I would like to share with you (not that I assume that you really care about it but...) the list of my favorite all-time comics. I have already done this on my French blog. This time, I left aside a few comics too French specific to get non French-speaking interested. Nevertheless some of the comics in this list, coming from France, but also from Japan, Belgium or Argentine, have probably never been translated into English. It is a real pity inasmuch as they really belong to the best comics that have ever been published in the world, in my humble opinion at least. Let's hope that an English-speaking publisher will have the good idea to translate them in a near future...
OK, let's begin the list. It is in chronological order and it is beginning in the 1830s, with somebody whom many scholars consider as the first comics artist ever...
Works by Rodolphe Töpffer (1830-1844, Switzerland).
First of his kind but already a true master. Since his very first comics, Töpffer discovers many potentialities of the new medium (sequential art, as it will be called many years later): changing the size of the panels to play with the rhythm of the story, iconic iteration, and so on. And his graphic novels are very funny.
He also wrote a very interesting essay on comics, "Essai de Physiognomonie".
That's all for the 19th century. There are probably many other great comics artists from that period (Caran d'Ache, Wilhem Busch, Christophe, Rudolph Dirks, for instance) but I do not know their works enough to able to express an opinion on them.
"Little Nemo on Slumberland", by Winsor McCay (1905-1914, United States).
Winsor McCay brings us to a land of dreams. In each new page, he invents new ways of drawing comics to enable Nemo explore Slumberland and its beautiful Modern Style landscapes.
"The Kin-der-Kids", by Lyonel Feininger (1906-1907, United States).
Lyonel Feininger devoted only 2-3 years to comics before converting himself to painting, a field in which he became truly famous. Nonetheless, in such a short time, he made a deep influence on comics drawing. The influence of his rough and angular art can still be felt today, in some of Frank Miller's drawings, for instance.
"Krazy Kat", by George Herriman (1913-1944, United States).
Nothing as poetic as this has been created in comics ever since. Landscapes are changing all the time, the pages are laid out in an extraordinary way; the language spoken by the main characters, made of English, Spanish and French, full of alliterations, is very poetic; and the same story (a complex love triangle between a he-mouse, a he/she-cat and a dog-cop) is told every Sunday but it is different every time. This strip was widely appreciated by Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso...
"Bringing up Father", by George McManus (1913-1954, United States).
Here is the origin of the "ligne claire", one of the strongest graphic influences of Hergé and Joost Swarte. Very elegant, this drawing has not lost its charms at all.