What Comic Would You Recommend to a Science Fiction Fan?

I was honored to be asked to contribute to a recommendation column at SF Signal, answering the question “What comics should a science fiction fan read?”

Other participants included Matt Sturges (House of Mystery, Jack of Fables), Chris Roberson (Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and his suggestions are excellent), and Paul Cornell (Captain Britain). I’m sorry I forgot to mention Global Frequency, which is notable as time-capsule SF — it was so much of its time that now it’s like a fly trapped in amber. And I also should have remembered Grease Monkey, which is fun, old-fashioned space adventure with a sense of humor.

What other great science fiction comics am I forgetting?

Similar Posts: Captain Britain Is Too Cancelled § Win a Copy of Grease Monkey! § Runners: The Big Snow Job Launches § Life With Archie #21 Has Weird Archie TV Story § What Is Your Geekiest Thing?


43 Responses to “What Comic Would You Recommend to a Science Fiction Fan?”

  1. Polydent Says:

    Pluto – Naoki Urasawa
    20th Century Boys – Naoki Urasawa
    Phoenix – Osamu Tezuka (not all sci fi, but the best parts are)
    Ghost In The Shell – Shirow Masamune

  2. Jordan Peacock Says:

    Vermillion by Lucius Shepherd
    Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis
    Dead Man (the Vertigo series)

  3. Johanna Says:

    The first two were on my list, and I know Ed’s a huge GitS fan, but I haven’t read it — comics about girl robots, with one exception, generally aren’t my thing. :)

    Jordan, you’re bringing back fond memories of the Helix line. I liked Cyberella, myself. I’m not familiar with Dead Man, though?

  4. Johnny Bacardi Says:

    Gemini Blood, which was the class of that Helix line as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Johnny Bacardi Says:

    Oh, and of course Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta’s Starstruck!

  6. Bryan Stone Says:

    I highly recommend Yukinobu Hoshino’s 2001 Nights to any comics fan!

    The story takes place over hundreds of years of human space exploration. It’s got robots, aliens…it’s even got an entire planet made of anti-matter!

  7. Johanna Says:

    Ooh, Starstruck reminded me of Heartbreakers, which reminded me of the still-missed Strange Attractors. Women space pirates AND metafiction, all in one weird little book!

  8. Johanna Says:

    While I’m greatly enjoying the flashbacks, though, I think it’s important to remember that if we were seriously recommending comics to a non-fan, it would be necessary to pick things they could find relatively easily, which means mostly fairly-well-known collections and graphic novels.

  9. Bryan Stone Says:

    Osamu Tezuka’s “Phoenix” is widely available as is Jiro Taniguchi’s time travel story “A Distant Neighborhood”.

    One of my favorite recent sci-fi comics is “The Seeing-Eye Dogs of Mars” by Chris Ware, it’s in Acme Novelty Library vol. 19. It’s available in pretty much every bookstore in the country.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Oh, yeah, that’s true of a lot of manga. I was just thinking how sad I was that Helix didn’t make it and a lot of their stuff wasn’t easy to find any more.

  11. Joshua Macy Says:

    Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
    Galaxion, by Tara Tallan

    Narbonic, by Shaenon Garrity, and also Skin Horse

    Wapsi Square, though the real science-fictional/supernatural stuff doesn’t take center stage until a year or two in.

  12. Johnny Bacardi Says:

    I’d happily loan my copies of Gemini Blood to any interested parties, provided I knew them, and I’d also happily point people towards where they can (GASP) download scans.

    What, you don’t think DC will ever reprint it! I wonder if they even have the rights anymore…

  13. Johanna Says:

    Thanks, Joshua, for reminding us of the webcomic options. I was thrilled to see that Tara is going to be at the Baltimore Con so I can catch up!

  14. Ralf Haring Says:

    It’s bizarre how many of the contributors at that link recommended non-scifi books. Hellboy, Fables, Scalped … great books and all but not really scifi.

    My go-to scifi recommendation is always Planetes, which you had on your list. I’d probably also say the same of Pluto.

    For the superhero reader I’d probably recommend the Diggle/Ferry Adam Strange miniseries or Miller’s Ronin. If the reader is British, it’s possible they’ll have a particular affection for Ennis & Erskine’s recent Dan Dare revival. Ellis’ work is always scifi-heavy (Transmet, Ocean, Ministry of Space, Global Frequency).

    Depending on the person’s sensibilities I’d also suggest Metabarons, Akira, Wasteland, Pax Romana.

  15. Jenn Says:

    One of my favorite sci-fi comics of last year was Jyu-Oh-Sei. Felt very much like old-school science fiction to me.

  16. Nick Marino Says:

    Len Kaminski’s Iron Man run from the early 90s! I think the only TPB of his stuff is the Iron Man: War Machine collection. It’s pretty tech-heavy, interesting stuff. Tony goes into a cryogenic freeze and emerges to rewrite the code for his own artificial nervous system. Rhodey fights the Living Laser and has the guys at Stark Enterprises whip up a special refractory, prismapolymer-coated suit. And tons more like that. Good stuff.

  17. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Ralf,

    I love Planetes too, but not only is it out of print. It’s getting hard to find. People are now starting to ask collector prices for their copies. A real shame. That title deserves another chance.

    My other favorite sci-fi manga, not mentioned about, would be Astro Boy, To Terra, Akia, Andromedia Stories, Eden: It’s An Endless World, The Two Faces of Tomorrow (OOP), They Were 11 (OOP), 2001 Nights (OOP), & Domu (OOP).

    For a fun sci-fi/fantasy mix, Vampire Hunter D.

  18. Ralf Haring Says:

    Wow, the 3rd party prices on some of the Planetes volumes on Amazon *are* insane! $180!

  19. Thad Says:

    Most of my favorites are mentioned in the article. As far as licensed stuff, I find both the new and reprinted Doctor Who to be pretty good, but really only existing Who fans need apply.

    On the superhero side, I think Kirby’s Fourth World deserves credit as an SF book (though obviously not a hard one), but 4 hardbacks at $50 apiece is a tough sell. The original Eastman/Laird TMNT had aliens and a neat little space opera arc.

    While Love and Rockets has come to emphasize the former much more than the latter, they had an SF bent in the early issues. Maggie the Mechanic and Amor y Cohetes collect some of that stuff. And, not technically L&R, but Mario and Gilbert’s Citizen Rex is a good SF series too.

  20. Ralf Haring Says:

    Another one I just thought of was Christopher Moeller’s Iron Empires.

  21. DeBT Says:

    In addition to the above (especially Finder & the Manga books), I highly recommend Grease Monkey. Despite its silly-sounding name, it’s actually a really good coming-of-age story. Kurt Busiek mentioned in the foreword that the series grew out of several 6-8 page short stories that were loosely connected and gradually evolved into a larger story. There’s even a sequel that’s available on the main site for free reading.
    http://www.greasemonkeybook.com/

    Granted, it might be more enjoyable if you’ve already read the first book, but it’s a good way to get an idea of what it’s like. The author Tim Eldred was heavily influenced by Robotech, and it shows. This is not a put-down, but a compliment to his work.

  22. AS Says:

    Of course scifi is a varied field and one could argue that Hellboy has a steampunk-cabal vibe in it, and Fables has elements of alternative history/secret society type of stories. As well as those Maggie the Mechanic stories from Love&Rockets, and Fantastic Four has always been a scifi book…But if we are sticking closer to the heart of the genre…

    Finder, yes.
    Valerian by Mezieres and Christin is one of the better space operas around, highly recommended.

    Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup is also worth a look, down-to-earth hard scifi for the whole family (and a female lead! Who’s a Japanese engineer and dresses sensibly!). The quality of writing varies a lot during the series from great to a bit dull, but art is always tops.

    The first part of Nikopol trilogy by Enki Bilal was for me personally an important comic, one of the “wow, you can stuff like that in comics” and one of the contributors for my continuing love affair with the medium…cyberpunk without the genre trappings.

    Numerous 2000AD titles, from Judge Dredd to Nemesis the Warlock to Bad Company to Halo Jones. One cannot be a scifi comics fan without having read 2000AD (liking them is of course optional).

    For starters.

  23. Dea ex Machina Says:

    A, A’ and They Were Eleven by Moto Hagio if you can find them. Two excellent science fiction comics with lots of cool thinky stuff about gender and identity by the godmom of shoujo manga. I constantly curse an uncaring god that these have been allowed to go out of print.

    Please Save My Earth is… well, it’s bizarre, and messed up, and all the characters need so much therapy, and WHY THE HELL CAN’T I STOP READING THIS addictive. (Damn it, inner teenager.) Very much a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless. With BEAUTIFUL art.

    Shadow Star Narutaru and Bokurano by An Evil Evil Evil Bastard, AKA Mohiro Kitoh. His sci-fi/horror titles tend to start off looking like something cute and innocuous. Like a kid-finds-cute-monster-sidekick story! Or a bunch-of-kids-find-an-awesome-giant-robot story! You know, something you’ve seen a million times. Thats how he gets you. Eventually you wind up huddled in a corner with haunted eyes, slowly turning pages while muttering to yourself. “This couldn’t possibly get any more fucked u-(*flip*) OH GOD NO. OH THOSE POOR CHILDREN. WHY DO I WILLINGLY READ THIS. (…*flip*)”

    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao freaking Miyazaki. Post-apocalyptic SF in high fantasy drag. The most rich and dense book I’ve ever seen in manga.

    Atomic Robo, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. For all the pulp nerds out there. This series is just constant candy.

    String Theory, by Beckey. A webcomic whose plot is just getting heavy duty underway. The rise of a mad scientist in an alternate universe where the cold war is still going strong. Very well crafted, and the characters grabbed me right away.

    Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life. A road trip through a post-human solar system. Sort of Gulliver’s Travels meet Kerouac, with robots. Slow to update, so I keep forgetting it exists. But whenever I do remember to check back and catch up, it’s excellent.

  24. David Oakes Says:

    “Fantastic Four” has always been a SF comic, but under Hickman it is more SF than it has ever been. And his “SHIELD” is definitely at play in the fields of Arthur C Clarke, as well as featuring Da Vinci and Newton among others. It’s the most Science you can get this side of GT Labs.

    (Of course, “Science Fiction” covers everything from Lensman to Mad Max, Solaris to Dollhouse, so – as always – you want to know your audience. You don’t want to offer Star Trek to a Star Wars fan, or vice versa…)

  25. Johanna Says:

    Wow, I had no idea this thread would take off like this! So many neat-sounding books I should try! Thanks, everyone!

  26. Jim Perreault Says:

    Some stuff that has not been mentioned yet:

    Wandering Star

    Watchmen ( I can’t believe no one has mentioned that.)

    Electric Warrior (an 80s DC series that came out the same time as Dark Knight Returns. I know it’s not available, but I would recommend to any SF fan)

    Akiko

    Zot

    Rasl

  27. Jim Perreault Says:

    Can’t believe I forgot “Little White Mouse”.

  28. James Schee Says:

    Xeno’s Arrow
    First Zot! storyline
    Akiko
    Wandering Star
    Legion of Super-Heroes when Levitz, Waid, Peyer or McCraw were writing it.

  29. john Says:

    For me, far and away the closest to ‘literary’ SF I’ve ever read in the comicbook medium is Bryan Talbot’s “Adventures of Luthor Arkwright” and its sequel “Heart of Empire”.

    My favorite SF series (apart from amost anything from 2000AD) were “Alien Fire” and “Border Worlds”, both black and white series from Kitchen Sink Press; again these are not “Star Trek/Wars” SF, but rather are series that could easily stand next to anything by say Asimov, Heinlein or Clarke.

    If you like the British style of more understated SF then the Jeff Hawke newspaper strip collections from Titan Books are a treat (I’m going to commit heresy here and say that I think that they’ve sttod the test of time much better than Dan Dare has…the Titan Dan Dare stuff bored me rigid, whereas I loved loved loved Jeff Hawke).

    Also worth tracking down are the comic book adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s short stories “The Ray Bradbury Chronicles”, and Haldeman’s “Forever War” by NBM.
    Another interesting read is the unfinished adaptation of William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” by Marvel’s Epic imprint.

  30. Johanna Says:

    Wow, I miss those great indy titles of the 80s and 90s. It’s a shame that imagination and SF have been replaced as trends with zombies. :)

  31. Brian Says:

    How about Aztec Ace or Strange Days from back when Eclipse was around?

    Brian

  32. Mike Says:

    Planetary and Transmetropolitan for sure

  33. DeBT Says:

    I’m a little embarassed for recommending Grease Monkey, when I didn’t see it mentioned in the comments, but completely missed it in the main article.

    Not to mention that there were several comics mentioned later that were on par with my preferences.

    A, A’ + They Were Eleven – hopefully we can get a reprint if the sales of Fanagraphics’ Moto Hagio’s Drunken Dream are good.
    Please Save my Earth – should seriously be rereleased as a series of seven omnibus VizBig collections. What are they waiting for??
    Zot! – Definitely prefer the B&W stories to the first 10 coloured issues.
    Little White Mouse – My sister bought this on a whim, and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
    Yoko Tsuno – completely forgot this French title – if I’d read the English version, I might’ve remembered.

    In addition to the above titles, I’d also recommend the Marvel adaption of Ender’s Game. Also, Nikolai Dante (of 2000 AD fame) has some Sci-fi elements, though it’s more about a loveable rogue trying to get out of sticky situations. (Mostly of his own doing)

    For the truely insane comics fan, you can’t get any crazier than TechnoPriests.

    There’s also a comic about a school spacestation written by a woman that went on hiatus, but restarted on the web. I can’t remember the title right now, but know it was highly recommended.

  34. Johanna Says:

    You’re not thinking of Astronaut Elementary, are you? Only that was done by a guy, Dave Roman.

  35. Charles Reed Says:

    Somebody above already mentioned ATOMIC ROBO, but it bears a re-mention, as it is consistently one of the funniest books out there.

    Also, FINDER by Carla Speed McNeil is really wonderful, though it’s much more interested in the humans that exist in the futuristic earth than in the futuristic earth itself.

    A book that nobody has mentioned yet, though, is ECHO by Terry Moore (who also wrote STRANGERS IN PARADISE). The artwork is just as good as it ever was on SIP, but the story is definitely science-fictional. It has corrupt/greedy/power-hungry corporations (a staple of quite a lot science fiction these days), some kind of living nuclear skin, a robot-sort-of-android guy, and even tough-looking but tender-hearted bikers. :-)

    Good stuff.

  36. DeBT Says:

    No, not Astronaut Elementary. The comic I was thinking of was originally run in comics shops for about maybe 5-8 issues, then went to continue on the web. It had slightly manga-ish realistic art, and a cast of mostly female characters.

    I think this site might’ve mentioned it once.

  37. Johanna Says:

    Galaxion? Only that wasn’t a school, but a spaceship crew. By Tara Tallan. Definitely manga-influenced in look.

  38. James Schee Says:

    Galaxion may be it Johanna, as the flashbacks for it happened at a school on a space station I believe. Only other thing that comes close to that description that I’ve seen would be Wandering Star.

  39. Michael Cohen Says:

    Hi Johanna,

    I was pleased to see you mention Strange Attractors as part of this illustrious list. It turns out that we’ve just signed with Gary Reed’s company Transfuzion, to do an SA collection entitled Pirate Peg’s Rangerette Handbook.

    Best,

    Michael Cohen

  40. Jim Perreault Says:

    Strange Attractors is a great read. I loved the series, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to a hard corp SF fan. It may be too retro. A lot would depend on the type of stories he is looking for.

    Another title that has not been mentioned yet is “Astronauts in Trouble.”

    Jim

  41. James Schee Says:

    One I stumbled upon the first tpb for in a box the other day Strangehaven by Gary Spencer Millidge. I plan to reread it soon see if it holds up. Wonder if he ever plans to finish it? Saw on a google search that he plans issue 24 to be the last, but that #19 wasn’t done as recently as 2008.

  42. koonfasa Says:

    I had just finished and really enjoyed Marvel’s cosmic “Annihilation” event and was having a look around. I like this place. I might try and visit more often. You’ve just bumped Pluto, Global Frequecy and Atomic Robo up on my “list”. Problem is I’m not just a fan of sci-fi lit…

    I try to recommend based on other stuff they like, but SeaGuy, Promethea and the Invisibles are always my first choices to try and share. Otherwise it’s short or easy reads to ease them into the comics I like:
    Universal War One
    Transmetropolitan
    Elephantmen
    Pax Romana
    Tankgirl
    We3

    Then again we’re much the same, and I’d consider talking about American Flagg or Moonshadow or Lobo or even Filth. I’d try and mention Big Man Japan at about this time too…

    Also love Ghost in the Shell, but I’d rather recommend the cartoon and of course, I better say that I’m a Transformer’s fan (that marvel title was my first purchase..).

    …which brings back an old memry,.. I’d like to see a Planet Terry collection.

    hi, I’m koon

  43. Johanna Says:

    Michael, that is hugely exciting news to me! Please keep me informed. And I hope there’s a story wrapup of some kind, even if it’s only a text description of what was planned to happen.

    James, yeah, I remember that series. I’d love to know what the mystery behind that village was.

    Hi, Koon, welcome.

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