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Buzzfeed's must read comics list

Posted June 13, 2013 into Comics by John Birmingham

Truth, justice and the means of production

Buzzfeed has a great list of the 60 must read comics your, er, must read at some point. I won't get anywhere near that number. Unless you've got a subscription to Marvel or Comixology these things are hell expensive to collect. But the list is interesting, and does have a couple of dozen I could be tempted into buying. The Communist Superman one, above, is a fascinating idea. I'm sure that future gonzo sci fi one Orin keeps trying to get me to read is also in there somewhere. And some, such as Watchmen, and Life in Hell, I've already enjoyed.

Life in Hell made me laugh out loud more than any book, ever.

Link's here. Worth a book mark for a boozy late night browse.

18 Responses to ‘Buzzfeed's must read comics list’

Blarkon mutters...

Posted June 13, 2013

Red Son doesn't take its premise seriously enough. The first bits are fine, but then they get cold feet and decide that it's better to make Superman look bad than to question the libertarian paradise without a social safety net that Luthor builds because "fark yeah, 'Murika!"

They mention Transmetropolitan, but put it under Planetary (both by the same author). Planetary is a good read, but it's certainly not as re-readable as Transmetropolitan.

Spider doesn't have a gold hovercraft, but he does have filthy assistants.

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Spanner is gonna tell you...

Posted June 13, 2013

Stephen Kings Dark Tower Graphic novels. They fill in some gaps in the story and expand on some plot lines. They are worth the read for the blood splatter.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted June 13, 2013

I'm thinking about a subscription to the Marvel app, which supposedly gives you access to thousands of titles for about $60 a year.

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 13, 2013

I was suprised at the number of comics in the list I have read, though I must confess being vaguely dissappointed with Spider man; Blue having expected somethign different from the title.

Have to agree with Blarkon - I enjoyed Transmetropolitan way more than Planetary. I will also attest to frustration reading Lone Wolf and Cub which I began to read back in the Dark Horse editions in Australia, collecting the assiduously every week/month until about issue 60 when they stopped coming out and then began many years later to be republished but in a quater paper book style. I was peeved but at least I got to read the whole saga. GREAT STUFF.

and I am fairly sure that 'Fun Home' would pass the Bechdel test.

The only one that I regualrly read that they haven't mentioned is Atomic-Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, which is currently my must read comic.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted June 13, 2013

what no Judge Dredd? No Pat Mills? No Halo Jones... shocked and appalled, I tells ya.

Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted June 13, 2013

Strontium Dogs, Sinister Dexter, Rouge Trooper...

NBlob would have you know...

Posted June 13, 2013

+1 Rogue Trooper.

Rouge Trooper is probably more of a Navy Thing. "Hello Sailor"

Spanner mutters...

Posted June 13, 2013

I stand by my splleing.

New Rogue Trooper. Friday with is Biochip buddies.

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Surtac asserts...

Posted June 13, 2013
Damn. Must now check out the Marvel app ...

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted June 13, 2013

How can you leave out The Phantom ???.

Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted June 13, 2013

Old jungle saying "Phantom comics are as shite as ten piles of tiger poo."

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted June 13, 2013

Only a fool crosses the Phantom.

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted June 16, 2013

Phantom is very big in Norway for some reason. Fantomet.

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Trowzers puts forth...

Posted June 13, 2013

The problem with these lists is they are never complete. What no 'The Killing Joke' by Alan Moore? No Naoki Urasawa?

I'm fairly new to comics, having only discovered them in my adult years as the offerings available when I was a kid were uniformly loads of crap. I now have all the Hellboy books. I have Kingdom Come. I have a bunch of Alan Moore and a few of the Sin City books. I've also discovered the fairly new comic 'Saga' and found it to be pretty awesome. And I'm eyeing of the new Hawkeye series, which has had a lot of good media, and the Absolute Top Ten collection, which should be coming out soon, and I want to go back and read some of the old Sensational She-Hulk stories that had fun breaking all the rules of comics. All up, there are a lot of places to invest the precious folding stuff.

Rob has opinions thus...

Posted June 19, 2013

John Byrne's She Hulk was brilliant at constantly and sarcastically breaking the fouth wall. Would make an interesting film thats for sure, a sorta sex and the city meets 7 foot tall green New York lawyer with Horward the Duck thrown into the mix.

Alan Moore definately knows the score although V for Vendatta is a bit of a trudge and I struggle to read it, prefering his DR and Quinch and 2000ad work.

Still can't belive Pat Mills didn't make the list. Nemesis the Warlock is the best thing to hand over the cash on. especially the with the art work of Kevin O'Niell and the late John Hinkleton.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted June 13, 2013

For one of my slightly advanced years I'm a bit fond of the comic/graphic novel genre. I'd rate the Sandman higher and have two massive "Absolute Sandman" volumes so far. "Alice in Sunderland" is well worth reading if you can find it. Had Eisner's Contract with God but lost it in the flood because it was bedside reading at the time. Still have his Best of the Spirit also worth reading. Frank Miller I find an appalling man and his stuff comes across a wee bit fascist but I do have that Batman. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is not like the movie and is a continuous series of pop culture in-jokes from the whole 20th century. No matter what you read as a child, this series will, erm, make you see it differently. I loved his Bond dynasty. Rogues, traitors and bastards all. Suprised LoEG wasn't on the list. Hellboy, TinTin, Asterix, Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side, Dilbert, Walking Dead, Solomon Kane, V for Vendetta, Dr Fegg's Encyclopaedia of All World Knowledge, Milligan's Goon Cartoons, The Shadow, The Rocketeer, Pick of Punch and yes, boxes of Phantom comics. Bugger. I think I might be a collector?

Matthew K asserts...

Posted June 16, 2013

All true, insofar as I've read 'em. But Sandman - it's up there man.

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 16, 2013

If I had to boil it down to three I'd say: Sandman (yeah very long but worth it), Watchmen and Maus.

If four then I'd include Frank Miller's Dark Night for it's masterclass in how to reboot a tired generic character.

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Comics as edumucational aid

Posted June 11, 2013 into Comics by John Birmingham

I've become interested recently in the rise of web comics as agit-prop tools. That videolink someone sent me explaining how people rationalise IP theft was all sorts of awesome, and Stuart McMillen's Rat Park web comic about rethinking drug addiction is up there with it. I've given over the entry below to let Stuart explain the project himself. As Mr Spock would say, "Fascinating".

Who'd have thought rats would turn to drugs to soften the harsh edges of their shitty little lives.

Stuart's Canberra based now, having foolishly moved down there recently. Winter will sort him out, don't you worry.

His website, has loads of free comicky goodness and acts as a billboard for his commission work. If you're in need of some cartoon art you know where to find him now. Or you could just go check out the comix.

They're cool.

1 Responses to ‘Comics as edumucational aid’

S.M. Stirling reckons...

Posted June 14, 2013

I'm all for decriminalizing drugs.

Note that the genetic predisposition to alcoholism in various populations is directly proportional to the time they've been exposed to easily accessible fermented beverages.

Heroin was invented by researchers looking for a non-addictive substitute for morphine. They were concientious men: they tested the drug on themselves. And it worked! They weren't addicted!

Which proved rather less than they thought; it proved that German chemists usually don't have addictive personalities.

Some people, on the other hand, do have addictive personalities, especially when under stress. And some of those are too dumb or too bad at impulse control to recognize their weakness and avoid the relevant substance.

Drug addiction is, in the long-term, a self-correcting problem. Restricting access to drugs just prolongs the process.

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Guest post from Stuart McMillen. A new look at addiction: Rat Park

Posted June 11, 2013 into Comics by John Birmingham

A cartooning revolution

Cartoonists like me are creating little 'landing pads' for readers to understand unfamiliar issues. The idea is that people read our comics without prior knowledge, become interested in a topic, and then begin their own journey of discovery.

Want to tell a mate why they should stop their chiropractic treatment? Link them to Darryl Cunningham's Chiropractic comic. Want to explain how crazy Scientologists' beliefs are? Link them to An Illustrated History of Scientology. Want to share what it's like to have depression? Use Hyperbole and a Half's two comics to start a conversation.

Those three cartoonists and I have vastly different styles, including different levels of humour within our work. But the one thing we share is a respect for our readers.

None of us write propaganda. All of us give our readers the latitude to make up their own minds. All of us encourage our readers to learn more about the underlying topic after they have finished our comics.

A new look at addiction: Rat Park

Rat Park is my latest contribution to idiosyncratic, factual, earnest comic storytelling.

I drew Rat Park as a 'public service' to the internet. The comic is a form of science communication with a moral compass; a way of distilling the essence of a classic science experiment into an understandable and readable format.

What appealed to me the most is that I'm not swinging a long-held ideological battle-axe. The perspective I'm sharing in Rat Park is the result of recent research and reflection.

In other words, I'm sharing a new worldview to readers who likely think the same way I did, up until recently. Try heroin once, and you'll be hooked for life...


Only 12 months ago I believed this default assumption that drugs are inherently addictive. Learning about Rat Park, and Bruce Alexander's follow-up research into human addictions challenged my view of the world.

My new little 'landing pad' fills an internet knowledge-gap, previously served by an incomplete and ominous-looking Wikipedia article. The comic is a 40 page primer into the science of opiate addiction. Though itself self-contained as a story, Rat Park concludes with four blog posts which elaborate on the ideas that underscore the comic.

Changing minds

Recently a bloke emailed me to say that he'd shown my War on Drugs comic to his decidedly anti-drug mother. Apparently reading my comic convinced his mum to change her mind on the drug prohibition issue!

My comic encouraged her to change her beliefs not by a full-frontal assault from the opposite side of the ideological moat. Instead, I entered through an unguarded side door, and then allowed her to draw her own conclusions with new evidence.

Rat Park is a schematic map of the way I changed my understanding of addiction. It doesn't tell readers what I think. Instead, it shares the logic which brought me to my current conclusion.

Perhaps readers will join me; perhaps not. The decision is up to them.

2 Responses to ‘Guest post from Stuart McMillen. A new look at addiction: Rat Park’

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted June 11, 2013

and the saddest part, "The funding of the study was discontinued in1982"


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NBlob puts forth...

Posted June 13, 2013

While we may laugh and point at the head shrinkers, their couches and seemingly pointless questions "That's interesting, why do you think you feel that way?" I must give grudging repect to the sciencification that the field of study has gone through over the last 25 or so years. As the thinker-tinkerers started adopting 'proper' study methods the validity of their researching went through the roof. An excellant example of this was the recent work that I believe contributed to this work on addiction. Properly designed trials, with proper control groups, proper ethics and most importantly the results published in a reasonable Non hyperbolic manner.

Of course calm & rational struggles to cut through against PT Barnum hoopla and moralistic finger pointing.

Also confirmed through rigorous work was the previously anecdotal observation of Visual learners compared to auditory learners. Hopefully these comix will go some way to fill a gap in both knowledge and delivery.

Nice one Mr McMillen & co.

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My comic book envy knows no bounds

Posted May 18, 2013 into Comics by John Birmingham

Having enjoyed Red Country so much, and realised it's the most recent in a long line of novels set in the same story world, I went back last week to the start of the First Law series, to The Blade Itself. I did wonder how I'd go reading the two titles in eactly the opposite direction to that intended by Joe Abercrombie, and with half a dozen or more titles missing in between.

Not a problem. In fact, in a wierd way knowing what becomes of Logan, the 'Bloody Nine', made it even more engaging to go back to his creation mythology in Blade. I'll slot one of these books in for BookClub later this year, but first I wanted to indulge in a little pity party for myself because Joe beat me, and beat me well, to having a graphic novel of his series come out.

There's a couple of panels below which will give you some idea of how lush but precisely detailed is the artwork. I've only just read the chapters these scenes are pulled from and they seem like hyper real renderings of my own imagination.

I'm dying imagining how some of Caitlin or Miguel's scenes in the Disappearance books would look on the page in this format.

If you're interested in sussing out the rest of First Law in comic book form I have happy news. It's free over at Just point your mouse at the archive. It is an ongoing project, so only the first couple of editions are up, but new pages go live every week.

From the site:

The books have sold over 2 million copies and are published in 26 languages, now Blind Ferret bring you a comprehensive, full colour graphic novel of The First Law adapted by Chuck Dixon and edited by Rich Young, with art by Andie Tong, Colors by Pete Pantazis, Letters and Design by Bill Tortolini, and with input and oversight at every stage from Joe Abercrombie. It will be available, free to anyone with an internet connection, here at, with new pages released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Entire 22 pg issues are available from ComiXology, with guided view and bonus content. Finally, every four issues will be combined in printed collections with further bonus material.

JB is envy.

13 Responses to ‘My comic book envy knows no bounds’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 18, 2013

Maybe you can get the same guy who did the Felafel graphic novel adaptation to take a stab at the Disappearance.



On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2013
I have a couple of people in mind. But each artist has their own very particular style, and I have a very particular style I want. Unfortunately Joe's already locked up that artist.

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damian mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2013

You could take on an intern from the bit of Southbank Griffith that used to be Seven Hills. Didn't you always want to sculpt a neophyte artist in your image?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted May 18, 2013

I could, but that would be grotesquely exploitative. Which would be wrong. I suppose.

damian mutters...

Posted May 18, 2013

Maybe, but only if you don't offer royalties, and portugese custard tarts

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2013

Transmetropolitan. When will you read Transmetropolitan? Barnes and I have been on you about that forever.

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Spanner asserts...

Posted May 18, 2013

I've bought all of King's Dark Tower graphic novel's. Some are retellings of the novels and some fit extra stories into the timelines. They do put the graphic into the story, of my does the blood splatter.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2013

Indeed Transmetrololitan is good, perhaps if ComiXology,offer it as a free comix day intro.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2013

Transmet issue 1 is 99 cents on Comixology (each of the other 60 issues is 2 dollars)

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2013

Too rich for Birmo's blood

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted May 19, 2013

I can't wait to read this.

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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted May 19, 2013

Tsk, Tsk, I'm sorry JB but just because you have a preconcieved idea about the visual style you want dosen't necessarily mean that it's the only style to tell that story. There are many good artists here in sunny BrisVegas, why don't you put the word around and ask for 2 page submissions of a scene for the book? You might find a different style that grabs you by the balls and squeezes.

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