Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hooked on comics worked for me

Perhaps you've noticed by now that I don't write about comics. Sure, I talked about the Serenity comics in my Firefly post from way back, but that was only because they were a continuation of my beloved, short-lived series.

I never got into comics for two reasons:

- One, my parents (they would have been the ones shelling out the money for the inevitable addiction, and there were also several comics out there that they weren't comfortable with me reading at a young age);

- Two, I knew I could never guarantee that I'd be able to get my hands on each and every comic of a given series, and it bothers me to have gaps in the stories I read (one of the reasons why I watch very few TV shows).

Sure, I greatly enjoyed a few Sonic the Hedgehog comics and one particular Ghostbusters comic when I was much younger, but circumstances just weren't right for me to be a comics collector, so I let the whole comics fandom pass me by.

All this has changed now, and I owe it all to Alex and this blog. I'm not yet sure whether to thank him or blame him, but he's responsible, all the same.

I was at my local Borders Book Shop to pick up some Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures like I do from time to time, but as I entered the building I saw a display table of some of their featured books, and Watchmen was dead center, attracting all of my attention.

Then I got to thinking. And then I got to exploring the graphic novels section. I left with my miniatures, but also, on an inexplicable whim, with Batman: Year One and X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills.

Batman and the X-Men have long been my favorite comic book characters (and, yes, I'm aware that one shouldn't cross DC and Marvel; something about all life as we know it ending and every molecule in one's body exploding at the speed of light), so I figured they were the best place to start.

Year One tells the origin story of Batman, and from a cursory flipping-through, God Loves, Man Kills looked like it had enough plot elements of the X-Men Legends video game in it for me to possibly understand what was going on.

I started reading Year One almost as soon as I got home, and I did not put it down until I finished.

After a few days, my significant other went out and bought and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. She let me borrow them. I read half of the former, and a day or so later I read the second half of the former followed by all of the latter.

This week, Alex let me borrow Batman: The Long Halloween. I read it all in two sittings.

I'm now borrowing from said significant other the Ultimate X-Men Complete Comic Book Collection CD-ROM. And I still have God Loves, Man Kills to start reading.

I read the first issue of Ultimate X-Men tonight and I wasn't very into it, but I believe there are a few different factors going into that:

- I've gotten spoiled by watching, playing, and reading things without commercials, and the comics are all scans of the advertisement-laden hardcopy issues.

- The illustrations are well done, but the writing lacks heart, and the characters lack unique and consistent voices. Much of the time, you could point those word bubble stems at another character and nobody would know the difference. Even when the dialogue does start to capture the voice of a character, it's not long before somebody says something that just doesn't sound entirely right.

- Part of the joy of reading comics, for me, at least, comes from actually holding the book in my own two hands. A lot of the magic is lost when a comic is translated onto a computer screen, especially when it sometimes takes a whole TWO SECONDS to turn the page.

So there you have it. Now, I'm not going to go out and blow all my money on a comics binge, and I won't be a weekly visitor to my LCS (that's, "Local Comics Shop" for all you newbies!), but I intend to borrow comics from Alex until he cuts me off, at which point I will occasionally--occasionally--buy my own.


Scott said...

The Killing Joke is another must-read Batman TPB. If you're looking for good TPBs that you can read and understand without a ton of background history, take a look at Kingdom Come (DC), Marvels (Marvel), and Red Son (DC). You may also find the Marvel Zombies series amusing.

Of course, there are other TPBs worth checking out, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and the entire Sandman series.

I get my comics online now. It never takes me two seconds to turn a page, and I've never been much of a collector either, though I used to collect comics. I find it a lot easier to read on the computer than with physical media -- the same goes for books. Many comic scans are released without the ads, as well.

I've not been much interested in the Ultimate books -- the whole "realistic, gritty" approach to media has generally been a turnoff for me. I look at it as the "angsty goth" phase. Eventually they'll grow out of it, I hope.

Scott said...

I'd also recommend Daisy Kutter: The Last Train and 300.

As for series... definitely Sandman (complete), Y: The Last Man (ongoing), 100 Bullets (ongoing), and Planetary (complete). You'll find (if you sink deep enough) that "name" titles tend to have good runs and bad runs... or good volumes and bad volumes.

For example, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow run was very, very good in my opinion.

Flashman85 said...

I'm definitely going to keep on reading Batman stuff, so I'll keep The Killing Joke in mind.

There's a push for me to read Watchmen, so that's likely to be coming up for me soon, and after reading DK1 and DK2, I find myself curious about The Atom and Green Arrow, so I might be directing my attention there, as well.

I really enjoyed the movie version of V for Vendetta, and I'll have to look into the other suggestions. Thanks!