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I have recently taken on the idea to submit ten essays, one per week, taking an in depth look at what I think are some of the finest examples and collections of comic book stories around. By no means have I read everything ever printed and don’t claim to know it all. I have read and own everything on this list as well as a large amount more. This is an eclectic collection that I, personally, think would please not just hardcore collectors, but casual fans as well. And that’s the most important criteria in forming this list; I looked at complete stories, easily accessible, without too much history to learn. Something that a casual fan, or even non comic fan can pick up and possibly enjoy. Last week featured Wendy and Richard Pini's Elfquest as my number one choice.
Most Important: Your favorite book!
There are so many tastes and genres covered by comic books as to be almost limitless. There are certainly more books than money out there and you don't need to feel beholden to a list such as this of books that someone else thinks should be on your shelf. Sure there are some standards that most people agree on, but for example, in the case of Watchmen, that book is also largely considered one of the most over rated books in the history of comics. I don't disagree; even on this list I said there was a whole section that I ignored to enjoy it.
Some of the standouts that excite me from my own collection include; Cerebus: The Last Day by Dave Sim and Gerhard. Sim has come to the end of his story and Cerebus is old and his body is failing. The death of Cerebus is absolutely strikingly perfect. One of the most perfect moments in comics ever as far as I'm concerned.
Spider-Man: Back in Black was a mostly sub par effort and some of it was hopefully regrettable, but when Straczynski writes Spider-Man breaking into jail to confront the Kingpin? That was a whole history worth waiting for.
Aquaman: The Trench by Geoff Johns made Aquaman a relevant character! Great comic art and a fantastic story that grounds the character and makes him more memorable.
Spider-Man: Fearful Symmetry is one of my favorites. The list goes on, and on.. Identity Crisis, Longbow Hunters, Dreadstar, Mutant Massacre, Beta Ray Bill...
I even took a number of my favorite comic books and at one point had them professionally bound into their own hardcover collection aptly titled My Favorite Comics. Whether you like My Little Pony, Cherie Poptart, Flash Gordon or Transformers, there's no apologizing for what you like and your collection should begin with whatever makes you happy. After that it's all fun!
Michael R. Murray read his first comic and has been buying and collecting for over 35 years. At one point his collection included two copies of Amazing Spider-man #1, and one copy each of Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #2, Avengers #4, Showcase #22, and dozens more high grade and key issues. The collection has grown to include original art pages, as well as statues and busts, with the current emphasis on collecting original drawings from appropriate artists on the inside of his hard covers. His personal collection of graphic novels consists of over 2,000 hardcovers and trade paperbacks. He has attended all of the Boston and New York Comic Cons and experienced Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego. He has championed comic books in the local schools and was very proud that both of his children read at least three years above their grade levels, due nearly exclusively to comics. He’s quick to point out that none of this makes him an expert, but that his love of comics is most enjoyable when he can share it. Follow on Twitter at mycomicstore001 or like his Facebook page.