I posted up a while ago about a book that I just read called Men of Tomorrow. I’ve been reflecting over the past week about why I like them so much, and how I came to read them. This was in part to my having to pull them out and seperating them out to dry after leaving them under an open window during a heavy rainstorm the other day. (Very fortunently, very little water actually reached the box, but it gave me a real panic for a couple minutes.) Men of Tomorrow proved to be a very thoughtful book, charting the rises and falls of the comic industry, and in fandom in general. This summer, comics exploded at camp among the staff. I brought my box of comics up with me, so that I could keep things in order and to continue to read them during my down time. Turns out that a bunch of other people were also closet fans, and soon read pretty much everything I had. Since then, they’ve been in touch with me and have been buying comics like crazy since this summer.
I first got involved with comic books when I was really little. Actually, I got involved with the collectors cards for the X-Men comics, featuring a number of characters. I still have them, and I remember how crazy we all were in the third grade. I remember having a couple of the comic books, but I can’t for the life of me remember where they ended up. I took a job with a Star Wars website, http://www.clonewarz.com/, and I began to review the Star Wars Republic run of comics, which featured the clone wars. I read a lot of those, but I’d always been interested, if almost completely unaware of Spiderman, Fantastic Four and Iron Man. I put off buying new issues because I was never sure of where to begin. Where do you begin with a line of comics that’s been in publication since the 1960s, or in the case of Superman, the 1930s? I found that I just had to start buying, and figure out where to go from there. Since then (This was last summer) I got oriented with and started picking up the following comics: Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Ironman, Daredevil, Captain America, Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, The Eternals, the New Avengers, B.P.R.D., Hellboy, The Escapists, Sin City and several others. It’s always a pain when I miss a week or have a week when there’s a number of these coming out at the same time. My collection has grown in the past year substancially. I sit down and look at the two boxes that have suddenly appeared and think about it. Why have I become such a junkie for these short books and really count down the days when the next releases hit the stores? Hell, I’m on a first name basis with some of the store employees.
Thinking about it, comics are very basic, but at the same time, incredibly complex. Books with pictures and words have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the pulp era during the 1930s when they really exploded and began to tell fantastic stories, dipping into noir, science fiction and horror as subject matter. Comic stories are complex, with characters that will hold up, somewhat, to novel characters. Look at Peter Parker, Tony Stark or Matt Murdock. (Their alter egos are Spiderman, Iron Man and Daredevil) I think that to some extent, comic characters are a part of us that allows us to relate to their struggles, and how they solve them in a way that we wish that we could.
Comics seem to be much more mainstream these days. We’ve got large, big budget movies coming out every couple of months/years, and a book about comics, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won a Pulitzer Prize for author Michael Chabon. It’s a fantastic book, a bit comicish in and of itself.
But even simpler, and probably because of the extensive history behind the comic industry, there’s just a feeling that you get holding a paper release, rather than the trade paperbacks that are so much more profitable nowadays. I guess it’s one of those very geek things. Right up there with antique game consoles.
I’ll continue to buy comics, for a long time, and for the forseeable future. It’s just one of those things that I see worth in the world today that calls for me to set some money aside. I’ll have the moments reading them to myself, in my own little world.