Could this be one of our coolest bookshelves yet? Here we have Kev F Sutherland, the man behind some of our most loved comic strips including The Beano’s _ Bash Street Kids_ and Roger the Dodger, not to mention his work for Red Dwarf’s Smegazine, Marvel comics and the Funday Times. As well as having one of the coolest back-stories in comic book career history, Kev has since been touring the country teaching youngsters how to create their own characters and strips in his Comic Art Masterclasses. As well as all of that, he’s also a pretty well known comedian! So what has Kevin got on his rather beautiful bookshelf? War and Peace? A to Z of barcodes? Nope, you guessed it, it’s a lot of very good comics.
Asterix books by Goscinny & Uderzo
Although the best of these books are forty years old, and the author of them died thirty years ago, these remain possibly the best examples of my favourite art form, comic strip art, still on the bookshelves today. Their satire, their comic timing, their characterisations and their impeccable draughtsmanship are as good now as when they first appeared. My favourites are the more witty and satirical ones, Asterix & The Soothsayer and The Mansions Of The Gods would top the list, but none of the Goscinny-written stories falls far below par. Sadly the later books (i.e the ones since Goscinny died) don’t match up.
Goscinny & Uderzo: Asterix & Obelix
The Spirit by Will Eisner
These comic strips should be known by every reader in the western world, but tragically they’re not. Will Eisner’s Spirit stories appeared as 7 page weekly syndicated strips in newspapers across America through the 1940s to the early 1950s and are as perfectly formed as the short stories of Damon Runyon and PG Wodehouse. The innovations Eisner created through his work, including coining the term graphic novel, cast an incomparable shadow over the industry. I was raised on superhero artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane and Jim Steranko, but Eisner remains the star. I had the pleasure of meeting him and proposing a toast to him at a comic convention in Norway not long before he died, a great honour.
Will Eisner: The Spirit
Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau
The fact that The Guardian tried to cancel this strip because they didn’t realise anyone still read it shows just how overlooked comics can be. Running from the early 70s to the present day and still going strong, Doonesbury is the smartest saga that’s ever been told in gag-long chunks. I’d recommend the 40th Anniversary collection as the only sensible jumping-on point. I got it for twenty quid, I’m sure there are cheaper copies out there. It is as heavy as a house, but twice as valuable.
Garry Trudeau: Doonesbury
Saki stories by HH Munro
The sharpest, most succinct short stories I’ve read. I am a fan of the short story, loving F Scott Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby stories, alongside Runyon, Wodehouse, Wilde, Chaucer, Alan Moore, and Al Feldstein & Harvey Kurtzman’s EC Comics Tales From The Crypt, Vault or Horror, Crime Suspenstories and Two Fisted Tales_, but Saki remains my favourite. He died in the trenches of WW1 before he could create the great novels these indescribably marvellous short stories hint at.
<ahref="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004UO7C2Q/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asintlie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B004UO7C2Q&linkCode=as2&tag=itsnith-21">HH Munro: Saki stories
Shorter even than the short stories that characterise my other choices, Giles’s works consist purely of stand-alone cartoons. Each one contains a world as vibrant as most novels, realised in the simplest and best chosen lines. Though many artists have created loveable characters that reflect their society beautifully, from Posy Simmonds and Dickens to Charles M Schulz and Thurber, Giles’s are the best summation of an Englishness that is both recognisable and desirable.
Giles – The Collection 2013