Sunday, January 31, 2010
IT IS A CRIME: Recommendations for people wanting to read comics about crime
I get told that comics are all super heroes and anime. I get told that a lot. And, I understand that. I get that by watching what becomes made into movies, and by looking at sales figures, and by trying to write concepts and stories that aren’t super heroic for comics that never get published. Comics are not only super heroic, but to deny the ascendancy of super heroes in the medium of comics is foolish.
So, I might, depending upon the response here, through comments or emails, begin a project of giving recommended readings for people who like comics but grew out of or away from super heroes. Today I am giving recommendations for four authors, because, at least in crime comics, it is not nearly so much about the art, as it is the story, and when both artist and writer are good, Crime stories in comics can be great.
The first author is also an artist, and he creates a comic, irregularly but often enough to have a total of six volumes collected called KANE. Paul Grist is a creative talent who doesn’t paint or write pretty pictures, he writes and illustrates real ones, despite his use of a highly stylized line and drawings. I find his work to be fully deep, and the art to evoke the darkness of emotions that you only rarely find. I also read and buy JACK STAFF, a work done by Mr. Grist, but of the two brilliant series, I prefer KANE. The series reminds me of the Steven Bochco television police stories like NYPD BLUE and HILL STREET BLUES. And by saying that, I do mean it is good.
Buy Paul Grist’s work KANE
Brian Michael Bendis
Brian Bendis is a big ass talent, perhaps considered the star writer of Marvel comics, and arrived where he did following years writing and honing his story telling, through crime stories. My favorite of his pure crime, not super heroic or spy oriented, is TORSO, which is ably but not beautiful drawn by him. Talented writer Marc Andreyko joined him on project, and when reading it, you might be amazed how powerful the work is, and then move on to read the true story it was inspired by, in Bendis’ hometown of Cleveland. The strength of Bendis is often said to be his ability to write dialogue, but in crime stories, the strength of his dialogue is to create mood. He is an expert with crime stories.
Buy Brian Bendis’ work TORSO
I consider Steven Grant to be a greatly talented writer who has never received nearly as much credit or praise as he is deserved. He writes everything but his chief genre of excellence is crime. As such there is no one more worthy of a recommendation for work writing in the genre. He made Punisher a gritty fighter of crime, but made him palatable as much as an anti hero can be. He wrote various series such as Damned with artist Mike Zeck, and that was well worth reading, and perhaps someone should consider it as a movie. But Grant’s latest work that tweaked me was 2 GUNS. From publisher BOOM it is able to tell without epic violence or much graphic language a truly criminal tale. If Grant writes it, I will buy it.
Buy Steven Grant’s work 2 GUNS
Ed Brubaker’s work on Sleeper and other works is deserving of praise. But I think he excels when he writes about crime. He did so perfectly on Daredevil following Bendis, who both moved the character from super heroic to costumed CRIME fighter, and his work on Gotham Central, as well. He seethed crime. I read a great deal of his work, but it really only hit fever pitch first on Sleeper which is about agents and dark tides of human events, and from there to CRIMINAL. His understanding of human darkness is very finely hone.
Buy Ed Brubaker’s work CRIMINAL