Saturday, 14 July 2012

"This medium...this genre!"

As strange as it seems to me now as I'm writing this, I've never really thought about comics. I guess there had to be a time when I thought about the idea of buying and reading comic books and decided that they were awesome, and made them my preferred form of entertainment. I'm talking about comics as a medium, sequential pictures on a page coupled with captions and dialogue, telling a story, any story. On a recent episode of the Inkstuds podcast, Evan Dorkin raised the question of people loving comics, the medium, or just superheroes, the genre. He wondered, if DC closed down tomorrow, how many people would just be "done" with comics. The medium, or the genre? I think, for most of my life, it was the latter.

The first comic I remember owning was Crisis on Infinite Earths number 1, it's not the first comic I read, because I'm pretty sure, though I almost wore that book out looking at it, I never read it. I probably wouldn't have understood any of it anyway, I was pretty young. I guess all I needed was the pictures- they sucked me in and I've been a comic book fan ever since.


A superhero fan, I suppose would be more accurate, lots and lots of superheroes. This was back when I was living in a small town where, for the most part, comics were hard to find. In the 90s we had a comic store for a while, but they were pretty mainstream oriented. Once they closed down, it was only the corner store, which actually did sell comics back then. My early comic collecting was pretty sporadic and based primarily on how much money I could save and how often I was taken to a shop in the city. I didn't buy a ton of books, but that was fine because I read each one hundreds of times. The stuff I really remember is Star Wars (specifically the Empire Strikes Back adaptations), Robin, Iron Man, Hulk, Daredevil, and lots of Spider-Man. If the art wasn't a mainstream style, it looked funny, if it was black and white, I walked away, If there was no costumed hero running around saving the day, no thank you!

I have never stopped loving comics, or thought that they were "kid stuff" that I had out grown, I never looked down on comics, but I did burnout on them more than once. Whether it was financial or boredom or a bit of both, there have been many times that I stopped buying comics completely. Thinking back, they almost all happen the same way: 1) Buy a Wizard magazine(RIP) just to see what's been going on. 2) Buy an issue of the hot book they talk about, maybe a few back issues if something I missed sounds good. 3) Add a few titles, start getting caught up in a big crossover event. 4) Start worrying about stuff like, does this story "matter" and do I "have" to buy everything to get the whole story. 5) Answer "yes" to the last question and add 10 more books to my pull list. 6) Fall behind on reading my issues, realise I haven't read "________" in three months 7) Continue on like this for another month or so before breaking down and not buying comics at all. 8) Wait 3-6 months and repeat.

The good thing about all these burnouts is that every time I came back, I swore I wanted to break out of my old habits and try something new. I'd come back and read X-Statics because it looked so different, I'd come back and find stuff like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, I'd come back and read The Tick or Scud, I'd find Bone or Love and Rockets. Suddenly, black and white was beautiful, art styles could vary all over the place, stories could be about real life, and you could swear in these fucking things. It wasn't about comics (or me) "growing up", it was just about my eyes opening wider to the medium as an actual medium, not just a genre.

Superhero comics are fantastic and I love them, I've spent most of my life filling long-boxes and book shelves with them. There is also a direct correlation between me feeling overwhelmed by my own hobby and how many superhero books I'm buying a month. That may sound crazy to you, but I assure you, it's very true for me. This genre has done a lot for me and I know I'll never leave it, (I can't wait to read Remender and Cassaday's Uncanny Avengers) but it's this medium that I love, now that I can see it for what it is; sequential pictures on a page coupled with captions and dialogue, telling a story, any story, without limits.

(some of the last comics i've read that i've really enjoyed)

No comments:

Post a Comment