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31 Days of Comics – A Comic You Recommend to Everybody No Matter What

Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!

We continue with Day 2, which is A Comic You Recommend to Everybody No Matter What.

Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!

I actually was thinking a whooooooooole different type of thing before I noticed that Seth himself had gone with an All-Ages comic for this choice, which made me realize that the title did say “to EVERYbody,” which certainly DOES seem to suggest an All-Ages comic, no?

So I decided to go with the first book in Fantagraphics’ Carl Barks Library, Lost in the Andes…

Carl Barks’ Duck comics are one of the few comic books that I could wholeheartedly recommend to EVERYone. They can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. This first volume (not the first chronologically, though, as Fantagraphics decided to release the collection with the best story first) contains the Barks’ classic “Lost in the Andes,” which is best known as the square egg epic, as Donald accidentally discovers some mysterious square eggs…

The end result is Donald and Huey, Dewey and Louie being sent on a journey through the Andes where they encounter a mysterious lost civilization….

It turns out it was visited before by a Professor from the U.S. South around the time of the Civil War who has transformed the lost society into a bunch of Pre-Civil War Southerners.

This story has it all – action, comedy and even a goodly amount of social satire.

And this is just the MAIN story in this collection of great Barks’ stories.

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For a long time, the answer would have been Maus. However, since it seems as if everybody and their mother has already read it, my next pick is Acme Novelty Library # 19 by Chris Ware. I’ve already bought a second copy for lending purposes.

The issue has it all: one of the best Sci Fi stories ever (The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars) as well as the usual depressing gut punch stuff one can expect from Ware. It’s a story that appeals to non-comics readers and one that wows aficionados with its technical brilliance.

It’s got unrequited love, it’s got astronauts eating dogs, it’s got middle-aged teachers masturbating. It begins and ends with guys shaving. What more can one ask for? Nebraska? It’s got that, too!

It also smells pretty good. I think it’s the black ink.

Interesting category! We usually tailor recommendations to people, so my first response was “there’s no such comic”, but thinking of it as “what’s a great all-ages comic?” makes it easier.

My choice is “The Essential Calvin and Hobbes”, which collects all the strips from the first two collections, “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Something under the Bed is Drooling”. This first large collection of strips introduces all the major characters and situations. For younger readers, it’s a joyful, imaginative and funny strip; for older readers, it’s got an additional level of witty observation and satire; and for comic readers, it shows the early evolution of Bill Watterson’s style and covers some of his early experiments with the medium.

I thought it would be cheating to pick the enormous “Complete Calvin and Hobbes” which reprints all the strip collections – but it is a beautiful book.

If we’re going for all-ages comics, I immediately think of “The Batman Adventures,” under all the various titles it had over the years. Specifically, I’ll go with issue #7 of “The Batman & Robin Adventures,” a story featuring the Ventriloquist titled “His Master’s Voice.” A Batman comic is always a pretty safe bet to loan someone interested in reading comics, and the familiarity of this version of Batman makes it a good gateway drug. This story shines a spotlight on one of the lesser-known villains, and it’s an excellent, heart-breaking story to boot. I’ve loaned this one out to many people, and it never fails to make them want more.

It’s not all-ages, but the comic I have and would recommend the most widely is Kurt Busiek’s Astro City: Life in the Big City. Such a fantastic collection with so much appeal for any superhero reader.

Not all ages, but I find myself recommending Flaming Carrot a lot. Probably because most people I know appreciate the insane humor.
For all ages I’d probably go with some of Fantagraphics Collected Peanuts.

I second Astro City: Life in the Big City. Not *quite* all-ages, but definitely tame enough for older school aged kids.

All Ages?

Asterix. If I have to pick a particular volume then maybe Asterix and the Roman Agent or The Mansions of the Gods – or maybe Obelix and Co

Mostly because I’ve only just finished reading it, but I’d recommend Larry Gonick’s ‘Cartoon History of the Universe’ to everyone.

Asterix was my first comic, specifically Asterix in Britain. My elder brother collected it, and I was allowed to read his copies. It’s a great pick for an all-ages book – and a great “gateway” comic to get younger readers interested in the medium.

Astro City is great and it’s always in my personal top ten. I regularly recommend it to people who already enjoy super-hero comics but it does seem like a book that non-genre fans would struggle with.

Carl Banks’ Donald Duck comics are great. I wish they’d been more readily available in Ireland when I was a kid!

I don’t recommend comics to kids, they’re not for them.

The one I’ve been recommending to everyone is Daytripper by Ba and Moon.

To the more adventurous types, Saga, Sex Criminals and Fatale.

Atomic Robo.
Kids love it. Adults love it. People who’ve never read a comic before love it. It’s universal.

I don’t know any children so “all-ages” isn’t an issue for me. I tend to get everyone who is willing to read absurdly giant tomes to read my Absolute Sandman series.

I just read Battling Boy, and that would qualify, as would Nexus.

I have to second Rollo’s choice of ATOMIC ROBO. That’s the first book that came to my mind when the conversation focused on All-Ages books. This is a comic that kids love and it still has humor to entertain adults. More people need to read this book!

If we’re talking adult, I recommend FABLES to my non-comic friends. To me, it’s a prime example of the kind of book that non-comic folk cannot imagine exists. Most of them think a) comics are just for kids and b) comics are just about super heroes. FABLES is consistantly good and intellegent. It truly has something for everyone. Everytime I’ve loaned someone the Vol 1 TPB, they ALWAYS want to borrow subsequent volumes.

Well, since Brian took Barks, I’ll take Rosa: The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck is great fun, mixing gag-a-second comedy with an exciting adventure tale and the flavor of genuine history. God bless those ducks.

I tend to foist “I Kill Giants” onto people quite a lot.

“Daytripper” is another.

Easy Choice: BONE!

Bone is a terrific choice. Actually got to read the whole series to my kid.

I’d also lean towards the “animated adventures” type books, probably Justice League Unlimited…

Gotta go with Bone as well.

Bone is an excellent choice for an all ages comic. I thoroughly enjoyed it and when I worked in a comic store I could never really keep it stocked. For adults, I usually go with Fables, Walking Dead, and most things Ed Brubaker.

Nexus, Bone, Tintin, Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Persepolis, Palestine, Understanding Comics

The Personal Love comics drawn by Frank Frazetta back in the early 50′s. The artwork on those books are the greatest you will ever see with graceful inking and beautiful composition.

Lots of good choices already mentioned, to which I’ll add one: Usagi Yojimbo. Maybe not for younger kids, but for 14+ and adults. Strong, clear storytelling and very accessible to new readers, with mostly self-contained stories, with some two-part stories and a few longer arcs.

Bone for everyone, kids included.

Scurvy Dogs for everyone else (it might be kid-friendly, but kids probably won’t get it). I’ve actually persuaded more than one person at Ait/Planet Lar’s booth at San Diego to buy it. I don’t know if they liked it, but they bought it!

I always go with any of the Get Fuzzy collections.

Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I follow this recommendation with Infinite Crisis, by Geoff Johns and various artists. If by this point they’re suitably hooked, I offer them a choice between Paying For It by Chester Brown and Steve Ditko’s self-published comics. Needless to say, I’ve hooked many people by this method.

I also went with Bone. I had considered Cross Game, but at eight volumes, that’s a little bit of a pricey barrier of entry. Bone is great because nearly everybody at least enjoys it *and* you can get it in a single one-volume black-and-white edition that enters into the realm of affordable.

I recommend books to children, teens, adults, parents, grandparents, etc and while I generally prefer to tailor recommendations to a person’s needs and tastes, Bone is my go-to recommendation for people I know nothing about. My parents (in their sixties) liked it. My daughter loved it when I read to her when she was two. Teens i’ve loaned it to have enjoyed it. It’s nearly a no-fail recommendation.

Usagi Yojimbo is another one that’s a pretty safe bet, even for kids as young as, say, third grade. It’s actually less violent perhaps than Bone, because while there’s more killing, it’s typically pretty bloodless and cartoony.

Also, the latest volume (27: A Town Called Hell) is the perfect introduction to Usagi and what he’s about. There are no recurring side-characters in the book (save for a one-page cameo from Jei), so it’s a great focus on Usagi, his methods, and his motivations.

I have never really cared for volume 1 (Ronin) as it’s too uneven and feels like Sakai’s till trying to find his feet with the character. By vol 2, he’s well on his way, but that first volume is less likely to win readers.

Essential X-Men Volume Four, it contains my favorite era of X-Men comics, so I recommend it whenever someone wants to know why I love those characters so much.

If they have an issue with black and white comics, I will lend them my From the Ashes trade, which I rather not do as it isn’t in great shape anymore with the numerous times I have reread it. Plus, it doesn’t contain all of the issues either, it starts 168 instead of 165, which I would love a Paul Smith Visionaries, would make my recommendation life easier.

It works for all ages, violence is not overly done and the continuity is pretty tight. Everything you need to know is thrown in there. Plus the the trade comes with Dave Cockrum, Walt Simonson and John Romita Jr. art, along with Paul Smith, so that is a treat for all involved. Plus Rogue joining the team is pivotal. It is as much of an all star cast as you can want.

Understanding Comics is probably what I’ve recommended to the most non-comics readers. Watchmen would be a close second. I actually just had a friend return my copy of Understanding Comics to me over the holidays. He was at least the 5th or 6th person I’ve lent it out to.

Shoot, I forgot to add Kitty Pryde : Shadow and Flame, which I have actually bought ten copies of and handed out to people and mailed off to those who were interested. Such a great five issue mini, Paul Smith on art and it is clean and easy to follow with engaging characters.

Hmm, I’m not sure what my gateway recommendation would be. I think there are some fine Disney stories like this one, but a lot of adults will just glaze over at the sight of it and treat it like an Archie comic. But not taking something more adult that you wouldn’t show to kids numbers it down.

The one that comes to mind (other than the best of the Batman Adventures as mentioned above) is The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man. Short, easy to get through, and shows that comics are more than just guys in tights punching each other while staying true to the genre, and not subverting it. I suppose you wouldn’t want to show it to a really little kid because it might be scary, but then anything that a really little kid might not find objectionable probably sucks.

John Klein’s mention of Paul Smith reminds me of another good choice for kids, although I’m not sure if it’s in print anymore: Smith’s Leave it to Chanceseries was a fun story with a spunky teenage girl protagonist.

I think if you’re being objective Archie is probably the most likable comic of all time. So that tends to be what I recommend. At least the older stuff if not the current Dan Parent era.

James Robinson & Paul Smith’s “Leave it to Chance”. I’ve given the trades and issues to several of my nieces, as well as to a few friends. Clean yet interesting artwork depicting stories that reflect the best of a Dr. Strange/Scooby-Doo mash-up, without being too juvenile. It’s a shame this fantastic series is dormant.

It looks like we can all agree on “Bone”, as far as all ages goes.

Lately, the two comics I’ve recommended to the most people are “Scott Pilgrim” and “Runaways”. They’re both good for preteens/young teens and up (“SP” has a few vaguely steamy scenes, but it’s pretty much just implication), and also they both have a manga-esque style, which makes them an easy bridge for fans of anime/manga.

Willie Everstop

January 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I came to say “Bone”, but everyone else beat me to it. I also regularly recommend “Astro City”, “Atomic Robo”, “Elfquest”, and Frank Miller’s “Daredevil”.

For everyone I would recommend “Marvels” but for everyone excluding children I would recommends Daredevils “Born Again”.

Bone is the obvious choice for people I don’t know or all-ages.

For everyone else, there’s The Cowboy Wally Show.

I see a few mentions for Nexus, but I would not start someone at the B&W magazines (or reprints thereof) as they are a bit rough and could be off-putting. I guess that’s why Baron and Rude did Nexus:The Origin (and it’s been reprinted twice). If they like The Origin then by all means start them at the beginning.

Runaways is my instinctual response.

On a serious note, Last Musketeer by Jason.

All Star Superman. Because almost everyone is familiar with Superman and All Star hits all the notes that a good Superman story should.

It’s been mentioned a few times, but I will echo Usagi Yojimbo. I think it has something for everybody, and is fine for children say 8 or 9+.

It’s also my answer to the question, “If I were to only read one comic in my lifetime, what should it be?”

I think the best way to read Usagi is to start at volume 1 and continue to the present.

If somebody wants to read a sample volume first, volume 1 isn’t the best as the craft is rougher. Perhaps Volume 5: Lone Goat and Kid would be a decent sample book.

My choices for giving a comic to anyone are 1. Astro City 1/2, 2. Strangers in Paradise, and 3. the 1980′s Dr. Fate series by JM DeMatteis and Shawn McManus. Last one is admittedly strange, but true!

I’m gonna ignore the all ages thing and go with Y The Last Man.

I bought a black-and-white digest reprinting the first seven issues of Nexus specifically to lend out to friends asking for comics that they could “get into” (although I probably wouldn’t give it to kids younger than 13 or so). The double-edged sword is that I unfairly lower my esteem of friends who read that comic and don’t like it…

The first ten issues of Zot! (the color issues) are immensely fun, quick-paced, engaging for all-ages, and deceptively complex and poignant. Understanding Comics would be a great pick too, as long as the person isn’t too young to get it.

Not quite all-ages, but SOLO pretty much has a story for everyone. Can’t think of a series that better demonstrates the breadth of the form.

Good calls on Bone and I Kill Giants.

It really irritates me that I haven’t managed to convince my kids to read Bone yet.

I Kill Giants is a real anomaly because I generally hate Joe Kelly’s writing, but this blew me away.

How about Tintin? Over the 20 or so books, there’s something for every age. I read Explorers on the Moon to my son when he was 4 or 5, and he loved it. The stories scale up in complexity from there.

Should add Concrete as another good choice for non-comic readers, although may not be right for all ages.

If I want something that everyone can enjoy, I would pick Runaways Volume 1: Pride and Joy. It’s just superheroey enough for casual fans who like the movies, but the themes are so strong that it’s a recommended read for everyone.

the Batman Adventures: any of the iterations. Incredible stuff and all one & done.
Mouse Guard – beautiful & engaging
Leave It To Chance – fun, great art, & a girl protagonist

That’s all i got right now,

Death: The High Cost of living is excellent, short, self-contained, and appropriate for a mature 12-year-old and up. I think it would be my pick.

Fables and Y the Last Man, for those not into the capes.

Watchmen, Secret Wars and Kingdom Come, for those who are.

Definitely All-Star Superman because of the following reasons:
1. Almost everyone know Superman
2. It’s a maxi-series. It has an ending, which always helps new readers.
3. Even though there’s the overall arc of Superman dying throughout the 12 issues, each issue can be read more than fine on its own.
4. Speaking of the issues, each one just gets more majestic as we get closer to the end. We can thank Grant Morrison for that.
5. The art…What more can you say? All-Star Superman is the pinnacle of Frank Quitely’s career. Not only did he draw every single issue (something that he rarely does these days), but he drew them in such a way it left our jaws on the floor.

All-Star Superman has always been the one comic i recommenda to anyone who’s willing to try comics.

An absolute perfect choice for a must read……I originally read this fantastic story in a large coffee table book that I actually bought at Disney World many years ago when I was a kid…….”I wish I wuz in Dixie, Hooray…”

It’s probably Understanding Comics. It is one of the few comics that I got my Mom to read and she loved it. Bone is a close second, but Understanding Comics is less of a commitment and a great, fun introduction to comics.

Zot! You like superheroes? Great, have some really fun superhero stories! You don’t like superheroes? Fine, have some slice-of-life action. Everyone wins!

Bone.

And Thom Zahler’s Love and Capes.

And sometimes the Waid/Guice issues of Ruse.

Batman: Mad Love, by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. It stars Batman, and who doesn’t love that guy? Its all-ages appropriate, even with some blood and Harley sex puns that might go over kids’ heads. Its got a master of the comic book form with Bruce Timm showing off in a very accessible manner. And its just a great story, one of the best Batman comics of all-time.

When people ask me what to read outside of the usual Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns and stuff, its always Batman: Mad Love I turn to. And it hasn’t failed me once.

It used to be Marvels because I think it has the right perspective to relate to a new reader. But now I’m thinking Lazarus or Saga might be the go.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger. All ages, throwback-style but not anachronistic, great art, new reader-friendly, cameos by tons of MU characters and all in 8 issues (and then everyone can despair about its cancellation).

I always talk up The Adventures of Tintin, especially so when the movie came out. Unfortunately the movie didn’t do well here in the States. As for a follow-up, Peter Jackson is more interested in Hobbits. Now when I say Tintin, people automatically say “Rin-Tin-Tin?” which is annoying.
For fans of the Walking Dead tv show (and I know and work with a LOT of them, I always recommend the graphic novels and have actually turned a couple people on to them. Unfortunately, most of the people Inknow and work with have no interest in comics, even one their favorite show is based on.????

For superhero fans, I always reccomend James Robinson’s Starman (an awesome series though I never really cared for the end) and I will never forgive DC for essentially erasing it and, presumably, the character Jack Knight.

For anyone else, it’s a toss up between Stardust (which could have been such an awesome movie if they hadn’t totally screwed it up) and Fables (How can you not love a book that makes the Big Bad Wolf the hero?)

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