Here is the second part of the list of my favorite comics.
Polly and her Pals, by Cliff Sterret (1922-1930, United States).
A family soap opera, with a couple of middle-aged people, her young and elegant daughter and her cat. All this in beautifully-drawn Art Deco surroundings, with poppy colors and a very subtle sense of humor.
Gasoline Alley, by Frank King (1921-1969, United State).
Another great family soap opera. Its main characteristic lies in the fact that the characters age at the same pace than their readers. At the beginning of the strip, Walt, a single man, very fond of cars, finds a baby orphan on his doorstep. Their relationship along several decades is depicted with subtlety and a lot of tenderness. And, last but not least, each color Sunday page is absolutely beautiful.
Popeye, by Elzie Crisler Segar (1930-1938, United States).
Popeye can be seen as the ancestor of superheroes. He is as powerful as many of them. But not as clever. As a matter of fact, he is quite simple-minded. But he is so honest and good-hearted that it seems impossible not to like him. Segar manages to mix successfully humor, action, fantasy and a lot of tenderness.
Tintin, by Hergé (from Lotus Bleu to Tintin et les Picaros, 1934-1976).
One milestone of French-speaking comics. Depending on one's preferences, one can be particularly fond of the great adventures of the first books (L'Oreille Cassée, L'Ile Noire, etc.), of the classical balance of the great two-volume sagas (Rackam le Rouge, On a marché sur la lune) or of the experimental innovations of the mature Hergé (from Coke en Stock to Les Picaros). Founder of the "ligne claire", Hergé was particularly influential on many comics artists, from his friend E.P. Jacobs to Chris Ware.
Prince Valiant, by Harold Foster (1937-1970, United States).
Classical and beautiful art. A great epic in a fantasy Middle Age that mixes the fall of the Roman Empire with the classical times of Chrétien de Troyes.
Terry and the Pirates, by Milton Caniff (best period from 1937 to 1942, United States)
The acme of adventure feuilleton: Fearless heroes, femmes fatales, exotic countries (mostly China and Sud-East Asia), terrific villains, pirates (of course). Action, romance, humour... And the art, on black and white or in colors is absolutely fantastic. Milton Caniff was nicknamed the "Rembrandt" of comics (for his great use of clair obscur). One the one hand, it's just another stupid comparison; on the other hand, it clearly outlines how great an artist Milton Caniff was.
To be continued...