Ian Rankin’s Favourite Comics

Ian Rankin’s Favourite Comics

Rebus Author Picks Top Comic Series

It is no secret that best-selling author Ian Rankin (Rebus) is a huge fan of comics and graphic novels. Here are his 10 favourite series of all time in particular order. Photo of Ian Rankin©Joel Meadows.

Watchmen – blew the top of my head off when I first read it. Poetic, morally complex, definitive. Having devoured each issue, I then bought the complete graphic novel when it came out, only because it contained a page or two of Moore’s original scripts – I needed to see exactly how he had done what he’d done.

Swamp Thing – that man Moore again. Started reading this from issue 21/22 on, as Moore got his teeth into the characters and themes. Environmental horror that also introduced us to…

Hellblazer – John Constantine is brilliant, isn’t he? Private eye, shaman, exorcist, occultist, smoker. Not sure which of these makes him a maverick. When Vertigo asked me if I fancied trying to write a one-off graphic novel featuring one of their characters, he was my first choice.

Dark Knight Returns – these are all pretty mainstream choices, right? And many of them come from a certain era. But hey, they’re MY favourites. And Batman had been such a far-fetched and ‘cartoonish’ hero that it was eye-opening to watch Frank Miller reinvent him as someone older, doubt-filled, and trying to operate within an ugly dystopia.

DR and Quinch – oh, I know, it’s Alan Moore AGAIN, but this is very different – achingly funny, clever, satirical. I remember the original one-off story in 2000AD, and was thrilled when Moore extended the adventures of the two goofy frat-boy aliens. The one where they go to Hollywood…I’ve probably read that a dozen times or more and I still laugh. Mind the oranges, Marlon!

Faust – I think this was originally a six-parter. I know I couldn’t find every issue when it first appeared. Story and art were over the top – violent, filthy, visceral. The vivid monochrome art worked really well. I actually quite liked the eventual live-action film version too, which puts me in a distinct minority.

The Losers – another great example of British practitioners working in an American idiom, this was the A Team on steroids and I was rooting for them every action-packed step of the conspiracy-thriller way. We all thought it would make a great film. We were nearly right…

The Fade Out – I could have gone for Criminal or Fatale, but this is the latest winner from the Brubaker/Phillips partnership. I love the Hollywood setting and the sense of period. The plot keeps you guessing and the characters are complex, the morality dubious. The series hasn’t quite concluded as I write this, but it’s been a hell of a ride so far.

Judge Dredd – though I’d been reading comics from the age of five (most of them coming out of the DC Thomson stable – Beano, Victor, Hotspur, Commando, etc), 2000AD was my gateway drug to the world of adult comics, and Dredd was always a weekly highlight, not only for the figure of Dredd himself but because Mega City One was such a vivid creation, it’s lifestyles and crimes satirical takes on our own world. And some of the long form stories within the series were as good as anything done in the U.S. or elsewhere. DC and Marvel knew: the Brits were coming.

Elektra Assassin – Miller again but this time with jaw-dropping art by Bill Sienkiwicz. Even when the story seemed to make no sense to me, I could just stare at those pages, bathing in their use of colour, the psychedelia of it all. Great comics stimulate the eye and engage the brain. That’s why I love them.



  1. It came straight from Ian Rankin himself …


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