Another weekend, another comicker marooned on FPI’s desert island…. luckily we’ve taken the liberty of loading their island with their very favourite comics… and here’s where they tell you all about them.
Back? Good. Abadzis’ work, whatever age it’s for, is consistently superb. Laika is a classic all-ages tale that will enchant you before it breaks your heart, and Hugo Tate is… well, personally I think Hugo Tate is a complete masterpiece.
Abadzis’ most recent published work is Cora’s Breakfast, long completed, but now finally featuring weekly in The Phoenix Comic,
Desert Island Comics – Episode 47 – Nick Abadzis
I have a tough time with making lists, because they change so rapidly in my head. I don’t like “Best of” lists much – you invariably forget something – but picking favourites is easier because then it can be about nostalgia as much as ones’ professional admiration of a work. So this really is just stuff I like, or still like and go back to from time to time. So it’d be dependable on a desert island.
Tintin in Tibet by Herge
If you could pick one Tintin book, just one, which would it be? There are many strong contenders and each book has its own charms. I like this one for various reasons – it seems to be about something more than Hergé’s usual concerns of adventuring for his intrepid boy journalist. This one has all the usual globetrotting but it’s also about friendship and faith, determination and courage; there’s something supernatural about the themes that run throughout. And of course there’s the yeti. Also, Hergé was experimenting with all sorts of layouts and there are a lot more vertical panels in this one than most of the other adventures – it’s flawlessly executed. Also features the best dream sequence, Captain Haddock on top form and Snowy gets drunk. Timeless.
Love and Rockets: New Stories number 4 by Jaime Hernandez & Gilbert Hernandez
I thought about picking that massive Palomar collection of Gilbert Hernandez’ Heartbreak Soup cycle, which features Human Diastrophism, a work that I think is simply one of the finest graphic novels ever. I reread it recently and it still towers over most other so-called graphic novels of the period, and indeed, many that were created since. Then I thought of The Love Bunglers by Beto’s brother Jaime, one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read in the comics medium.
They’re very different from one another as creators and yet so closely and culturally intermingled, careers intertwined from a reader’s perspective. I think they’re as unalike as they are alike – similar origins that have taken very different directions and they’ve each made comics that I love. Reading their work is a cumulative experience; I’ve known their characters since before entering comics professionally myself. The Love Bunglers in particular is a pay-off to a lot of that years-long investment, on the cartoonist’s behalf and my own – and what a pay-off. If you’re a fan and I just say “Maggie and Ray,” you’ll know what I mean. If you aren’t, well you have their entire back catalogue to investigate and all this to look forward to. I’d like a complete edition of The Love Bunglers at some point please, but as that doesn’t quite exist yet, I’ll take Love and Rockets: New Stories number 4 which features both creators on excellent form. Sublime.
Rogan Josh by Brendan McCarthy and Peter Milligan
I think Messrs Milligan and McCarthy are unjustly uncelebrated in the world of international comics overall. I don’t think it’s because they’re a quintessentially British concern, either as a team or as individual creators – I think it’s just that they were, and are so ahead of their time people haven’t yet completely caught up to how groundbreaking, offbeat and quixotically brilliant their stuff is. From Sometime Stories, Strange Days, Paradax, 2000AD to Skin to Rogan Josh and beyond, you always knew if you saw their names on something it was going to take you on something of an edible magic carpet ride with added supernatural spectra. Rogan Josh might not even be the best of their collaborations, but it does feature some of Brendan’s most mind-bending compositions and every time I read it, it seems different to how I remembered it. That alone is an achievement and would be a great thing to have on a desert island. Visionary stuff – if you don’t know of it, then you should explore.
The Complete Crumb Comics Vol 15 – Mode O’Day by Robert Crumb
Features Doggo, one of Crumb’s most abjectly pathetic and self-serving male ciphers matched by one of his most egotistical and vain female characters. They’re an utterly hilarious combination – you wonder why they’re friends at all, but then you realise they’re bound together in mutual hatred. It’s the comedy of the human condition without any self-awareness. Also features Porpy, the dweeby, sexually-frustrated er, porpoise. Please, just read it. On a desert island, it’d make you appreciate being alone more.
The Incal by Moebius and Jodorowsky
No-one’s really bettered Moebius’ take on visionary futurescapes in comics – or in any other medium, for that matter. How to describe The Incal? I won’t try, but there’s so much in it. Like all Moebius’ work, he was as unafraid to stare into the abyss as he was to stare into the blinding light and, well, it’s all here. If you’ve not read it, avoid the Humanoids edition with the horrible recolouring. I’ll be taking the original version to my desert island retreat.
Read Yourself Raw
A bit of a cheat because here under one cover, you have the likes of Art Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, Tardi, Capelle, Kaz, Beyer, Burns, Munoz, Swarte, Griffith, and many others. I almost picked Joe’s Bar by Muñoz and Sampayo – no-one handles black and white quite the way José Muñoz does (apart maybe from Edmond Baudoin) but this seemed a good way to get some of the greats all together and be reminded of what you were missing back in civilization.
Oor Wullie Annual circa 1974 by Dudley D Watkins
Any of the 1970s ones would do. I had loads of these and each one is crammed with intensely detailed pages full of slapstick and fun. Wullie with his bucket, his pet mouse Jeemy and all his friends and family were the irrepressible cast of many endlessly inventive little morality plays, all rendered in Watkins’ expressive but careful style. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Dudley D. Watkins, creator of Wullie, Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty and many others, was Britain’s Hergé. Except he was Dudley D. Watkins, and should be justly celebrated as the master of comics he most certainly was.
Dungeon (Donjon) Zenith, Book 2 – The Barbarian Princess by Sfar & Trondheim
Created by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim with contributions from all manner of top-flight European cartoonists including some of my favourites like Manu Larcenet, Christophe Blain and many, many others, this ever-expanding series that parodies sword and sorecery and fantasy conventions is always hilariously inventive. I’m gonna pick book 2 in which Herbert the Duck encounters Isis, the barbarian princess of the title. Priceless.
Time/space cabinet that allows for a constant supply of pens, ink, paper and chocolate.