Unfortunately like record collecting comics can be an expensive business. Thankfully I've not got a hankering to own the very first copy of Action Comics which will put you out of house of home to buy, but here's a list of comics/graphic novels that I want quite badly but that are a bit beyond my price range at this moment in time.
Marat/Sade & Life after Black (Journal #45) by Barron Storey
Currently going for about £56 & £250 on Amazon (although you can buy them cheaper from his blog, not sure about post and packaging though) . Barren Storey is the groundbreaking artist whose intricate mix of beautifully painted and sketchy collage art inspired the likes of David Mack, Dave McKean, and Bill Sienkiewicz. A regular cover artist for Time Magazine in its heyday Storey's existentialist and abstract journal comics mix politics and literature into Storey's own world view. Being a fine artist, art teacher, and famous illustrator (his most famous piece being a stunning cover for William Golding's Lord Of The Flies) he doesn't spare the details in his work. For those critics out there that grumble every time someone refers to comics as being an art form need look no further than the exquisitely imaginative and explosively energetic panels of Storey's journals. One of his journals Marat/Sade takes its title from and weaves snatches of dialogue from Peter Weiss's 1963 play-within-a-play of the same title* to describe his own mental states and the breakdown of the relationship with his lover. Storey is never one to make his comics simple and often there are several different stories going on at several different levels, but overall the effect is breathtaking and in my opinion more comic artists should look to him for inspiration.
Comix 2000 anthology-L'association
This 2000 artist strong millennium celebration by cutting edge french publisher L'association. In order to make it internationally accessible all the strips are wordless, and the anthology is laid out almost like a doctrinaire with 324 artists from 29 different countries, with an introduction in ten different languages, a bibliography for each artist.
Last time I checked there was one copy on Amazon going for about £50 but now it's gone sadly
Kramors Ergot 7
Probably the most expensive comic anthology out there, this oversized book that follows in the vein of slightly more artist comic magazines like RAW was priced at £100 pounds when it came out and now goes for about £300 used on Amazon. Edited by Sammy Harkham and featuring 60 cutting edge modern comic artists.
Lost Girls-Alan Moore&Melinda Gebbie
This three volume hardcover collection by Moore and his wife Gebbie (one of the original British Wimmin's Comix artists) effectively combines Moore's love of all things Victorian with his love of all things erotic. A return in part to the more artistic pornography by the likes of Audrey Beardsley (something he advocates in his book lenght essay '25,000 years of erotic freedom') Lost Girls is the 'what if' story of three famous fictional girls (Wendy from Peter Pan, Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, and Snow White) as they meet up in adulthood and reflect on their various sexual adventures. The artwork is lusciously painted and features a host of unusual gadgets and uncomfortable looking positions to boot!
The complete Calvin and Hobbes
Three volume beautiful hardcover of probably one of the greatest newspaper strips there ever was? Enough said.
A decent Barbarella translation (Jean Claude Forrest)
I was incredibly jealous to hear out there in the world wide web that someone picked up a copy of a Barbarella comic last Free Comics Day. Looking on amazon the cheapest edition (1 new from £10, 1 used from £1,933!) is in German and the other edition is £50 but being published by the children's book division of Corgi I'm sure the content would be watered down. I pray every day for someone to do a reprint of this. Fantagraphics? Drawn and quarterly? Please hear my prayers.
Goodman Beaver&Hey Look-Harvey Kurtzman
Before Little Annie Kurtzman and Elder worked together on Little Annie Fanny they obviously sewed the seeds for her character in the Candide like naivety of Goodman Beaver. This strip showcased the glorious future of Kurtzman/Elder team with glorious splash panels (see the infamous Goodman Beaver Goes Playboy or his adventures at a university soritory) and the intense littering of countless visual puns. Hey Look is Kurtzman's stripped down but coloured pre-Mad work which is witty clever and borders on metafiction at times without being too pretentious, exposing the conventions of the comic book in order to form a punch line (another successful comic book in this line, albeit even more explicit in it's metacomic approach is Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas).
Dave Mckean's first solo graphic novel in which he tones down his usual abstract in favour of luscious thin lines, graceful movement, moonlit atmosphere, and subtle silences. A simplistic story about the inhabitants of a single bohemian apartment building. Currently going for about £100, the good news is that cheaper reprint is due for release in October.
David Choe-Slow Jamms
I first came across this amongst the pages of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. David Choe is a Korean American graphic artist famous for his graffiti and murals (but who has also branched out into multimedia). In 1996 he self published a multi media comic entitled Slow Jamms which fetches between about £50-£100 and along with his later comic offering Bruised Fruit is pretty hard to come by. Stylistically he leans towards the artistry of Barron Storey but with the most obvious influence being his own immersion in the world of graffiti and hip hop culture. All the text is typed, cut out and pasted over the images, he photocopies images, uses found images, uses a lot of splash panels, and the whole thing is very non linear but nevertheless is a work of art and well worth owning.