Throughout comic book history, there have been countless examples of long-running, endless titles that have continued uninterrupted for decades. From batman At Spider-Man, the medium is filled with enduring characters who have formed the backbone of the industry and define what many readers think of when choosing a comic book. However, some creatives are more content to break away from tradition and tell their own stand-alone stories outside of the realm of established characters.
It can often be refreshing to choose a comic book title and know that it has a predetermined beginning, middle, and end. For readers who may be overwhelmed with how much backstory it takes to get involved with some long-standing comics, there are some titles that are more suited to someone who wants to read a full story.
seven Cerebus is a colossal love letter to the medium
Dave Sim and Gerhard’s groundbreaking comic book series, Cerebus ran for a whopping 300 numbers over a span of almost 30 years. While the title’s long lifespan may suggest otherwise, it has always had an ending in mind and feels like a complete, focused story from start to finish.
Wildly independent from day one, Dave Sim and Gerhard have never lost the DIY ethic that drove the title and helped it gain such a loyal following. A journey through the medium, it presents parodies, tributes and references to the industry. It’s an enduring story that’s important to the medium, and it’s a pleasure to read.
6 Elfquest was one of the first comics with a planned ending
Running for 40 incredible years, those of Wendy and Richard Pini, Elfquest was unique in its early days. It was one of the very first comics to have a planned conclusion. Captivating readers for decades, the title is a crafted and marvelous fantasy realm filled with unforgettable, high-adventure characters, which has cemented a legacy for itself that has spanned generations.
Highly regarded by his fans, he is a high benchmark for all fantastic comics. While the main series may be over, its legacy continues in subsequent comics and audio derivative films. Still true to their independent roots, Wendy and Richard Pini offer plenty of issues for free online, which means there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the series.
5 The Invisibles is Grant Morrison’s esoteric magnum opus
Arguably the best work of Grant Morrison’s career, The Invisibles is a breathtaking cosmic journey through the mind of the famous writer. Morrison’s fascination with magic and the occult is fully exposed in the pages of this title. It creates a unique, bizarre world that it’s easy to disappear into, and it’s fantastically unmanageable.
This revealing semi-autobiographical tale is as much a story about fighting oppression as it is a roadmap for expanding the reader’s mind to new ideas of reality. There are few comics that manage to mix great storytelling with such interesting and extravagant ideas. Therefore, it is essential reading for anyone interested in Grant Morrison’s work. The fact that he manages to tell such a comprehensive, well-paced story in his 59 issues goes a long way towards reinforcing the notion that Morrison is one of the best comic book authors of the modern era.
4 American Vampire Takes Readers On A Journey Through American History
Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque american vampire is the story of Pearl Jones and Skinner Sweet – two vampires whose stories are told across America’s changing landscape as she enters and comes to terms with the 20th century. The Greatest Vampire Tale to ever be told in the comics, it’s a gripping title that will quench any reader’s thirst for compelling, well-crafted stories.
Taking its characters from the Wild West to the 1970s, this title has an extremely focused pace and grabs its readers to the end. It is a joy to see the different ways the protagonists try to function in the changing country. Coupled with Snyder’s fantastic dialogue and Albuquerque’s sublime artwork, this makes this series a true page turner from start to finish.
3 Sex Criminals is as flawless as it is hilarious
The series 31 issues of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, Sexual criminals, is the scandalous story of a couple who discovers that they stop time with each sexual intercourse. Filled with the quirky humor readers have come to expect from Fraction and Zdarsky over the years, it also manages to have a gripping storyline with deep emotion.
Perfectly structured, masterfully written, and filled with brilliant artwork, the creative duo manage to tell an explicit story filled with innuendo and NSFW humor that never goes beyond their welcome (despite how shocking it can be at times) . Certainly not one for the faint of heart, it is one of the most unique and hilarious comics around nonetheless.
2 The Walking Dead came out on top
Surprising his many fans around the world, Robert Kirkman finished The walking dead with the number 193 in a movement that seemed completely out of the blue. The comic book and the TV adaptation were still at the peak of their popularity, so for the title to end so abruptly was shocking (to say the least).
Looking back, it was a genius move that matched as much the tone of the comic book as it did solidifying the comic book’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time. In a series where a character can die at any time without warning, it seems rather fitting that the comic itself ends in much the same way. Ending before it got stale – as the TV show started showing signs of becoming – The walking dead came out in the best possible way, bowing and leaving his audience begging for more.
1 The preacher left a legacy few have come close to since
As one of the defining comics of the 1990s, Preacher is a powerful title in the middle. Spawning countless imitators but never being defeated, the story of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon helped shape the comic book landscape going forward. A violent, crass epic that featured an unforgettable roster of characters and a plot that deals with a battle between heaven and earth, it’s rightly considered one of the best comics of all time.
Running for 66 main issues from 1995-2000, Preacher told a very captivating wild story that never went beyond its welcome. Filled with plenty of twists and turns, explosive action scenes, and incredibly crisp dialogue, there are few titles as easy to read as this one.
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