Some of you may be visiting the site today, expecting to see my Rapid Reviews for the week. I am sorry to disappoint, but I still haven’t finished all the comics from last week. The massive amount of releases combined with my busy school schedule and my total laziness led to falling behind. Luckily, this week there aren’t very many comics on my list, so I should catch up.

So, just to keep you entertained today before I do my weekly previews tonight, I thought I would post a little something personal. I’ve been reading the fabulous Fantastic Fangirls blog recently and got some inspiration. They have been writing their origin stories into comics as the first posts and I thought this was a great idea. Now, I could never hope to write as well as they do and I don’t really want to rip them off completely, so I am going to do my own little spin on this concept. I want to tell you why I read and love comics, and maybe a little more about myself.

Unlike many comic book fans, I can’t really say I grew up loving the medium. Sure, like any other American boy, I loved superheroes growing up. I think many boys fantasize about having super powers and idolize these characters. But for whatever reason, I either never got into comics or my parents never bought them for me. I remember finding some old X-Men issues at my grandma’s house that my uncle had left and read them. I enjoyed them, but never thought to pursue it more. In retrospect, I would love to figure out what happened to those old X-Men issues.

However, I did watch all the superhero cartoons growing up. So I knew the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman and the like. And I had some of the action figures. I distinctly remember playing with a Captain America action figure when I was young. This is probably what spurred me to start reading comics. I was reading Mike Rapin‘s blog one day and he posted about Captain America dying. I was shocked. Despite the fact that I had never really read comics and had no idea what was going on, I decided that I had to find out how this happened.

So, early in my Sophomore year of college, I started reading Civil War. I had no intentions of continuing to read comics. I just wanted to read this story and find out what happened to Cap. It was October of 2006 when I started Civil War. It took me over a year to actually finish reading it with all the tie-ins. For some reason, I stopped reading it for about 9 months. But what I found when I finished reading it was that I was deeply invested in all these characters. And I found that comics are not just about good guys beating up bad guys. As Civil War showed me, comics can be political and philosophical. They can have just as much, if not more, of a meaning behind them as any novel.

So, with the guidance of Mike, I started to read more and more comics. Dipping into important stories from the past (though not as much as I would like), to getting up to speed on the current happenings. I was addicted and I couldn’t go back. And as time goes on, I keep adding more and more to my reading list. From my experiment in the DC universe (which is still going well, I might add), to my recent and sudden interest in independent comics, I enjoy comics as much, if not more, than many other storytelling mediums.

I’ve thought long and hard about why this is. I think I finally figure it out. I love novels, but it can be daunting to actually pick up a book, knowing how much time you are going to have to invest in it. I also love TV shows, but for some reason, they seem to lack focus and contain too many “filler” episodes. Movies are great, but the stories are often not deep enough, as 2 hours is too short of a period to be able to really explore characters and ideas fully.

So, that leaves me to comics. You can pick up 5 or 6 issues of a comic book (a full arc, usually), and probably finish reading them in 1 to 2 hours, depending how closely you look at the art. This nullifies the problem with novels. And unlike movies, these arcs will usually explore a character or characters very deeply. As you read more and more issues of the comic book, this becomes more and more true. Take a look at Ultimate Spider-Man and over the course of the 120-something issues of the book so far, you feel that you intimately know Peter Parker now. He is like a friend you can keep coming back to. Sure, it is true that there are some filler comics, just like with TV shows, but they seem few and far between, comparatively. For me, comic books combine the best aspects of all storytelling mediums, without many of the downsides.

Yes, it can be argued that many comic books are not as deep as the could (or should) be, and that many are still targeted towards a younger demographic, but if you really look, you’ll find a bunch of books that fit your interests. Personally, books like Daredevil, Captain America, Ultimate Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men fit my need for character development and great writing. Combine that with a little action and I am satisfied.

So… what drives you to read comics? What books suit your storytelling needs and why? Leave a comment and let me know.

About The Author

Nick is a web developer at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. He helped start this site back in 2009 as a way to share his passion of comics with readers and hopefully give advice to people on what to read and buy. When he isn't reading comics, Nick enjoys running, cycling and swimming. He is always training for his next running race or triathlon. Nick is also passionate about the outdoors. Along with his wife, Annie, Nick likes traveling to the various national parks across the country and they have a goal of visiting every national park in their lifetime. The couple lives in Grand Rapids, which, in their opinion, is the greatest city in the world. Living there helps fuel one of Nick's other passions: beer. He is a self-proclaimed beer geek and living in Beer City USA certainly helps to keep him rich in his favorite libation.

16 Responses to Why I Read Comics

  1. Mike Rapin says:

    I’m driven to read comics by the X-Men, specifically–I’m sure you guessed it–Gambit. Just as you said, as a little boy I wanted powers and the X-Men were just there to give me the ideas. But now, the vast array of mutants (well, before House of M of course) just drew me to comics and even still, those that remain after House of M intrigue me far more than I could have ever imagined. Then of course I see the rest of the Marvel Universe. Characters such as Iron Fist and Captain America (Steve and Bucky) capture me and I can’t stop reading.

  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the nice words about FF, Nick! I enjoyed reading about your origin. It’s funny, because, after being an Xmen fan for a while, I really got into the larger Marvel universe with the ending of Civil War, the same as you. It’s interesting to see that perspective because so many reviews of big events are from the perspective of people who have been reading for a while, and don’t like the event to interrupt their experience of reading the book. It’s good to point out that the events really can bring new people into the universe — which is one thing they are supposed to do!

    This is why I like hearing people’s reader origin-stories. It’s easy to generalize, but everybody’s experience ends up different.

  3. Nick Wreden says:

    I’m a senior in highschool and into all kinds of nerdy stuff now. I got into comics a few years ago, when my friend from an online Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle told me about the Runaways. I was skeptical at first, but had some extra dough lying around so I ordered volume 1. I loved the first few pages so much I immeadiately ordered the next two volumes and everything else I’d missed on Ebay.

    Though, eventually I finished runaways and yearned for more. I read the civil war, then went back and started new avengers, young avengers, and now I’m currently reading the Secret Invasion.

    I’m going back and picking up a lot of other stuff too now. I’m getting caught up on ASM and Ultimate Spiderman on the internet and plan to start reading monthly. I’ve also picked up a bunch of TBP Captain America and Iron Fist, so I’m trying to get caught up on those.

    Any recommendations on what to go with next?

  4. Sigrid says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout-out —

    What’s nice about the Fan Origin stories is that I think we all subconsciously expect people to have had experiences similar to our own, until we think about it. It’s great to hear the variety of paths people take to get to the medium, to get to these great stories.

    To answer your question, I read comics for four reasons, not always compatible:

    1) I am following a character I like, no matter how crappy the title.
    2) I am following a writer I like, no matter how little I care for the characters.
    3) It was recommended to me by someone I trust, who knows my taste, even though I know nothing about the creative team or the characters.
    4) It’s a classic I feel I should know.

  5. Jennifer says:

    It sounds like your “origin story” is a lot like mine, in terms of timeline and the point you were at in your life when you started reading (and thanks for the mention of our site, by the way!). It’s amazing how easy it is to slip into a universe once you start reading little bits. For me, that’s what draws me to comics – specifically Marvel comics. The universe is so big and intertwined and has such a rich history that you can’t get in any other medium. There’s always something new to read, or a new corner to hide in (even if that corner was actually created decades ago, and you’re just discovering it now), and it all connects into this big all-encompassing world that I want to know everything about.

  6. Mike Rapin says:

    @Nick Wreden — if I may suggest, go with the current series of Immortal Iron Fist. Matt Fraction and Rick Remender kick tons of ass in that series. Also, Punisher War Journal and Wolverine if you’re into bad ass killing.

  7. Nick Nelson says:

    @Nick Wreden – If you like Cap, especially the new stuff that Brubaker is writing, you should absolutely start reading Daredevil. While it is awesome if you got the time to go back and read everything, you could totally jump in at the last issue, #111, as there isn’t a whole lot of back story in the current arc.

  8. Nick Nelson says:

    @sigrid – I agree completely with your list of why to read certain comics. I think most comic fans have that one writer or character that they will follow around. I have several in the short time that I have been reading. And yeah, I have a bunch of people that keep recommending stuff to me. It can be overwhelming sometimes. But I love it!

  9. Nick Nelson says:

    @Jennifer – Yeah. I also love the fact that you can keep up with the continuity and feel apart of this huge universe, but you can also read random old arcs of a series and still get a nice, full story. I think comics manage to do that better than any other medium. Even better than TV sometimes.

  10. Nick Nelson says:

    @Caroline – It is funny, because now that I am sort of “entrenched” in the Marvel universe, I am starting to feel that event fatigue with Secret Invasion. I do agree though that events bring new readers, which is great, but they probably should be more spread out.

  11. Jeff says:

    My origin is less glamorous. I read comics since i was a young lad. My brothers and i shared a subscription to amazing and spectacular spider-man. It was fun. Together we could piece together the arcs (usually). My dad owned the first 50 Daredevil issues as well, but after 3 boys sifting through them i would hardly call them in mint condition any more. Eventually my family could no longer pay for our subscriptions and they died out. I read nothing into and through high school. I still showed a great love for all of it and understood much of the marvel universe though. Upon reaching college i met a fella named Mike Rapin. He was into comics as well and told me about something I had not heard or read of. Mike lent me all of is Ultimate Universe trades and i couldn’t stop there. upon completing them i bought the dvds online for the complete Amazing Spider-man (it went through the Others arc) run and complete Uncanny X-men run. I enjoyed reading all these back issues from the 60’s, and it inspired me to read more. My favorite part of the marvel universe is that it is so old and connected. I love when connections to old issues come in and i recgonize the obscure referacnce of decades past. Each character has decades of history and i love learning all of it. And one day, hopefully, i will be able to say, like in pokeman, that i have read them all.
    More recently Ive delved through all the workings of Ed Brubraker, and Robert Kirkman as well as Brian Michael Bendis.

  12. Rob Brogan says:

    I have yet to get into comics, but to comment on the end of this post: The sort of books that suit my storytelling needs are usually classic novels. I have found Michael Crichton and the sort to be enjoyable for a movie-like page-turner, but the delicious character development found in Steinbeck for example has yet to be matched in my minimal exposure to literature. Like you said, it’s very daunting to finally pick up an entire novel and go through it all.

    I also like stories that have a substance deeper than their entertaining surface. The greatest example from my experience is probably Star Trek, which most people (even non-viewers) know was created as a philosophical commentary on humanity etc etc. My curiosity (in ST) resulted in me falling into that embarrassing interesting, perhaps it is such a case with comics. I embrace being a nerd, but I’m not sure if I want to go any deeper.

  13. Nick Nelson says:

    @Rob Brogan – Well, there are plenty of great comics that have amazing character development. As I said in my post, this is what draws me to my favorite comics. Honestly though, I am not embarrassed to be a comic book fan at all. I think even with Star Trek, people are only embarrassed because society says it is too geeky. But I think like with anything else, if you like it, you should be proud of it.

  14. Andrew Kovatch says:

    I’ve always loved a good mystery. I love trying to figure out the ending to books, movies, and (of course) comics before they end. Batman has always been one that keeps me on the edge of my seat until the final pages. Movies are often too predictable, and books, like you said, are a time investment. Comic books can satisfy in matter of minutes. With the pace of the world today it is hard find the time for yourself, but you can always find time for good comic book.

  15. Erika Szabo says:

    I read comics to learn, plain and simple, and I write reviews about my passions to better my abilities. It always makes me so happy to hear other peoples stories about their interests in comics, whether it’s through Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Image, Wildstorm etc. For me, my passions are my escape, and comics are one of them.