A few months back, media website The Hooded Utilitarian put out a call to bloggers, webcomic creators, editors, and retailers (and etc.) to answer the following question: What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant? Two hundred and eleven people responded and sent in their lists, resulting in an interesting top 10 list. They also put together a top 115 list to show the variety of works listed. I could definitely argue the arrangement of this list. Comics I feel were far better or influential fall behind some questionable picks. I’m not going to argue that here, though. I really hadn’t planned on a Bento Bako Lite this week, but decided I could quickly put something together for this. I did, in fact, submit my own list, which can be viewed on the HU website in an alphabetical arrangement. Along with my list, I submitted very short reasonings for my picks. I thought I could elaborate a bit here, so here is the original list I submitted:
Fruits Basket, by Natsuki Takaya. It wasn’t my very first manga, but it was the title that turned me into a serious manga reader.
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo. This brilliant mini-series paints Luthor in a sympathetic light, detailing why he despises Superman so thoroughly.
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, by Fumi Yoshinaga. It’s hard for me to pick one of Yoshinaga’s works, but I would feel remiss for not including any of them. Ôoku, with its beautifully simple style (yet incredible amount of detail), historical setting, rewrite of history, and intriguing view of feminism make it an absolute must-read for anyone.
Ayako, by Osamu Tezuka. Again, it’s hard to pick one Tezuka work, but I have a special interest in stories about outside influences on traditional cultures, so this one really clicks with me.
20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa. Because it’s brilliant.
52 by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid (with layouts by Keith Giffen), from DC Comics. An amazing undertaking, publishing a comic every week. But they pulled it off, and kept the quality consistently high from issue to issue.
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. One of my first real forays into comic books was this brilliant story about the literal last man on Earth.
The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman (and various artists). Fantastic, and perfect for a literature and mythology junkie like myself.
Skip Beat!, by Yoshiki Nakamura. I just adore it so much, I can’t get enough!
Bone, by Jeff Smith. No other comic I’ve seen can hit such a wide range of readers, in terms of age, sex, or genre preference. Nearly everyone who has seen it loves it. It sells like crack. It’s fantastically drawn, well written, and a truly great read.
Fruits Basket: Just last month was the Fruits Basket Manga Moveable Feast, and I wrote a piece about Tohru Honda and Akito Sohma, comparing their roles within the story. Fruits Basket is a great series for bridging the age gap, the gender gap, and the genre gap. Fans from all walks of life (and all sorts of tastes) can enjoy the series. The series starts off with a deceptively cutesy feel, but quickly shows its true colors as a story of deeply troubled characters with a dark and ominous bond hanging over them. Natsuki Takaya shines with this series, with both her story telling and her artwork, which gradually improved throughout the series as Takaya became more settled in her unique style and her art matured.
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel: I don’t remember how I found this one. If it was recommended to me or I came across it on my own while working at a comic store. At any rate, I was really impressed with its presentation of one of the most interesting villains in comics. The mini-series presents an intensely patriotic Luthor, in love with his country, with a strong sense of solidarity with his species. It’s a story of a good intentioned but misguided man, confused and furious that an alien from another planet has become the people’s hero.
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers: Well, I’ve talked about this one a lot on the site already through my regular reviews of the series. And I’m sure I’ve expressed my love affair with all things Fumi Yoshinaga. And next month there will be no doubts when I host the August Manga Moveable Feast to honor her and her many works. I find this series intriguing, intelligent, heartbreaking, and a slew of other positive adjectives.
Ayako: Yeah, so, most of this list is made up of personal favorites and focuses less on the simply influential. But honestly, anything by Osamu Tezuka fits the “influential” category by nature. I reviewed this one, as well. It’s a beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking story, highlighting some of the darkest aspects of humanity, and providing a look at the cultural after effects of WWII.
20th Century Boys: Another manga whose praises I consistently sing. A well written, well drawn psychological and mystery suspense thriller (sort of thing). This science fiction series is written by the well known and brilliant Naoki Urasawa. A must read for anyone who enjoys comics.
52: I was working in a comic book store when this series came out, and I was quite impressed by DC’s ability to not only get it out every single week without fail, but by the consistent level of quality in the art and writing. When titles are continually delayed or have quality issues, I think back to this fantastic bit of work that did what it promised, and did it well.
Y: The Last Man: Recommended to me along with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series when I was first seriously getting into comic, this series will always hold a special place for me. But aside from that aspect of nostalgia, it’s a fantastic bit of storytelling. It’s a riveting tale of the literal last man on Earth, his quest to find his girlfriend on the other side of the world, and a well paced revelation about what really wiped out all the men.
The Sandman: Though I’m still working on collecting the entire series (having stopped to wait for the new releases of the restored Absolute Edition trades), I had to include this on my list. It’s probably one of the most widely recognized comics out there, carrying the name of one of the most widely recognized creators. As a mythology and literature buff, it’s right up my alley.
Skip Beat!: It’s just one of my absolute favorite manga. I think it’s fabulous. It has a strong heroine, an engaging story, it can make you laugh until your sides hurt or make you giddy as a schoolgirl over the unfolding romance. I excitedly devour every page, eager for whatever Nakamura has coming up next.
Bone: OK, this is probably the most well known (non-Big Two) comic out there. It’s a perfect all ages read. It’s been reprinted more times than I can count. It’s fun, it’s epic, it’s brilliant. Get it for yourself, then pass it to your kids when they’re old enough. Or read it with them. The Bone cousins provide nonstop entertainment, and the talking dragon helps, too.
Huh, I just realized I have four DC series on here, and not a single thought about any Marvel works. I didn’t know I was such a DC fangirl. Well, I hope you enjoyed this look at some of my favorite comics. Go check out the main list over at the Hooded Utilitarian, and maybe you’ll find something you might add to your own list of favorites.