Paste's Favorite Comics of All Time: Contributor Tini Howard

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This Thanksgiving season, the Paste comics crew is taking a deep, inquisitive gaze into our bookshelves, iPads and souls to pay thanks to the books that set us upon a lifelong love affair with an art form that gives so much more than it takes. What makes this medium so much more addictive to us? It could be the near-endless modern mythologies, the rotating cast of hyper-talented storytellers and artists, the sterling optimism of mainstream super heroics or the branching literary epiphanies from the indie library. (Also: it’s smarter. Comic books singularly engage both the visual and symbolic dimensions of our brains, leading to a far more complex, and arguably gratifying, deciphering process.)

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For the next two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, each member of the Paste Comics Team will be taking a reprieve from basting turkeys and hiding their parents’ Josh Groban holiday albums to dive into their favorite comics of all time. Our first list comes from the newest member of the Paste family, Tini Howard. Before hopping over to our bullpen, Tini scripted such comics as Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament and Poseidon IX for Top Cow in addition to Kickstarter anthologies The Secret Loves of Geek Girls and Oath Anthology.

10. Achewood


Writer/Artist: Chris Onstad
Publisher: Dark Horse

Achewood is a weird and brilliant webcomic that inspired an entire pattern of speech. Where if your best friend is a talking cat, he's a dogg who is raw as hell, but if you diss my robot dog, well...that's when you fluff my hog. I won't dishonor this title by trying to explain it—("It's about a bunch of pets and stuffed animals? But they're all hipper than you?")—but after reading, you'll come away from rabbit ambulances, Great Outdoor Fights and little baby seals standing on drum machines wondering how you're wiser for having read it.

9. Alias


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For the Netflix-watchers wondering 'who is Jessica Jones and why does she get a TV show?,' this is why. Alias remains a favorite because of how profoundly unlikeable Jessica manages to be; she's foul-mouthed, rude and insecure. Jessica isn't a happy hero —she's spending her post-Avenging life just trying to deal with the repercussions of some missions gone wrong. It doesn't help that her bestie, soon-to-be Captain Marvel Carol Danvers, has her shit together on a level that Jessica just can't reach. In a world of so many women, there are Carols and Jessicas. I'm a Jessica.

8. Batman: Gotham Knights


Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Dale Eaglesham, Paul Ryan, Others
Publisher: DC Comics

The second Bat-book I'd take with me on a desert island, Devin Grayson's Gotham Knights run, tends to be ignored. It's one of the first places readers can see the modern 'Bat-family,' and the title presents some great, head-on stuff with all of the criticisms people typically level at Batman. (Isn't he the crazy one? Why does he say he likes to be alone and surround himself with kids?)

7. Batman & Robin


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely, Others
Publisher: DC Comics

I didn't like Batman until Dick Grayson was Batman, following the events of Bruce Wayne's "death" in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis. I can leave Year One and The Dark Knight Returns for entries beyond the top ten—they're great, but Batman & Robin is where I fell in love. If you're looking to hook a Bat-fan from the word go, lend them this insight into the legacy. The original Robin becomes Batman, and Batman's biological (and bloodthirsty) son becomes Robin. Batman cracks wise while Robin's a teensy little Bruce Wayne. Never has role reversal been so savvy.

6. X-Factor (X-Factor Investigations)


Writer: Peter David
Artists: Ryan Sook, Pablo Raimondi, Others
Publisher: Marvel

Of the umpteen X-titles to come out of late '80s, X-Factor stood out. Originally launched as a title with the original X-Men, it quickly became the origin spot for weirdoes like Boom-Boom and Rictor. But it wasn't until the 2005 relaunch that I really cared. Blending X-Men with X-Files, writer Peter David's third volume of the series was full of humor, drama and dimension-hopping romance.

5. Invincible Iron Man


Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Publisher: Marvel

When I wasn't that into superheroes, this book got me back into superheroes. From a writer who's also a recovering addict, Tony Stark's struggles with alcoholism and self-loathing go from a hackneyed morality parable to a real story about our inner demons when they're let out of the bottle—and how we persevere past them.

4. Strangers in Paradise


Writer/Artist: Terry Moore
Publisher: Antarctic Press

I had a few girlfriends before I even knew to call them my girlfriends. We didn't always have a language for what we did or how we felt, and that frustration ended a few relationships before they ever really started. Katchoo loves Francine, and Francine loves Katchoo, but Francine wants picket fences with boys—even if the boys are jerks. It's the best and worst of the spectrum of unrequited love, in between a story that spans everything from auditions to assassins to terminal illness.This book is slice-of-life fiction for grown ups.

3. Sandman


Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Jill Thompson, Dave McKean, Others

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Is there a goth girl alive who didn't read Sandman in her teen years? We already came equipped: mythology geeks who had read every Shakespeare play in the library. We left mourning, drugstore kohl staining our cheeks. I hand people this series with a reverence like I'm giving away a child at a wedding. I think it has the power to mend holes in hearts.

2. Are You My Mother?


Writer/Artist: Alison Bechdel
Publisher: Mariner Books

I'm the heretic who thinks Are You My Mother was even better than Fun Home. Alison Bechdel's memoir about her mother is—strangely—even more complex and fascinating than the one about her relationship with her father. What starts as an autobiography evolves into a wrenching study of the self and how everyone plays protagonist in their own stories.

1. The Cartoon History of the Universe


Writer/Artist: Larry Gonick
Publisher: Doubleday

The first comic I ever truly loved, it's also the history of the world. It's useful, hilarious, and avoids Western-centric bias. I've passed so many history classes thanks to having pages of this memorized.