Sequential Art for the Slammer
September 18, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for comic strip collections, graphic novels, and manga that can be purchased from Amazon, don't contain drug/sex/gang content, and can enjoyed by someone in their twenties. This is very much a follow up to this question.

My little brother asked me to send comics to him in jail. I'm a big old comic snob, so if it was up to me I'd be sending him Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Harvey Pekar. I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant.

His two suggestions were Garfield and Ranma 1 1/2, but he told me to "be creative," and I bet we can do better than that, y'all.

I'd prefer either comics that either teach you something/expand your mind in some way OR are completely mindless but hilarious.

Update to the last question: I've gotten through every book I wanted to send so far; he has Into Thin Air, a book on Spanish vocabulary, a book on origami, the 1st two Lightning Thief books, some goofy Ed Emberley & Usborne drawing books, Hitchhiker's Guide, and Jekyll & Hyde. I'll be sending more over time. The help I got from Mefites, both answering the question and offering to mail things to him/me, was so incredibly sweet and we both appreciate it so much.
posted by Juliet Banana to Writing & Language (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know why, but my mind went straight to those Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts books.
posted by box at 6:37 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

All-Star Superman. Seriously my favorite damn thing and I don't know if it ever won't be.

The first two collections of The Ultimates will probably suit him well, as will Ultimate Fantastic Four's first three collections and the Ultimate Spider-Man run. They're not challenging, really, but they're very well suited fora reader at his level.

Pluto for Manga, definitely. (And no, you shouldn't send him Tatsumi, but boy, everyone should read him.)

Batman, Incorporated (the earlier run features a methed out Bruce Wayne near the end of the run so it probably won't pass muster.)

Clan Apis is a fantastic comic about bees written and drawn by a biologist. It's out of print but available cheaply enough.

GØDLAND is not easy to read, but it's seriously bright and pop and psychedelic without being about drugs.

Madman by Mike Allred.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:39 PM on September 18, 2012

"A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel" will be released next month.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2012

Oh! And anything by Paul Grist. He's inventive and rewards re-readings. Kane is his weird police procedural, but Jack Staff features England's Greatest Hero.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2012

I think the Bone collection would be ok. Plenty of violence but no sex or drugs or gangs that I remember. It's a wonderful fantasy epic with a heavy Walt Kelly influence to the art.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Has he read any of Gary Larson's Far Side books? What about Calvin and Hobbes?
posted by MegoSteve at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some suggestions

Funny Stuff:
Max Overacts


Think-y Stuff

Understanding Comics
posted by divka at 6:52 PM on September 18, 2012

Bone, Maus, and get him a subscription to Jason Lutes's Berlin after you send him the first two collections.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:56 PM on September 18, 2012

Anything by Sergio Aragones, he's hilarious and also a great artist.
posted by Iosephus at 6:59 PM on September 18, 2012

calvin and hobbes
the boondocks
posted by pyro979 at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing Calvin & Hobbes!
posted by scody at 7:05 PM on September 18, 2012

These graphic guides look fabulous; they might satisfy your requirement for mind-expanding graphics, although they're not exactly graphic novels. I had "Darwin for Beginners" at one point, and remember it as great stuff.

kmennie recommended Larry Gonick's "Cartoon History of the Universe" books in the previous thread, and it's a terrific suggestion.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:09 PM on September 18, 2012

Michel Rabagliati's Paul books are fantastic.
posted by colin_l at 7:17 PM on September 18, 2012

Ditto "Cartoon History of the Universe" and other Gonick books.
Also ditto Calvin and Hobbes, and Bloom County.

Jim Ottaviani does comics based on the history of science - for example, Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards is the true story of a great rivalry in the history of paleontology.

Chester Brown's biography of Louis Riel if he is ready for a true but less-known-in-America historical story.

The art of Tom Gauld's Goliath is simple but very compelling.

John Allison's Scary Go Round series is great, but it doesn't look like you can get it from Amazon? (Ditto his newer series Bad Machinery)

Kazu Kibuishi edits the Flight anthologies, which collect short works from younger artists - some great stuff in here and lots of variety.

Basic Instructions by Scott Meyer is very funny.

Chris Ware's work is amazing, detailed, and rewards spending time trying to figure out the progression of ideas on the page, but might be too much of a bummer?
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 PM on September 18, 2012

Digger just won a Hugo and is great, thoughtful, funny, and gorgeous.

(It's available online for free, if anyone wants to read it. I think you should.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:54 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle series is silly, absurd, and absolutely hilarious, if not exactly mindless.

Kupperman doesn't entirely steer clear of sexual themes, but there's nothing I'd characterize as NSFW in there that I can recall. Here's a 3.3MB PDF preview of one of the Thrizzle books' "adult section" - you can judge for yourself whether it'd be too racy for the pokey.
posted by burden at 7:59 PM on September 18, 2012

Yotsuba& probably fits your bill.

It's what Azuma started doing after he finished Azumanga Daioh. (Which probably also fits your bill.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:20 PM on September 18, 2012

Is he allowed hardbacks? Many classic strips are being reprinted.....Krazy Kat is in paperback (will Ignatz constantly throwing bricks at KK be considered too violent?).
posted by brujita at 8:20 PM on September 18, 2012

Some of the "The Big Book of..." comics ("...Conspiracies," "...Criminals," etc etc etc) are pretty funny. Sometimes the research is not tippity-top but one does learn a fair bit of amusing stuff.

I read Spain's biography of Che a little while ago and enthusiastically recommend that.

Julia Wertz (Google for lots of samples of her work on her site) is sharp, funny, nostalgic, a drunk who is now sober.

Chester Brown's Riel book is great. He is often linked with Seth and Joe Matt, both of whom I adore. Your brother might be amused by Brown's recent-ish book about seeing sex workers which might be literary enough to pass? and Joe Matt stuff, which can veer into the lowbrow and hilarious.
posted by kmennie at 8:31 PM on September 18, 2012

"FoxTrot" is somewhere in between Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes, intellectually speaking. Light reading, with humor that can be pretty sharp.

If you get FoxTrot or C&H, it's best to get one of the "anthologies," which have Sundays in color. And C&H can easily be found in the Barnes & Noble bargain bins.

For Far Side, I like "Pre-History of the Far Side," which has annotations and anecdotes by Larson.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:35 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

andrews mcmeel reprints a lot of contemporary comic strips in paperback.
posted by brujita at 8:43 PM on September 18, 2012

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. definitely fits the request for relatively mindless but hilarious.
posted by FakePalindrome at 8:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fables by Bill Willingham. A fun re-imagining of classic fairy tale characters.

Asterix. One of the things I like best about Asterix is that it has a lot of panels and there is a lot to read, relatively speaking, so you're not done in five minutes.

New Yorker Cartoons.
posted by Bokmakierie at 10:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pogo. I'd class them as expand your mind hilarious, but that's just me. Well, a lot of people, but it was all a while ago. Some vague knowledge of 20th century US politics helps but really is not necessary for many long stretches, and even the satires are broad enough to amuse. I also tend to believe the tone of what you might call optimistic resignation fits jail.
posted by dhartung at 11:20 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bloom County
posted by Hanuman1960 at 5:16 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Bone and Asterix. Bone is thick like a doorstop if you get the collection, and the world-building in the first third is great. Sucks you right in.

Carl Barks' Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics are also hugely entertaining; basically a Disney version of Tintin. Lost in the Andes is probably the best starting place, but it's hardcover on amazon. This collected volume is not.

(I have trouble imagining them getting culled, if only because of the Disney IP, but some of them do have robbers and gangs. You may want to avoid the Uncle Scrooge series just in case: when the plot isn't treasure hunting, it's often a gang making an attempt on his money.)

Old Popeye dailies are also delightful, with a good sense of adventure, humor, and occasional strangeness (the Jeep!), but I'm less confident they'd be permitted. Vol. 1:I Yam what I Yam is hardcover, but this Volume 1 is not.
posted by postcommunism at 7:46 AM on September 19, 2012

Copper is gorgeous and reminds me a lot of the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes (which you should absolutely send him as well).

Any of the Far Side collections would be great too!
posted by heatherann at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. One of my favorite graphic novels. It's semi-autobiographical and depicts a young woman's coming of age during the Islamic Revolution in Tehran. You might have seen the movie, but the graphic novel is beautifully done and worth reading.

The Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series is also very enjoyable. If your brother liked the movie, he will probably like the graphic novels that it was based on. (I have most but not all of these books, MeMail me and I'd be happy to send them to him/you!)
posted by rhythm and booze at 9:40 AM on September 19, 2012

This "Manga Guide to..." series is kind of awesome, because they cover some pretty interesting stuff, and they're manga style! There's a databases one, and biochemistry, and physics... I think they'd be a good way to get a basic intro into lots of different topics in a really un-boring and dry way.

Also, I love Fables, but I know at least some of the volumes have sexy times and some other potentially "controversial" stuff. At my library, they're shelved in the very small adult graphic novel section for just that reason.
posted by itsamermaid at 6:48 AM on September 20, 2012

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet: Atomic Robo.
posted by junques at 4:52 PM on September 22, 2012

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