Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Sucks: Part 1

Christmas sucks gigantic iguana balls, it just does. You know it. I know it.

It's that time of year when the most popular individual sport is suicide, you leverage yourself into a financial grave throwing presents on your credit cards at 27% interest, and you can't enter a goddamn retail establishment without some bell ringing jackhole from the Salvation Army making you feel like the world's biggest asshole.

But Chronic Insomnia is hear to make it all a little bit more passable, with the kind of piss and vinegar you've come to expect. So buckle up, and here we go!

Hey - Time magazine just released it's Top 10 comics from the last decade, and it looks a little something like this:

1. The Ultimates
2. 100 Bullets
3. Planetary
4. All Star Superman
5. The Walking Dead
6. The Authority
7. Mouseguard
8. Blankets
9. Invincible
10. Y The Last Man

Rich Johnston pretty much tore this list a new arse on Bleeding Cool, whining about how there wasn't enough "diversity" represented, which is a more elite way of saying it didn't feature enough bullshit that sold 300 copies to friends of the author. The kind of boring ass material featuring stick figure art that everybody wants to pretend to like in order to appear cultured. I'll take a pass, thanks.

Listen. I won't suggest that nothing good could grow in a small indy press. Anything is possible. I should probably test drive something like Ware's "Acme Novelty Library" so that I could properly undress it as pretentious tripe from an informed position.

But really, I don't have a problem with Time sticking with mainly mainstream items. I just think they got a few of them wrong. Here's my Top 10 of the "oughts":

Planetary Probably the most important book of the decade from probably the most important creator of the decade. This is Warren Ellis completely unbridled, his wildest ideas distilled inside of Cassaday's unparalleled pencils. There was nothing like this before, and I suspect we'll see nothing like it in the future.

Y the Last Man This was difficult to keep from the # 1 slot. A timeless and incredible hook. Each issue brought humor, humanity, philosophy, and a unique look at gender relations that never preached or condescended. It's hard to imagine handing this book to somebody who couldn't enjoy it on some level. Near perfect.

Authority If you read current superhero books, what your reading is directly and irrevocably influenced by what Warren Ellis laid down here. It's all been said before, but it remains the truth. Bigger than life cinematic storytelling came out of this Pandora's Box.

Astonishing X-Men Before anyone loses their mind thinking "God, why don't you suck off Warren Ellis a little more!" This is on here strictly for the Joss Whedon run. Whedon had a crucial impact on both television and comic books for the decade, and no "best of" list can justifiably omit his work, if you want my opinion. Morrison re-invented Marvel's flagship, turned it into something unrecognizable. Whedon reminded us about everything we used to love about the X-Men, and then turned the volume up to 11. Genius.

Daredevil Could be the most consistently brilliant book on the list. I mean seriously - You go from Bendis to Brubaker to Diggle? The other books on this list were dominant for pieces of the decade - Daredevil was a must read for the entire period. Simply amazing.

Walking Dead Much like Whedon, no top list of this decade can go without something Kirkman, and the obvious choice is Walking Dead. Raw, brutal, and about the only thing to survive the zombie craze that it inspired, mostly because it was always the best. Kirkman kept readers on their toes with a "nobody's safe" policy, and was without question the strongest independent seller of the decade, building a trade paperback empire. Think about this - while every other book in the comics publishing industry suffers from attrition, Walking Dead gains readers without benefit of "events" or "creator shakeups". It deserves recognition for that alone

New X-Men Morrison and Quitely blew the dust off of this dinosaur, ripped the guts out, blew it up completely, then rebuilt it interesting. What a concept! The ideas are completely out of control, the costumes went bye-bye, and when you go back and read it now, it's hard to believe Marvel actually allowed Morrison to do this to such a staple. Just count your lucky stars that they did, because it's absolutely wonderful.

Secret Six Many will call this a reach, but I just couldn't leave this off - it's too beautiful. This might be the best superhero comic I've ever read, and of course it features no heroes at all. The characterization is rich, the dialogue is extraordinary, the plot is always a heart punch, and you can always expect the unexpected. This would deserve to be on the list if it was pencilled poorly, but Nicola Scott is a rare gem on top of it. This should be the best selling book on the stands, frankly.

Spider-Man This one may have ranked higher if the JMS run had ended differently, but "One More Day" did unfortunately stain it. The good news is that Brand New Day works. However much we might despise how it got there, the current stories put Peter in a fresh spot that usually entertains. Much like Daredevil, it's hard to find a spot during the decade when this title wasn't excellent.

Fables Impossible to do one of these and ignore Vertigo. Sandman owned the 90s, and Bill Willingham stepped up to the plate and took over deftly. I'll still put Gaiman ahead of him, but this series has picked up the torch and ran with it admirably.

These are really tough to do, of course. I left off 100 Bullets, Ennis' Punisher run, Johns' Green Lantern run, and that just seems crazy. Lists are nonsense, but they're fun.

So tell me, dear Insomniacs - what else did I miss?

- Ryan


Rich Johnston said...

"which is a more elite way of saying it didn't feature enough bullshit that sold 300 copies to friends of the author. The kind of boring ass material featuring stick figure art that everybody wants to pretend to like in order to appear cultured."

That was not my intention. For example, I mentioned not a single manga title. Hardly obscure. And the names I mentioned that could have been considered are bestselling ones. The list presented on Techland was from a very narrow reading list, that's all.

Chronic Insomnia said...

To be fair, you never mentioned a specific obscure title, but I think it was this line from the column that put me in that mindset:

"Nothing from Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, First Second or Oni?"

When I read that, I lumped you in with the "snooties". (I know you know what I'm talking about there)

But you're absolutely right about the fact that the list does not cut across the whole comics landscape. You can't look at Techland's list and get a feel for everything available, that's for sure....

Rich Johnston said...

By those companies I probably meant the likes of Jimmy Corrigan, Clyde Fans, Fae Of The Artist and Scott Pilgrim...

Irish Mike said...

Dude! You got a response from Mr. Johnson himself! You the man, the fuckin' man.

In terms of titles that I would include...

1) Transmetropolitan. The Ellis/Robertson creator-owned title began in the late 90s, but concluded in 2002. I've been reading comics for 30-plus years and nothing has impacted me as strongly as this series. This cemented Ellis as one of my all-time favorite authors of all time.

2) Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. More Ellis goodness. This is just goofy shit that somehow got published by the world's most mainstream publisher. He takes 3rd rate characters and seems to have free reign over this crazy-ass 12 issue saga of frivolity. Artwork from the artistic chameleon, Stuart Immonen.

3) Superman: Secret Identity: Another book from artist Stuart Immonen. This is one of the best Superman tales I've ever read. Completely original take on DC's iconic character who seems to have had every story on the planet already committed to the page. Here Busiek changes up the mythos while Immonen's artwork is simply breathtaking.

4) Kingdom Come: No top list would be complete without Mr. Mark Waid. This proved that Alex Ross wasn't just a one-trick pony after his huge success with Marvels. Actually, he kind of is a one trick pony, but I digress. This was a great tale that focused primarily on the pathos of Superman.

Those are some of my selections for the decade.

You guys rock.

Irish Mike

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it is actually very cool that Rich showed up. It's so sick that comic book royalty finds me when I'm launching little bombs. Why can't Gail Simone find us when I'm giving her verbal cunnilingus every week? It's sick.

I did think about Transmet, but Planetary was more chronologically at home in the oughts, and I think it might be better.

I've never read Superman: Secret Identity, but I have sold the TPB for $60 about four times because I'm a giant whore....

- Ryan