True North Country Comics presents the top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels list from Mark Allard-Will.
Mark is a comic book creator and up-and-coming filmmaker who was originally born in Suffolk, United Kingdom, but now resides in Saskatoon. One of his latest works is The Burning Black: Legend of Black Shuck based on the demon dog Black Shuck story and the origins for the tale.
Here’s Mark Allard-Will’s top 10 go-to comic book and graphic novel list.
“I’m a huge, lifelong fan of noir. Antony Johnston is one of my favourite writers and he will be best known to readers of this list as the writer of The Coldest City, which was adapted in to the Hollywood movie, Atomic Blonde. What Antony and Justin achieve in this book is a fantastic moody, hard-boiled noir that merges seamlessly with sci-fi. A great concept piece and a wonderful genre piece.”
“I wasn’t born Canadian, I moved here in 2014 from New Zealand; but I was born, raised and spent most of my life prior to then in the UK. As an immigrant to Canada, one who loves learning, I’ve previously spent a lot of time learning about my adoptive home of Canada and in learning Canadian history, you – of course – find that one of the most intriguing moments in that history is the Canadian theatre of the War of 1812. As a history teacher in Edmonton, what Jeff Martin achieves in Red Coats-ish is to pick out that quirky history of the War of 1812 and ratchet it up in to comedy, it’s hilarious and proves that – without a shadow of a doubt – Canadian history is far from boring. It features a very characterised and identifiable art style and will stick in your memory for a long time to come.”
“I love folklore, because I love storytelling, but also because it gives us an insight in to the culture and sense of humour of specific geographic locations. The Heading Dog Who Split in Half is a wonderful graphic novel anthology of some of New Zealand’s most obscure and colourful pieces of regional folklore; both Māori and Pakeha. It’s inquisitive, interesting, educational and, above all else, really fun. The art style is very unique and characterised, bringing a near photo-realistic edge to the folkloric stories. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautifully laid out book too.”
“I love pagan mythologies and history, while their empire sounds like hell on earth if you were born anywhere outside of the city of Rome, the Romans nonetheless seem to have such a fascinating and outright intriguing history. I also love historical fiction and what Britannia does best is create a fictional story arc that is accurate to the set dressing and cross sections of pre-Christian Roman society and genre blends that perfectly with both fantasy and noir. Fantastically well-written with artwork that really lends itself to the fast-paced action of the books.”
“File this one under Manhau (Chinese Manga/Chinese comics). The English translation is probably hard to find, unless you’re willing to deep dive on AbeBooks. Stunning artwork is what captures you to begin with, but the fantastical storyline keeps you hooked. We follow A You, a young man in a nondescript Chinese factory city, as he battles with his own demons; namely he’s a slightly self-centered daydreamer, who’d sooner daydream than knuckle down to work and pull his weight alongside his colleagues. One day, he finds a way to escape from the real world of his perceived shortcomings in to a fantastical dreamworld, but he quickly comes to find that paradise won’t answer all of your problems. Imagine if Alice in Wonderland spoke to real world issues we either see ourselves or our counterparts struggle with in our late teens and early twenties and then imagine that set to a Chinese backdrop and you get An Ideal World. Almost perfect.”
“Beautiful artwork meets moody, hard-edged horror. Imagine Ridley Scott’s Alien in a sultry European-styled book shop and you’re somewhere close to how wonderful this graphic novel truly is. Definitely not applicable for kids. Dripping with moody overtones and Eastern European mysticism.”
“Manga legend, Shigeru Mizuki, brings us the truth of the Showa era – Japanese revisionism be damned. His unwavering look at a painful part of Japan’s history is at times upsetting and inspiring in others. An emotional roller coaster of highs and lows, but it’s more than truthful admittance of Japanese fascism in WWII, it’s also a heart-on-sleeve look at how this era also negatively effected the ordinary Japanese citizen of that time. We’re taken through to the end of the Showa era too, when the war ended and Japan was born again, a now-peaceful nation. A truly beautiful exploration of a Japan’s history and culture.”
“A stunning series that mixes an alternate history of Shogunate Japan with the post-apocalyptic genre. Imagine this: A virus has killed most of 16th century Asia, one island of people of who fled China, the Korean peninsular and Japan survive; the titular Ronin Island. They’ve believed they’re the last of the great Asian cultures left, but that belief is soon challenged and what they discover will need all of them to come together to fight a common enemy. Imagine that political and tribal drama of The Walking Dead in 16th century Asia and you’re somewhere close. Very tense, a real page-turner. It’s wonderfully written by Greg Pak, who continually keeps ratcheting up the tension of the conflict; so much so that you barely stand the wait for the next issue to come out.”
“Imagine if you took Indiana Jones, replaced the eponymous lead with a very likeable female boat plane pilot and set it in a nondescript North American city in the 1940s; that’s what Canadian creator, Ryan Howe, brings to the table in Daisy Blackwood. Very well-written, with a unique artwork style that acts as Ryan’s signature. Good action, fantastic pacing to its story arc and very entertaining. Ryan achieves something close to perfect with his various Daisy Blackwood stories.”
“Perhaps the perfect crime graphic novel. In my humble opinion it’s so well-written by John Wagner that the producers of the Hollywood movie adaptation of the same name only really needed to lift the story from the pages of the graphic novel to write the screenplay for the film. Gritty, hard-edged and oozing with mafioso attitude, it’s so perfect that it feels filmic on the comic page. Combine that with Vince Locke’s really unique artwork and you’ve got a really moody crime story. Perfection.”