When we grade comic books for resale quality we use terms like Mint, Near Mint, Fine and so on. Descriptions are necessary so we can quantify worth. These terms, however, cannot hope to reflect the actual story in question. We may judge a book by its cover in the Overstreet Price Guide, but there’s no guide for merit.
I’d like to demonstrate three types of comics I like to collect by themes of story quality. Instead of Mint or near mint I’d like to introduce you all to the Fine Art/Indie appeal books, books by talented creators telling quirky stories that stand out from the pack. These books I like to call “Stand Outs.” For example:
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites, Evan Dorkin(W) Jill Thompson(A), Dark Horse
I know it’s talking animals and I know it’s a kids comic. Those facts are irrelevant considering how much fun, wonder and top=notch art goes into these stories. I’ll just come out and say it: Beasts of Burden is amazing work from two of the most unsung talents in the industry today.
The stories are weird: Dogs and a cat solve animal based paranormal activities, almost like T.A.P.S. but on four legs. The humor is gentle and all ages, but there is some damn spooky $%*@ in there. The watercolors of artist Jill Thompson are the stuff of legends, and a text book of “YES!” for any aspiring artists today.
-It’s these types of books that flavor the industry, turn heads and set trends. Don’t be surprised if you see this as a full-length feature some day.
The next sort of comic book is when comics deliver on our expectations…I call these “catalog” books.
DC has a book of Adam Hughes covers out this week entitled Cover Run the DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes, which is $40 for 208 HC pgs of the best cover art in the biz. They also have Detective Comics #866 written by legendary creator Dennis O’Neil, and Superman #700, the best modern jumping on point for the Super curious yet.
Then finally we have that special, last category: The too-nuts-to-not-buy books:
DONE. Where was this book when I needed it, which was every second of every day of my life?! A shark that travels on land and a Bear that runs on the water, swims underwater! If they don’t fight in this issue that’s fine, ‘cause I’m gonna’ buy a million copies of this little baby and guarantee a sequel!
THIS is one of the ways comics can be done right: give us as much new, weird and fun ideas as you can in the cheapest, most controllable medium money can buy! Yeah, you could wait for Syfy to make a bad movie with this same premise, wasting hours of your time, or you can read this gem in 20 minutes and relive the Shark/Bear mash-ups forever!
Nice job, Image!
Another book in this category is JAM from Oni, A.k.a. tales of the Roller Derby. I’ll buy a comic book from Eric Powell and friends about roller derby gals! Sure I will, and you should, too!