgements.
To Hari Mo, who more or less renewed this writer’s interest in comics by lending him The Doll’s House all those years ago.
To Amazon, for shipping to India, although they charge the world to do so (and to several anonymous postmen who didn’t just keep for themselves the books with pictures, some of them of women with very little clothes on).
To Hemu, for treating this writer as a wholesale buyer of comics and allowing him to buy directly from the distributor.
To Ajit, for running what is, arguably, the finest book store in India (it’s called Fact and Fiction and it’s in Delhi).
To the wife, who keeps finding space for the growing pile of comics (and to Satinder, the slow but steady carpenter who has fashioned some amazing shelves for them).
To various people who, at various times, have lugged copies of books from the US for this writer, including Mom, who brought the highly pornographic and very heavy (7 pounds) Lost Girls (fortunately, without removing the external packaging which makes the book look like a minor Victorian era classic).
To the editor of Lounge, who came up with the idea and the very cool name for the column, the first in any Indian publication (although I see that Rolling Stone’s recent Indian edition has two full pages devoted to this).
Goodbye.
Write to Sukumar at lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Oct 31 2008. 11 28 PM IST
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