By: Hess Sahlollbey
The comic-book film and TV show craze will not be relenting anytime soon. With the recent releases of Riverdale, Lego Batman and Logan on the horizon in March, movies can serve as an excellent introduction to comics and the source material. The cost of comics and the rich history of the medium however can often be seen as the two biggest barriers of entry for newcomers to the hobby. To help circumvent that; we’ve scoured the collection of comics and graphic novels in Mills Library on campus and prepared a list of some of the best “gateway comics” for those who are ready to take the plunge or who want to spice up their reading list this winter break.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Fiona Staples
I love this series so much I couldn’t help but start rereading it as soon as I found it in Mills. Saga is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning epic space opera/fantasy series. The series depicts Marko and Alana, a married couple from long-warring extraterrestrial races, as they flee from authorities from both sides of a galactic war while attempting to raise their daughter, Hazel. Love, loss, family, gender roles, sexuality and sacrifice are some of the most prominent themes explored in Saga as Marko and Alana learn that it takes a whole village, or in their case a whole galaxy, to raise a child.
The complete Persepolis
Writer: Marjane Satrapi Artist: Marjane Satrapi
An autobiographical graphic novel by cartoonist Marjane Satrapi, this two-part series details her life in and beyond Iran along with the effect of the Islamic revolution on her home country. The first book, Persepolis 1, depicts Satrapi’s childhood in Iran and the beginning of the Islamic revolution. Persepolis 2 depicts her high school years growing up in Vienna followed by her return to Iran where Satrapi attends college, gets married and later gets divorced before moving to France. Persepolis has been well received in Western countries and Europe. Persepolis has gone on to become a staple in the women’s studies classes at McMaster and across the world for its strong feminist themes. The film adaptation of Persepolis, which is also available in Mills Library, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007.
Writer: Art Spiegelman Artist: Art Spiegelman
Maus, by cartoonist Art Spiegelman depicts his interview with his father, Vladek Spiegelman, about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The main narrative takes place in the past and depicts the experiences of Spiegelman’s father in Europe during World War II. Those scenes in the past are juxtaposed with scenes in the present that give a picture of the estranged relationship between a father and his son, two years before Vladek’s passing. The first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, Maus has seen its fair share of controversy all across Europe. Tying into Nazi propaganda that depicted Jews as vermin, Spiegelman portrayed Jews as mice, with Germans, Poles and Americans as other animals à la Animal Farm. All of that however comes secondary to the painful scenes that depict the failing relationship between a father and son and the guilt and pain that Art’s father lived with during his time in Poland.
Writer: Alan Moore Artist: Dave Gibbons
Part historical fiction part super-hero mystery tale, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality that closely mirrors the contemporary setting of the 1980s. In Watchmen, not only are superheroes real, their existence has drastically affected how history has played out regarding wars, presidencies and the position of the United States as a global power. The real focus of the story however is the personal struggles and development of a group of mostly out of commission superheroes who are forced back together when one of their own is murdered. A critical and commercial success, Watchmen is considered in the comics world to be the greatest graphic novel of all time for its nihilistic realism, dark and moody setting and the moral struggles of the main characters. The Watchmen film by Zack Snyder is also available through the McMaster library website.
Can’t make it to the comic store? Hamilton Public Library branches offer free accounts for Hoopla, to access these eBooks and comics.