What comics to get a non-comic-reading snob?
May 18, 2009 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Help me convince a snob that comics are worth reading.

An old friend's birthday approaches, and I want his present to warp his mind permanently. Hope me, FetaMilter!

Since the release of the movie Watchmen, I've been going around and around with a friend of mine: I (college drop-out, habitual reader of comic books) maintain that he (masters degree in comp lit from an Ivy, Serious Reader of Serious Novels) has neglected, nay, IGNORED one of the most important artistic mediums of our age: the lowly comic. I intend to give him some food for thought for his birthday.

Criteria: I want to spend $100 or less, total. I will be ordering the books from Amazon (I have Amazon Prime, so no worries about shipping). I KNOW I'm going to include the following:

Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud
Maus I & II

That leaves me with about $40-$50 to play around with. I'd like to get him other books that are excellent examples of the art form. I'd prefer self-contained work (for instance, though I think he'd love Preacher, it runs to nine volumes -- I doubt he'd follow through and read the whole thing.). Also: no manga. We're just dipping a toe in, not jumping off the high dive.

What do y'all suggest? Bone? Black Summer? What?
posted by BitterOldPunk to Media & Arts (66 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
My rabid recommendation is the autobiography FUN HOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC by Alison Bechdel! Super high brow, plus Bechdel's dad was a 12-grade English teacher and the only reliable way that Alison and her dad had of communicating was through book recommendations and discussions. There's so much more to say about this book, but I am not up to the challenge right now.
posted by killerinsideme at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm afraid that I have merely grazed my toe over the medium, so I have few title-specific recommendations. However, I think a case could be made for graphic novels as influential as sort of an intermediate step. Once you come to realize the impact which comics have made upon movies, it become difficult to ignore them without retreating into complete snobbery.

Alternatively, if your friend watched Buffy, perhaps some of the Season Eight comics might do the trick.
posted by adipocere at 2:36 PM on May 18, 2009

There are several that come to mind. Japanese comics can sometimes be good, and the Nausica&auml series has been rightly lauded for years.

However, there's really only one book that I'd recommend for this purpose; it's easy for comics fans to enjoy most, but Will Eisner's A Contract With God stands in my mind as the greatest (and most literary) 'graphic novel' that I know of. It is, in my mind, far better than Maus (as great as Maus may be) or anything Alan Moore (admittedly a great writer) has produced. Moreover, I have a feeling someone who cares about language will understand it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:37 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

arg, stupid unicode entities
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2009

I know little about comics, but have loved one I ran across a few months ago- Freakangels. Gorgeous colors and artwork and a really compelling storyline.
posted by arnicae at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Include something by Will Eisner. Father of the American graphic novel and all that.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:41 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding "Fun Home" and "A Contract with God."
posted by Rinku at 2:43 PM on May 18, 2009

Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud
Maus I & II

For someone who leapt off the high dive a long time ago, this might feel like dipping a toe in -- but it isn't, not at all. If he's not interested, he might politely read one thoughtful suggestion out of respect for your friendship, but giving him a full semester syllabus-worth of reading material all at once is in poor taste I think. I think it's in poor taste to use a birthday gift as an opportunity to attempt to radically adjust his tastes to your own. A better friend would give him something tailor made to suit or challenge his existing interests.

Select ONE work that means a lot to you, which you think might mean a lot to him for some specific reason. Mention the reason in your inscription or card.

That said, I nominate Lynda Barry's book What It Is as an introduction to the process by which our imagination manifests itself visually. Beautiful, moving, and challenges the reader to attempt storytelling in a new way.
posted by hermitosis at 2:43 PM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

Most literary snobs like me can appreciate the depressing storyline and interesting and measured development of Jimmy Corrigan.
posted by rmless at 2:43 PM on May 18, 2009

From Hell.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can recommend Adrian Tomine's Shortcomings or one of his short story collections like Sleepwalk or Summer Blonde.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi's work is also really good and refreshingly different from what you would usually think of as "manga". Take a look at the collections of his work published by Drawn & Quarterly: Goodbye, The Push Man and Other Stories, and Abandon the Old in Tokyo.
posted by pravit at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe the indirect route would work? Buy him The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
posted by Paragon at 2:54 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Joe Sacco has done great, insightful graphic journal books about the Palestinian and Balkan conflicts.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:54 PM on May 18, 2009

I'm kind of surprised no one has recced Sandman yet. (though that may have changed by the time I hit 'post comment)

Persepolis, the autobiography of Marjane Satrapi growing up in Iran during the revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.

Mystery Play a murder mystery with religious/philosophical overtones.
posted by Caravantea at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2009

I suggest getting him some literature on studies of comic books that suggest they're worth reading. A lot has been said about how comic books protagonists are the modern answer to heroes from classic myths. Here's an example of a book on the topic:


Found it with a quick google search, so I'm not sure if it's pop-academia drivel, but I figured this sort of thing might be palatable for your friend.
posted by long at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2009

Rats...I hit post by accident.

I was going to say that one of the Sandman issues, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (in volume 3) won the World Fantasy Award for best short story. I don't think you can go wrong with anything Gaiman.
posted by Caravantea at 3:04 PM on May 18, 2009

Get him the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That is more Moore, but really, it hardly gets any more impenetrable than that.
posted by GuyZero at 3:05 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: Chris Ware's stuff is spare, heartbreaking, and quiet, and he's a master of the medium. So definitely Jimmy Corrigan. That's thirteen bucks.

You're totally right about Bone, because Jeff Smith is also a master, but in a completely different way than Ware is. I'm currently enamored with his ongoing series RASL, which is just pulpy as fuck. It has the same beautiful pacing and frantic energy of Bone, but applied to a Chandleresque interdimensional art thief instead of tiny Carl-Barks-looking brothers from a magical land. Wicked fun, gritty, bitchin'. For Volume One, eleven bucks.

If the dude's a comp lit snob, you're gonna wanna play up to his ego a little. So you should get him a dense, multiplayered, almost dadaist comic that has the playful oft-hilarious referentiality of Ulysses coupled with the creeping dread of Kafka. Fortunately, Peter Belgvad's Leviathan fits the bill perfectly. From Amazon, only eight bucks! Such a bargain! Get that!

How's he feel about the Weimar Republic? If he's down with it, maybe try out Berlin, by Jason Lutes, but if you want a self-contained book, stick with his Jar of Fools. It's about a down-on-his-luck magician wrestling with tradition and his feelings about his ex-girlfriend; the kind of non-pulpy quiet apathetic sadness that comic snobs lap right up (see also the Chris Ware suggestion, above, or Adrian Tomine, or Jeffrey Brown, or any of like seventy bajillion other comics where a mid-20s white guy stares out the window of a diner at night). That's another thirteen bucks.

Someone above mentioned Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. I love, love LOVE Alison Bechdel, but I actually think that her Dykes To Watch Out For is way stronger than Fun Home (but that the latter gets more credit because autobio stories about your distant father are more SERIOS BISNESS that can get aired on NPR). If you want to go for autobiography, I'd go with Eddie Campbell's Alec: The King Canute Crowd. Your intellectual friend may dig the overarching theme: brash young intellectual drinks at pubs, shoots the shit with his blue-collar co-workers, chases girls. And the art is gorgeous, if you like Eddie Campbell's art. Which I do -- it's scratchy and messy, and seems to capture the ephemerality of being young and drunk that most other autobio cartoonists don't; like, Bechdel and Tomine and everyone are great, but their clear lines and steady pacing create a solid narrative of their own lives, defining their own youth from an older vantage point. Campbell has no I-am-now-wise back-looking narrative, he just records, and it's often kind of a trashy scribble. I love that. So that's fifteen bucks.

And total... that's sixty bucks. I think we're done!
posted by Greg Nog at 3:06 PM on May 18, 2009 [7 favorites]

Well I may be getting old school here, but if you really want to show him the origins of the art form, why not try Walt Kelly's Pogo? 'Ten Everloving Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo' is a fantastic compilation (Amazon has it listed as unavailable but maybe other sources are better). Perhaps not exactly the modern interpretation of comics you were looking for, but may fit his sensibilities better.

Also, from a critical standpoint, Bradford Wright has a book called "Comic Book Nation" that's a look at the evolution of comics to around 1990. Most of it is dedicated to the era around the late 30's-60's though, and while I do have some criticism as to his choice of comics to highlight and his literary voice, it is a pretty impressive analysis of the genre.
posted by elendil71 at 3:09 PM on May 18, 2009

Christopher Ware's Acme Novelty Library - in particular the Jimmy Corrigan stories, collected in this beautiful edition - is by far the peak of the form for "serious" comics during the last ten years.

That's pretty much all you need to know. I can't imagine a smart comp lit student getting off more on any other comic; it's a multi-layered, self-reflexive, sharply detailed small family history, with achingly gorgeous art and wrenching emotional power. Ware's a brilliant storyteller and a fantastic graphic artist who's in perfect command of the comics medium in this book.

For nonfiction comics, Joe Sacco is your guy; he's pretty much defined comics journalism during the same decade Ware's owned the lit side. Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 is a masterpiece, and the earlier Palestine almost as good. His eye for detail is wonderful, as is the way he handles the presence of the 'I' in his reporting, but what really sends it over the top for me as a comic is the marvelous way he plays with page layouts and perspectives. He's as much a master of the form as Ware, but in the next neighborhood over.

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home is one of the best autobiographical comics I've ever read, with a great use of simple color. Megan Kelso's The Squirrel Mother is a wonderful collection of playful, thoughtfully written short pieces, some fun, some sad, all delicious. I think Craig Thompson is wonderful; Blankets is a thoughtful, emotional and realistic, if a bit unresolved, coming of age story, but Goodbye, Chunky Rice is even better - fantastic, cartoony, beautifully drawn and with a great heart beating underneath its simple story. You can find all of these pretty cheap, too. I have to go make a mulberry pie now or I'd give you lots more, but really, you need Bechdel, Ware and Sacco on any list of "excellent examples of the art form" in 2009.
posted by mediareport at 3:10 PM on May 18, 2009

One vote for Concrete.
posted by bartleby at 3:10 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

IMHO, no rational, humanities-oriented person with the slightest bit of intelligence could possibly resist David B.. His book The Epileptic is my favorite example of sequential art ever, ever, ever, and I expect that to be true until the day I die.

My One True Sequential Love before David B. was Windsor McKay. Daydreams and Nightmares is a great introductory collection, and can be had used for less than $50.00, though there are other (narrower and cheaper) collections out there as well.

If neither of those options appeal, I'd second the recommendations above for Alison Bechdel's Fun Home or anything by Joe Sacco.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:11 PM on May 18, 2009

Btw, I'd totally skip Understanding Comics. It's a really, *really* simplistic look at how comics - and art in general - work, and would probably seem pretty juvenile to a comp lit masters student. If I had to pick out the most over-rated highly praised comic out there, it'd probably be Understanding Comics.
posted by mediareport at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Something by Jim Woodring would also be good, I think.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:13 PM on May 18, 2009

I don't think I fully second mediareport about Understanding Comics, but I do see where he's coming from.

If you think your friend might be more engaged by something with a bit more intellectual heft to it, consider Douglas Wolk's Reading Comics.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2009

Seconding hermitosis. I've done some nagging campaigning on behalf of comic books, and the HERE ARE A SHELF OF CANON approach doesn't work as well as one or two carefully-selected, personalized volumes that open doors when the person feels guilty enough to crack 'em.

As for what works for personalization, do you know what kind of comp lit your friend focus on? From Hell and Jimmy Corrigan awesome if your friend did dense, complex social masterpieces like the bigtime Russian authors or DH Lawrence. (Right general time period, too.)

If your friend specialized more in more non-Western canon lit, like female authors or Latin American authors, Lynda Barry would be more my go-to. And if your friend has a bit more of an anthropological or religious bent to comp lit, I'd look at the Gaiman or Lucifer books. In particular, the latter is just a field-day for people who like their imagery bloody and Biblical.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:17 PM on May 18, 2009

Not a true "comic", but The Photographer is non-fiction (which might help bridge the gap between serious lit and comics) and is getting reviewed by the New York Times this week.
posted by kimdog at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2009

Echoing "Fun House". Let me strongly recommend "Stuck Rubber Baby".

If your friend can't look at Fun House, Stuck Rubber Baby, and Maus, and see serious literature, he's letting the stick up his arse cloud his judgement.
posted by rodgerd at 3:20 PM on May 18, 2009

Oh, and the Graphic Novels for Snobs AskMe is your go-to previous question.
posted by mediareport at 3:27 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sandman or From Hell.
posted by synecdoche at 3:31 PM on May 18, 2009

Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

For the record, these are the two comics I own. The only two, in an apartment full of books. Clearly didn't spark a new love for me.
posted by smackfu at 3:35 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Aargh, these threads always pull me back, this time to recommend Daniel Clowes, whose brilliantly moody stuff also pretty much defined alternative comics for years. I'd recommend Ice Haven over Ghost World if your friend likes meta-narrative, and vice versa if the friend prefers more straightforward but still powerful storytelling about ordinary folks' lives.
posted by mediareport at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2009

I don't read comics myself, but after reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay I have an appreciation for them. That may not be a serious enough work for your friend though- perhaps Maus would work?
posted by betsybetsy at 3:40 PM on May 18, 2009

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle.

It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken by Seth.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:40 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

hermitosis said: A better friend would give him something tailor made to suit or challenge his existing interests.

This is really something you should consider. The suggestions above (and any more you will get (and any more in the other AskMefi threads)) are all superb, but they are superb for different reasons. Think about what books he likes, and build on that. And think about *why* your friend dismisses comics. For instance, the friend thinks comics are all just creepy adults dressing in colorful spandex? Forget Watchmen and focus on Eisner, Tomine, etc.. Trying to prove him wrong could end in heartbreak, but introducing him to wonders beyond his imagination could blow his mind.

And just to be practical, a book to consider in addition to or in place of Understanding Comics: Douglas Wolk's Reading Comics. (I admit, I've only read Wolk's book, so I can't compare the two.) Also, Greg Nog's list made my heart race, and mediareport is right in saying Blankets is good but not the best.)
posted by isnotchicago at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2009

I gave my father, who's a professor of literature, Maus one Christmas and he loved it. He hasn't been a conspicuous consumer of comics before or after but he's never had anything particularly against them. Maus is where I'd start. Fun Home is also good. Berlin and Ghost World are good places to start for fictional comics.

I agree with hermitosis, select one work and start there. My examples, Maus, Fun Home, Berlin and Ghost World are all very literary. They may not push the medium to its utmost limits but they're very solid works all.
posted by Kattullus at 3:51 PM on May 18, 2009

i think Maus is an excellent place to start.
it's what got me interested in comics. i don't think it's "off the high dive" at all.
posted by gursky at 4:12 PM on May 18, 2009

You need to find out why your friend doesn't like comics. Is it because he doesn't think they're good literature? In that case, find out what he does consider good literature, and get him something in that vein. Is it because he thinks they're for kids? Get him something very clearly meant only for grownups. Understand his objection and work with it.

If, however, he's anything like me, his "neglect" of comics may have nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with the fact that I'm not a visual learner. The medium is not universally appealing. I either don't get the nuance of the story or I have to work harder than seems reasonable to figure out what's going on. (I also don't get much out of paintings, beautiful nature scenery, or porn movies.) For me, the payoff just isn't there. If that's the case for him, he's probably not going to read anything you buy him.

A gift should be about getting him something he'll like, not about making his preferences match yours.
posted by decathecting at 4:15 PM on May 18, 2009

Recycling a chunk the text of a comment from a couple years ago re: comics recommendations for somebody who doesn't see the point (mostly seconds):

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
-The classic 'failure at being human' graphic novel focusing on two eras of a defiled paternal lineage. Intricately constructed in narrative and form, it's got deconstruction AND cut-outs!

Black Hole by Charles Burns
-A book that will make you FEEL. Hot teens and grotesque disease. Black Hole is probably my favorite comics work in that it really is a story that could only be told to its ultimate effect in the comics form. What Burns pulls off so fluidly and passionately in images would have come across as tacky and contrived in text.

Safe Area : Gorazde by Joe Sacco
-Sacco is the comics journalist, and he's a war journalist. Here, he deals with the tragedy of a UN safe area and the war in Bosnia itself. It's incredibly interesting in just how honest it is and feels; even though it's so much more heavily constructed than almost any other medium in telling the story, you really feel connected and--in an albeit totally safe, comfortable way--a part of the stories he tells. Gorazde is incredible in the scope of what it tackles. For an equally complex book but more tightly focused, I'd also recommend The Fixer.

I picked these because they're examples of the form at its highest, doing things in ways that can be emulated but not actually done elsewhere. The triumph of the technique should also be fairly apparent to people who aren't necessarily well-read in comics.

Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes (or replace with Eightball #22--the original version--and feel free to include Eightball #23.... although, honestly, Clowes is probably more for the initiated.)
Epileptic by David B. (This, I probably should have included originally. It is an intensely personal, thoughtful, gorgeous tapestry.)
Optic Nerve 8 by Adrian Tomine
posted by pokermonk at 4:51 PM on May 18, 2009

I agree with the people above who recommend catering to your friend's tastes first. From your question, it comes off a little like you're eager to lecture him on some area outside his interest and expertise, like you can win him over to your side with just the right comics. If I already weren't that much into comics, I don't know how I'd feel about someone coming at me with a syllabus.

Could you ease him in with lighter, more approachable comics and *then* move onto the stuff that examines/deconstructs them? Joe Sacco if he's into current affairs; *Finder* if he's into sci-fi and worldbuilding; Eddie Campbell's *Alec* if he likes slice-of-life memoir; the graphic adaptation of Paul Auster's *City of Glass* for literary storytelling; *Persepolis* or *Pyongyang* for comics with international memoir flavor.
posted by cadge at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2009

Nthing "From Hell". I also thought I didn't like comic books but was won over and blown away by that one. Any snob will love the bonkers endnotes.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 5:35 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome response! Thanks, folks! (he said knowingly)

To clear one thing up -- hermitosis is generally right in that:
I think it's in poor taste to use a birthday gift as an opportunity to attempt to radically adjust his tastes to your own
... but Joe (that might not really be his name, it might be "Nigel Fartknocker") and I have a history of bombing each other with media when we like something the other doesn't, and we've been doing so for almost thirty years -- this will not come as an unexpected onslaught. I have already convinced him of the importance of Guns'n'Roses & Metallica, he has sold me on the relevance of Nabokov & Jane Austen. Well, almost. But he won't be offended or even surprised, I guess that's my point.

Anda nother thing: I realize that Understanding Comics isn't the sine qua non of understanding comics, but it's a good place for me & Joe to start the discussion.

All that said, Greg Nog wins a No-Prize.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:36 PM on May 18, 2009

Nthing "From Hell". I also thought I didn't like comic books but was won over and blown away by that one. Any snob will love the bonkers endnotes.

The end notes are half the fun! (and half the book as well)
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on May 18, 2009

Watchmen only, well maybe Maus too, nothing else. I say less is far far more given his degree in literature.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:40 PM on May 18, 2009

Robert Crumb.
Warren Ellis' and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan.
Moebius' and Jodorowski's The Incal.
Lil Abner.
posted by bru at 5:49 PM on May 18, 2009

Marshal Law: Fear and Loathing

But I also agree with those who suggest that you should cater to your friend's interests, not yours.
posted by Tixylix at 6:06 PM on May 18, 2009

I would also include Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art. It's a drier treatise on the medium and may just pique your friends interest. Plus, it's actually *SHOCK* used in university to teach artists the medium! ;-)
posted by tcv at 6:07 PM on May 18, 2009

A Contract with God is brilliant - I, too, thought it was better than Maus. The Building is also brilliant.

That said, something to be aware of is that reading comics is a skill, much as reading just plain text is - your mind learns to work through sequesential art, but it needs practice with the more complex art.

I came to comics later in my life than many, at age 18, and as much as I enjoyed something like Sandman right away for the text, I really found reading it difficult - I couldn't flow with the pacing of the imagery or layout. But then my comics-expert friend sat me down with a comic with a much simpler style - Bone - and the clean lines and very simple cartooning was much easier for me to read as it was intended to be read. After I had practiced for a while on Bone, I went back to Sandman, and onto Watchmen and V for Vendetta and found myself much more appreciative of the medium because I had learned how to read it with simpler art.
posted by jb at 7:01 PM on May 18, 2009

Black Hole by Charles Burns convinced me graphic novels were more than spandex.
posted by bradbane at 7:14 PM on May 18, 2009

Peep Show by Joe Matt and The Playboy by Chester Brown are the two books that got me into indie comics.

that was immediately followed by Ed The Happy Clown, which warped my teenage brain and prepared it for the internet. Nothing fazes me now.
posted by bensherman at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2009

If i had a discussion with someone who loved gardening, and i had no interesting in gardening, and then they got me a complete gardening-themed birthday present, I'd think they were a self-centered person who doesn't listen to what i say or what i care about. It's obnoxious.

Give your friend something that your friend will like, not something that you think they should like.

Your friend might be snobby, or he just might not be interested. Just like i'm not interested in gardening. We can't all like everything, and your friend doesn't have to like everything that you do.
posted by Kololo at 7:57 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bah, sorry; i didn't read your response/explanation down the thread before i posted. I guess if this is a pattern for you and your friend then it makes sense. (If a friend gave me a gift like this i'd be annoyed, but i am not your friend - and it sounds like you think he'll react differently.)

Never mind!
posted by Kololo at 8:01 PM on May 18, 2009

I would also suggest Blankets by Craig Thompson. I'm not at all a comic reader, but I made it through all 500+ pages of that in a day.
posted by 6and12 at 8:08 PM on May 18, 2009

jb said: That said, something to be aware of is that reading comics is a skill, much as reading just plain text is - your mind learns to work through sequential art, but it needs practice with the more complex art.

Good, good point.
posted by isnotchicago at 8:30 PM on May 18, 2009

Also by Art Spiegelman, and possibly not in print anymore, The Wild Party. It's not a true graphic novel, in that the poem was written in, I believe, the 20's. In the late 90's, Spiegelman released it with illustrations created to match the text. It's a great poem, and the art is fantastic. Think of it as a toe in the pool to test the waters.

After that, try Sandman. Not in order, particularly, but if you want to show him great stories, get him the World's End anthology. It has portents of future events, but won't give all that much away if he gets into it. It does have great stories, literary references, and stupendous art.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:55 PM on May 18, 2009

After reading everybody's responses, and your additional comments regarding your friend, Fun Home sounds like the best response.

I love Blankets, but some folks have severe issues with the writing style. I love League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and could see that working, but start off as intelligent as you can, and I think that's going to be Fun Home.
posted by redsparkler at 11:40 PM on May 18, 2009

Same Difference and Other Stories is light but suprisingly moving. There's a preview on google books here. The Flight anthologies are very good at showcasing up and coming talent, with a lovely whimsical tone.

Nthing Stuck Rubber Baby, Fun Home, Jimmy Corrigan and Epilectic for a autobiographical 'weighty-ness'. And if your friend might like something a bit more 'genre' (which after all is what comics [stereo?]typically do best), the works of Mike Mignola or Alan Moore tend to blend in a lot of lit and mythology references. Check out Jess Nevins ridiculously exhaustive annotations for Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen here.
posted by jzed at 1:21 AM on May 19, 2009

Also, why not pick something extremely visual that really couldn't be achieved in any other medium than comics? Paul Pope's 100%.
posted by jzed at 1:27 AM on May 19, 2009

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
is incredible
posted by compound eye at 2:07 AM on May 19, 2009

Seconding this adaptation of Auster, which I actually like better than the original.

Also the bizarre and incomplete world of Strangehaven might pique his interest if he worships indeterminacy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:03 AM on May 19, 2009

Seconding Daniel Clowes' Ice Haven, Ghost World, David Boring, or basically anything else of his.
posted by umbú at 7:10 AM on May 19, 2009

All that said, Greg Nog wins a No-Prize.

Nice! Until The Beast gets a Brazilian wax, make mine Metafilter!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:52 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out my post about Joe Brainard's comics. There's an ongoing rumor of a collected Brainard comics coming out. For now, we have to settle with this.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:27 PM on May 19, 2009

You can get the complete Bone for 26 bones. I think it'd be enjoyable to non-comic readers.
posted by saul wright at 9:29 AM on May 20, 2009

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