Comic Book Considerations

I read a lot of comics and want to give them some love.

Coming soon, maybe.
  • Big Man Plans
  • Coraline
  • Emily the Strange: All Things Strange
  • Hubert Reeves Explains
  • Papaya Salad
  • Ragemoor
  • Ratgod
  • Sobek

A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting

Writer/s: Guy Delisle
Artist/s: Guy Delisle
Publication Date: April 2013


Don't let the name fool you. This isn't some memoir written and drawn by a person getting years of parental issues off their chest as a means of therapeutic release. Does the loose and cartoonish art style look equipped to put across an account of such gravitas? That alone should have given it away. A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting is merely an assortment of hilarious incidents between a father and his two children. The title is a sly nod to the author-artist having a chuckle at his own expense just as much as he is having one at his kids'.

This is a comic that's perfect for anyone who's spent a good amount of time around young children - they who can switch from being charming to infuriating and back without pause nor warning. Adults who've done such have all been bombarded by inane questions or forced to tell itty-bitty white lies to miniature humans with no filters and self-control, just like Guy Delisle himself. Trust me, that's part of the fun of having kids around. Meaning A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting was right up my alley, and I'm confident those who are in the same boat will gain a comparable sense of enjoyment as I did.

Read the comic here.

Garlic and the Vampire

Writer/s: Bree Paulsen
Artist/s: Bree Paulsen
Publication Date: September 2021


Bree Paulsen has a knack for combining the supernatural with the mundane. The first signs of this could be glimpsed in her webcomic, Patrik the Vampire, wherein we see Patrik and the friends he makes during two very different points in his very long life. Despite the main character being a vampire (obviously), the webcomic is absent of the moroseness that often trails behind such a lead. Patrik himself is a very gentle and reserved man who favors exploits that are more comfy in nature. There's the word that I think perfectly encapsulates Paulsen's works: comfy.

The same level of comfiness has been expertly translated over to Garlic and the Vampire. As you can surmise, it's an adventure featuring a vampire. Before we meet said vampire, however, we're first introduced to Garlic. She's one of several living vegetables that faithfully assist the Witch Agnes in growing produce. Not for any underhanded means, mind you, just to sell to hungry villagers. All is well for them and their neighbors until plumes of smoke emitting from a supposedly abandoned castle raises their hackles. Much back and forth results in Garlic having the role of vampire hunter foisted onto her plant-person - garlic is famous as a vampire repellant, making her perfect for the task of eliminating the blood-sucking monster. The premise is fantastic, and the characters are too. But the story never really goes too far into the absurd in a vain attempt to become compelling. Truthfully, you'll probably learn more about horticulture than you will be awed by feats of vampire-slaying majesty - of which there are none, spoiler alert.

And that's perfectly fine. This isn't a comic that's out to astonish by harassing your senses at every turn. Garlic and the Vampire isn't a grandiose epic, a brain-tingling slice of horror, or a satirical narrative. It's small, nice, comfy, and is content being such. Sometimes that's all you need when you've got an hour or two to plunk down and read.

Read the comic here.

Good-bye, Chunky Rice

Writer/s: Craig Thompson
Artist/s: Craig Thompson
Publication Date: October 1999


Good-bye, Chunky Rice betrays itself by the end. Scattered throughout this comic are anecdotes of characters who've had to leave something or someone behind. They've said their farewells to certain aspects of their lives either by being browbeaten or by their own volition, the effects of which continue to profoundly impact them into the present day. Craig Thompson intended for them to serve as parallels to Chunky Rice himself. Nobody has pressured Chunky Rice into leaving his best friend, the doe-eyed mouse-deer, Dandel, behind in order to journey to the Kahootney Islands. On the other hand, he certainly had no say in having his Motown records carelessly tossed into the sea by the captain of the boat he paid for. But ironically, the one character who adamantly refuses to let go is Dandel. There is no way she's letting slip from her lips the words: "good-bye, Chunky Rice."

Hence why Good-bye, Chunky Rice is ultimately an optimistic story despite starting out so bleak and ambling towards bittersweet territory. No good-bye is truly permanent. The final few pages reinforce this moral quite well. As Chunky Rice acclimates to life at sea, Dandel has been desperately sending him messages in bottles in the hope that they'll eventually land in his hands. She doesn't know if it'll happen; she doesn't care. Her impassioned "there is no good bye, Chunky Rice," act as both her parting words and the comic's written send off. The last image is that of a bottle washing against the side of the boat Chunky Rice is on, showing that her persistence has rewarded her. What makes the panel even more touching is that it's the sea that brings them together despite being the force that originally kept them apart.

Small but nuanced touches like these contribute to the brilliance of Good-bye, Chunky Rice. Even if you're the sort who thinks comics are strictly for children, I suggest giving this one a shot and allow yourself to be swept up by its charms.

Read the comic here.

Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich!

Writer/s: Garth Ennis
Artist/s: Doug Mahnke
Publication Date: September 2000


If you've never heard of Hitman, here's what you need to know: Tommy Monaghan, alias Hitman, is an Irish assassin with minor telepathic powers. His body count is in the hundreds, is surprisingly cordial with the Justice League despite the fact, and he's reasonably average compared to some of his friends. The aforementioned friends include a man who's weaponized his mucus, a Terminator parody who breaks windows over people's heads, and Dogwelder, who does exactly what you think. So you can only imagine what Lobo gets himself into when he bulldozes his way into Hitman's world.

Without mincing words: Lobo is simply out of his depth. His trademark boorishness gets him dragged into the world's most violent chase sequence, and his notorious indestructability makes it last as long as Hitman needs it to. The moment Lobo reaches the conclusion of his Looney Tunes-esque hunt, he isn't even afforded the dignity of landing a scratch on Hitman. Rather, he's the one who gets his back scratched. By a hero whose main gimmick is the power of perversion, no less. Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich! shows Lobo no mercy and it is glorious.

Garth Ennis' name isn't ordinarily associated with comical stories. Though when he tries, he really hits it out of the park. Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich! is as hysterical as it is vicious, with Doug Mahnke's crude illustrations backing it all up perfectly. And I do mean "crude" as a compliment. The chunky, hyper-detailed drawings intensify every shot, blow, glob of snot, window, wrecking ball, and matrimonial butt burgle that Lobo receives. Don't feel too bad for him, however. Lobo kind of deserves it for all of the nonsense he's pulled off over the years. Hitman was just the guy to ensure that some form of karma finally bites the Main Man where the sun don't shine - right next to the dead dog welded onto his pants.

Oh, and you don't need to have read any other comics featuring Lobo and Hitman to savor this comic. You just need a sense of humor and an appreciation for bloody good fun.

Read the comic here.

Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer

Writer/s: Andy Runton
Artist/s: Andy Runton
Publication Date: September 2004


During a time when cynicism appears to have pervaded every type of media, I find myself enjoying Owly more and more. It's an uplifting pair of novellas revolving around a sweet little owl trying to help his friends out as best he can. That's it, really. And thank goodness for that. Biting socio-political commentary and heavy-handed attempts at irony have no place in Owly because it doesn't need them. What you're blessed with instead are sincere tales about friendship, patience, and sacrifice. All told through black and white drawings of adorably squat animals. Undoubtedly, Andy Runton's visuals enhance the narrative a great deal. They'll make you smile, they'll make you tear up, and they'll make you realize that this is a wonderful comic ideal for readers of all ages. I highly recommend this to adults, kids, and the young at heart.

Read the comic here.

The Punisher Presents: Barracuda

Writer/s: Garth Ennis
Artist/s: Goran Pavlov
Publication Date: April 2007 - August 2007


The Punisher Presents: Barracuda is not for the lighthearted. Overtly: the cast includes the likes of a South American dictator grappling with his homosexuality, an Irish priest who can barely contain his pedophilic impulses, and a Christopher Walken lookalike-cum-soundalike. Implicitly: spread across the comic's five issues are allusions to prostitution, white supremacy, prison assault, and cannibalism. All of these in a tale that began with a secret assassination attempt and quickly progressed into something bigger - something involving Banana Republic politics and the ploys of the United States government. Yet despite it all, I had an excellent time reading it through to the very end. Not just because it takes a lot to rile up my not-so-delicate sensibilities. But largely due to the fact that the titular Barracuda himself is one of the most enjoyable villains to come out of Marvel's continually expanding roster

Make no mistake. Barracuda is a bad guy and proud of it. First appearing in The Punisher vol. 7 #31, he set himself apart from the typical dredge that Frank Castle fought (and eventually killed, spoiler alert) by acting as the perfect foil. Both men are battle-hardened soldiers who have no qualms playing dirty to win. However, Frank Castle is a humorless psychopath, a detached ascetic who treats friends and foes no differently from one another. By contrast, Barracuda is a jovial psychopath, a bombastic libertine who sees allies and enemies as disposable meat-bags to further his goals.

Put him alongside the Punisher and you can see exactly what makes him so fun a character. The Punisher is strictly clinical. Barracuda is delightedly passionate. The Punisher hates your guts and will tell it to your face as he coldly garrotes you. Barracuda hates your guts but will give you the time of your life first before shooting you in the head. Or beating you to death with his balls. He's got the uncanny ability to do either, giggling all the way.

That's what makes his attempts to play all sides in The Punisher Presents: Barracuda an absolute romp. Barracuda is here to have fun, and he doesn't care what you think. As for what I think? This is a must-read for those who aren't easily offended. Push those thoughts aside and you'll be treated to a mini-series that's worth coming back to time and time again.

Read the comic here.


Writer/s: Grant Morrison
Artist/s: Frank Quitely
Publication Date: June 2004 - January 2005


Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely stand tall as one of the comic industry's most iconic creator duos. Together, they've been responsible for such works as the mind-bendingly quirky Flex Mentallo and timeless All-Star Superman. Just about everything they produce is magical. We3 is no exception.

The protagonists being animals is the first thing that makes the comic stand out - the next is the fact that 1 (the dog), 2 (the cat), and 3 (the rabbit) have all been transformed into cyborg assassins by the United States government. Ridiculous as it may sound, the animals prove to be anything but as they rip and tear through the countless soldiers attempting to impede their journey home. Yup, as you may have guessed, We3 is something of a Homeward Bound-type story but with far more robotic exoskeletons and death.

Does that take away from the comic? Absolutely not. As was previously mentioned, Morrison and Quitely are a force to be reckoned with whenever they collaborate. For one, the animals talk in simplistic terms. When 1 falls ill, he can only say "Sick. Bad sick." and not specify how he feels or what he thinks is responsible for his deteriorating health. Later on, he begs for help by quietly imploring with a softspoken"We3 gud. Gud dog." The decision to have the three express themselves in such an inarticulate manner is a stroke of genius. It shows that despite all of the modifications made to their bodies and minds, they're still just pets who want nothing more than to return to their families. Come hell or high water, that's what they're going to do. Anyone who gets in their way is unfortunately just collateral damage.

Another point in the favor of We3 is the gorgeous pencils by Frank Quitely. I'd say that the art on display here is among Quitely's finest thanks to him going buck-wild with it. He eschews the typical "Z" flow in favor of a more unorthodox approach. Smaller panels litter much larger frames, either containing a close-up or far-away shot.

Characters burst out of borders and smoothly leap into the subsequent ones. The progression of a scene is drawn in a way to imply slow motion through multiple panels.

All of these would be confusing in lesser hands. Yet Quitely is a master in making it all work. Your gaze directed to the next part almost effortlessly. If you squint your eyes and concentrate, you can even imagine it as a film - a beautiful and heartbreaking film that will make anyone with a soul feel something. And that something is a good feeling that can only come from reading a comic worth adding to anyone's collection.

Read the comic here.

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