What favourite comics do you guys have in genres other than the superhero genre? They might be Westerns; war stories; crime/police/private eye stories; martial arts tales; SF; fantasy; barbarian fantasy; horror; monster; romance; sports stories; humour; book adaptations; anything else.

My favourite comic book mysteries are Batman stories. I like the mystery element in the Batman stories of the 50s, and David V. Reed's work of the 70s. The first Joker story starts with a good, sinister mystery. The threatened man and murder deadline are of the era - I've seen them in The Gaunt Stranger (1938) and a Cornell Woolrich story - but I've not seen Bill Finger's solution elsewhere.

Of spy/thriller comics, my favourite is a newspaper strip, Modesty Blaise. It's simultaneously larger than life and exotic, and grounded in the real world. I like to learn something from thrillers; what other parts of the world are like, how things work, how people do things. Modesty and Willie are strong characters with an interesting relationship. Willie is both an action hero and the comic relief.

The best crime/police/private eye comic or strip I know is Chester Gould's Dick Tracy. Tracy has a distinct personality, not a generic one, and a distinct way of going about things. He hates crime, but relaxes with his friends. He can be bad-tempered, as when his leg was broken. He uses a combination of sharp deduction and police procedure to crack his cases. The strip was two strips in one, as it often followed the criminals for long periods. We'd see them planning and committing their crimes, or their desperation and desperate acts as the police net closed in.

Horror wasn't my genre when I was young, although I was interested in the famous monsters and loved the 70s horror era of Doctor Who. The most horrifying title I've read is easily Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, but I don't feel affection for it today. I guess I'm interested in the high tension element of horror - as when the heroes are besieged by monsters at a climax - and its SF/fantasy side, but not its disturbing side.

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CRIME: Sin City, Stray Bullets

Western: I am a proud owner of a complete run of Jonah Hex's appearances as a headline from the original All-Star Western to Weird Western Tales all the way through Jonah Hex, Hex!, the three Joe Lansdale Hex miniseries and the revivals of Jonah Hex and All-Star Western. On the other hand, Marvel's Western titles -- Rawhide Kid, The Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt Outlaw, -- seemed so generic they were almost interchangable.

War: I have a long but not complete run of Our Army at War starring Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Rock, and was big on other DC war titles such as G.I. Combat featuring The Haunted Tank, Star-Spangled War Stories featuing The Unknown Soldier, and Weird War Tales. On the other hand, Marvel's war titles -- Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, Capt. Kelly, whatever -- mostly left me cold, although I did favor the two or three issues of War Is Hell I have.

Horror: I have the complete run of the original Hellblazer, even though I otherwise am not so big on horror books. I did like the short story anthology books DC put out in the '70s -- House of Secrets, House of Mystery, The Witching Hour -- and the Marvel reprints of their fare from the '50s. I never got to see the EC stuff until much (much) later.

Crime: I loved Gotham Central, and still wish that had been the basis for the TV series instead of what they went with. Accordingly, I like Ed Brubaker's Criminal series of miniseries.

Mystery: Wonderful titles that, sadly, went away too soon --

  • The Maze Agency: a mystery novelist teams with the head of an investigations firm to solve crimes. I know it sounds like TV's Castle, but comics got there first. And the stories were old-style fair-play mysteries -- that is, you the reader can figure out whodunit if you pay close attention to the clues.
  • Ms. Tree: Hardboiled detective stories with a female protagoinist who may, or may not, be Joe Friday's daughter.
  • Mike Mauser: He was a supporting character in the '80s revival of E-Man. He and Ms. Tree appeared in a three-issue crossover/spinoff book.

Adventure: Comico's Jonny Quest. It began as a limited series with guest artists each issue, and then turned into an ongoing with a regular team. It captured all the magic of the TV show but rounded out all the characters and even gave Jonny's late mother a presence. Bonuses were a Jezebel Jade spinoff miniseries and the three-issue Jonny Quest Classics that put stories from the TV series on paper. 

Thems for starters ... 

Western: Man, I have to go with Palmiotti and Gray's Jonah Hex series. So darn good.

Mystery: I used to love the few issues I was able to find of Maze Agency. Mike W. Barr and Adam Hughes did done-in-one fair-play mystery stories incredibly well. I always thought it would have made a perfect TV show. I liked how Jen Mays was the main brain, and the guy (Gabe?) was always about a half step behind her.

Crime: Although it was incredibly short-lived, I thought Darwyn Cooke's Slam Bradley material was wonderful in a very noir way. Besides that, I could go bigger and chime in and agree with Stray Bullets. It reminds me of reading books like We the Animals and Hurt People--where you're looking in on people who are in horrible life situations and you are helpless to do anything about it. You just hope it will work out for the good ones, usually to no avail.

Sci-Fi: I will say, assuredly and easily, Nexus. Baron and Rude created a brilliantly realized world/worlds.

Adventure: Dave Stevens's Rocketeer.

Horror: I am a huge fan of the classic Creepy and Eerie books. I love the way they have the dark humor mixed in with the real ghoulishness in the stories. This is how it's done, distilled into 8-page stories.

War: I'm going to have to say The Activity, a book from Image about modern war by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads. This was a great book, once again made up of one-shot stories, that did a great job of bringing the heat of the desert and the modern technology and hardware to the page in a way that made you feel it both in temperature and weight. It didn't apologize for what the characters were doing, but it didn't come off as a pro-war book either. It's not easy to come off without judgement of any kind, but this book managed to do just that.

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