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31 Days of Comics – A Comic That Makes You Smile

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 15, which is A Comic That Makes You Smile.

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

This is an odd choice for me, since there are SO many options out there. But there’s so many options that I see would fit better for other categories coming up, to the point where I’m going with a rather odd choice, Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham’s Peter Parker: Spider-Man #35.

In this issue, we meet LaFronce Bennett, a young child living with a terrible, terrible mother in a less-than-ideal situation. His only outlet to keep himself sane is by talking with an imaginary friend – in this instance, Spider-Man.

Spidey keeps LaFronce’s spirits up even as his mother drinks herself stupid each day and gets herself (and through her, LaFronce) involved with some pretty bad people.

Meanwhile, LaFronce’s aunt and her boyfriend are trying to get custody of LaFronce, but the system is none too cooperative.

At the end of the issue, LaFronce is finally going to live with his aunt, so he likely will not be able to see Spider-Man anymore – the two have a tearful goodbye, which you need to see to fully appreciate…

That is adorable.

What a great job by both Jenkins and Buckingham. Definitely put a smile on my face.

37 Comments

Yeah, that’s probably the one I would have gone with. Nothing odd about it at all; it’s genuinely heartwarming.

I’ll pick an issue of Astro City for this one, but probably not the one you think: “Show ‘em All”, the Junkman story. I don’t think anyone’s been able to make me root for the villain like that before or since, and I break out into a big grin every time I get to the ending.

My choice is also from Jenkins and Buckingham’s run–a real underrated gem in my opinion–I don’t know the exact issue number, but it is the issue where Uncle Ben and Peter go to a Mets game and Peter’s narration explains why he will always be a Mets fan. I think Jenkins got the character of Peter Parker in a way few writers ever have–at least his version lines up with my understanding of the character. Again, loving this series of posts.

I’m going to go with an issue similar in theme to “Show ‘em All”. Daredevil #218, where the Jester hijacks a televised live theatre performance of Cyrano de Bergerac by secretly replacing the lead and performing the play…and knocking it out of the park. Daredevil spends the latter part of the issue distracting the cops so that they don’t interrupt the performance and lets Jester fulfill a lifelong dream of proving he’s a great actor.

The story showcases great humanity in the Jester and in Daredevil. That last panel of the cops carting Jester away, while he smiles, completely satisfied, brings a smile just by thinking about it. It’s a really fun, nice comic.

Asterix and the Olympic Games

SPOILERS

When they give the prize to the Romans at the end – it’s a really nice touch in a story where the Roman characters weren’t exactly the villains and really had much more need of the prize than the Gauls did.

I loved the Jenkins run on Spider-Man and this chapter was a standout for me too.

Barring straight-up gag strips like Dinosaur Comics and Kate Beaton’s stuff like Hark A Vagrant, I wasn’t sure which way to go with this one. So I chose the mopeyest comedy I know. Far Arden makes me laugh and laugh. It’s pretty ingenious. And then, diabolically tragic. I have friends who hate me for talking this book up. Because when the boom lowers: WHAM!

Last month I tweeted at Kevin Cannon:

A friend messaged me today: “Remember that comic you tricked me into reading where [SPOILER]. Thanks for that.” As much of a hard time he gives me for it, he did ask if there was a sequel. It’s crawling under his skin and will soon own him!

Cannon responded, “Haha yep. That’s a lot of people’s reaction.” And this is what makes me smile a sinister little smile: that in recommending to people one of my favourite books, I’m also dooming them.

I’ll go for the perrenial fave, Little Lulu’s “Five Little Babies”. Now, it’s a comedic strip, so it’s supposed to make you smile, but it makes me smile for other reasons as well. The thing is just charming in every possible way, from the drawigs (so cute!) to the plot (Lulu gets revenge on Tubby and the “fellers”) to the dialogue (“Getcha elbow outta my stummik!”).

Oddly enough, I was first introduced to John Stanley’s adorable style through a note-perfect parody in an underground comic by Justin Green. Green’s strip is also quite charming, if in a subversive way!

One great recent comic that springs to mind is Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men Annual #1. It’s sort of an Infinity tie-in, but mostly it’s just to bring Kid Gladiator back to the school and establish how much he loves it there even though he will never admit it. It’s one of those ones that will make you cry and grin at the same time.

I considered the Mets issue, as well, Argo, and I actually think it technically fits better for this topic than the one I went with, but I also thought that it was a LITTLE bit less universal of a plot than this one, so I went with this one.

The Mets issue is another great one from the Jenkins run.

Astro City has a few of course (besides the Junkman story, I’ve always liked the original Astra story as something to make me smile).

But probably the one I’ve reread the most since it came out is Excalibur # 91 “Baby I Love You”

Just an entire issue of the team going out to a bar and decompressing from all the crappy stuff that had been happening to them over the previous 10-20 issues. A lot like those Astro City stories, it’s a story of super-heroes being real people.

‘Mazing Man. I couldn’t help smiling as I just typed the title.

I grin every time I read the ending of the Spider-Man/Human Torch mini. Especially Peter telling Franklin that “I have it on good authority that Uncle Bens are almost always right.”

Any Lone Wolf & Cub scene in which Ogami Itto shows respect for another person whose skills and social status are beneath him. In at least one issue, he lets another samauri cut him before Ogami beats him just because he is a worthy opponent. Weird choice maybe, but it’s the second comic that popped into my head (the Junkman issue of Astro City being the first).

Also, the last couple pages of the last issue of Transmetropolitan, which I won’t spoil here.

Masashi Tanaka’s Gon always does it for me. Great storytelling.

Any issue of Sergio Aragones Funnies does it for me every time. I can’t pick just one!

Nextwave. Pick an issue, any issue.

I have to pick Marc Hempel’s GREGORY from 1989 (the first book). I can’t help smiling while reading that book. You’d think a story about a little boy in a straight jacket in and insane asylum, who is befriended by a rat named Herman Vermin, would not offer much to smile or laugh about, but you’d be wrong. I do not have the words to give this book justice, but I get it out and read it from time to time. It always makes me feel better.

Two issues never cease to bring a smile to my face. Daredevil #253 & Firestar #1 from 2010. Both are great stories that have left a big impact on me as I read them.

Little Lulu was my pick before seeing mrclam’s comment, although I’m going for a general vote, not a specific story.

And db’s ‘Mazing Man choice is good, too.

Another Daredevil story — 264, Baby Boom, with Ditko! art. Sweet little tale.

There’s a lot of humor books I got into as a teenager that I’m tempted to put here (“Milk and Cheese”, Jhonen Vasquez’s stuff, etc.), but if I have to pick one, I’d go with “Sam and Max”. Ever since playing the original LucasArts point-and-click PC adventure game, I’ve loved Sam and Max. And Steve Purcell is one of those artists that inspires me to be a better cartoonist, as well as having a HUGE impact on the development of my sense of humor.

Oh, man, the Sam and Max cartoon that was on Fox — I think I only saw one ep, but it was so damn hilarious!

And how did I forget this one, since the cover virtually DEMANDS that I smile now:

http://www.comics.org/issue/18494/cover/4/

Yes Stan, he makes me want to smile!

So here’s another example of something that always puzzled me – why are so many handshakes drawn in comics flipped left-for-right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Secret Six #34. The team had just gotten back from literally faces down the hordes of hell and Gail Simone allows her band of murderous mercenaries a brief moment of happiness before their inevitable downfall (both on the comic page and in the real world as the title would be cancelled in a couple of issues to make way for the New 52) The team decides to live for the day and be happy even though they had learned that they were all doomed to an eternity in hell for all their misdeeds. The part that makes me smile is when I realize how much Simone has made me care about this group of killers I really have no business liking in the first place. Jennette caps off the issue by echoing a lovely Irish lullaby she had recited earlier in the issue.

“It seems to me that we were, all of us, never meant to live a life decided by the fears and habits of others. If we know our destination is Hell then our job is not to think of sin and salvation. It’s to shine as bright as we may. With skin like salmon. So people will look up each moonlit night and remember we were here.”

What a great way to send off your characters.

Oh and also in this issue Jennette bites three fingers off the hand of a serial killer, Scandal murders said serial killer, Catman delights in the fact that his father is enduring unending torment in Hell, Bane kills a bunch of carnies, and King Shark well… He’s a shark, A SHARK!

Bill K: My guess would be it’s easier for right-handed artists to look at their left hands to draw

Rex Libris, vol. I, of course! Who can resist a wise-cracking action librarian and his outlandish adventures, especially one based out of Middleton, Wisconsin? The dialogue and computer generated artwork is so different from almost everything out there – well worth re-reading every chance I get.

father figure….

Good call on Gregory.

I love the bit in Gregory IV: Fat Boy when the fat kid defends Gregory.

DayTripper, no doubt about it.

Can’t recall the issue number off the top of my head but the issue of Hitman that was the Final Night crossover. The boys sitting in the bar and swapping stories was priceless.

Especially Hacken’s

Captain Haddock

January 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm

@Rob- I loved when Hickman wrote Johnny Storm and Peter Parker as roommates. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder than when I saw a horse-man-alien win a poker game with a full house and shout: “Hah! My home is engorged!”

Deadpool #11 when he goes back in time to a Spiderman comic from the 60s may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

For me its the final issue of Paul Jenkins Spectacular Spiderman run, #27 (and the only one I ever read).

Aunt May remembers all the fun/practical jokes that Uncle Ben and a young Peter Parker used to pull. It was a very heart-warming issue.

Which issue was the Mets one, you guys keep talking about?

Probably the Great Cow Race in Bone. When it finally happens, it is some of the most fun you will ever have reading a comic. Bone is all around a smile maker, but as amazing as the big climax is, I think that was the top.

Scott Pilgrim is a bit of an emotional gauntlet, but overall I can’t help but love it and smile. I think that the first volume would be my favourite; the awkwardness and fear of asking out someone is captured wonderfully.

Formerly Known as the Justice League for me.

ANYTHING by Joe Kelly. Dude is talent unlimited on the funny books, and Deadpool with Ed McGuinness is just one example.

Ultimate Spider-Man #13 never fails. I talked about this in a previous post, but I just absolutely adore that comic and it’s one of the only times USM isn’t a kick in the crotch of happiness.

On a less nostalgic note, Batman: L’il Gotham has been stretching my mouth ear to ear with everyone issue. Always loved Dustin Nguyen’s work, it looks even better with watercolors and YAY OLD CONTINUITY!

Just about any Giffen era Justice League (including the more recent mini series and arc in JLA Classified).

Early issues of Young Justice…I loved the humor in that book and the series actually made me like those characters for the first time when Robin was the only one I cared about prior to it.

The early issues of the most recent Batman & the Outsiders series…I loved Chuck Dixon on Batman and his brief return was great to me (until Didio chased him off).

The early issue of Spidergirl (I want to say #10) where she goes back in time and meets her dad in his early days as Spiderman (and is creeped out when he starts hitting on her).

Gail Simone Birds of Prey up to the OYL jump (when most of DC’s books went down the toilet).

And I’ll second some that have already been mentioned:

Warren Ellis’ Excalibur run (#91 especially)

Joe Kelly Deadpool.

Early Ultimate Spiderman.

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