Emanata: Ten Comics That Should Run Forever

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A few weeks ago, Tom Spurgeon offered a juicy challenge over at The Comics Reporter: “name five past or present comics titles you think should always be published, just because it would please you to see them on the stands.” I liked thinking about series I’d want to go on forever (as opposed to going on longer than they have): there’ve already been over 1500 Judge Dredd stories in 2000 A.D., for instance, but part of the reason I enjoy “Judge Dredd” so much as a serial is that it’s building toward a conclusion that will come eventually. Kurt Busiek followed Spurgeon’s challenge with his own list of fifteen comics that he’d want to see run forever, noting specifically that they’re comics he likes in serial form. Since Kurt Busiek always wins, he inspired me to make my own list of ten candidates for permanent serieshood–but to poach one of his picks (that would be #5).

1. Frank, by Jim Woodring. I’ve read all of Woodring’s wordless stories about the sort-of-innocent catlike creature Frank, his reprehensible nemesis Manhog and the world of frog-creatures and whirling rainbow souls they inhabit at least half a dozen times; I sometimes think my single favorite comic book ever is Woodring’s early Frank one-shot Tantalizing Stories Presents Frank in the River. A new, superb Frank book called Weathercraft came out a few weeks ago, but I treasured Frank as a periodical, and I’d love to sit down with a few hundred issues of it when I’m an old man.

2. Age of Bronze, by Eric Shanower. Technically, this is probably going to have to come to an end at some point, since Shanower’s recounting the Trojan War. But it’s a terrific comic and a really effective serial, and the Trojan War did go on for a really long time and there are plenty of stories to tell about it, and any week this comes out is a good week. (And what do you know: there’s an issue coming out next Wednesday!)

3. Sugar & Spike, by Sheldon Mayer. This would require Mayer, who died in 1991, to continue writing and drawing it posthumously, which would be fine by me. His relaxed, sweet, funny series about a pair of toddlers who could communicate with each other but not with grown-ups ran from 1956 to 1971; by the end, it often got pretty weird, but it never actually seemed played-out. I’d be happy if Sugar and Spike were minor cultural icons on the level of, say, Marmaduke, although I wouldn’t want a movie about them either.

4. Young Romance. I might not even read it. Actually, I probably wouldn’t. But I’d look at the cover every month.

5. Amy Unbounded, by Rachel Hartman. Publishing forever is a tall order for a minicomic that ran 13 photocopied issues and hasn’t appeared in many years, but the few people who got to read this totally adorable series about a nine-year-old girl growing up in a kind of fantasy/medieval culture still tend to reminisce about how great it was and how much we hope we get to see another one someday. (There’s a collection of issues 7-12, Belondweg Blossoming, that’s not hard to dig up.)

6. Blazing Combat–specifically a Blazing Combat series in the vein of the short-lived, Archie Goodwin-written magazine that Fantagraphics recently collected. Another one I’d want to exist less for my own sake than for other people’s: I think it’s healthy for adolescent boys to have access to well-written, well-drawn comics about war, as long as the comics in question constantly pound home the message that war is futile, stupid and contemptible.

7. Fight or Run. This was never actually a series–just a one-shot, really–and I’m sure Kevin Huizenga’s got more interesting things to work on. Still, I can imagine other artists working from the rules Huizenga set up, and I liked the premise so much I’d be happy to read a different cartoonist’s execution of it every month.

8. Strange Adventures. Not the recent cosmic-heroes incarnation, or the original Adam Strange era, or Paul Pope’s twist on the Adam Strange stuff in Wednesday Comics last year (although I wouldn’t say no to that either), or even the Atomic Knights material whose reprint I was so happy to see recently, but the original “okay, now here’s a weird one” anthology format. I just like the idea of a permanently ongoing series about people having strange adventures.

9. Batman. Because as long as there’s a Batman comic book coming out, there is something in the world that’s okay. I wouldn’t particularly mind if X-Men or The Flash or Superman took a few years off, but I don’t know if it’s possible for me to get tired of reading even vaguely decent Batman stories.

10. Tales of the Beanworld, by Larry Marder. One reason is that I love Marder’s sui generis series about a two-dimensional ecosystem adapting to changes and evolving over time, but enjoy it much more in single-serving doses. Another is that I’m pretty sure a comics market that could sustain a monthly Beanworld series indefinitely could probably also support almost anything else I’d want to read.

Want more Emanata? See all of Douglas’ columns here.

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