questionswith what comic book/graphic novel/manga should i…

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This one has been around for a while, but I like this odd take by Mark Millar about Superman ... what if he landed in the Soviet Union ...
http://www.amazon.com/Superman-Red-Son-Mark-Millar/dp/1401201911/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312002678&sr=8-1

More recent stuff that's pretty cool is the comic book based on Kevin Smith's script for The Green Hornet. If the movie version of this was made (along with no Seth Rogen), it'd have been infinitely better ...
http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Smiths-Green-Hornet-Vol/dp/1606901915/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312002786&sr=1-4

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Take a look at Forbidden Planet's 50 best graphic novels list to see if any of them grab you -http://forbiddenplanet.com/picks/50-best-graphic-novels/

The Sandman books are great. Batman: The Dark Night Returns (not what the movie was based on), Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum are all great - the artwork in Arkham Asylum is fantastic and freaky. A couple I didn't see on there are Batman Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Superman: Red Son - alternate realities for these characters that produce and interesting read.

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Bone
The Walking Dead
Preacher
Hellboy & BPRD
Punisher (Garth Ennis)
Fables
The Dark Tower
The Goon
The Boys
DMZ
Kick-Ass
Scalped
The Unwritten
Baltimore
Conan & Conan the Cimmerian (Darkhorse)
Cerebus
Hellblazer
100 Bullets
Daredevil (Frank Miller, Bendis or Brubaker)
Superman - Earth One
RASL
Jonah Hex vol 2(yeah the movie sucked, but the comic is awesome)
Mouse Guard

whew...

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Watchmen is a must. I have the book and the animated DVD versions.
Walking Dead is amazing, Kick-Ass, Sin City.
Batman: The Killing Joke. One of the best Batman's ever.

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Wow, I have a ton of reading to start on this weekend! I appreciate all of the answers. Sounds like Watchmen is definitely high up there, so I might start with that and work my way through the other suggestions.

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Zenescope makes really great graphic novels.. I highly recommend them. You can find their series on https://www.zenescope.com/

The Grimms Fairy Tales are probably what they are most known for, but they have a few other series that are really well made

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Death Note

Of course, everyone knows the anime series adapted from it. But not everyone's aware there were also a couple of awesome live action films made too.

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Watchmen is sort of dense if you've never read anything in the medium before.

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100 Bullets is fantastic reading. Seriously. It's won all kinds of awards and is really very cool.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Bullets

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I'll also say Watchmen, Walking Dead, and Killing Joke, but add Battle Royale. It's a good manga, and that's coming from someone who generally just isn't into manga. It's well written and is a good story though.

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Source material is a great place to start. Batman Begins is based off of some classic Frank Miller work. Miller also inspired Batman: The Animated Series... blah blah blah
You know, if you think about it, all of these characters are really old

Batman: 1939
Superman: 1938
X Men: 1963
Spiderman: 1962

So for me the best storytellers truly shine when they make these tired characters seem brand new.
To put it another way, when i was a kid my dad read to me, it didnt matter what he read or who the characters in the story were, it was the way he told it.

For me, its a lot more rewarding to keep track of the story tellers:
Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Jeph Loeb, Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Miller, Darwyn Cooke
Artists: P. Craig Russell, Frank Miller, Tim Sale, Darwyn Cooke

These are the most influential on me personally. All of whom are Eisner winners.
The Eisners are considered the Oscars of the comic world:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Eisner_Award_winners

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@danthonyross: I agree with Stark that Watchmen isn't a good starter comic. Save it for after you're more familiar with the medium.
Fables probably is better for beginners, or, if you're interested in superheroes and can tolerate some teen angst, Ultimate Spider-Man.

[ETA after looking at the Eisner winner list] Starman is another good one. You may feel like there are references that you're not understanding, but almost nobody gets them. Like Lord of the Rings, its world has tons of history, which may or may not have been actually told.

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@jamesdelsman: @stark I appreciate the advice, and I'll save Watchmen after I cut my teeth on a few of the other suggestions. I'm just glad libraries have comics, otherwise this endeavor would cost me a fortune!

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@wootfast: Awesome! I had never heard of the Eisner Awards before -- not that that should shock anyone. Wishing I had started this sooner, as I have a lot of catching up to do!