What are comic books beside art and a bunch of text bubbles? For me it’s a great hobby and a passion that I have had for the last few years. I remember being about six years old and my cousin got me a crap ton of Batman Beyond toys for Christmas and I thought the were the absolute coolest toys I had ever played with. My love for Batman only grew stronger from there; I found The Animated Series, then the amazing Tim Burton films and thought Batman was the most bad-ass character in the history of history. Then I kind of fell out of comics, but sophomore year of high school my fiend Micah gave me Watchmen and a few other comics to read, and that re-sparked my passion. So thanks Micah, you are the reason I am constantly broke now. I have four main points I am going to hit on in this article, so I hope you enjoy.
That isn’t a huge extensive list, or even anything ground breaking, but to me this is everything that I find to be great about the one thing I am passionate about. So lets take a look at what each of these mean, and why they are so important.
So the first one on my list is art, I know a general rule is don’t judge a book by its cover, but I am personally really bad with judging a comic based on the art. I have mentioned in previous articles how I enjoy a dirty, gritty art style and just a messy and raw look to the pages. For example, I personally think Jock is a great artist and if his name is on a book, you can be damn well sure that I will be picking it up. The Thor: God Of Thunder series has been on of my favorite comics, easily in the last 5 years, and I think what makes that such a great book was the absolute amazing art in issues 1-13 by Esad Ribic. Hell, the only real reason another contributor on 4LN read Thor was because of the art. I am having a hard time adjusting to Ribic no longer being on Thor, but I can not wait to see what he’s got planned next. On another hand, I love the art of Alex Ross and Jim Lee, when you see their art, you instantly know its from a comic book, its so amazing that comics can have such totally opposite art styles, but when you see them you know exactly who and what they are trying to get across to you. One of my favorite Marvel issues lately has been All New X-Men #15 because of how different the art was compared to every other issue. It was almost like an anime art and it caught me so off guard, I was wishing they would have another issue like that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the art Stuart Immonen is doing, but there was something different and beautiful about David Lafuente. I sure hope he does another guess spot on All New X-Men.
The second topic on my list is a pretty big one, the story. A comic is a lot more than just pictures and some text bubbles, it’s a novel in a way. There is nothing better than having to wait a month to find out what’s going to happen next! “How is Captain America going to destroy the Builder? Oh my God. I can not believe that just happened…” “What do you mean Peter Parker is now Doc Ock?” I love an original story that just keeps you turning the page and waiting for the next issue. I love stories like Trillium and the upcoming Coffin Hill. The story is the best part and also the worst part of comics. You know that feeling when your favorite title starts going downhill? Or how about when it becomes a chore to read a series you started off loving (for me it has been the Marvel Now Deadpool and Uncanny Avengers, and do not get me started on Batman: Dark Knight from the New 52). One of the worst feelings is when your favorite team leaves your favorite title. When I found out Geoff Johns was leaving Aquaman it felt like one of the worst breakups I have been through. I could brace myself for his leave on Green Lantern, but Aquaman just caught me so off guard…
I love the community behind comic books. From your local comic book store, to seeing a midnight superhero release with a bunch of fellow nerds (granted, some are not nerds at all, some are just girlfriends dragged along, and some are just their because they like a particular actor who plays the role). I love being able to walk into my comic book shop, the owner knows my name and asks what title I am looking forward to most this week. I was between jobs at one point and hadn’t been to my shop in about a month, the owner gave me a call to make sure I was OK and not dead or missing. I have even had him hold a comic for me that wasn’t in my box because he figured I might be interested in it. I also love being able to walk into any comic shop in America and be treated like an old friend that hasn’t been seen in a long time. The comic community even helps in the fight to find a cure for cancer, get clean water to countries all around the world, help end illiteracy, and I have heard stories of people losing their entire collections and the internet community and world community help them get their collections going again.
My final point in this article is the friendships that can form through comic books. I’m not talking the Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent or Steve Rodgers/Tony Stark friendships, I’m talking the Bill Clark/Stephen Andrew friendship. Just a week ago or so, I wasn’t able to get a hold of a 3D Scarecrow #1 (he’s my favorite villain), I was able to find a 2D cover but not the 3D one. So I casually mentioned that to Stephen and wouldn’t you know, he went to his comic shop and picked it up for me! I guess, in a way, he was paying me back for grabbing him a Solomon Grundy 3D cover. I even once mentioned to Stephen that I wanted to read Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run, and the next time I saw him he gave me the first 5 from his own collection. I can’t think of another community where friends are this kind and giving. And I have been apart of a lot of subcultures but comic books are by far my favorite!
The only reason some of us are friends with each other started with a conversation about comic books, I mean, that’s exactly how this blog started. We all like comics, so we got together to do something involving our passion. So when it really comes down to comics, I don’t love them because of the art or the story, for me, it’s because what comics have done for me, and the community that surrounds me. So, I want to ask you a simple question that you can ponder on, or even respond back to us, “What do comic books mean to YOU?”