1) Marvel's Oz Books: I admit to having never paid much attention to the Oz books and films in my youth. This one's on my list because writer Eric Shanower and artist Skottie Young bring such pure energy to these stories that it's hard not to be pulled into them.
2) Ordinary Victories: This is a two volume graphic novel by French cartoonist Manu Larcenet. It follows a photographer as he matures from slacker pothead into a husband and father. At the same time you can see the protagonists growth in his art and how it changes with life experience.
3) Fred the Clown: A classic from Roger Langridge, this one gets repeat looks from me throughout the year. Langridge does a remarkable job of telling a pictorial history of comics while being hysterically funny. Who else but Langridge can be equally educating and entertaining?
4) Cages: This hefty tome from Dave McKean single-handedly kept me from giving up comics when I first read it in the mid- '90's. It's a book that touches on art, sex, spirituality, and more, without ever seeming to patronize its' audience. McKean's characteristic mastery of multiple visual mediums is paralleled by the literate story that makes you think he should be writing more often.
5) Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack: This book of 3 and 4 page strips is repeatedly laugh out loud funny and will continually impress you with how humor can continue to work in comics over multiple reads. Nicholas Gurewitch seems effortless with his humor, and that's a tough thing to accomplish in comics or any other medium.
There you have it, a few books that I've referred back to frequently over the past several years that have reminded me how much I love comics. Stay tuned for Wednesday's post when Heather will preview some of the great offerings at this year's Free Comic Book Day. On Friday, I'll discuss the recent popular issue of authenticity in art, and more importantly, go over some telltale signs that you might be dealing with a fradulent artist.