Recently the Comics Reporter published a list of the 50 things they felt that every comics collection “truly needs.” It’s a great list, and we don’t dispute any of their suggestions, though we do believe that their picks heavily favor either the unimpeachably cool or amusingly kitschy elements of the comics canon over the sort of crass and dorky things that tend to define the comics-buying experience. As such, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to offer up our own list of ten more items your collection needs to reflect a truly well-rounded comic-book experience.
1. Anything by Rob Liefeld.
The artist may be the laughingstock of the comics industry, but his hilariously awful drawings of hysterical ponytailed men with extraordinarily improbable anatomy, an abundance of shoulder pads and pouches, and machine guns the size of Buicks define an entire era of superhero comics.
2. A complete collection of a company-wide crossover.
Crossovers are generally considered to be lame cash grabs that exploit the completist tendencies of mainstream superhero fans, but they are undoubtedly the engine running all of Marvel and DC’s character franchises. If you’re going to buy every issue of one, we’d suggest the Grant Morrison–helmed Final Crisis, but if you’d rather hunt down every comic associated with Marvel’s fan-derided Secret Wars II, more power to you.
3. A few random licensed comics from the eighties.
If you got into the habit of buying comic books as a kid in the eighties, you no doubt got your start with comics based on popular movies and toy lines. It doesn’t matter if you stock up on old copies of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, or ALF, just be sure that they are well worn.
4. Any given comic adaptation of a movie.
Comics companies have been churning out rote mini-series based on movies for years, even though they generally sell poorly and often have no audience aside from fans eager to spoil themselves on the plot of a movie in advance of catching it in the theater. We recommend finding a complete set of an adaptation of a movie that flopped at the box office, like maybe Xanadu or Freejack.
5. Something with a gimmick cover.
It doesn’t matter if it’s embossed, chrome-coated, glow-in-the-dark, or has a hologram stamped on the front — you need at least one comic that cashed in on the speculation-driven comics market of the early nineties with an unnecessarily flashy cover.
6. An issue of Wizard Magazine.
Snobs may prefer the snooty, harshly critical Comics Journal, but the long-running Wizard Magazine has had a far greater influence on the industry with its unapologetic obsession with superheroes and drawings of scantily clad women.
7. One of those expensive statues of a comic-book character.
If you’ve stepped foot in a comic-book shop in the past ten years, you’ve certainly noticed the vast array of collectible statues of characters ranging from Superman to indie icons like Jeff Smith’s Bone and alarmingly sexualized sculptures of Vampirella. They’re ubiquitous and tacky, and if you’re looking for one that is particularly iconic, you should go for the “Mary Jane washes Spider-Man’s clothes” statuette that incited a major controversy in the comics blogosphere.
Yes, there’s a lot of great manga out there, but if you want to be a completist, you ought to own at least one book that involves a schoolgirl getting penetrated by a monster’s tentacle.
9. Dave Sim Collected Letters 2004
Dave Sim’s 300-issue epic Cerebus may be a triumphant achievement in the comics world, but it is nearly overshadowed by its author’s ranting essays and letters about the “Marxist/feminist/homosexualist” axis collected in this volume.
10. A comic book guest-starring Wolverine that should not include Wolverine by any reckoning.
Sure, you could sub out Wolverine for the similarly ubiquitous Batman, Spider-Man, or the Punisher, but there is no other character more associated with hilariously unnecessary guest shots than the clawed Canadian anti-hero.