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I used to be a BIG comic reader as a kid, and got back into the hobby as an adult.  Granted, some of the stories are the typical "good guys bash the bad guys", but there are a great many exceptions.  Given that a lot of movies based on comics have been doing big business in the 2000's it's likely you agree with me.

One of my favorite US comic series for year has been "Batman"; I've read all the Julius Schwartz edited issues, and watched the TV show, but felt both were too comedic.  I remembered one of the main sources for the character The Shadow, and felt "Bats" deserved better.

Then along came Frank Miller, and straightened things out...  Yes, I think that The Dark Knight Returns is a masterpiece of writing.  Luckily, I'm not alone, and adaptations since then are MUCH better.

Since nobody lives by one publisher alone, I have read books published by Marvel.  I started early with the classic Jack Kirby X-Men issues, but the series didn't really hit it's stride until Chris Claremont and John Byrne took over.  Not to denigrate Kirby, but I preferred his work on Fantastic 4 and Thor.
Steve Ditko's Spider-Man and Doctor Strange filled in the rest of what I devoured from that company.

Given my interest in Japanese animation, you'd suspect I read Japanese comics (manga)...

One of my favorite manga artists is Kenichi Sonoda. I ran into his work as a result of seeing the anime "BubbleGum Crisis", based on his manga. I eventually collected all the episodes on VHS, and have been picking up his art whenever I've seen it, and can afford it. He's created several other good comics; "Gunsmith Cats" was good, but I lost interest in it after ten or twelve issues.

I got interested in Masamune Shirow's artwork as a result of seeing/purchasing a VHS copy of "Black Magic M66" at a SciFi convention. One thing led to another, and I eventually read "Appleseed", "Dominion", "Ghost in the Shell", and "Orion". "Intron Depot" is one of the best (if most expensive) collections of his art; highly recommended!

I'd been reading the above comics published by Dark Horse, so when they released a comic called "Outlanders" by Johji Manabe, I picked it up; after the first issue, I was hooked! After that, they published "Caravan Kidd" and "Drakkun", which I was't too thrilled with. Those two books had nothing really new to offer, and seemed like almost carbon copies of "Outlanders".

One of the first US manga-style series I came across was "Dirty Pair"; since the original Japanese manga wasn't available to me, I got excited when I heard that an american artist was doing a  version of the comic. That was my introduction to the art of Adam Warren

It really amused me when Adam Warren did his own version of "BubbleGum Crisis", called "Grand Mal". A seriously good comic, even if the "Priss" in this one had a great deal more attitude than the one in the original anime.

I came across Phil Foglio's artwork back when he was doing "What's New?" in "The Dragon" magazine for TSR. Can you say "too much fun?"... Phil's work is always good for well-needed belly laugh!

I'm currently setting a few dollars aside to pick up the rest of "Girl Genius" ; I've read several issues, and it's well worth the dollars. But don't take my word for it; go read issue one online for free (yes, FREE) and see what you think.

I've swapped a few emails with them; the Foglios are truly nice folks! 

I started reading Shanda back when I was getting bored with superhero books... It's what's called a "slice of life" comic; it's about relationships between characters in a more or less "normal" life. Kind of like your standard TV soap opera in that respect. The art's usually excellent, but if it wasn't well written, (and always is) it wouldn't be worthwhile.   Bear in mind, this is NOT a kid's comic; it's for adults only.