Why comics ?

Over the week or so I have been doing this blog I have been wondering why I am so passionate about comics as a medium/artform/hobby that I am writing a daily blog about them. I mean, I like stories in any medium, and will happily talk about my favourite stories which have been shown on TV (like BBCs Edge of Darkness miniseries), as a movie (The Men Who Stare At Goats) or in a novel (currently reading The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko,  the latest volume in his “Night Watch” series).  And yet, I spend more time reading and talking – and now blogging – about comics, not TV shows, movies or even novels (and I reckon The Novel Evangelist sounds silly, and even a tad unnecessary !). 

 So, why comics ? There are a couple of elements to the answer. One I reckon is common to all of us who love comics, while the other I think is a more personal one that may be more interesting to look at as it is unique. Sadly, I have run out of time to go into depth with the second element, so let’s have a quick look at the first. Quick aside: Is it too geeky for me to want to have 5 elements so I could talk about the “Fifth Element” ??

 I love comics for the same reason I think most of us fans who found comics as children do – they speak to us on a level that other media simply cannot. The juxtaposition of words and pictures allow us to enjoy the immediate visceral thrill of seeing a beautifully rendered piece of art, along with the joy of reading a phrase or play of words which amuses our minds. I reckon it is also that most of us start out reading comics by picking up a random issue of a comic that looks cool – perhaps the one that appeals to us the most in that visceral moment. Unlike other types of literature, it is perfectly acceptable to judge a comic book by its cover ! We are then treated to a story of four colour heroics with noble men and women fighting against evil villains, whose dastardly plots are never a match for the purity of purpose the hero has as their main weapon. The lurid colours, the bombastic dialogue and the soap opera dramatics were perfectly designed to capture the young mind of a burgeoning geek (clearly I discovered comics in the 70s via reprints of early Marvel comics !). Most tantalisingly, there were mentions of other stories in the comic we had found – this was not the first time these two characters had clashed, that the hero was rebuffed by the girl, or that the two heroes had met. This triggered my basic need to make sense of the world, to build some sort of narrative continuity to allow me to understand how life worked and meant there was no way I would not be scouring the market stalls, newsagents and second hand bookshops for earlier issues of that comic and issues of other comics in which the visiting hero starred. 

I think that like all of us who enjoy sequential art, I was hooked on comics at a young age and have not looked back (except to pick up an elusive back issue to complete a story arc) since. 

 What about you ? Was the experience of reading your first comic similar ? At what age did you find comics, and what was that attracted you to pick up the comic in the first place ? What hooked you about that first issue ?  I am keen to know, so respond below  !

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One thought on “Why comics ?

  1. comicbookevangelist Post author

    I came to comics very late and came to them through Manga. I loved Japanese animation as a kid (Astro boy, Battle of the Planets) and later as a teen and young adult (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Akira) and came to understand that these stories had originated in literature. I grew up in a generation where comics were not considered ‘proper’ books and not used in school like they sometimes are now except for struggling readers so came to them very late. I guess it took a lot of persistence on my behalf to learn how to read them as an adult as like any other type of literacy there are ‘codes’ or ways of reading them that enhance engagement with the story. Luckily I also came across the Scott McCloud book too which helped tremendously. I think if people understand the how to and get an insider understanding of comics they are more likely to engage with them on a meaningful level.

    Reply

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