Sunday, July 06, 2008

Five You Should be Reading

I went to the May 2008 sales estimate charts for the top 300 books and choose five books that have estimated sales of fewer than 10,000 copies and are much better then books with higher sales numbers. Given how tight things are today retailers are hesitant to order low end books unless their customers are ordering them. That means few if any hit the comic racks and a customer may never have the chance to even page through these books to see if they would like them.

I’m saying that one or all of these five books deserve your attention and if I could put a money back guarantee on them for you I would, but try to find one on the racks and buy one or all and try them and see if I’m not right.

I had one rule and that was it had to be an ongoing series.

Proof (#298 – Sales of 3,188 – Image Comics) Creators Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo have put their hearts and soul into this book and it shows. The energy, excitement, fun, humor, drama and mysteries just fly off the pages of this book. Add to that the wonderful little cryptoids they add into each issue and you get a book that delivers more bang for you buck then at least 200 books with higher sales.

Proof is a Bigfoot who is part of a group called the lodge that helps to protect us and protect the mythological creatures that truly exist in the world. Proof’s new partner is Ginger who is just learning about the lodge and all the strangeness associated with it. We also have Elvis, who is a small town sheriff that is another recent addition to the lodge.

The first arc called Goatsucker was such a great read and a wonderful introduction to what the series is all about. The link to buy it from Amazon is here.

I can not really compare to any other series, because while it certainly borrows from many sources, that amalgamation of those sources is its own unique book.

Finally when I read the backup material and the letters pages I can feel the enthusiasm that the creators have for this book. The joy and passion they give to their creation is infectious. It is laced with humor, drama, pathos, conspiracies, action and adventure.

Fall of Cthulhu (#286 – Sales of 3,881 – BOOM Studios) The first thing you need to understand about this series is that it is from BOOM studios. BOOM is a product branding that let’s you know that you are guaranteed to get a well written book. Now you may not always like the material because they publish a wide variety of genres, but it will be a professionally done book.

As to the series itself, if you are a horror fan and are not getting this book, you are missing out on one of the best horror series done in comics. Check out some of the great covers here.

Michael Alan Nelson has been writing stories using the Lovecraft horror elements that so many writers use and has been turning in some great stories that are horrific on both an intellectual level and a visceral level.

The latest arc involving the gray man and a small town lawman’s quest to stop him has been an excellent read so far. He had to pay an unknown price to get the information he needed to try and save his town and we have yet to learn what that price maybe. In addition to just great stories there is an underlying story that is being woven together that I hope will pay off in the long term.

Dynamo 5 (#239 – Sales 5,895 – Image Comics) – Jay Faerber is the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby of his own little universe. I did not follow Noble Causes, but when Dynamo 5 came out I tried it out and now I’m hooked on this series, Noble Causes and the mini-series Gemini. Dynamo 5 is possibly the best super hero book on the market and is certainly taking the place of the Fantastic Four in my affections.

I have rarely picked up a better book from the beginning. The five team members are all the sons and daughters and a hero Captain Dynamo who slept around. None of the kids knew who each other was until the Captain’s widow pulled them together and exposed them to the same radiation that gave Captain Dynamo’s his powers.

From there we have watched the kids learn about each other, start to become a family of their own and learn how to be super heroes.

A terrific read and some very solid art by Mahmud Asrar, who I believe would benefit greatly from having a strong inker.

If you ever loved the Fantastic Four and feel like I do that the current incarnation of the group has lost the spark it has had at various times in its history, then you should be checking out Dynamo 5.

Scalped (#210 – Sales 7,606 – DC/Vertigo Comics) – Okay this comic is the biggest crime on this list. There are not 200 books better then this one on the stands. In fact in my opinion this book is one of the top 10 series being published. Hell this book gets better and better with every issue that comes out.

The series is written by Jason Aaron, who will be a “Name Writer” within one or two more years and is already recognized as a major talent in the industry. The artwork for most issues is by R. M. Guera and is as good as the writing.

The series is about Dash Bad Horse, an FBI agent who is undercover back in his old Indian Reservation. He is undercover as a reservation cop and is ostensibly trying to bring down Red Crow who is the head of the Tribal Council and owner of the new Casino being opened. Dash’s boss doesn’t care for him and Red Crow and Dash’s FBI boss have a lot of bad history between them.

A tough, hard as nails, crime drama is in what is one of the bleakest settings you could imagine. The last arc “Dead Mothers” should be required reading of anyone who wants to do graphic novels. The emotional content of that book was palatable and drained you when you read it. Here is an ad for that trade. Pick it up when it comes out in October or get Volumes #1 & #2 while you are waiting.

Scalped is a series that would outsell any super hero book in the market if it was going head to head with those books in a retail book store.

Locke & Key (#188 – Sales 9,385 – IDW) – It is funny that I’m almost ecstatic to see this book have sales that are so close to actually cracking the 10,000 barrier. It is such a great series and so well done, that I was worried that it would have sales even more suppressed as it is not from the big two. Then when I realize how damn well written and illustrated this book is I can’t believe it comes in at #188. This book deserves on merit, to be in the top 20.

Joe Hill has written such a great story in only five issues to date that I went out and picked up his novel “Heart Shaped Box”. If he can enthrall me with his characters this well in a comic book, I can’t wait to sit down and read his novel.

The story is about the Locke family and the tragedy of the father of the family being killed by a deranged psychopath. The family is forced to relocated to Lovecraft, Massachusetts (so you know we will have horror elements there) and we are seeing how each of the three children and mother are dealing with the sudden changes in their lives.

In addition we find the Key House has many doorways that lead to many different things, a haunted well house and the killer returning to terrorize the family once again.

Joe also mixes in so many great character moments, that he even gave us a great story about the middle child learning to fit into a new school.

Gabriel Rodriquez has a wonderful style that exaggerates realism and can border on almost a cartoon like effect at times, but is really quite unique and wonderfully done. After only five issues I can’t imagine any other artist really doing the book justice. He conveys horror and innocence with equal ease.

One of the best written books on the market as the characters as so believable and feel so real with many layers. I know this is only going six issues, but I’m hopeful that it can be perhaps a series of mini-series. Yeah I broke my own rules.


  1. I love Scalped, Dynamo 5, AND Locke & Key.

    I can't find Proof anywhere. I've been wanting to sample it, but none of the three shops I've tried ever seem to have any in stock.

  2. One thing about "Scalped" is that it is such a great crime comic in a genre that is absolutely starved for good non-superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy books.

    There's no excuse for not trying this book, and I'm certain that anyone who likes a well told story would enjoy it.