#93 - American Flagg!

Read this if you like: Sci-fi, pushing boundaries, flawed heroes.

God bless America. When Howard Chaykin created American Flagg!, a graphic novel that ran for fifty issues from 1983 to 1989, he introduced the world to a comic that was equal parts science fiction and political satire. American Flagg! is a great work that stands the test of time even today, something that not all science fiction or satire works can say.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that for the first twelve issues, Chaykin worked on American Flagg! alone. He'd never had a job as big as this, and at the time he had no staff and no assistant. He was pretty much writing it single handed, so any credit for how well the graphic novel has stood against the years must be given to Chaykin before anyone else.

Chaykin created the comic series, but he did get help towards the end from names like Steven Grant, J.M. DeMatteis and Alan Moore. If you're an avid graphical novel reader you'll no doubt recognise Alan Moore as one of the finest names in the industry, writer of seminal works that will appear later in the top 100 comics list. I won't say their names because I want to keep up a small pretext of suspense, but you’ll know which ones I'm talking about. More on those later...much later. Back to business.

The second 'G' in American Flagg! is on account of the protagonist, Reuben Flagg. He is a former television star who gets drafted into the Plexus Rangers, a group tasked with maintaining law and order in the Chicago Plexmall. Here, Flagg sees corruption, lust,violence and greed, all the signs of a society gone morally bust. Flagg's story is one of fighting the good fight, though Reuben Flagg isn't a moral white knight. Like any good protagonist, and any human being really, he isn’t perfect.

What makes American Flagg! one of the top 100 graphic novels is the boundaries it pushed. I don't just mean in terms of subject matter, though it did delve into subjects unique in the comic book world, but I mean in other ways too. On the technical side, the series did new things with layout and lettering that are still used today. You can speak to a lot of illustrators, and I bet they cite American Flagg! as one of their influences. Buy it yourself and find out why.

This is a book best read if you are looking for something different. And by different, I'm talking about a sci-fi political satire revolving around a Martian with a talking cat. You don't hear that one every day, do you? American Flagg! is well worthy of being in our top 100.

Buy American Flagg! on Amazon: US Readers     UK Readers