Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

21 November 2006

Comic Books

So this is sort of a weird confession. Not a Confession with a capital 'C' which I should be doing more often, but have slacked off since the Crisis with a capital 'C', but rather a tiny one. In the crawlspace in the basement I have two huge boxes of comic books from the 80s and 90s. In fact, back in the day, when I was in high school, I actually owned a large assortment of excellent comics from the 70s and 80s. I had things like the original run of the Dark Knight and the X-Men from shortly before the Phoenix saga and so forth. Unfortunately, I liked eating more than comics, so I had to sell them all off. Then I went off to college and started reading small press comics. I had the chance to read some serious stuff like the Taboo run of "From Hell" by Alan Moore and "Give Me Liberty" by Frank Miller. This was the good stuff. I kept reading quality books until about ten years ago, probably the same time I stopped shooting pool regularly. Children will do that.

Looking back on it, in the intervening ten years I had lots of chances to start reading comics again, but always passed on the opportunity. Part of me felt they were too expensive, heck when I started buying my own I got five or six issues for $3.00. But there was also this nagging feeling that I had left that part of my life behind, that it was somehow part of growing up. Perhaps it was the Trekkies I knew, through Tandy, who were just...obsessed at an unhealthy level. I hated the thought of being that way.

Then came my youngest. She has a heck of a time learning to read and though she loves books they occasionally frustrate her. Tandy and I had been doing whatever we could to help her, but an important part of loving books is...loving books. Heck, just ask someone who never reads, trust me there are plenty of people in that position. I remembered being a kid and thrilling to comics. They are visceral and exciting, visual and spellbinding. I was already reading books when I first starting reading comics, but they did introduce me to story arcs and plot twists. Okay, I started reading comics in the late 70s or early 80s, the plot twists weren't great, but I was ten!

One afternoon my youngest and I went for a walk, not a meandering walk, but a walk to the comic book store in town. It took a few trips for her to get it, but eventually she got hooked on Wonder Woman and Spider-Girl. She has a big stack of comic books and works hard and reading them. But the beauty of comic books is that you can understand them at a basic level just by looking at the imagery. She studies the pictures and then we work together reading the words and the stories expand for her. I hear her making up a storyline based on the pictures, so sweet.

Tonight we read "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" issue #10. It is all about MJ getting ready to tell Peter that she loves him. The story ends with something to the effect of "Peter I just want to tell you...". She flipped that last page about ten times, "What does she say?" I could hardly get her to go to sleep, what a cliff-hanger. She will wait, however impatiently, for issue #11 so she can find out what happens. In the meantime she will make up her own endings to that discussion and have to hold the next step in her head all month. She will also do what most of us did as kids, read that comic over and over for the next four weeks or so until the next issue. Wonderful!

So, where is the confession here? Well, having been so immersed in the world of comics again, for what has to be about two years now, I could not help myself. I let go of the stupid mental block I had erected and started reading again. I wish Matt Wagner was at work, Grendel being my favorite comic of all time, but instead I went full-bore. I am reading a comic series which could have been right out of my youth. A little lame, a little good, a lot super-hero-ie: Marvel Civil War. Reading the entire series is costing mad cash, but it has been a lot of fun. Tandy just brought back a stack of...yikes...that is a lot of comic books! Better not say.

It has been fun. I hope I can figure out how to tap into a better stream of material once this series is over. Does anyone write at the level of Wagner, Miller and Moore today?



At 15 January, 2007 09:54 , Blogger John said...

They are all still at work, Wagner's on a second 5 issue mini-series on Batman (and the Mad Monk, after finishing The Monster Men). Miller's graphic novel 300 will be a movie this summer and he's doing Batman & Robin All-Star. Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is great and he just did some adult stuff called Lost Girls.

Vertigo's Fables is hot right now as is Garth Ennis.


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