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.