Don Hosek - Past reading - Comics

Ah, the lifeblood of the soul. When the daily strips aren't enough, you can always read the bound anthologies.

What I've been read in the past - Comics
Boys Weekend by Mattie Lubchansky
[Finished 28 February 2024] No one will mistake the story of Boys Weekend for thinly veiled actual events. A graphic novel telling of a bachelor party in a libertarian sea island nation where no laws apply featuring a monster-worshipping cult and clones and a trans-femme central character trying to make sense of her role among the men she went to college with whose lives have diverged greatly from her own. And yet, somehow this felt extraordinarily real and true.

How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis
[Finished 26 May 2023] A collection of graphic short stories/essays. Some connected, some did not.

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
[Finished 22 January 2023] Chast’s graphic memoir of her parents’ decline and death, perhaps even more compelling as my parents are turning 91 and 82 this year.

When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein
[Finished 7 January 2023] Krimstein doubtless inferred additional details into his presentations of the autobiographical essays presented here, but the graphic presentation of the text adds a great deal and makes this a must-read text.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
[Finished 24 November 2022] Absolutely stunning, something I wish I’d read years ago.

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke
[Finished 30 October 2021] An amazing book. Radtke’s illustrations do a lot to enhance her text (modulo a few pages where they’re a bit weak). The subject of loneliness is one that is barely discussed and there’s a lot of depth that I was unaware of.

Death Note, Vol. 10: Deletion by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 29 April 2021] Things get a little bit more interesting here, although I’m actively looking forward to completing the series now.

Death Note, Vol. 9: Contact by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 23 April 2021] It continues to drag. There’s a new predictability in the story as well. Of course, Mello won’t be killed in the attack on his headquarters.

Death Note, Vol. 8: Target by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 14 April 2021] I remember not being that interested in Death Note the Anime once it moved on to the post-L era, and my reaction reading the manga is similar. The Mello-Near conflict adds an interesting dimension and I managed from the anime to miss that Mello is a boy and not a girl.

Death Note, Vol. 7: Zero by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 6 April 2021] In a flashback, we learn what Light’s plan was with his imprisonment and see the denouement of Light’s battle with L. At the same time, we learn that L and Watari are not lone figures but are, in fact, part of a larger organization created by Watari which gives us L’s successors, one of whom decides to take the side of criminality.

Death Note, Vol. 6: Give-and-Take by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 2 April 2021] The Yotsuba arc is brought, mercifully, to an end. It didn’t do a whole lot for me, although there was still a lot to recommend this volume.

Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 25 March 2021] Light’s abjuring of the powers of the death note, along with his memories of having used it, makes for an interesting twist in the story. Especially interesting is the fact that Light is clearly planning something but unlike so many of his previous complicated moves against L, we’re not privy to what he’s thinking (nor, for that matter, is he). Meanwhile, Rem has given his death note to someone else who’s using it for financial gain and has created an opportunity to see L’s investigatory skills in a new light. The puzzle box has grown more complicated and I’m very curious to see how it unfolds.

Death Note, Vol. 4: Love by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obat
[Finished 14 March 2021] And Misa/second Kira arrives on the scene. I’m a bit put off by the treatment of Misa—the male characters all assume that she’s not that bright, including Rem, her Shinagami, and I think that Ohba views her that way as well. There are glimpses of good thinking on her part though and I do like that she’s very much her own person in a lot of ways and has her own intelligence that shows through despite the misogyny of the characters and narrative.

Death Note, Vol. 3: Hard Run by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 4 March 2021] Where Vol. 2 of Death Note was bogged down on second- and third-guessing, Ohba managed to catch himself and make that part of the plot in the first direct interaction between Light and L as they face off on the tennis court and then together. Adding in the second Kira and the story has newly raised stakes.

Marvel 1602: Spider-Man by Jeff Parker and Ramon Rosanas
[Finished 2 March 2021] The Spider-man 1602 segments of New World were the strongest in that book, and that continues here. There’s still over-reliance on “look how cleverly we can make 1602 versions of Marvel characters” in the writing, and the loss of Virginia Dare early on is especially damning as she’s the one original character to the 1602 universe, but the writing at least feels less dependent on the gimmick.

Marvel 1602: New World/Fantastick Four by Peter David, Greg Pak, Pascal Alixe and Greg Tocchini
[Finished 1 March 2021] Given how much better the MCU films are than their DC equivalents, it’s surprising to me to see the DC comics succeeding so much better than the Marvel comics. My point of comparison here is Superman: Red Son vs the Marvel 1602 universe. Red Son managed to re-imagine Superman in an exciting new way where, in stead of his ship landing in the U.S., it lands in the U.S.S.R. It’s brilliantly accomplished. Here, though, it feels like the whole story is geared around being clever about making 1602 versions of Marvel characters rather than re-imagining the characters in new ways. It all feels like a lost opportunity.

Death Note, Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba Takeshi Obata
[Finished 12 February 2021] As the story continues, we get into a bit of tedium. By constructing a pair of antagonists who are both flawlessly intelligent, Ohba has created a situation where it has to seem like everyone is acting perfectly. The biggest crisis, when Light meets Raye Penber’s fiancée and realizes she must be stopped ends up being a non-event other than the inevitable ripples it leaves for the story going forward.

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
[Finished 2 February 2021] My wife and I watched the anime series during the late ’00s and I’ve since seen both the American and Japanese live action films so it was nice to go back to the original source material. It feels so far that the anime was remarkably faithful to the manga (at least as far as my ancient memories can attest), and for good reason—the source material is great.

Barefoot Gen = Hadashi No Gen: A Cartoon Story Of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa
[Finished 5 December 2019] I discovered this book while reading Why Comics and decided that I would pick it up as soon as I could as research for the Hiroshima chapter of my work in practice. It was perfect to that end most particularly because by nature of being a graphic narrative, it provided a great deal of background details that I was unlikely to find anywhere else.

As a work on its own merits it’s also wonderful, showing the grueling life of Japanese civilians during World War II made so much more difficult by the protagonist’s father’s pacifism and resultant being treated as a traitor by all those around him. The countdown towards the bombing which concludes the volume carries an additional sense of horror as we realize what fate has in store for the family that we grow close to in the preceding 250 pages.

Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere by Hillary Chute
[Finished 26 November 2019] See my review at

The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 16 August 2019] Declaring an “I’m way behind” amnesty.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 31: The Rotten Core by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 9 May 2019] In some ways predictable, although there was a twist near the end of the volume I didn’t expect.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 27 September 2018] The challenge with an ongoing zombie series is keeping the narrative interesting. The zombies themselves have largely fallen away as a major threat and the new challenge is the rebuilding of civilization. In this volume, center stage is taken by the question of what sort of world order the new civilization should take. We have the contrast between the Alexandria communities which are largely egalitarian and the newly encountered commonwealth in which a rigid class structure has been established with people’s positions in the class hierarchy being determined by where they stood before the collapse of civilization.

Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Justin Eisinger and Alonzo Sitman
[Finished 2 September 2018] A subset of the stories from the anthology of the same name re-presented in graphic novel form. Some stories work better than others and in some cases, it seems like little or no effort was employed in making a graphic narrative (e.g., Harlan Ellison’s contribution). Those that did work, worked wonderfully at least.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McLoud
[Finished 1 July 2018] I picked this book up because I had a creative writing workshop where one of the pieces we would be workshopping was going to be a graphic narrative and I wanted to have more of a critical framework to approach graphic narrative. This fit the bill perfectly—I learned a great deal and am better able to appreciate all the graphic narrative that comes my way now.

The Walking Dead, Vol, 29: Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 12 June 2018] Maybe I’m becoming a more astute reader of graphic narrative, but I found a number of elements of this volume to really exploit the nature of graphic narrative in enjoyable/impressive ways. Add in some compelling developments in the plot and this is one of the best volumes in the series.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 28: A Certain Doom by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 21 October 2017]

The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stegano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 10 March 2017] A number of big reveals in plot and character along with a nearly non-stop plot make for a pretty good installment in the saga.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 26: Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano
[Finished 20 November 2016] I’m really enjoying what Kirkman has done with the Whisperers in the series. The dead themselves have receded quite a bit as the menace in the series. They’re omnipresent and dangerous, but it’s a manageable danger. What has become instead the principle danger is other people, both within and without the community with the Whisperers acting as a catalyst to bring these conflicts to the fore. The conclusion of this TP provides an especially strong and shocking progression to the story.

The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens et al.
[Finished 4 May 2016] After seeing Batman v Superman, I thought I’d take a look at the comic book sequence that was one source for the film. I found Apocalypse, though, to be a completely uninspired and uninteresting creation who existed solely to cause the death Superman. The movie, at least, provided a better mechanism for the mutual death of monster and man of steel, which was sadly lacking here.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 25: No Turning Back by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 8 April 2016] The Walking Dead has gone firmly into attempting to rebuild civilization mode in its storyline and it’s fascinating to see how Kirkman has played with the components he had to make the story still compelling. I’m eagerly awaiting the next trade paperback in the series.

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
[Finished 12 January 2016] One of the essentials of the comics renaissance of the late twentieth century. It’s interesting to see how Moore takes the mythology of the Joker and turns it into something inherently psychological.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 24: Life and Death by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 1 October 2015] We’re getting into some of the more interesting aspects of the post-zombie apocalypse world in this volume, particularly the problems of rebuilding civilization (and the question of whether civilization is something that should be rebuilt at all). Throw in what appears to be the beginnings of an intriguing storyline with Negan (who I have to believe is going to play an important role in volume 25) and the story of surviving the zombie apocalypse has grown new legs.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
[Finished 6 July 2015] Watchmen deals with a lot of the same issues raised by The Dark Knight Returns, but in a more nuanced way. Moore recognizes the problems with superheroes and deals with them face on in his story and while Rorschach is in many ways the star of the book, his right-wing leanings are presented as distasteful, even to his fellow costumed vigilantes.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
[Finished 27 June 2015] Maybe I know too much about Frank Miller to enjoy this. Miller points out the fascistic tendency of the superhero ethos but then chooses to revel in it, extolling the virtues of fascism over his squeaky-kneed caricature of liberalism.

Superman: Earth One, Vol. 3 by J. Michael Straczynski and Ardian Syaf
[Finished 28 May 2015] Zod. A new girlfriend for Superman (and one who even knows the Clark Kent/Superman connection). Plus Lex Luthor comes to the fore. Again, with the new universe, there are possibilities to upend the expectations, although there needs to be more of this, perhaps earlier on in the stories to allow for the usual course of events to not always be the expectation.

Batman: Earth One, Vol. 2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
[Finished 27 May 2015] One of the benefits and also drawbacks of established mythologies like with mainstream comic book characters is that there’s an understanding of the characters that is present regardless of how the story gets presented. We know that if we meet District Attorney Harvey Dent, then Two-Face is waiting in the wings. The Earth One series has the advantage that it’s creating its mythos from scratch and can play with these expectations in different ways, like the transforming of Alfred from butler to bodyguard and the surprise of just how Two-Face comes about.

Walking Dead vol. 23: Whispers into Screams by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 15 May 2015] The big mystery of the previous volume, the strangers camouflaging themselves in the skins of the dead is unveiled and Kirkman does a good job of maintaining the tension as we encounter new characters and new dilemmas. The changing nature of the threat has become abundantly clear.

Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz
[Finished 16 April 2015] Sadly, the only good thing about this book is the Peanuts cartoons interspersed throughout (which comprise pretty much all the best Peanuts cartoons on writing and literature). The short essays that make up the prose of the book are generally rather anodyne and uninteresting. Elmore Leonard’s commentary on his process is really the only gem in the book.

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch Vol. 2 by Clive Barker, Brandon Seifert, Tom Garcia and Korkut Öztekin
[Finished 18 March 2015] I continue to be unimpressed with this comic. It apparently continues for one more volume, which I’m not going to bother to find and read.

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch, Vol. 1 by Clive Barker, Brandon Seifert and Tom Garcia
[Finished 2 March 2015] Comic book time. Revisiting the Hellraiser universe, although I found myself only experiencing the dread of the original film more by associative memory than by anything on the page. This actually was less horrifying than the movies, which given the freedom the graphic format gives, should have been the opposite.

Leviathan by Ian Edgington and D'Israeli
[Finished 9 November 2014] A damned good near miss. This could have been something truly amazing here, but it felt like Edgington was too eager to wrap up the main story with a conclusion that felt overly rushed. The additional stories set in the Leviathan universe are entertaining but not enough so to make up for the weaknesses of the main story.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 8 November 2014] It is indeed a new beginning in these pages with new characters introduced and familiar ones placed into new and sometimes uncomfortable situations. The introduction of the “whispering zombies” was especially stunning. Add in a new set of point of view characters approaching Rick and the others with skepticism and suspicion and I’m eagerly awaiting the next TPB more than ever.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
[Finished 7 November 2014] Brilliantly written, with the illustrations taking as important a role in the story as the words, this is exactly what graphic narrative should be.

Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
[Finished 23 October 2014] A charming little noir-ish tale. It is a bit marred by the sketchy nature of Feiffer’s art which made a number of blonde female characters difficult to distinguish, a vagueness which is, in places, important to the plot, but in other places only serves to confuse.

Loserpalooza by Darby Conley's
[Finished 15 October 2014] Cartoons from ca 2002 here, I remember the odd coincidence of B. D.’s return from Iraq happening the same time as Rob Wilco’s cousin, with even the same injury making me wonder if they were perhaps the same character. They weren’t.

The Walkind Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 13 August 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All-Out War by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 24 July 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
[Finished 18 July 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
[Finished 16 July 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Killian Plunett, Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong
[Finished 10 May 2014] A perfectly executed alternate history Superman story. Absolutely brilliant.

Superman: Earth One, Volume Two by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
[Finished 4 May 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
[Finished 27 April 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

iZombie Resurrection by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
[Finished 27 February 2014] And in a sudden burst of activity, the storyline is brought to a sudden and unsatisfying conclusion. Perhaps, given more time to develop the mythology and characters of the story, it would have been a more successful series, but with this conclusion, it ends up being ultimately unsatisfying.

iZombie: Six Feet Under and Rising by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
[Finished 20 February 2014] I think this is just around the point where the creators of the series discover that cancellation is imminent. Additional characters and story elements appear in the comic just in time for it to suddenly become a burden.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinnney
[Finished 19 February 2014] Kinney plays around with a wonderfully underregarding narrator in this book. A nice mixture of prose and comic book.

iZombie: uVampire by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
[Finished 9 February 2014] After a strong start in the first volume of the series, I felt like the writers were treading water in this volume. Yes, a new antagonist is introduced (or maybe she appeared at the end of the first volume—I don’t remember), but overall there was not much to make me too excited about where things were going. I gather it gets better in the last two TPs of the series.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 23 November 2013] Finally, things are happening.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 8: Last Gleaming by Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty and Scott Allie
[Finished 18 June 2013] And the season arc comes to an end with an almost endless sequence of mind-numbing violence. Big chunks of plot turn out to be just not justified well or at all and overall I was left feeling a bit disappointed with how everything played out, not just because of the fate of characters but because it seemed like the overall season 8 arc was poorly conceived in the first place. I’m not entirely sure I’ll do season 9. (Oh who am I kidding, the note at the end of the book with some bits of explanation about dealing with the translation from television to comics and a touch of apology plus the fact that it’s Joss Whedon means I’ll give him another shot at doing it better).

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 15 June 2013] We’re moving to a point in the story now where the zombies have become more of a background threat with the real danger being the other humans and the struggle to rebuild civilization. Negan’s character is developing as an interesting villain, although it seems difficult to understand exactly why the people in his community follow him given his somewhat capricious nature.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 7. Twilight by Bred Meltzer, Georges Jeanty and Joss Whedon
[Finished 11 June 2013] The story picks up a bit building towards the final act, but the art continues to mar things. There were more than a few occasions when I had to turn back a few pages matching outfits to figure out who some of the characters were supposed to be.

Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczinski and Shane Davis
[Finished 12 May 2013] A delightful re-imagining of the Superman origin story, establishing a new villain with another new villain behind that one and making Superman a bit less of the universally admired figure he was in his original incarnation. The graphic novel format of the Earth One series allows for an expansive story and a higher level of artwork, all to the book’s benefit.

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
[Finished 11 May 2013] In the local authors area at the Chicago Cultural Center, they have some pages from The Night Bookmobile on display. They’re a good reminder that Niffenegger was an artist before she was an author. The illustrations and text combine to create a wonderful experience, something surreal and a little horrific (the plot evoked a similar emotional response in me that Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry did).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 6. Retreat by Jane Espenson, Georges Jeanty and Joss Wheadon
[Finished 1 May 2013] A fairly action-packed and well in-character sequence of comics. There are a couple of returning characters, but two big reveals in this section are harmed by the fact that I really didn’t realize who the characters were meant to be (I had to flip back a few pages to know who the girl in the purple shirt was and Oz was completely unrecognizable to me). Still, despite these shortcomings in the art (and the cast of many interchangeable and disposable extra slayers who don’t really do much for me), it was an interesting sequence and made me eager to continue with season 8.

iZombie: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
[Finished 25 April 2013] A wonderfully written and drawn comic. I’ve taken up reading comics relatively lately and this is one of three series that I’m buying (the others being the Buffy comics and Walking Dead). By far, this has the best artwork of the three, and the writing is crisp and entertaining, without descending into camp. We get all the standard movie monsters: ghosts, zombies, vampires, werewolves (sorry, wereterriers), but not Frankenstein monster (yet) plus a secret clan of monster hunters. There’s been a set of interesting turns with the division into good guys and bad guys not being entirely clear and plenty of hints that not everything is what it seems. With that, I’m happy to keep reading this series because I need to know what comes next.

Penny Arcade: Attack of the Bacon Robots by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
[Finished 10 March 2013] Apparently, this is the most popular webcomic. Personally, I found it tedious and incomprehensible. Apparently, between not being a gamer and reading topical humor over a decade old, this ends up being completely uninteresting.

XKCD, Volume 0 by Randall Munroe
[Finished 27 January 2013] I’ve read all of them, and I wouldn’t have bought the book, but I got the PDF for free from the Humble Bundle, so what the heck. Some of the humor is badly dated, but much is still excellent. And of course I was nerdy enough to take the binary-coded ASCII and decipher it (from memory) and get one of the many hidden jokes. I also did all the integrals. Oh God, I need help.

Batman Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
[Finished 9 January 2013] An interesting re-imagining of Batman, and perhaps even moreso, of Alfred the butler. Gotham has always been a darker take on the superhero’s city, especially compared to Superman’s Metropolis, but it’s conceived even darker here, with even Gordon starting out as a morally compromised character. By the end of the book, the characters have been set on their paths towards a recognizable version of the Batman mythos, but one that seems quite worth continuing.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
[Finished 28 December 2012] Things have gotten brutal here. The title of this trade paperback does not disappoint, there truly is something to fear in this set of six issues. This time around the story is told as one continuous novel without the individual issue’s covers and letters sections, a choice I’m not too crazy about. I had rather enjoyed those elements as well as having the opportunity to catch one’s breath with each issue.

The Most Dangerous Game by Zach Weiner
[Finished 5 December 2012] The second Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal collection seemed a bit less entertaining than the first. I wonder whether Weiner’s responses to what drew people to the comic are responsible for this. If so, it seems to be a cautionary tale of the dangers to art of striving for page views.

Save Yourself, Mammal!: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weinersmith
[Finished 30 November 2012] Oh my goodness, there’s some really funny stuff in this book. There’s a fair amount of obsessing over recurring themes, superheroes, bad parenting, God, Hitler, all the standard comic strip stuff, but it’s all really well done. There was one strip I still don’t get, even after obsessing over it for days, and I solved the math problem tattoo, although I had a sign error on my first attempt at solving it.

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and David McKean
[Finished 15 October 2012] My first Gaiman (not counting movies based on his writing). It’s very much a post-modern sort of graphic novel, with the images and text interplaying in some interesting ways.

Work is Hell by Matt Groening
[Finished 28 July 2012] Back in the late 80s, I bought School is Hell and Love is Hell but left Work is Hell unpurchased since at the time I was living through school and love, but not work. Now that I’ve spent time in the working world, and I happened to stumble upon this collection at Open Books in Chicago, I’ve completed the trilogy of the original three Life in Hell compilations. Some of the humor is a bit dated in that the face of office work is now staring into a computer monitor, but much of it holds up pretty well. Not bad for humor which is going on 30 years old.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 2 July 2012] Now I’m completely caught up with the comics, barring how ever far the monthlies have gotten while waiting for the trade paperbacks to come out. We’re beginning to see the start of an attempt at normalization as well as the impact of the breakdown of civilization on interpersonal and intercommunity trust. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story progresses from here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 5. Predators and Prey by Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Z. Greenberg, Jim Krueger, Doug Petrie,
[Finished 11 June 2012] After spending so much time reading The Walking Dead, the pacing and tone of the Buffy comics comes across as a welcome change. Each issue is a self-contained story which in this instance means that the overall story ark is not really advanced (other than the return of Dawn to human form). The Whedon humor is on full display here.

Bucky Katt's Big Book of Fun by Darby Conley
[Finished 28 May 2012] Some of the funniest stuff I’ve read. I remember reading a lot of these when they originally appeared in the paper, but they’re still wonderful to revisit.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 22 May 2012] There’s a definite move of the problem in the post-zombie world being the people more than the zombies. I find the waves of discontent forming and receding among the human characters to be fairly compelling, although there’s a danger of things falling into stagnation if not handled well. Meanwhile I guess I have to wait a month for the next trade paperback of the comics. I’m not sure I’m willing to go the individual comics route, not yet at least.

Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 19 May 2012] It’s as if they could read my mind. Suddenly there’s a letters column with every issue in this book. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought it would be nice. One nice thing for forcing my addiction into quiescence is that I’m nearly caught up. And sadly, I’ve already started on Vol. 15, the last currently available collection (although #16 will be out in mid-June).

The Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 15 May 2012] A weird mix of things happening and stasis in these six issues. A threat from outside the walls is resolved disappointingly quickly, and likewise with the resolution of the domestic violence story. It’s not that I needed action throughout, but it seemed like Kirkman didn’t want to fully explore the consequences of some of the things he set up.

On the flip side, the issue 75 bonus features including letters and the full color aliens sequence are a delightful bonus. It seemed like letters are in every issue of the individual comics. I wonder why they don’t include them in every issue?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 29 April 2012] The story continues with our heroes arriving at a walled suburban community outside Washington D.C. run by an ex-congressman. The big conflict here lies in the fact that our protagonists are afraid to believe in the safety and normalcy that they’re offered by the community. They have a high level of paranoia, but despite glimpses of some awful event in the past, this doesn’t seem to be justified based on what we’re shown.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 25 March 2012] This could have been a really dark turn in the story. There are two stories in this volume, first a single-issue arc where one of the twin kids kills the other, saying that it would be ok because he didn’t destroy the brain so his sibling would come back. This is followed by a five-issue arc where our group is confronted with a group of people who have found that cannibalism is their ticket to survival since people are easier to hunt than animals. And yet, despite the darkness of these stories, it manages to be not too depressing as some of the earlier arcs had tended towards.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 10: What We Become by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 9 March 2012] The action is back up, as our newly expanded group heads on the road to Washington. They pass near Rick’s old town to collect supplies—and Morgan who has gone a bit nuts in the aftermath of his son being bit—while Dale shows distrust of Rick. Since I’m currently watching the series as well, it seems that there’s almost no chance of the two story lines converging now given the differences in who lives and who dies. It’s kind of strange that I’ve been turning to the comics for a less dark view of things, especially given that one issue in this volume seems to have been dedicated to a recollection of the awful things the characters have done.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
[Finished 2 March 2012] Growing somewhat impatient with waiting for the next gigantic compendium for The Walking Dead to be released, I decided to try out the Comics+ app on my iPad and read this there.It would have been slightly cheaper to get the paperback from Amazon, but I’m becoming increasingly disenchanted with the big A (I suppose I should start buying this stuff at the comics shop down the street).

It took me a while to remember what had been happening in the Walking Dead storyline, but once I did and remembered that we were in the aftermath of the attack on the prison with I don’t remember exactly who dead, I was better able to keep up with things.

This volume is a bit quiet, but establishes some interesting things like how exactly the herds of walking dead form and set up the introduction of some new characters and the next story arc. Perhaps most interesting is the beginnings of some explorations of issues of mental health in the post-apocalyptic world.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Volume 4: Time of Your Life by Joss Whedon, Karl Moline and Jeff Loeb
[Finished 20 November 2011] Largely a bit of a digression from the main twilight big bad of Season 8, here we get an odd time travel story which reveals a bit about the future of Willow, slayers and the planet earth in the distant future.

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and José Marzán, Jr.
[Finished 8 November 2011] An amusing concept: Yorick is the last man on earth. Not the last person, just the last man. He and his pet monkey, Ampersand are apparently going to face a post-apocalyptic world where the women turn out to be willing to supply the savagery that men can no longer provide (being dead and all). I stumbled on this sitting unshelved on a table at the Chicago Public Library and decided to give it a read having a bit of time to spare.

Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show: Book One by Gordon McAlpin
[Finished 19 July 2011] I discovered this book at the Chicago Cultural Center and became immediately addicted to the strips (I’ve since gone and read all the strips online). Great compelling characters and a lot of humor that appeals to a movie nerd like myself.

The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore
[Finished 11 June 2011] Wow, addictive and compelling. Yes, there’s not necessarily a whole lot new here. It’s easy to point out parallels between the prison of the later chapters and the mall of Day of the Dead and whole hosts of post-apocalyptic zombie tales, but even so, I was sucked into this, like I haven’t by so many zombie films. It was especially interesting to see how much the AMC series deviated from the books (in some ways much to their improvement—there was a greater depth to the characterizations and conflicts in the AMC series than in the comics). I look forward to the release of compendium two.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 3. Wolves at the Gate by Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, and Jo Chen
[Finished 21 January 2011] One last issue in my first set of Buffy comics. I’m looking forward to getting more later, but this will be it for a while.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 2. No Future for You by Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Cliff Richards, and Jo Chen
[Finished 19 January 2011] The story advances. I’m not going to say too much on these issues as I’m behind on updating my book log a bit belatedly. I am having a hard time pacing myself and not just reading a whole volume at a single sitting.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol. 1. The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty
[Finished 15 January 2011] After hearing a friend speak highly of this series, I decided to go ahead and start buying the collected issue volumes. And I can see the joy here. We have a nicely paced, well-written set of stories. I’m glad I wasn’t going out and buying individual comic books since the wait between issues would be insufferable. The artwork is occasionally a bit dodgy with some characters verging on unrecognizable at times, especially in some of the long shots where the details are wiped out. But it’s interesting to see some familiar characters return.

"Say Cheesy" by Darby Conley
[Finished 3 January 2007] This is one of the better collections of Get Fuzzy cartoons. The first dozen pages or so, especially, were full of laugh-out-loud moments, and unlike Blueprint for Disaster, there are no long stretches of clunker strips. Definitely a must-have Get Fuzzy collection.

Blueprint for Disaster by Darby Conley
[Finished 18 March 2005] A quick break from heavier reading. This is one of the last laugh-out-load comic strips around. It’s not always at its best (a long series of rejected character strips in this collection, for example, represents the strip at its lower reaches), but it’s always beautifully drawn and fun to read.

Fun fact of the day: Bucky has a Slytherin poster in his room while Satchel has Hufflepuff. Such wonderful attention to detail!

The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short
[Finished 18 May 2003] An amusing and interesting little book, taking the religious themes in Peanuts (which is a remarkably religious comic strip, but not obsequiously so) and using them as a starting point for a discussion about theology.

Fuzzy Logic by Darby Conley
[Finished 2 May 2003] The second volume of Get Fuzzy cartoons. It hurts to read at times because I laugh so much.

The Dog is not a Toy: House Rule #4 by Darby Conley
[Finished 14 October 2001] I’m not sure why, but Get Fuzzy has become my favorite comic strip. Part of it is the painstakingly drawn artwork (equalled only by Doonesbury and The Boondocks), with subtle details in the background (it’s always fun to look at the books being read or the tapes in Rob’s video collection). Then there are the wonderful cultural references, the great continuity (when Bucky put Nair in Rob’s shampoo, it took a couple of months for Rob’s hair to grow back in) or the characters themselves. It’s just fantastic. This is the first set of comics in the series.

The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams
[Finished 8 May 1997] A lot of cartoons, amusing observations on the business world and a sensible management philosophy thrown in as a bonus. Unfortunately, the business world seems to insist on things like denying voice mail to departments that don’t have a secretary to answer phone calls.