Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Let's Chat About Comics

I didn't grow up with comics. I have a vague memory of some sort of Archie thing, but I never had comics around. I didn't have friends or family that read comics. It just never crossed my experience in any way.

Until college. I was dating this guy and we went to his house for a long weekend. I forgot to bring a book for when I finished the book I was reading, and knowing my guy was a reader, I wandered up to his room and began looking around. Nothing. To this day, I've never figured out where he kept his books. What I did find was three long white boxes of comics. I dug around a little and found some issues of The Maxx. I don't know if you remember this, but that was an MTV cartoon back in the day. I read them, loved them, and then promptly forgot all about it.

Until Joss Whedon announced (years) later that he would be continuing Buffy's story via comic. I believe my first thought was, "I don't care if you scrawl it on napkins and tie them to the legs of carrier pigeons, I'm in."

Since that fateful day, standing in Barnes and Noble with the first trade paperback in my hand (only I called it a compendium, because I didn't know any better), I've read a handful of graphic novels and comics.

And here's the thing: I like them. I like them a lot. I love the idea of story telling through this mash-up of words and art. I love the built in drama. I genuinely enjoy them. And I'd like to read more, but it's hard.


Well, I'm so glad you asked. First of all, it's difficult to break in. I've had a few kind and friendly guys help me out and suggest what I should read and where I should shop. I've had more roll their eyes at my ignorance and make me feel stupid. A couple of years ago, I went to every comic shop in the city nearest me in search of one particular novel. After being ignored, blown off and in one case, openly mocked by the staff of these stores, I gave up. I still haven't read it.

Secondly, I'm a girl. Take everything in that last paragraph and double it, because no one wants to take me seriously.

Thirdly, you have to keep up. If you don't buy a book or trade paperback within a few weeks of its release, it seems to disappear. Sure, you can go to the publisher's website or some internet book stores, but keeping up is hard for me. That's why I have a DVR.

Fourthly, the knowledge bank is ridiculous. I just don't even touch the superhero thing. Because if I started now, I might, right before I die manage to get caught up with one hero and all the different adventures, villains, loves, weaknesses and alternate realities that inform each and every story. And yeah, I know, universe reset button, but seriously, don't you think that all those old stories are still informing the new ones?

And all this is to say this: I'm not sure why people who are into comics don't want to make it easier for more people to get into comics. It seems to me, as an experienced geek, that while constantly dealing with people who have no idea what they are talking about might be annoying, bringing more people into the fold is good for the industry.

I can tell you right now, I don't love Twilight. I liked the books, hated the movies. The whole "Team Whoever" thing is more than annoying. But, no matter what I think about Twilight, Twihards have been good for vampires, and those of us who loved vampires before they were doused in glitter. There are more movies, TV shows, books and whatever else you might want that include vampires because Twilight made a shipload of money.

That's what I call - a good thing.

The Walking Dead is, in my opinion, one of the finest things on television. But look around at what it's done for zombies. Seriously. Zombies everywhere. Good zombies, fast zombies, science zombies, magic zombies, funny zombies. Zombie Bill Murray. We are living in a zombie wonderland and I think that rocks. As long as this stuff sells, more of it will pop up. Some of it will suck. Some of it will be awesome, but all of it will exist because there are more people interested in zombies than there were a decade ago.

I wanna be part of this world. But for today, I'll settle for checking Sin City out of the library.


Anonymous said...

It is hard.

I did grow up with comics and still have a dozen or so long boxes full of them. But I haven't bought a comic in years (over a decade if you discount a couple of months where I tried to get back into them).

Comics are damn expensive. $4 is a lot of money for 30-40 pages of material. And they are a pain in the ass to keep up with.

And I still remember vividly how the comic industry actively tried to suck people dry in the '90s. Issues with 8 different holographic covers and story lines that spread to dozens of different titles.

There are apparently some wonderful apps for the iPad that you can read comics digitally, but they cost the same as buying the physical product. My dream would be a Netflix of comics, wherein I pay a flat monthly rate and can read all the comics I want. Offer me that option and I am back in.

p.s. I should clarify that I have purchased the Tiny Titans series for my daughter because she is IN LOVE with Kid Flash.

Jessi said...

Actually, most of what I've read over the last year has been on the Nook. Mostly, I really like them electronically, but a few (I'm looking at you Walking Dead) are formatted terribly. The library also carries better stuff digitally than they do in paper, so I'm enjoying working through some Dark Horse titles that way. Glad to hear that it's not just me. :)