This one wasn’t written for publication or performance; it was the notes I made to accompany my submission to Shelfdust’s Top 100 Comics List, when I submitted my Top 10. (To clarify: It was specifically top 10 comics single issues, not storylines/collections/graphic novels, and it was by any definition I wanted — I went for something between what they meant for me personally and how good I thought they were.) I didn’t know that it wasn’t for publication at time of writing, because I didn’t know whether we were supposed to write note to share or not, but that just made sure that I wrote more, which is always good.
#10: The New Guardians #1 (1988, DC Comics)
— I loved Millennium, the crossover this came from, so much that I subscribed to this (for an exceptionally large amount of money; I was in the UK, after all) before it launched. The series was a disaster, with Steve Englehart leaving midway through the second issue, but even today, there’s something special about the launch issue: A vision of socially inclusive and diverse comics that I was looking for but hadn’t found yet.
#9: The Invisibles #12 (1995, DC/Vertigo)
— The Invisibles was a (the?) seminal series for me, and this is arguably the most important issue in it; the one that introduces the true hero of the whole thing, and also explains how bad guys become bad guys. It’s very much in the whole pulp tradition, but also something that asks and expects a little kindness from those reading.
#8: Uncanny X-Men #185 (1984, Marvel Comics)
— The comic where I decided that I was going to collect comics. What was it about this? Claremont arguably in his prime, Romita Jr. and Dan Green at the 1980s best, but also the sense of it being this expansive fictional universe that went far beyond the superhero comics I’d read as a kid. This felt “other,” it was amazingly exciting.
#7: Or Else #2 (2004, Drawn & Quarterly)
— Kevin Huizenga has the honesty of an Eddie Campbell, but the formal curiosity of a Chris Ware and the heart of a Jaime Hernandez. This was the first thing I read from him, back when it was a mini comic called Supermonster #14. The reprint (that was, I think, also redrawn and/or expanded?) just cemented how wonderful he, it, and comics in general, are.
#6: Deadline #5 (1989, Deadline)
— The first issue of Deadline I bought, and the place where I discovered comics that weren’t superheroes or 2000AD. My first taste of Philip Bond, Jamie Hewlett, Nick Abadzis and Shaky Kane. This was unspeakably important to me at the time; it really felt like the world was opening up and comics were a place to explore all these things in a language I’d understand.
#5: Mister Miracle #10 (2018, DC Comics)
— No comic has ever felt like a more perfect expression of a relationship than this one, to me.
#4: Flex Mentallo #4 (1996, DC/Vertigo)
— “Being clever’s a fine thing, but sometimes a boy needs to get out of the house and meet some girls.”
#3: OMAC #1 (1974, DC Comics)
— One of the most perfect first issues ever made in comics, and also one of the most prescient pieces of 20th Century science fiction. Oddly, also released in the same month I was born, apparently.
#2: Dork #7 (1999, Slave Labor Graphics)
— Evan Dorkin writing about his nervous breakdown was (and, in many ways, still is) a shock considering this had previously been his humor anthology, but he does it with such honesty, anger and wit that it’s undoubtedly one of the best comics I’ve ever read.
#1: Grafitti Kitchen #1 (1993, Tundra)
— Simply one of the best one-shot issues ever, one of the best autobiographical comics ever — sure, he’s pretending to be Alec McGarry, but still — and one of the most honest pieces of writing about how complicated and dumb and hopeful we get when it comes to relationships.