Last week, I guess because of Watchmen, the editors of Time.com asked me to make a list of the top 10 graphic novels of all time. (The headline — “Not Just for Kids” — should be helpful to the like 6 people left on Earth who still think graphic novels are for kids.)
Here’s what I came up with. Note that this list is non-ordered:
The Dark Knight Returns
Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth
The Adventures of Tintin
The Greatest of Marlys
Now the top 10 reasons why I chose these particular graphic novels:
1. There was intense intra-office traffic over Tintin vs. Asterix. The verdict: Tintin. But with the caveat that if it came down to a fight Asterix could take Tintin, even without potion.
2. If this were just a list of my favorite graphic novels, I would probably have stuck another Moore title on there, probably League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But it’s not, is it.
3. If this were just a list of my favorite graphic novels, I wouldn’t have put The Dark Knight Returns on there. I just don’t find all that dark, rainy despairing stuff that profound. (And some of the dialogue reminds me of when Comic Book Guy has a heart attack: “can’t … keep … describing … symptoms …”) But it’s so famous and influential that the list looked weird without it on there.
4. I kind of cheated with The Greatest of Marlys, by Lynda Barry, since it’s a collection of comic strips. Once we start getting into collections of comic strips, why not just put Peanuts on there? But TGoM hangs together more cohesively than most collections do. And it’s too good to leave off.
5. Miracleman: yeah, I know. What can I say, I’m obsessed with it. It turns the whole idea of the superhero inside out, as radically as Watchmen did but in a completely different way. Fortunately it’s hard to argue with me because barely anyone has read Miracleman, because it’s so hard to find.
6. I put in Jimmy Corrigan even though I find it relentlessly depressing. It’s still an amazing book.
7. The Ghost World item uses the ‘now a major motion picture’ cover, which I don’t love because I didn’t love the movie, which is odd because Clowes wrote the screenplay. And it has Thora Birch in it = massive celebrity crush.
8. I know jack about manga. So no manga! That was easy.
9. Near misses: Persepolis (my brother convinced me it wasn’t that great), Love and Rockets (don’t get it), The Great Outdoor Fight (its time will come), Black Hole, Cerebus, Y the Last Man, Little Nemo, Krazy Kat (both comic strip collections), something by Will Eisner (I am illiterate).
10. What else am I missing?