(Editor’s Note: the header image above does not necessarily contain the Four Good Comics discussed in this interview.)
Zack Quaintance is a respected figure in the comics world. He’s the reviews editor here at The Beat, as well as the founder and former head of his own Eisner-snubbed comics journalism website, Comics Bookcase. He’s also a comics writer himself, having released his suburban neo-noir Next Door #1 back in 2021, with more in the works. When Zack talks, people listen. So when he tweeted back in February that there are only four good comics, the whole of the comics industry took notice.
there's like four good comics but i'll never tell you what they are
— Comics Bookcase (Zack Quaintance) (@ComicsBookcase) February 9, 2023
“there’s like four good comics,” Zack wrote, “but i’ll never tell you what they are” [lack of capitalization and punctuation his]. Questions from followers were met with refusals on Zack’s part to reveal or even offer clues as to what the good comics are.
How could this be? The modern comic book has been around since the ’30s, with hundreds of thousands if not millions published in the nearly 100 years since. How could only four of them be good? And what metric was Zack using to make that determination?
In this exclusive interview, The Beat sat down with Quaintance to try to get to the bottom of what the four good comics are.
Zack Quaintance, who has figured out the four good comics but won’t tell anyone what they are: okay, what do you want to know?
Joe Grunenwald: You’ve said that you know what the good comics are. How did you come to know this?
Quaintance, who has figured out the four good comics but won’t tell anyone what they are: Simple really, I read all the comics and i found the four good ones.
Grunenwald: When you say “the four good ones,” do you mean that all the others are bad? Or just that those four are the best ones?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA (who has figured out the four good comics but won’t tell anyone what they are): I think I made myself pretty clear.
Grunenwald: If you had I wouldn’t be asking for clarification.
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: Next question.
Grunenwald: Why are you refusing to tell anyone what the four good comics are?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: There’s that old adage, everything has a price, and that pertains here.
Grunenwald: So you’re saying you would tell someone for the right price?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: Absolutely.
Grunenwald: Do you have a number in mind?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: For $250, I will start to think about revealing one of the good comics.
Grunenwald: Maybe I’ll Venmo you.
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: That’s the first good idea you’ve ever had.
Grunenwald: Are you open to the possibility of adding comics that haven’t yet been released to the list of good comics? Could there ever be a fifth good comic?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: I certainly hope so, yes.
Grunenwald: What in your opinion makes a comic worthy of being one of the good ones?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: That’s a great question, Joe, and I’m glad you asked it. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said of hardcore pornography, I know it when I see it.
Grunenwald: So it’s sort of an ineffable thing? Or unquantifiable may be a better word.
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: Oh, I think it’s very effable — wait, are we talking about the good comics or hardcore pornography?
Grunenwald: Yes. If I name some comics, will you tell me if they’re one of the four good comics?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: You can name all the comics you like, but I won’t tell you what the four good comics are.
Grunenwald: Not even if one of them is Watchmen?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: I’m looking at my venmo and not seeing $250.
Grunenwald: In the absence of payment, do you intend to take this knowledge to your grave?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: No, but only because I don’t plan on dying. I’m eating well, and exercising as much as three times a week. With advances in medical science…well, who knows.
Grunenwald: You’re one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever spoken to. Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to? Also, is Bone one of the good comics?
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: Oh, that’s weird.
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: I can’t find the middle finger emoji.
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: 🖕
Quaintance, WHFOTFGCBWTAWTA: nevermind, there it is.
[At this point Quaintance abruptly left the chat, ending the discussion. His whereabouts, like the four good comics, are currently unknown.]
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