Josh Stafford’s top 10 go-to comic book and graphic novel list

True North Country Comics presents Josh Stafford’s top 10 go-to comic book and graphic novel list.

Josh is a co-owner and resident geek-in-chief of Ottawa’s historic Mayfair Theatre, one of the oldest running single screen cinemas left not only in Canada, but on the planet. He graduated from Canterbury Arts High School, and Vancouver Film School. Amongst other projects, he directed a short film which screened at San Diego Comic Con, and co-directed / co-produced a roller derby documentary for CBC. More recently his writing efforts produced  #FlashForwardFlashback for DC Super Hero Girls. Comic writing credits include three issues of Zomkeys along with Flip volumes 1 and 2, plus co-writing credits for the Damned, Cursed Children mini-series.

Here’s Josh Stafford’s top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels:

Amalgam Age Of Comics by various
“Spinning out of the legendary DC vs Marvel crossover mini-series of 1996, was a multiverse world featuring dozens of new mash-up characters from both publishers. Media attention grabbing, brimming with imagination and fun, and littered with A-List creators. Sadly, this kind of epic event between the big two comic publishers seems like it may never happen again. Evidently, these collections are nigh impossible to find, and likely won’t be reprinted anytime soon. But, well worth keeping an eye out for those one-shot issues while digging through the cheap bins.”

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
“My favourite Canadian comic comes in the form of a manga influenced, video game fueled, Toronto set, action packed, over the top, hilarious geek tale…that is yet completely identifiable to any reader who has ever been in love. Created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, this six chapter saga is available in its original black and white digests, colour reprints, or as a giant digital omnibus. Many, including myself, thought that an adaptation into a movie would be impossible, or at least not work. We were all proven happily wrong with the cinematic joy that is Scott Pilgrim Vs The Word.”

Bone by Jeff Smith
“Most anything in the genre of Lord of the Rings have never really been in my geek fandom wheelhouse. Nonetheless, I think that the 55 issues of Bone, which have definite influence from that sword & sorcery type genre, are a flawless treasure. A Tolkein world, in which the three main characters are inexplicably in the classic Walt Disney / Looney Tunes animated archetypes. Well deserved of all its accolades (including 10 Eisner, and 11 Harvey awards!), Bone is available as a Complete Cartoon Epic In One Volume, and should be on every comic reader’s bookshelf.”

Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore
“If this comic had just been a modern love triangle between a romantic odd trio group of friends, it would have been a compelling story on its own. On top of that, creator Terry Moore tossed these rather realistic, very identifiable characters that you instantly fall in love with, into a world of international political crime syndicate espionage. The times that it delves into the spy movie plot points make it an edge of your seat page turner. The art has a simple beauty to it, and the stylistic skill of the characters acting and emotions are some of the best ever put to a comic page.”

Klaus by Grant Morrison and Dan Mora
“Grant Morrison’s take on the secret origins of Santa Claus is possibly my favourite comic of the past few years. Klaus is re-imagined as a kind, 16th century, immortal winter shaman riding a cosmic sleigh. In true Morrison style, the character is introduced into a fun patchwork mythology that’s part Robin Hood, part Doctor Who. An extra bonus, the whole thing from the initial miniseries to the four one-shots feature amazing art from Dan Mora. In this golden age of comic book movies, when asked if there’s still a comic I wish to see adapted to the big screen, the answer is Klaus.”

Justice League International by Kieth Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
“On the heels of the universe merging event that was Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, the DC Universe got a reboot. Now veteran writers Kieth Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis took the traditional superhero formula, and gave it a more real world tone, with a United Nations sanctioned organization. Also unfamiliar to mainstream comics, they instigated a comedic office-work like tone, and characters with everyday humanistic quirks. Plus, the cover of issue 1 by Kevin Maguire is one of the most iconic and lovingly copied comic book covers of all time.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage Comics) by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
“We all know about the origins of a couple of aspiring comic book creators who produced a rough around the edges, violent, underground, funny animal comic in 1984. And that within a couple of years, their concept exploded into a pop culture phenomenon of cartoons, video games, toys, movies, and endless amounts of merchandise. At its core though is that early Mirage Comics published era featuring these great characters. Those black & white stories, with the Turtles all in red headbands on the covers, will always be my favourite.”

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca
“For me, the best thing to happen in the Disney / Marvel era of that galaxy far, far away just might be Doctor Aphra. Originally appearing in the 2015 Darth Vader series, she was a character that writer Kieron Gillen thought wouldn’t make it out of there alive. Luckily, she did. An intelligent, quirky, stubborn, back-stabbing, thief, chaotic neutral, adventuring, Indiana Jones kinda’ archeologist. Plus, she’s a lesbian protagonist with an action figure that is front and centre of a popular mainstream comic, and all steps towards more diverse characters are always a good thing.”

The Unbelievable Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru
“Initially a throw-away idea designed by Chris Bachalo for a Deadpool cover, for a Gwen Stacy themed variant cover month. Marvel editors were shocked to see her popping up via cosplay at conventions, and fan art online. Writer Christopher Hastings molded an imaginative 4th wall smashing twist by making her into an eccentric comic reading teen from our Earth, who is magically transported into Marvel Comics. She knows the superheroes secrets, and can manipulate the world by jumping around the comic panels. Super fun, and surprisingly heartfelt.”

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
“A quartet of newspaper delivery kids in the suburbs of Cleveland in 1988 get caught up in a time travelling adventure. Easily justified of all of its Eisner Award winning praise, Paper Girls is a masterpiece from frequently acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan, and artist Cliff Chiang. Some folks don’t know where to first step in and get a start in reading comic books. This is one of those great epic tales with a beginning, middle, and an end, available as 30 issues, 6 trade paperbacks, or 3 hardcovers. Coming soon as a tv series, that I’m sure will be just as popular as Stranger Things.”

You can discover more about Josh on Twitter at @mayfairtheatre and on Instagram at @batturtle_mayfair

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