Five Recommended Comic Series You Can Read in Trade Paperback

“Hey iFanboy, I’m new/returning to comics, and I just read ________, liked it, and want to know what I can read next.”

This is an email we get just about daily around the iFanboy offices, and while I certainly love to see people coming back to comics, and I also love to help them, it can get tiring to answer the same question over and over. In case you’re moving to a new house, make sure to store your belongings like comics properly. Look for cardboard boxes for moving house from to see a variety of secured and safe boxes.  Often, I will refer them to this thread over at the Revision3 forums, dedicated to just such a question.  Other times, I will refer them to take some time and browse the literally hundreds of shows we’ve put together for just that purpose.  Today, I decided to write an article to which I can refer people.

But the purpose is not just as utilitarian as all that.  No, I am not a heartless man.  There are many, many…many (Police Academy, anyone?) trades on my shelves, and while I’ve mentioned some either in passing, or in short bits on the video show, there’s no reason I can’t put something down in permanent world wide web form, to be searched and enjoyed for generations.

The books that follow have been chosen for their relative uniqueness from one another, hoping that one can find something from the following list that piques their fancy.  Oh, and just for the hell of it, and I assure you, it wasn’t planned this way, no superheroes.  Further, all the books are the first volume in a series, or prospective series, as the case may be.  Some are done, others are still going, and so on.  Also, not a one of these is for the kiddies, so you’re warned.

1)  The Exterminators Volume 1: Bug Brothers – (Vertigo Comics – $9.99)  This is the first volume of 5, making a complete series about a very capable group of Exterminators working in present day Los Angeles written by Simon Oliver, with art by Tony Moore and various other artists.  The combination of some very nasty corporate practices, combined with a pissed off reincarnated god-being mean there are big problems in the way of pissed off cockroaches.  The series is both funny and creepy.  The thing is, I hate horror and I hate bugs even more, and The Exterminators did an exemplary job of telling its story that I got over my prejudices, and very much enjoyed it.  There’s a nice melding of toilet humor, ickiness, excellent character and plotting and it makes for a satisfying series that totally surprised me with how much I liked it.

2)  Strange Girl Volume 1: Girl Afraid – (Image Comics – $12.99)  Strange Girl is a Rick Remender series that got a bit of a short shrift, and while it ended earlier than some may have wanted, there are still 4 very solid trade paperback volumes available.  The short pitch is that the Rapture comes to Earth, and our heroine Bethany was not among those called up to Heaven, so she must survive in a world populated with Demons and plenty of evil.  This one’s got dark humor, sexy action, and quite a bit of drama all baked in one delicious sacrilegious package.  All the roots of Remender’s later mainstream success are showcased in these pages, along with the kinetic and evocative art of Eric Nguyen, Remender’s current partner on Gigantic.

3)  Wasteland Book 1: Cities In Dust – (Oni Press – $11.95)  While we’re on the subject of post-apocalyptic, writer Antony Johnston and artist Christopher Mitten serve up plenty of good old barren wastelands and crazy, dusty inhabitants in this ongoing original series from Oni Press.  With 3 volumes out, and a fourth to be released soon, this one is a big, intricately plotted piece of comic book goodness.  Careful reading will uncover careful writing, revealing plenty of slowly revealed plans, and a fully realized world, replete with various social systems, societies, languages and religions.  It’s not our world, but it’s not terribly hard to imagine this as a distant future where our civilazation has been destroyed, and water is among the rarest commodities available.  It starts with a mysterious stranger who fights real well showing up too!  That’s classic formula for fun, isn’t it?

4)  The Losers Volume 1: Ante Up – (Vertigo Comics – $9.99)  Were you ever curious if a comic book could capture the energy and excitement of a modern action movie but not leave you feeling kind of underwhelmed on plot?  Andy Diggle and Jock (who produces, I shit you not, the dreamiest of art out there) had no such doubts when they produced these five excellent volumes of pure run and gun, shoot ’em up, ex-military espionage capers.  There’s a team of guys who used to be Special Forces, and there’s the really smart leader guy, and the geeky tech guy, and the small, wiry, but can kill the shit out of you guy, and more.  It’s like G.I. Joe with without any of the stigma of having been a children’s toy line.  Just flipping through these pages, and looking at the beauty of Jock’s work is a joy in itself.  The razor sharp script produced by Andy Diggle is just icing on the cake.

5)  Screamland Vol. 1 – (Image Comics – $16.99)  I admit it.  This one’s a bit of a cheat, because there is only the one trade, and as of now, no concrete plans I know of to produce more.  Yet, that’s no reason to avoid this, and hey, if enough people buy it, then maybe we’ll see some more issues, right?  I certainly hope so.  Screamland is the story of the 4 prototypical movie monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and the Mummy.  In this world, they’re not played by actors, but actually are the creatures that appear in their films.  Except it seems that their hey day has passed, and popular culture has passed them by.  But hey, a monster’s still gotta eat right?  We see them hustle for work, and try to get attached to movies and projects, despite their various PR problems.  It’s a nice satire of the nature of Hollywood, as well as some really good characterizations being built for the monsters, and the world in which they live.

So there are five great books you can go check out, completely unrelated to one another, depending on your tastes.  Go try something new, or pick one up on a slow week.



  1. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I’ve been reading The Losers lately. Great series. Just as Josh isn’t a horror guy and likes Exterminators in spite of it, I’m totally not an espionage thriller guy and The Losers is still something I can enjoy. It’s just damn fun.  

  2. Screamland sounds fascinating.  I had never heard of it.  Wasteland also sounds like my kind of book.

    Thank you for the suggestions, Josh.  I don’t suppose you would be willing to part with that Police Academy trade???

  3. Damn you Josh, all 5 of these sound interesting, not what I needed!

  4. this makes me want to read the losers again

  5. Thanks for this! Most of this stuff is still on ‘THE LIST’ but I’m working on it!

  6. all of these look wicked good. i think i will check them out in my LCS and then see where it goes from there. thanks for the suggestions josh!!

  7. Own all but Screamland.  Will check it out.

  8. Was The Losers Diggle’s first well known work? It’s been hyped so much on the iFanboy boards, I just have to get it!!! I love kick ass action series done RIGHT (unlike Hulk)

  9. Diggle worked in the UK for a long time writing for 2000 AD, and as an editor for them for some time.  It’s his first significant US work.

  10. Strange Girl is my favorite Remender work. It is awesome.

  11. The Losers is straight-up cool action movie goodness.  I recommend it as well.  The Exterminators is on my list to read, hopefully I can get to it next month

  12. nice, i was looking for more Jock. and the exterminators sounds really fun

  13. Gonna pick up Strange Girl on my FCBD travels this weekend. Totally forgot it was even out there – thanks for the reminder.

  14. screamland was a great fun read and loser was a great series. i got to try out exterminators

  15. All of these are excellent reccommends.  Wasteland is on my "to read" list and I started The Exterminators, but never got around to finishing it.  It was very good though.  

    I think there are tons of books that could be listed for this though.  The other places Josh mentioned are certainly rife with other reccommendations.  Your best bet is to get on the forums and start a thread.  People will always get back to you with solid reads. 


  16. Wow….I’ve been back in comics for 2-3 years now and I havent read any of those series.

    The Exterminators sound like the best of the bunch….and disgusting…is it one of those ‘look how gross this comic is!’ type of comic?

  17. @TNC-From what I understand about Josh’s hatred if icky things, I wouldn’t think so.  But I have to admit, I don’t know for sure

  18. Exterminators is a bit creepy, but it’s not like a grossout competition.  There’s too much story to be told to waste time on that.

  19. Well if my LCS has the first volume (which they do now) by the time FCBD rolls in then I’ll try Exterminators.

    Nice zinger with the Police Academy josh 🙂

  20. i’ve read the first 2 Exterminators trades and they were really good. Thanks for reminding me i need to get book3.

  21. I hate to disagree again but while I loved the first two Exterminator trades, the third one underwhelmed me an dthe fourth really lost the plot, as far as I’m concerned. I hope it has a good finish but I’m very dissapointed about the direction it took.

  22. Is anyone else out there reading REX MUNDI from Dark Horse?  I gotta put in a plug for what has recently become my favorite "trade-waiting" series.  A DaVinci Code style thriller set in an alternate 1930’s earth where the Protestant Reformation never took hold and the Church still holds lots of political power.

  23. I’d agree about the Exterminators. It started off brilliantly but really lost its way about half way through. By the end it was a horrible mess. A real shame.

  24. Exterminators was announced as canceled somewhere in the middle of the run.  It did lose a little focus at the end, to be sure, but there were also some really good issues in the last 10 or so.  The first 2 volumes are exemplary, and probably the best of the run, but it ended OK.  Not great.

  25. I am a big fan of the first four. I am just wrapping up The Losers and I absolutley agree with Josh about Jocko’s art. Amazing! Along with Nick Klein’s art in Viking, Jocko’s work is the most excited I have been about comic visuals in some time. I highly recommend Strange Girl to anyone who hasn’t read it. It is a very funny series and you will feel compassion, cheer on, and love Bethany Black in the same way readers of Fear Agent do Heath Huston (Well maybe not in the same way she’s hot!). I’ll try to pick up Screamland.

  26. Only one I’ve read from those is The Losers, and that was in issues.  That was really good.  Exterminators was already on my wish list, but I’m now adding the rest (whew, I think this’ll push the list over 150). I don’t think the list will ever reach 0…too many good books.

  27. Don’t know about Strange Girl – the drawing is pretty cartoony, the coloring is dark and one color in several panels – like you’re reading while wearing sunglasses and changing them every page or so. Also the way god is depicted and the text in the end of the first issue – which is over defensive and fighting windmills, can probably tell you if you don’t want to read it, so getting an entire TP might be a waste.

    Maybe the short text in the end of the first issue isn’t in the TP which would be better. The art style reminds me of Alex Landish and his Who Never Sleep mini series. Not my favorite – dark, sketchy a bit, and there’s a weird 3-d look to it – like when machine coloring misses by a few millimeters. 

    I read the first issue and will pick up the first TP, but that art style and subject seems like something that can get annoying or boring pretty fast. 

    Also – Wasteland being Dune with Bruce Lee is not something I would want to read 🙂 If it was like Hardware I would be all over that. Greatest movie ever? Hell yes!

    A slow building story in a weird futuristic world – almost desolate and a desert.

  28. I’ve read Losers and Strangegirl, loved them both.

     Screamland looks excellent but isn’t my cup of tea. 

    Will be picking up Exterminators which I ignored but first Wasteland, which I didn’t know existed and is right up my alley. 

  29. This is great because one of my friends is coming with me to Free Comic Book Day and if he still sounds intereested I can direct him here.

  30. I really liked Strange Girl a whole lot, but the ending was a little lost on me.  I did the stupid thing and read the last trade without re-reading the first three, so I was a little lost on what happened.  I need to re-read those.

    Another Vertigo series that I found pretty interesting is American Virgin.  I’ve only read the first trade, but it was pretty awesome.

  31. maybe i won’t bother with exterminators 3 then…the reaction seems a little ‘meh’…

  32. I’d finish Exterminators.  Hell, I did, and I totally think it was worth it.

  33. Check your local library if you don’t want to risk it.

  34. Good recommendations. I crack open ‘The Losers’ every so often and re-read it. I have some original Jock signed ‘Losers’ artwork. The cast for the movie is shaping up nicely.

     I also love The Exterminators. Does anyone know what happened to the proposed T.V show?

     I really dig Remender’s work right now Fear Agent, Punisher, Gigantic etc and I’d never even heard of ‘Strange Girl’. I’ll definitely check it out. 

  35. I am going to pick up the Losers….probably try and get that on DCBS the next time I order. 

    I love the Criminal series….and while I know I am missing out on the essays in the back, the trades do make for a nice easy self contained read. I would suggest the iFanbase might want to give them a look!

  36. @Khonshu – if I remember correctly, it was talked about in one of the video/mini shows.

  37. *Strange Girl was talked

  38. The Losers turns my crank. If i have dough to burn I’ll go with that. Thanks!

  39. Quite surprised by this list. I thought Screamland was kinda average.

  40. Five for five. Nice list. 


    And here’s to hoping we’ll get a really great HC presentation of Losers someday. Perhaps to coincide with the movie. Hope, hope. 

  41. Exterminators all the way! This series is laugh out loud funny. I stopped reading around the Darick Robertson stuff but plan on finishing t up. Tony Moore Art is Solid, and the only downside of this series is the art when Tony is not drawing it. Even the Robertson stuff seemed rushed. But it is worth it!

  42. @chlop That’s probably why I missed it. I’ve listened to the audio show since forever but only really catch the odd video show now and then via Boxee.

     Re: The Losers. I do love that last shot/panel. I got Jock to sign that particular panel at a con. 

  43. I’ve wanted to read The Losers for some time.  I was on Wasteland when it started and jumped off around #13 as it went off the rails a bit and got a little too confusing for me (reading in trade may solve that).  I do find the art offputting after awhile.  Never heard of Screamland but that sounds fun.

  44. Exterminators has been fun so far (I’ve read the first two).

     Fear Agent is freaking awesome though, I’d like to try out Strange Girl.