Our next Summer Reading List is courtesy of journalist, comics critic, and Wright Awards head honcho Brad Mackay. Please send us your list.

My (Overly Ambitious) Summer Reading List

While this is supposed to be a summer reading list, I fully expect that I will mostly browse a few of these books –especially the art ones, since the images are so compelling. Add kids, work and freelance assignments, and I think it’s fair to call this my Summer Reading Wish List.

Asterios Polyp, David Mazzuchelli.
My feelings about this book are so mixed that I’m going to let it sit in my office for the next month before approaching it. Mazzuchelli was really the last mainstream comics artist to do anything for me, and his work on Batman: Year One I still find beautiful to behold. But it’s his post-superhero work that has always thrilled me, from his seminal self-published Rubber Blankets to his early work for Drawn and Quarterly way back in the day. The fact that he’s been artistically AWOL for more than a decade (two decades?) only cranks up my anticipation for this, his first original graphic novel. So, I’m going to let my feelings regulate before I dive in.

The Shock of the New, by Robert Hughes
A great book that manages to say so much about modern art, in such an accessible way. The TV series that this book was based on was one of the first I’d seen that managed to be populist, without being dumb. That’s something I strive for in my writing as well, so it cant hurt to give it another read. Plus there are so so many pretty pictures.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
Speaking of balancing brains and populism; I think Gladwell is one of the best journalists working today. His ability to immerse himself in a complex subject, absorb it all and then explain it to the reader in plain simple prose is a rare gift—and one that I am completely envious of. Reading him makes me smarter, and a better writer.

The Complete Humbug, Elder, Kurtzman, Jaffee, Davis et al
Slot this grand collection in the “browse” category, which is not intended as a slight in any way. Kurtzman’s post-Mad attempt at an adult humour mag is so interesting I don’t know where to start. Jam-packed with great rat from Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee and the great Will Elder, this short-lived publication inspired so many cartoonists and humourists it has become a mythic touchstone. You just gotta own a copy (Mine is signed and numbered) to go along with your complete run of Weirdo; which also deserves a deluxe reprint.

Lone Wolf and Cub, Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
I read a bunch of these back in the 80s, when Dark Horse put them out. I reconsidered picking up the re-issue a few years back on Joe Matt’s urging—it just seemed like such a strange reading choice for him. What can I say? Even at their reduced size, these are great reads; action comics at their finest.

Devil Dinosaur Omnibus Collection, Jack Kirby
I’ve been struggling to find the right words for years, so I’ll just come out and say it: Devil Dinosaur, I you. Can someone explain why this book became something of a laughingstock in comic circles? I picked this up after finishing Kirby’s Eternals, and was surprised what a great comic it is. I mean, every issue opens with a two-page spread of dinosaurs battling on a landscape of fire/lava/outerspace. There are not many comics that you can easily read to smaller kids, but I am pleased to say this one breaks that mold. My kids love it unreservedly.

Joseph Cornell: Master of Dreams, Diane Waldman
Great book, even greater art. There may be better books about Cornell’s life out there, but few have so many high-quality repros of his art. I recall the prose being kind of academic in this book, but I’m willing to give it another whirl.

Phoenix, Osamu Tezuka
I’m finally getting around to finishing this one off; largely because the library completed its run of it. Never enough Tezuka, I always say.

Revolutionary Road
, Richard Yates
I made a mistake and watched the movie of this (the anti-Titanic) before reading the book. But the movie was so good I immediately picked up the book. Humanistic; bleak; sad – the ultimate beach read.

Schulz and Peanuts, David Michaelis
I’m way behind the cool kids with this one (I blame my children) but I don’t care. The controversy surrounding this book has only made it more of a must read for me. I’ve completed a few chapters already, and it makes me wish I read this before I started my bio essay on Doug Wright. Sigh. (Someone cue the Vince Guaraldi music please.)

Art and Illusion, E. H. Gombrich
I totally ripped this one off from Seth’s Summer Reading list. I’ll pass it on to my wife and father-in-law (who’s an artist) once I’m done with it.