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The Greatest Bill Sienkiewicz Stories Ever Told!

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Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Bill Sienkiewicz Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

10. “Shadowplay: The Secret Team” Brought to Light

Sienkiewicz and Alan Moore explore the darker side of the history of the CIA in this acclaimed work that sadly has been out of print for quite awhile now, or else I bet it would be a good deal higher on the list.

9. “Soulwar” New Mutants #26-28

Sienkiewicz and writer Chris Claremont introduce Legion, the son of Professor X, who has multiple personalities.

8. “Blood Feud” Uncanny X-Men #159/X-Men Annual #6

In this beautifully drawn two-parter by Sienkiewicz and Bob Wiacek, Storm is bitten by Count Dracula. The X-Men must then fight to save their friend. Chris Claremont did a fine job following in the gigantic footsteps of Marv Wolfman on the Dracula character.

7. “Hit It” Moon Knight #26

Sienkiewicz and writer Doug Moench explore the cycle of violence in this acclaimed one-off issue where a man flips out when he learns that his father (who abused him his whole childhood) has died before the man could get his revenge. He goes on a rampage. Moon Knight tries to stop the cycle of violence but he discovers that it is more powerful than he expects.

6. Big Numbers #1-2

Sienkiewicz and Alan Moore only published two issues of this epic about, of all things, a shopping center being developed in a town in England. The story shows how something as simple as a shopping center project can have a profound effect on all sorts of various characters. It’s at once intricate and sprawling, with stunning photo-realistic artwork by Sienkiewicz (Moore wanted to stress how “real” the story was).

The top five is on the next page!

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34 Comments

The images for #’s 3 and 4 are switched.

There’s some fantastic stuff in here. Elektra Assassin is the rightful winner.

A couple of small things though.

1 – the Daredevil and Shadow pics are swapped.

2 – that tiny description of Stray Toasters really doesn’t do it justice. It’s an insane story involving killer electrical appliances and a demon – oh and a physiatrist who works in the nude for no apparent reason.

I didn’t realize Elektra: Assassin was so popular.

surprised to see big numbers did not crack the top five for who can go wrong with a team up with alan moore of all comic legends. espically given how legendary due to it never been complete big numbers has become. and stray toasters the write up did not do it justice

It might be that the list for any creator would only span a decade or so, but the fact that the newest work on this list is over 20 years old is a pretty stark reminder that most of Sienkiewicz’ work in comics over the past couple of decades has been comprised of inking an endless series of unmemorable stories.

His cover work for Marvel on books he didn’t draw was pretty amazing as well.

You forgot to change it from “greatest Brian Woods Stories ever told.” And this could just be me but the picture at the top of the article isn’t loading.

I have read neither Alan Moore story.

Suddenly, I feel unfulfilled as a comics fan and will go seek them both out.

Pete Woodhouse

April 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Only read Hit It and the odd single issue of Shadow & Elektra. STILL have not got round to reading New Mutants, must rectify that and expand my “Billy The Sink” library ASAP!
Hit It is a very powerful story. Beautiful art.

This list surprises me a bit, but in a good way. I’m shocked how comparatively low the Legion story from New Mutants is, as I thought that would be a sure thing top 5 story. It seems like a story that’s equally iconic, famous, and very emblematic of what Sienkiewicz brought to the table.

And I’m also surprised by only a single Moon Knight story, as I thought we’d get at least 3. The Werewolf 2-parter that concluded his run seems conspicuously absent, as do the early Countdown to Dark stories and #25.

But even still, it’s a good list. I’ve never read those Shadow issues, I’ll have to hunt them down. And sadly, I’m among the legions who have never successfully tracked down Brought to Light or Big Numbers for a price I’m willing to pay. They remain some of the only Alan Moore works I haven’t read.

I bought a copy of the first tpb edition of the Demon Bear Saga at a con last year (excellent condition and very cheap yay!) and it is freakin’ awesome, so it would have probably been my #1. The slumber party issue is in it and works very well as an epilogue to the main story.
Elektra Assassin is something I’ll have to re-read because I didn’t really like it (or maybe just didn’t get it) the first time around.

Is there an easily findable or recently collected edition of Stray Toaster? I’ve always been curious about it.

Disappointed to see that Moon Knight #25 didn’t make it– Sienkiewicz really gave that one his all.

I’ve wanted to read that Shadow series for years now… it really needs to be reprinted.

@IAMFear — Image put out a collection of Stray Toasters…damn, it’s probably about 5 years ago now. It got delayed for over a year from when it was first announced, and then the week it came out was the same week the first Ted McKeever HC (of Transit) came out, so I had 2 25 dollar comics waiting for me in one week. Dangit. I had to drop a few regular series so I could afford to pick them both up eventually.

But it’s way cool. It’s so friggin’ far out there it’s great.

I just want to brag a bit and say that my copy of Big Numbers 1 was only 50 cents. Aw yeah! Still never seen #2, though.

The Shadow series pops up in bits and pieces in cheapo bins. I think I have issues 1, 4 and 6 of the ones discussed here, along with several of the Kyle Baker issues.

My favorite Billy the Sink stories are the time he sketched Dave Sim at a con, and Dave was apparently posing so long that people thought he fell asleep or something, and the one that Warren Ellis told in the back of an issue of Fell, where Sink and Dave McKean got into a sort of “competition” to outdo each other with 2000 AD (I think) covers, and I think McKean finally had to concede when Sink brought in a box with glowing lights and moving parts and stuff. Very cool. Oh, yeah, also the story about the New Mutants poster he did, which I heard from Jim Shooter, where Sink did a small group shot in one corner of the poster, and then this weird twisty huge layout of Warlock taking up the vast majority of the poster. Anyone have a scan of that poster?

Here is a link to a picture of the poster. That’s one I wish I had.

http://thedorkreview.blogspot.com/2011/11/cool-posters-new-mutants-by-bill.html

Are the two issues of Big Numbers hard to come by? I recall discounted copies being ubiquitous in the mid 90s. But then, I bought the three Alan Moore Miracleman TPBs for half of cover in the same time frame.

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen New Mutant Classics vol 3 & 4 half off at a couple of different comic book shops. It may be going out of print.

Big Numbers have always been pretty cheap, as far as I can find, because there are a lot of people who don’t want to bother with an unfinished difficult story that didn’t even get to the point where the connections started to happen.

Brought to Light, I got lucky (depending on how you feel). I found a copy for under $5, but the reason was that the cover was completely detached from the book. In the end, I didn’t enjoy the story all that much overall [the '90's government conspiracy craze in fiction got all that info out, so it's pretty dated], so I was glad I didn’t wind up paying any of the crazy high prices.

[...] Comix, or let BoingBoing show you Real Stuff. If that’s too much indy for a Monday, try the Greatest Bill Sienkewicz Stories Ever Told, provided you can find them. And as long as you’re searching, here are Jim Rugg’s [...]

Five out of ten. Never read the Shadow; just the Marshall Rogers stuff. Will have to track it down.

My list had 9 out of 10 of these comics. I’m glad Brought to Light and Stray Toasters (my #1) made it.

Instead of the X-Men/ Dracula story, I voted for Voodoo Child: the Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix. It’s my favorite Sienkiewicz art job. The biography is straightforward, but Sienkiewicz’s art gives it enough psychedelica to sing.

Some of these I haven’t read so I got some (awesome) homework to do. Not surprised there’s nothing recent on here. I loved his work in the 80s and early 90s but some of his work from the past 10, 15 years is painfully incomprehensible and I don’t understand the deterioration in quality. But if he likes doing it and still gets work who am I to say otherwise.

Sienkiewicz’ art in The Shadow is really bad, often unintelligible when important story information is being communicated. The readability takes a big step up when Kyle Baker joins the book in issue 8. Can’t argue with the top 3 though. Elektra Assassin is sublime.

Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, Mike, but I believe that Hendrix bio is the one that Will Eisner actually did some (all?) of the layouts for, and Sink followed some of them to a degree.

Gotta say I usually hate the comments that say “I’ve got 2 of these” or whatever because, really, why would anyone care? That said, I’m amazed that I own 6 of these. The reason I’m amazed is that I didn’t even participate in the voting, figuring I hadn’t read enough of his stuff to make educated choices. Guess I was wrong, but I still don’t consider myself a huge fan with the exception of…

Big Numbers is the BOMB! This was the comic that was slated to eclipse The Watchmen as Moore’s most acclaimed work. I bought them as they were coming out and remember the agonizing fiasco that spelled the end of the series. Moore’s said that he’ll never revisit this stuff as a comic (although there was some talk about a TV series). It’s too bad, because the stuff they released is just great. The art is a beauty to behold. In particular, there is a picture of a cup of tea with poured milk that is probably the best illustration of a cup of tea ever done in the history of mankind. Rather than distancing you from the story as Alex Ross’s stuff sometimes does, the photo realism here sucks the reader right in, whether it is a dreamscape or an old man eating breakfast on the toilet. Really, Big Numbers had as much potential as any comic ever has. It really is an unfinished masterpiece. Perhaps it’s not worth $20 per issue (current Amazon price) but it’s worth keeping an eye out for.

@Cass– Yeah, the Baker Shadow stuff is way better. There was a humor to it sorely lacking in Sienkiewicz’s run.

I’ve got 430 copies of Elektra Assassin.

@Peter- You are a very bad man!

Travis Pelkie

May 1, 2013 at 2:19 am

And I forgot, but thanks to Dean for that link to the New Mutants poster! I’d never seen it (and pictured it a lot different), but that’s pretty cool. It reminds me that I think Shooter mentioned there were weird bits glued to it and stuff.

I bet it looks really cool if it’s really big.

Mike Loughlin

May 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

@Travis,

Eisner is listed as “creative consultant” for Voodoo Child. I don’t know what Eisner’s exact contribution was, though. Do you know where you heard about Eisner’s involvement?

Travis Pelkie

May 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

IIRC, I read about it in the Comic Book Artist v2 #6 that was the Eisner tribute issue, and as I recall, there are even a few examples of the layouts.

Man, now I gotta dig that out….

I got it from Top Shelf in one of their periodic sales on their website, which will probably be… September, I think? But it was well worth it and I have a lot of the pieces signed in it.

Amazing how well Sienkiewicz can work in so many different styles. Obviously, he’s best known for his McKean-esque mixed media weirdness, but “Big Numbers” (among other things) shows what an amazing straightforward artist he is as well. His “Venture Bros.” poster (given to me by a friend a few Christmases ago, one of my best gifts ever) is possibly my favorite piece of art hanging in my room. It’s so cool and sexy and ’60s pulpy.

And I remember that Legion “New Mutants” cover from before I was even old enough to read what was inside, since my older brother had it. The Sink continues to be one of my favorite artists.

I voted for 7 moon knight stories including both Morpheus stories, both Scarlet stories, Black Spectre

Nuno Marques

May 6, 2013 at 3:10 am

“McKean-esque mixed media weirdness”?
It’s the other way around. Sienkiewicz was doing that before McKean.

No disrespect meant, Nuno. I would even say I was aware of Sienkiewicz a good ten years before I knew of McKean. It’s just an easy term to use, since they’re really the only two artists I can think of that do that particular style, especially in comics (or rather, the only two that are really well-known for it, others have used mixed media on comic covers and etc., obviously).

I also feel that “Moon Knight” was under-represented here. If I *had* to pick just one, I’d go with the Werewolf-by-Night storyline, although the Black Spectre and Morpheus ones are very close.

I do agree with “Elektra” being #1 and “Stray Toasters” was so original it’s almost a genre unto itself.

Stray Toasters is one of my favourite comics of all time. And I’ve no idea why.

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