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Diggin in the Crates by Jordan Ferguson

Friends! It's been far too long, welcome back to... that thing I write here that has no title. Seriously. We need to work on that.

When we last spoke, I mentioned that one of the things I was looking forward to on my holiday trip back home was the opportunity to scurry into my parents' crawlspace and start reacquainting myself with the longboxes stashed there. Which is exactly what I did, and it was glorious. I even photographed some of the more notable gems in my collection and threw them on Instagram so my colleagues here could see just how truly out of hand I used to be [when I saw Smells Like Maturity artist Khaiam Dar after I got back to Toronto, he likened it to "that guy who has all good stuff on vinyl."]

It's an apt analogy. These days, records have replaced comics in fulfilling my need to flip through stacks of flat, polybagged objects. What is it about that tactile sensation that I find so relaxing, almost meditative? Just how some of us are wired, I suppose.

Anyway, what was most enjoyable to me about this little cratedigging expedition of mine wasn't seeing the things I knew I had, but encountering all the things I'd forgotten I'd even bought. Here are five of the favourites.

Heartland

Technically a Hellblazer spin-off by one of the title's classic creative teams of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Heartland follows John Constantine's former lover Kit, after she leaves him and returns home to Belfast. There's no magic or alchemy here, just a somber take on the secrets families keep and what it was like to come of age in war-torn Ireland.

Vertigo Pop!: Tokyo

One the dozens of initiatives Vertigo tried over the years, the gimmick of this one was that each of the three miniseries used setting as a key point of the narrative [the other two being London and Bangkok]. I remember nothing about the story, I don't think the writer has done much since, but I still bought it, for the reason most people did: the artwork of Seth Fisher. Fisher didn't publish much before tragically falling off Osaka rooftop in 2006, but his frenetic, psycho-pop style was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and have rarely seen since.

The Bakers

Kyle Baker is without question, one of the treasures of comic storytelling, but I wonder how many people really know that. Versatile doesn't even begin to describe it, from the moody Hawkman he delivered in DC's Wednesday Comics experiment, to the beautifully animated work he delivers on this title. Just a simple little book of family humour, but Baker's Chuck Jones-inspired line work is a joy to look at. Bonus! Most of Baker's creator-owned work is available online for your enjoyment, cheap as free!

The Intimates

When I found this series in the stacks, it wasn't just that I forgot I bought it, I couldn't remember a single thing about it. The creative team of Joe Casey and Giuseppe Camuncoli is no slouch, but knowing me I bought it for the Jim Lee covers. A quick Google informs me the series, set in the Wildstorm universe, centered on an academy for young superheroes called The Seminary. A quick flip through the book refreshed my memory that it was filled with news tickers and pop-up bubbles as a way to echo the experience of information overload that eight years later seems almost cute. It's a good idea though, and I wouldn't mind seeing someone take another pass at it.

Pounded

Pounded was just fun. Written by Brian Wood with artwork from Steve Rolston, Pounded told the tale of Heavy Parker, the poser punk King of Vancouver. When Heavy's goody goody girlfriend goes away to New York for college, Heavy deals with it as one would expect, breaking up with her via distracted phone call. When Missy returns to Van with a crew of New York friends, well, hell hath no fury. In and out after three issues, like a punk song, Pounded was at once a love story, a celebration of music, and a subtle poke at the currency of authenticity in some cultural movements.

Those are just the ones that I took photos of. If you notice a trend here, it's because I only had time to sift through the DCU/Indie boxes. When I get down there again, I'll be sure to take you through the Marvel pile. But I suspect those are just filled with a bunch of Marvel Manga. Eesh.

Jordan Ferguson thinks you should stop reading this and go read Kyle Baker's 'Cowboy Wally Show' by clicking that link above. He avoids writing at poetryforgravediggers.wordpress.com.