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Comics 411: The Most Must-Read Comic Books

July 15, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we asked Does Wizard Magazine Need to Return?. Here’s what some of you had to say:
Wheeljack84: “I miss the days of Wizard Magazine, but I’m just not sure how it could still be relevant in the digital era.

As I recall, the attempted digital comeback did not end well. Plus, how does Wizard compete with the major comic book websites? How does it stand apart from them? I just don’t think you can get back that Wizard news style in a 24/7 digital news media era, and where updates are constantly coming up on Twitter.

But going into a comic shop and walking out with Wizard or Toyfare were some of my favorite days of the week.”

PMH: “Funny how everyone loves the superheroes but has no interest in the medium they came from. No movie or TV show currently streaming can hold a candle to a Saturday afternoon on the couch, reading Days of Future Past, Hush, or World War Hulk. It’s my favorite form of expression and I would hate to see it die.”

oga: “I made so many drawings with the wizard robe in an attempt to get it published in the fan art section, but I couldn’t color them well enough to even submit them.

As a person who no longer reads comics, but tries to keep up with what’s going on, I’d buy a Wizard if I saw it in the bookstore when I’m picking up my PWI 500.”

SynysterBob: “Back when Wizard and Hero and other such magazines were out, the Comic industry was hot and people wanted to see that stuff. Today, the industry is tanking and the fanbase isn’t there anymore. This would be a complete waste of time and energy.”

Carl Rood: “The North American comic industry isn’t even treading water. Unlike the “pros” in the industry, I’m not counting manga sales to prop up the numbers. How can a print magazine dedicated to that business even hope to survive? Media web sites are cutting back everywhere and are desperate for investment capital.

Any attempt to revive Wizard as a print magazine would be doomed to failure.”

nerdtastic4dawin:“I bought EVERY Inquest and Toyfare. I’ll take them OR Wizard to make a return. I’d love it. There’s also hardly any CCG magazines out there, Tabletop Gamer mostly deals with board games and there’s another smaller magazine that’s more like an ordering catalog…BRING EM ALL BACK!”

William Jansen: “We never had magazines about comics here in Denmark, but news, reviews and interviews were integrated into the magazine themselves by the Danish publishers. So you would have your regular Spiderman-story and in the middle, there’d be 4-6 pages with some letters to the editor, an editorial and some news.

Perhaps that would work for America as well.”

Benjamin Kellog: “I was not a Wizard baby, but I did inadvertantly stumble into an issue of “Anime Insider” during “Yu-gi-oh’s” early US days, which I believe indeed contained a Twisted Toyfare page. My fave part of that issue, though, was a “Death Battle”-type article positing what would occur if Ash and his Pokemon met Yugi on some open field (spoiler: paper cards and human flesh do not endure Charizard’s flames).
I believe the Internet has made the type of content Wizard and its ilk commanded mostly obsolete. It’d have to deliver some outrageous exclusives, or perhaps find some underrepresented niche and make everyone care about that real hard. For now, though, my comics mag of choice remains Michael Eury’s outstanding “Back Issue.””

TheMainEvent: “Growing up I looked forward to each monthly copy of Wizard and recently on a trip home to my parents rediscovered some 80 issues from 96-03 I had boxed away in their garage. There’s also a fun Wizard_Comics Instagram account and Archive.Org that documents old issues for a fun nostalgic trip I’ve frequented lately.
However, in today’s media landscape something like a monthly published magazine wouldn’t work. If they were to maintain the brand and create a website with similar content from the old issues I would love to see it return in that format. Sites like CBR and Newsarama have seemed to fallen in quality the last few years and the time could be right for Wizard to return atop the comic book media world if done correctly.”

Tim Potter: “Maybe not a magazine, but a Wizard Website/Youtube Collab, along the lines of Nerdist or what G4 used to be would work. There’s still enough people that remember Wizard that it would still have name brand recognition. And if they were to somehow combine with CBR, they would corner the Internet Comic New Market.”

Some awesome comments last week! Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we disucss…

Must Read Comic Books

Last week’s column got me on a nostalgia trip. While I’ve been reading a number of graphic novels, I’ll admit that I’ve dug out all my old Wizard magazines and started reading them from the first issue. If you have any old issues, give them a read and remind yourself of where the industry used to be and where we are now. To say things have changed is an understatement. It also reminded me of some books that I used to love and need to go back and read again.

In the comments section, from time to time, I see someone ask for suggestions and everyone is great to jump in and share what they think. I wanted to open it up this week and talk about books you’d suggest that are on your “Must Read” list. Yes, I’ve done this before and I’ll admit that I ALWAYS get someone suggesting something that I’ve never heard of and I end up loving it. 

When it comes to the classics, my list is pretty cliche. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s filled with titles like:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: Year One
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
V for Vendetta
Sandman: Volume 1: Preludes And Nocturnes
MausSquadron Supreme
Kingdom Come

I also pepper it with titles like:

Invisibles: Volume 1: Say You Want A Revolution
Fables: Volume 1: Legends In Exile
Y The Last Man: Volume 1: Unmanned
Powers: Volume 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?
Transmetropolitan: Volume 1: Back On The Street (New Edition)
The Walking Dead: Volume 1: Days Gone Bye
All-Star Superman
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth
Ex Machina: Volume 1: The First Hundred Days
Superman: Red SonMiracle Man
Astro City: Volume 1: Life In The Big City

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Yes, I can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to titles to suggest. My list could go another 100 titles and that’s the great thing. There is so much out there that just about anyone can find something that appeals or speaks to them. For many of us, we got hooked when we were young. I’ve mentioned it before I used to read random comic books growing up but the first series I followed actively was G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Yes, I fell for the comic book/toy line/cartoon combo. Years and years later, I had the pleasure of interviewing Larry Hama, who wrote most of its 155-issue run. To be able to chat about that was a thrill and I could have easily gone on for hours, talking his ear off. Funny enough, I just emailed him last week about something and if Lil Steve knew I’d be talking to Mr. Hama at some point, he’d flip! 

After really getting into collecting G.I. Joe, the floodgates were open. I got hooked on the Legion of Super-Heroes and it grew from there.

I guess where I’m going with all this is I wanted to see what books you all would give someone if they had free time on their hands. It doesn’t have to be one, because that’s impossible. Throw a few out there and let’s see what happens.

Sound off below!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!