80. Y The Last Man by Brian Vaughan & Pia Guerra (Vertigo, 2002)
This was an unabashedly loved series during it’s run, frequently being hailed as one of the greatest adventure serials in the medium’s history. While still enjoyable, (How Pia Guerra hasn’t landed a major series since this is beyond me), this series about the last man alive on a planet full of women loses some impact when read in one big fell swoop. That being said, it’s entertainment factor still holds up extremely well.
79. Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (Pirahna Press, 1995)
A groundbreaking work, on a lot of levels. A major landmark in the graphic bio genre, this ended up also being an important mainstream look into aspects of gay culture. Cruse gives us a peek into growing up in 1960’s Birmingham, not exactly a hotbed for the gay folks at the time. His brutal honesty, in addition to the brilliant density of his cross hatching technique, makes this one of my favourite autobiographical comics.
78. The Nao Of Brown by Glyn Dillon (Harry N. Abrams, 2012)
Part romantic comedy, part meditation on Buddhism, and all stunningly beautiful painting. That’s The Nao Of Brown, a deceptively deep look at the life of a half-Japanese woman struggling to find success in her career, in romance, and in life in general.
77. The Cowboy Wally Show by Kyle Baker (Marlowe & Company, 1996)
Choosing just one of Kyle Baker’s graphic novels to include here might have been one of the more difficult tasks I set myself when putting together this list. One thing gave Cowboy Wally the nod over more well known works like King David, or Why I Hate Saturn: Laughs. Big time laughs. While the media landscape that this book savagely lampoons has drastically changed, the North American love affair with being famous at all costs is eternal. Cowboy Wally’s trappings may be a little dated, but it still holds up admirably well.
76. Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau (1968)
You’re not going to find many strips on this list that have had the cultural or political footprint that Doonesbury has had. While it’s ability to influence public discourse has obviously diminished, it’s overall impact is still felt, and still significant. Through wars & social unrest, through political scandals & cultural change, Doonesbury has been providing witty commentary to it all. And best of all? Still funny as hell.
75. Duncan The Wonder Dog by Adam Hines (AdHouse, 2010)
A huge, sprawling graphic novel, ambitious in scope, but extremely detailed in approach. It’s the story of a world similar to our own, with one major exception: Animals have learned to talk. And so an already complicated discussion regarding our relationship to the food that we eat and the environment we live in, becomes even more complicated. Hines is there every step of the way, providing arguments, counterarguments, and setting the stage for a series that hopefully matches the extremely high quality of this book.
74. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 2004)
Persepolis is arguably one of the two most important biographical graphic novels of this still new century, and probably the most influential. It’s the story of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one teenaged girl and her family. Heartbreaking & poignant, silly & sensitive, Persepolis is one of those rare graphic novels that broke through to mainstream audiences, spawning both a sequel, and a critically acclaimed film. Another one of those books to recommend to your friend that “doesn’t read comics”.
73. Human Target by Peter Milligan & various artists (Vertigo, 1999)
This was a perfect blend of character & concept, and one of the best action comics ever created. This may seem like a strange Peter Milligan comic to pick considering how prolific he’s been as a creator, but so much of his work crosses over into the superhero world, in varying degrees. An updated take on an obscure 1970’s DC Comics character, Milligan’s Christopher Chance is a tragic hero at heart. He’s so used to pretending to be the people that he’s trying to protect, that he’s lost all of his own sense of self. Considering their recent output, it’s hard to remember that DC comics ever made comics this good.
72. Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg (Adhouse, 2009)
On the surface, Afrodisiac is pure blaxploitation, fitting nicely on the shelf alongside your Pam Grier & Rudy Ray Moore DVDs. But what it really is, is a love letter to comics of all types: superheroes, kung-fu, romance, you name it. It’s all fair game for Maruca & Rugg. Our hero is a pheromone-laden pimp, complete with a myriad of origin stories that changes from chapter to chapter. He fights a motley cure of villains, including Hercules, God, Death, giant cockroaches, and worst of all: Richard Nixon. This comic is a tribute to style over substance, but it’s that very style that makes me go back to this comic again and again.
71. Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson (Dark Horse, 2009)
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but this is the best comic book about a group of dogs (and one cat) that solves supernatural mysteries, ever made. Both Dorkin & Thompson have impressive back catalogues ripe for the picking for a list like this, but BoB has the perfect blend of heart & adventure for me. Thompson is one of the finest painters in the history of the medium, and Dorkin’s decades of experience spearheading seminal books like Milk & Cheese, give this series an emotional heft not often seen in modern comics.