My Top 5 Comic Books List

Hello Folks! As a French native, I started reading comic books in my mother tongue, oeuf course! So today, I want to share with the comic books that changed my life in the year 2000.

I had finished my degree and I was at the beginning of my professional career. I was not the happiest chap on Earth, I can tell you right now.

So, I needed a bit of colour in my life so I turned towards comic books, a genre I had not read in years. I had been fed with Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, and Lucky Luke in my younger years but I needed something else, something less ‘classic’.

I went to the local bookshop and met a young salesman who knew a lot about comic books. Meeting him was a breath of fresh air. I owe him the knowledge of comics that I have acquired so far.

As of today, I don’t know what happened to that young man, he obviously changed job and in any case, I changed country. But what follows is a tribute to him. Who knows? Perhaps he will read this article!

BLACKSAD

Let’s start with John Blacksad, a private detective who is also not the happiest soul on earth. He looks like Philip Marlowe, except he is a cat. A black cat. Yes, you read correctly. He is a very tall black cat, dressed in a grey suit and wearing a hat. He is a classy gentleman.

Blacksad was created by Spanish author Juan Diaz Canales and Spanish artist Juanjo Guarnido. This comic album series consists so far of five volumes, in the following chronological order:

1. Somewhere within the shadows

2. Arctic Nation

3. Red Soul

4. A Silent Hell

5. Amarillo

The first 4 volumes are fantastic. The 5th one is, for me, a disappiontment. A sixth and a seventh volume are expected, but as of 2019, no issue date has been set yet.

The adventures of Blacksad are clearly set in a film noir atmosphere, and they take place in the United States during the 1950s. He is a typical anti-hero, with whom you can, of course, only identify and empathise with.

His outlook on society and all its evils is, somewhat, realistic and  rather cynical. This comic book is, in my opinion, a must-have.

I can’t wait for the two next additions to come out. Needless to say, I will let you know when that happens.

VENEZIA

If you have never been to Venezia, hurry up before the next acqua alta! But before you book that trip, you will want to read about two great characters, whose relationship is the Elisabeth Taylor-Richard Burton type.

Giuseppe and Sophia meet in Venice, Italy, and hate each other from there. And I can reassure you that their relationship gets funnier and funnier after their first encounter!

Giuseppe Pintorello works for Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, while Sophia Cantabella follows the orders of King Francis I of France.

The action takes place in Venice, during the sixteenth century: Venice and her water, her palaces, her pigeons and … her spies!

This is what Sophia and Giuseppe are: spies. Each of them has a secret identity well disguised, which makes the circumstances throughout the two volumes of this comic album series hilarious!

STEREO CLUB

Stereo Club consists of three volumes, which is a shame, if you ask me. This comic book is so funny and heartwarming. It revolves around a music shop, called Le Stéréo Club.

The first volume, titled ‘Britney Forever’, tells the story of a guy named Guy (sorry, I couldn’t help it!), a fan of jazz music who realizes that he has failed his life miserably: his wife is cheating on him – devastating in itself – but even more harrowing,  his daughter adores Britney Spears.

Back at home, he clumsily walks on one of her daughter’s CDs and has to go to the music shop in order to replace the broken disc. As a jazz music fan, he can surely only feel shame for having to buy a CD from this artist. Or, is he?

Each volume focuses on another character being a customer of the Stereo Club. That shop is a social metaphor for life. It is beautiful.

LES BLATTES

Les Blattes is a way of saying The Beatles with a very strong French accent. To me, Les Blattes is also a masterpiece, as all the comic books I will write about here.

Fred, Tom and Jean-Louis have created a heavy metal band, called Les Blattes. I think that was is heavy here, is the electric guitar of Jean-Louis.

Because, for what it’s worth, this trio is composed of losers. They are bad musicians, and they don’t know it. They keep on having to  drive their dilapidated van in order to get to a concert.  Except they never reach their destination, for reasons as intelligent as: they don’t know how to read a map, or they leave their cave too late. Yes, they practice in a cave, and you can decently not call that a basement.

It is a very funny comic book. It is a slapstick comic book. Ideal for the long and dark evenings of the month of December.

CHIFFON

Chiffon makes me think of a lighthearted and more colorful version of Calvin and Hobbes. Chiffon was created by American author David Gilbert. Chiffon is the only English-speaking comic book of this Top 5.

Chiffon is the nicest and wittiest dog on Earth, who will share with you some of his metaphysical views on life. He belongs to two children, Paul and Julie. He hates the vet and he is a magnificent singer!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

If you are still wondering what to get your girlfriend for Christmas, or what to get your boyfriend for Christmas, I believe I gave you quite a choice in terms of comic books.

Some of this Top 5 were translated in English, others were not. But learning French while reading comics is not the worse thing you could start doing in 2020, or even, in front of the Christmas tree!

Let me know how it goes!

24 thoughts on “My Top 5 Comic Books List”

  1. Hello again!

    I absolutely love your article today.  I love the fact that you have steered away from the “classics” and that you have given me insight to a whole new genre in comic books.  Venice is one of my favourite cities, so I am definitely going to get the Venezia book that you have recommended!  

    I also love the idea of the Stereo Club – very very original.  I am certainly going to ask Santa to fill my Christmas Stocking with all three volumes!  I hope you are listening, Santa!

    Les Blattes is another comic I will have to get my hands on.  I am currently trying to learn French at the moment, so I think this would certainly be a fun way to help me.

    Thanks again!

    Renée

    1. Hello Renée! I think you will love Les Blattes, because they are such knobheads! In order to learn French, Chiffon might be more simple, though. Please, let me know your progress! But, more importantly, let me know what you think of these comics!

  2. I used to love comics when I was younger, but I don’t recognize any of these titles. Are these more recent?  I always think of comics like marvel and super heroes, as well as things like Richie Rich and Archie. 

    Maybe it is time to revisit some of these newer comic series and see how comics have evolved over time. Which comic series would you recommend starting with?

    1. Hi Michel! These comics came out at the end of the 1990s. Perhaps you don’t know them, because they are French, except for Chiffon the dog. Blacksad was translated in English, so you might want to start with that one. Cheers!

  3. Hi! Great article, very interesting to be honest! I have never read any of those comic books, neither did I know until now about them. All I know are DC comics and Marvel ( I got to know them through movies), but Spiderman and Batman are cult, at least in my country. Now I have a question – which comic book would you recommend to me, of course I mean what is your favorite one of those 5 you were writing about? 

    Cheers,

    primoz P.

    1. Hi Primoz! Than you for your very nice comment. Well, it all depends what you’re in a mood for. I love the 5 of them. Start with Venezia! and don’t forget to let me know!

  4. Hi! I’m a comic book fan. I have always been and I have quite a decent collection. I also have one of these in my favorite book collection: Chiffon. I really like American author David Gilbert.

    I love Italy and have actually been planing to go to Venezia so this will be the first I’ll purchase. Thank you very much for sharing your list.

    1. Chiffon is perfectly fitted for adults, isn’t he? I don’t understand why David Gilbert did not go on writing these little short stories involving that dog, because they are nice and deep and cheerful. It is like the rest of the comic books I mention here – apart from Blacksad: they all have 2 or 3 volumes and that’s it. I miss sequels. 

  5. Hello Anne-Sophie, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I enjoy reading comic books too and you mentioned one of my favorite and it is Blacksad. I already read it but I would like to read it again. Thank you for sharing such great info about these comics, it is definitely worth reading.

    1. Hi Danijel! Blacksad is fabulous. The drawings are superb and the stories so ‘actual’. I was really disappointed with volume 5, so I hope that the 6th episode of his adventures will be great!

  6. Hey,

    This article is great I love it. I love the short description of Blacksad adventure. I would love to read the full one. Another one I find interesting is the Les Blattes. It sounds fun to read. 

    I don’t usually read comic books, but I have started to think the stories can be quite inspiring. Elon Musk got some inspiration from Comic Books. So, I think I’m developing some tastes towards it.

    Thanks for sharing 

  7. These five comic books sound like great stories to get immersed into. I feel that it doesn’t matter what language a comic book is written in, but what does matter is the story line and the vibrant colorful illustrations of the characters. I can still remember some of the images from a comic book series my sister used to have when I was a young boy and how it influenced my choice of career in the video game industry,

    Even though so many people associate comic books to that of super heroes, you can find some really great comic book series that are more so not as well known. I like a couple of these five that you mention here, those of Venezia and Les Blattes. They both sound like great comic book series that I would like to check out. Reading comic books can inspire imagination and satisfy the eyes with color.

    1. Hello Robert and thank you for your very nice comment. Yes, comic books are not all about super heroes and it is better like that. Venezia and Les Blattes are really funny and deep, at the same time. Cheers!

  8. I’m a big fan of comics, but I never heard of the comics mentioned in your article, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I come from Asia where we don’t have much comics in English.

    However, I’ll definitely give it a try! Especially the one titled “CHIFFON”. Its book cover looks attractive to me, and I hope its content could surprise me, too.

    Thanks for your sharing.

  9. Great post – I used to love comics as a child. I had a subscription to the Star Wars comics in the early ’80s and couldn’t wait for the weekend when the new edition would land through the letter box!

    I’ve not heard of any of the comics that you mentioned in your post… although I have heard of Philip Marlowe… loved his character and read all of his books when I was at school.

  10. Intriguing post. I used to love comics as a child.But I have never heard of any of the comic books you mention. I will make sure to be quickly up-to-date. It is always interesting to read what other nationalities read as comic books. The lockdown is the perfect time for me to discover them. So, thank you. 

  11. It is surprising how Blacksad, which is the first on the list ,is actually not what I would have wanted on the list. Venezia is my favorite and I have read all of it. You have highlighted really great recent comic books. Thank you! I know now what to put on my wishlist.

  12. Thank you for such a nice article on some comic book series. A friend of mine has told me so much about Les Blattes… And now, your article has convinced me to read that comic book.  I am glad I can find other comic books that will help me utilize time during this lockdown.

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