Posts Tagged ‘comics’

The Greatest Graphic Novels of All Time

October 18, 2016

11. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus by Jack Kirby

They call Jack Kirby the King of Comics, and for good reason. As a precocious young artist, he co-created Captain America with writer-artist Joe Simon; his star-spangled superhero socked Hitler on the jaw a few years before Kirby himself helped liberate a satellite concentration camp during the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe in World War II. After returning to the States, Kirby would pioneer both romance and monster comics in the ’50s before work for which he is best remembered: the early-’60s co-creation of the Marvel Universe with his frenemy Stan Lee and fellow artist Steve Ditko. The dynamism of his artwork was miles away from the staid, square-jawed superheroics of Superman, Batman et al, and as the co-writer (and often primary writer) of Fantastic Four and other Marvel mainstays, Kirby gave birth to characters and concepts that essentially preserved the comics industry in North America after the censorious ’50s.

Kirby’s true masterwork came when, fed up with Lee’s spotlight-hogging and his own lack of creative control, he decamped to rival publisher DC and was given carte blanche to create his own line of superheroes. In genuinely prophetic fashion, the four titles that resulted — New Gods, Mister Miracle, The Forever People, and Jimmy Olsen — told one massive interlocking story about a war between rival deities, the evil half of which were led by a granite-faced embodiment of evil called Darkseid, whose son was secretly raised by the forces of good. (Sound familiar, Star Wars fans?) It’s not simply the scope of Kirby’s ambition nor the cataclysmic psychedelia of his artwork (drawn completely drug-free) that makes the Fourth World Saga, collected in four omnibus editions by DC, so compelling. No, it’s this World War II veteran’s Vietnam-era conviction that the true source of “Anti-Life” is violence itself, no matter how righteous the cause. Sadly, the epic was cut short by the publisher before Kirby could reach its proper conclusion. Several great superhero works would eventually follow (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman, Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and Guy Davis’ Hellboy/B.P.R.D. saga), but they all labor in the humanistic, explosively creative shadow of the King.

10. Gast by Carol Swain

A work of such profound empathy that it almost feels like a hole in the world, Gast is a gentle yet ultimately unforgiving look at the ways in which the world can break down those who cannot quite bring themselves to fit in. It follows an 11-year-old girl named Helen on a trip to the Welsh countryside, during which she discovers she can talk with the wild and domesticated animals that populate its rolling landscape — all of whom speak to her of the death of a “rare bird” who lived near by. This turns out to be a farmer named Emrys, whose gender dysphoria (he wore women’s clothing and ostentatiously dyed his hair, but kept to himself out of fear of reprisal and continued to identify as male) and failing fortunes led him to suicide. Gast functions like a murder mystery with no real killer and no real victim; the investigation itself is the point, as Helen learns about this sad and secretly much-loved person’s life, and about life and death themselves in the process. Swain’s soft charcoal artwork, the unusual and descriptive angles of her drawings, and her willingness to take things slowly make for an utterly unique reading experience.

Well, this is it: I selected and wrote about the 33 Greatest Graphic Novels of All Time for Thrillist.


October 13, 2016


Just a reminder that Julia Gfrörer and I will be attending Cartoon Crossroads Columbus tomorrow through Sunday, where Julia will be a special guest and where we’ll both be hosting the Sunday night afterparty. We hope to see you there!


October 3, 2016


Julia Gfrörer and I will be guests at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus October 13-16th! We’re also hosting the afterparty for the final night of the show. Please come say hello!

Hey, Kids! Comics!

August 26, 2016

You can get great deals on graphic novels from me & Julia’s merged collections by visiting our spiffy Amazon store! Titles for sale at bargain-basement prices include books by James Jean (a really rare one at that), Neil Gaiman, Darwyn Cooke, Jack Kirby, Ulli Lust, Michael DeForge, Jonny Negron, Blaise Larmee, John Stanley, Paul Dini, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Dennis Eichhorn, Paul Gravett, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Raymond Briggs, Dave Cooper, Jenn Manley Lee and more. Check it out!

Let Us Play: Comics Artist Dame Darcy on Her Mind-Blowing “Meat Cake Bible”

August 12, 2016

My partner is a cartoonist, and she once said that Meat Cake was hugely important to all the weird girls she knew in her teens and early 20s, but the male comic nerds she met afterwards had no clue what she was talking about. Have you noticed this disparity as well? To what would you attribute it?

That statement brings a tear to my eye, knowing my life’s goal was not in vain. Thank you.

As a kid I hated that even on Sesame Street, everyone was a boy. Actually, I thought Big Bird was a girl, but in the end he was gay and I was mistaken. The only time girls showed up in things was as sex objects — except for Pippi Longstocking and Wonder Woman — and they rarely ever got any good dialogue. Meat Cake set out to change all that, and make something weird and thinking girls could relate to. I felt so alone for so long, and I made a beacon like a lighthouse to shine through the darkness and attract the bats of other like-minded souls.

It is my life’s goal and pleasure to encourage other girls, ladies, anyone to be who they are, to find their true passion and pursue their hearts desire with freedom in their soul despite all odds. In Oz and Cinderella, I always identified as Glinda and the Fairy Godmother, even as a kid. I like how Glinda doesn’t just wave her wand and whisk Dorothy home, even though she could. She gives her glamorous shoes and Dorothy uses them to find her own way. And through magic glamour and DIY elbow grease, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother turns the normal pumpkin into a couture carriage vehicle to empower the young lady to change her life. If my artwork can be this for someone else, then my will here in this mortal plane is done.

I interviewed cartoonist Dame Darcy about her new complete-works collection Meat Cake Bible for the New York Observer.

Buy my books!

August 9, 2016

I reopened my old Amazon marketplace store with great deals on great books & comics from me & Julia Gfrörer’s merged collections. Check it out! More will be added in the days and weeks to come, so keep your eyes peeled!


July 21, 2016


a comics and art anthology

edited by Sean T. Collins & Julia Gfrörer

featuring new and unpublished work by Lala Albert, Clive Barker, Heather Benjamin, Apolo Cacho, Sean Christensen, Nicole Claveloux, Al Columbia, Dame Darcy, Noel Freibert, Renee French, Meaghan Garvey, Julia Gfrörer (with Claude Paradin), Simon Hanselmann (with Sean T. Collins), Hellen Jo, Aidan Koch, Laura Lannes, Céline Loup, Uno Moralez, Mou, Jonny Negron, Chloe Piene, Josh Simmons, Carol Swain, Trungles

coming soon from 2dcloud

My publisher is so close to meeting its kickstarter goals for its current collection. It’s no charity case — you just use it the way you would a webstore, basically. The best way to ensure our book happens is to pay a visit and order yourself some good comics!

2dcloud’s Spring Collection

July 11, 2016

Their current run of books is being funded by a kickstarter underway now. For $40 you get five books, including genuinely singular memoirs by three women of color, but you can pitch in any amount you want. Please buy/donate today!

“Preacher” thoughts, Season One, Episode Five: “South Will Rise Again”

June 27, 2016

The blasé manner in which characters react to the extraordinary events befalling them is endemic to the school of comics in which Preacher’s source material, the DC/Vertigo series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, is squarely located. Playing it cool around vampires, angels, demonic possession, and the wrath of God Himself has long been a way for writers of a certain vintage to mark their protagonists as either erudite sophisticates familiar to the point of boredom with the ways of the multiverse (“The Elder Gods do have a tendency to make one frightfully late for tea”) or hardcore badasses whose busy schedule of drinkin’, fightin’, and fuckin’ leave them no time to be wowed by the world beyond (“What’s the matter? Never seen the infernal legions before, new guy? Hurry the fuck up and shoot ‘em — I got a date with three strippers tonight and I’ll be damned if Beelzebub’s gonna cost me my nut”). With nerd culture’s Orwellian oligarchical takeover it was only a matter of time to see it so directly translated to the small screen, but that doesn’t make it any less joy-killing now that it’s happened.

Preacher was on last night too, and I reviewed it for the New York Observer.

Kramers Ergot 9 Release Party

June 16, 2016

Come to Desert Island in Brooklyn tonight and you’ll find me, Julia Gfrörer, one of our kids, and many fine cartoonists celebrating the release of Kramers Ergot 9. Hope to see you there!

Eat This Book: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Artist Lisa Hanawalt Takes Her ‘Hot Dog Taste Test’

June 16, 2016

I had the impression going in that this is “Lisa Hanawalt’s Food Book,” but having read it’s like your real subject is how it feels to inhabit a physical body. The food angle is just there to whet your appetite. So to speak.

You totally found me out. This book is an edible Trojan horse? But yes, it could have been called Here’s a Pile of Stuff Lisa Felt Like Making Over the Last Few Years and Most of It Is Related to Food, but people tend to want a tighter concept before committing to reading an entire book.


One aspect of physicality it doesn’t address much is sex. There are a couple of allusions, and a lot of sex-adjacent body parts, but it’s much more about eating, shitting, peeing, menstruating, traveling, riding, feeling full, getting sick…

That’s a good point, because I haven’t been one to shy away from sex in the past. Maybe it’s a subconscious attempt at making something sliiiightly less creepy, and to let people dig for my hornier work if they’re true fans? Maybe I’m just going through a bowel phase, the way Picasso had a blue period? I’m also a little grossed out when food and sex are combined, honestly.

I interviewed the terrific cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt about her fascinating new book Hot Dog Taste Test for the New York Observer.

“Preacher” thoughts, Season One, Episode One: “Pilot”

May 26, 2016

Is it the Word of God that has come unto Jesse Custer, or is he merely possessed by the spirit of the ‘90s? Preacher, AMC’s new readymade blockbuster series — it’s got the nerd pedigree, the nonsensically titled Chris Hardwick postgame show Talking Preacher, a superstar co-creator in the form of Seth Rogen, the whole nine — is based on the comic book series of the same name by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon (and, though he’s not credited, tone-setting cover artist Glenn Fabry), which ran for 75 issues or so during the pre-millennium tension of the last five years of the 20th century. This was perhaps the last era during which taboo-busting for taboo-busting’s sake could get a comic over with an audience; a quick visit to the Preacher wikipedia page reveals more inbreeding, cannibalism, anal rape, and Kurt Cobain references than you can shake a crucifix at.

And judging from the pilot episode, the TV show is just as indebted to the signature filmmaker of the era, Quentin Tarantino, as were the “cutting edge” mature-readers-only comic books of the day. There’s a redneck-laden setting, a madcap vampire, a soundtrack full of hipster-revered square singers, a series of self-aware title cards (OUTER SPACE / AFRICA / TEXAS / ETC.), and mutilation galore. If you mashed up Natural Born Killers, the “bring out the gimp” sequence from Pulp Fiction, and the “Stuck in the Middle With You” scene from Reservoir Dogs, then sprinkled in some post-9/11 elements like the Budd segment of Kill Bill Vol. 2, the Death Proof half of Grindhouse, and the cartoonish graphic design of Scott Pilgrim (itself a comic-book adaptation) and Zombieland (starring Natural Born Killers leading man Woody Harrelson in what I insist to this day is a reprisal of his role from that Tarantino-story-credited film), you’ve got pretty much the whole show nailed down. To paraphrase a conversation I had about the show with critic Eric Thurm, you’re a Bill Hicks monologue away from reliving the second half of the Clinton administration.

So is the bloody thing any goddamn good?

I’m reviewing Preacher for the New York Observer, how about that? I started with last weekend’s pilot, which was audacious and entertaining but at times worryingly glib.

Words and Guitars tonight

May 19, 2016

I’ll be reading Hottest Chick in the Game, me and Andrew White’s comic about Drake and friends, at the HiFi Bar in NYC at 8pm tonight as part of Zachary Lipez & Michael Tedder’s Words and Guitars reading series. A whole bunch of other luminaries will be reading too, so heed the words of the man himself and come thru!

The HiFi Bar is located at 169 Avenue A between East 10th & 11th in Manhattan. I hope to see you there!

In “Patience,” Daniel Clowes Looks for Answers to the Big Questions

March 24, 2016

“I wouldn’t be interested in the work of an artist if they didn’t suffer from debilitating anxiety,” Daniel Clowes says. “It’s part of the process.”

I interviewed Daniel Clowes about anxiety, religion, violence, the death of his best friend, and his new book Patience for the New York Observer.

Mirror Mirror 2

March 11, 2016

Mirror Mirror 2
an anthology

featuring new comics and drawings by

Lala Albert / Clive Barker / Heather Benjamin / Sean Christensen / Nicole Claveloux / Sean T. Collins / Al Columbia / Dame Darcy / Noel Freibert / Renee French / Meaghan Garvey / Julia Gfrörer / Simon Hanselmann / Hellen Jo / Hadrianus Junius / Aidan Koch / Laura Lannes / Céline Loup / Uno Moralez / Mou / Chloe Piene / Josh Simmons / Carol Swain

horror / pornography / the Gothic / the abject

edited by Sean T. Collins & Julia Gfrörer
published by 2dcloud
Q1 2017 | advance copies Fall 2016

“For darkness restores what light cannot repair”

teaser image by Clive Barker

Mirror Mirror 1 | available now for preorder

“Puke Force” Is a Graphic Novel About Online Groupthink and Lone-Wolf Terrorism

February 21, 2016

VICE: If I didn’t know any better I’d read this book as a warning to kids about the dangers of online. Not that it’s preachy, but the constant connectedness goes hand-in-hand with surveillance, and with the spread of destructive ideas.

Brian Chippendale: People are definitely reading a heavy warning about online activity in the book, and I think that’s one regret I have. I love the Internet. [Laughs] I’ve gotten so much practical use out of it: Selling prints, booking tours, saying hey to old friends—all that. But I do feel that even though I have an overt need for and warmth toward some social media, there is an undercurrent of energy on there that corrodes the soul.

What do you mean by “corrodes the soul”?

I think it’s the feeling that you’re not alone anymore. That should be a positive thing, right? But I think aloneness is important. It’s very important to get lost in your own head, not just get lost in the hive mind. As an artist, I need to venture inside to get at deeper meaning. Maybe new muscles for that are forming in younger people, new ways to go deep. I don’t necessarily think we are going to lose a generation to the internet. It’s an amazing tool. Pizza delivery drones, on the other hand? I’ll definitely be throwing rocks at them… and ordering pizzas.

I interviewed Brian Chippendale, Lightning Bolt drummer and one of the best cartoonists of his generation, about his new graphic novel Puke Force for Vice.

Interview: Heather Benjamin

December 17, 2015

Given the cover of Romantic Story this is a weird thing to say, but this seems less sexually explicit than your past books.

Heather: I don’t think that’s weird at all! I view this work as way less sexually explicit, too—which is funny, because there are still gaping vaginas everywhere. I guess I’m just desensitized to that. But there’s not really any penetration or actual sexual acts going on, which is unlike my older work. It has to do with what I was saying before, actually, how my work tends to mirror what’s going on in my personal life. Honestly, at the time when I was making work like Sad Sex, I was mirroring exactly what I was feeling, what I was going through in my life: dealing with different partners, different people, trust tissues, the different dynamics of being single and feeling very alone and isolated and messy regardless of whether I was getting some or not. It’s hard to put it into words; I guess that’s why I don’t too often, and why I was making work about it instead. It sounds dumb to me when I try to explain it, but when I was making work that included fucking, it’s because in my life I was dealing with emotions and complications as a result of fucking.

Now I’m making less explicit, less fully pornographic work, because it’s not the dynamics of fucking that I’m grappling with on a daily basis. I’m less interested in how other people made me feel as a result of being involved with them—unlike in Sad Sex, when I was using text in some pieces, like “you make me feel special” or “I masturbate thinking about your boyfriend,” making really blatant statements about how relations between myself and various people affected my self-perception and my experience. I’m now more interested in my own singular experiences with, and within, myself, not those that are explicitly being generated by other people in the present. It’s more introspective and nostalgic, and less about depicting something generating panic and emotion in the moment. This obviously still has a lot to do with sexuality and physicality, but less to do with sexual acts, unless they’re being performed on oneself, or are being looked back on in reflection and anxiety.

I interviewed the truly brilliant artist Heather Benjamin for Adult.

The Hellboy / BPRD / Mignolaverse Reading Order, updated

December 10, 2015

1. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

2. Hellboy: Wake the Devil

3. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others

4. Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom

5. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm

6. BPRD: Hollow Earth & Other Stories

7. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 1

8. BPRD: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories

9. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 2

10. BPRD: Plague of Frogs

11. BPRD: The Dead

12. Hellboy: Strange Places

13. BPRD: The Black Flame

14. BPRD: The Universal Machine

15. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others

16. BPRD: Garden of Souls

17. BPRD: Killing Ground

18. Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus

19. Hellboy: Darkness Calls

20. Abe Sapien: The Drowning

21. BPRD: 1946

22. BPRD: The Warning

23. BPRD: The Black Goddess

24. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt

25. Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels

26. BPRD: War on Frogs

27. Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others

28. BPRD: 1947

29. BPRD: King of Fear

30. BPRD: Hell on Earth: New World

31. Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others

[31.5 Hellboy: House of the Living Dead]

32. BPRD: Being Human

33. Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever

34. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods and Monsters

35. Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury

36. Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest

37. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Russia

38. Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand

39. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine & The Long Death

40. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror & Others

41. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master

42. BPRD: 1948

[42.5 Hellboy: The Midnight Circus]

43. BPRD: Vampire

44. BPRD: Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell

45. Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible & The New Race of Man

46. Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat

47. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire

48. Hellboy in Hell: The Descent

49. Sledgehammer 44

50. Abe Sapien: The Shape of Things to Come

51. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Reign of the Black Flame

52. Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster

53. Abe Sapien: Sacred Places

54. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings

55: Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland

56. Abe Sapien: A Darkness So Great

57. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952

58. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Flesh and Stone

59. Frankenstein Underground

60. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Metamorphosis (due in January)

61. Hellboy in Mexico (due in April)

62. Abe Sapien: The Secret Fire (due in June)

63. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953 (due in August)

As I’ve explained when I’ve done this in the past, I left out the humor collection Hellboy Junior and the superhero-crossover collection Hellboy: Masks and Monsters because they’re not in continuity; arguably neither are the two Hellboy: Weird Tales volumes but they’re at least in the spirit of the thing. I listed the original graphic novel hardcovers Hellboy: House of the Living Deadand Hellboy: The Midnight Circus as .5s rather than factoring them into the list proper primarily out of pique that they hadn’t been released in paperback yet, though that is now forthcoming with Hellboy in Mexico next April. I used the regular-edition trade paperbacks rather than the larger omnibus-style collections, though I refrained from noting the individual volume numbers within each series just for the sake of my sanity.

Enjoy, and many thanks to Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis et al for this marvelous story!

“Jessica Jones” thoughts, Season One, Episode One: “AKA Ladies Night”

November 20, 2015

How high can highlights take you? How much strength does a show require for its strong points to overpower its weak spots? How does the whole become more than the sum of even its most important parts? Jessica Jones, the hotly anticipated second series in Marvel & Netflix’s partnership, tells the story of a private eye, so perhaps it’s appropriate that it’s got me searching for answers myself. Its pilot episode, “AKA Ladies Night,” contains some of the most powerful moments and challenging themes in the entire Marvel oeuvre. I’m just not sure that’s enough to declare the case for its quality closed.

I’m covering Jessica Jones for Decider! I’ll be posting a review a day every day till I get through the whole season. First up: My somewhat skeptical take on the pilot.

STC on Cut to the Chase!

October 26, 2015

I’m the guest on this week’s episode of Chase Thomas’s Cut to the Chase podcast on writers and critics! Chase and I discuss my origin story as a writer, Game of Thrones, Lost, The Affair, Empire, True Detective, Gotham, Daredevil, cartoons, comics, and much more. I hope you enjoy!