“Why so serious?”
If the talk is about comics then the lines mentioned are apt. The fame received by comics is no wonder. Comics have seen every phase in order to reach a standard of modern literature.
For the mob comic is something for children. But there was a time when Children used to hide these like those “darkest secrets” they carried. It wasn’t accepted from the very beginning.
And the dilemma that comics are for children needs to be encountered. With time comics have presented the most serious problems of societies with a light conversation. Few comics which have gained world’s appreciation are mentioned below:
1. Maus (Raw, Pantheon Books) – It is not just a comic but a work of art that one needs to experience in his or her lifetime.
Based on the life of Spiegelman’s (author) father who was a polish Jew and concentration camp survivor during WWII, the play gained notoriety by portraying all the characters in the story as different animals. Thus, Jewish characters as mice, Germans as cats, British as dolphins, non-Jewish as pigs and American as dogs. The characters are defined by their animalistic traits and this is what makes this comic to grab first place in the list.
2. The Dark Knight Returns (DC Entertainment) – One of the best series of all time is still on top chart explains the love of public for ‘dark crusader’. In this series Miller strips away all Batman’s technology and gadgets leaving Knight nothing but a mass full of rage. He is not a noble hero anymore but an old man in his 50’s full with a death wish and mad against crime.
In the world full of books related to social commentary, terror, misanthropy, war, cynicism etc. This is an authentic fiction alive which still throbs heart of many.
3. Watchmen (DC/Vertigo) – A series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons deconstructed the idea of Superheroes wholly. No one in the mainstream ever attempted a story so bold, brutal and complex before when the series was originally launched.
The series was based on the idea of Superheroes forever changed by introducing colorful characters with same moral failings as faced by everyone. As we turn pages the heroes like the fat, impotent Nite owl; the sociopath Rorschach; the god like Dr. Manhattan; the emotionally damaged Silk Spectre; and narcissistic Ozymandias appears. These so called heroic characters in costumes are as dangerous as the enemies they fight.
Moore’s work is enhanced with metaphors, symbolism and other literary connotations which elevate it above a simple super hero story.
4. Sandman (DC/Vertigo) – Comic books haven’t always been embraced by the society. It took years for people to accept it as a form of ‘modern literature’. After a lot of experimentation in genres and making books more mature made them acceptable. And the book that led this charge was Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
The book focuses on a famous figure Morpheus (god like master of dreams) and presents to the audience a complex narratives and characters that were simultaneously divine and tangible. His struggles are often finding the relationship between humans and reality.
The book includes literary allusions and rhythmic poetry on every page which makes it different from any other comic.
5.Preacher (DC/Vertigo) – Vertigo is to be praised for some of the daring comics they have produced. But how this one is one the chart is still a question. None other book has a track record of being so much dangerous and blasphemous as Garth Ennis’ Preacher.
Title is focused on a preacher named Jess Custer from a small Texas town Annville. In the opening part Custer is possessed by a Genesis (A result of an affair between an angel and a demon). And when it possesses Custer, it provides him abilities to rival against god.
Custer then goes on a journey to find god. He is joined by others like his ex-girlfriend, a professional assassin, Tulip O’Hare and a drunken Irish vampire called Cassidy. On the whole it is a brutal comic that mixes sex, violence and social commentary and is original. The irony of a preacher searching for god not to for salvation but more as a rival attracts the audience.