by Roger Ash
Welcome to Roger’s Love Fest. Calm down. This probably isn’t quite what you’re expecting.
I have written here in the past about how I get tired of seeing and hearing the barrage of negative comments made about comics on the Internet and elsewhere. The old saying “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” seems to have gone the way of the dodo. I want to change that. I want to spread some positivity. I want to share what I love about comics and the comics industry. In fact, I’ll share 20 things. Again, I welcome you to Roger’s Love Fest.
1) I love the unique storytelling provided by the juxtaposition of words and pictures. There really is nothing else like it.
2) Walter & Louise Simonson. Aside from being talented creators, Walter & Weezie are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
3) The Library of American Comics. While I haven’t read everything they’ve published, I really enjoy their classic comic strip collections and the effort they put into bringing this important part of our history – as well as those who created it – into the light.
4) Fantagraphics strip reprints. Popeye, Pogo, Charlie Brown, Mickey Mouse, and many other classic comic strip characters live on at Fantagraphics in outstanding collections. If you aren’t reading any of these, you should be.
5) Beau Smith. One of the first friends I made in comics. I want him on my side in the coming Zombie Apocalypse.
6) Usagi Yojimbo & Stan Sakai. My favorite comic and one of the nicest and most talented creators around. The two are inseparable in my head.
7) TwoMorrows. When I get interested in something, I generally want to know as much about it as I can. In comics, that involves learning about comics history and TwoMorrows does a great job of providing that history in their books and magazines. Yes, I do some freelance work for TwoMorrows, but I felt this way before I wrote for them.
8) Baltimore Comic-Con. I met convention organizer Marc Nathan a number of years back at a retailer event sponsored by DC Comics. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. I attended the convention a few times and loved it. Then Marc asked me to be part of the convention staff. If you’re looking for a convention focusing on comics, Baltimore is second to none.
9) New Comic Book Day. Yep, I still get a thrill going in to pick up my new comics and hanging out at the shop.
10) Spider-Man. One of the first superheroes I followed and still one of my favorites.
11) The art of George Perez. George’s was one of my early favorite artists and his work has only gotten better over time. What an amazing talent!
12) The access fans have to creators. I can’t think of any other hobby where fans have the access to creators that comic fans do. This can be both good and bad, but my personal experience has mostly been positive.
13) Reminder that there are heroes. I’ve lived through the Gritty 90s and fully understand people who dislike the dark turn some heroes have taken in recent years. That being said, the bad in the world overwhelms me at times and heroes like Spider-Man, Superman, and the Fantastic Four helps remind me that there is good. There are real heroes in the world that the news often doesn’t deign to tell me about who fight the darkness every day.
14) They make me happy. Reading a good comic gives me a joy I can get no other way. Sappy but true.
15) Amanda Conner’s art. I’ve been a fan of her work since Soulsearchers and Company. She puts more emotion into one facial expression than many put in a whole comic.
16) Jonathan Hickman. I really enjoy his intricate storylines.
17) Classic collections. When I first started collecting comics, if you wanted to read Fantastic Four #50, Superman #100, or R. Crumb’s underground work, it usually involved a lot of searching and often a lot of money. Now collections of classic comics are fairly easy and inexpensive to come by. That’s a good thing.
18) Todd & Craig. I don’t recall exactly when I first met Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau (creators of the Perhapanauts), but I’m glad I did. We’ve spent many hours talking via email and hanging out after hours at convention watering holes.
19) You can do anything. People say you can do anything in film these days. That true – if you have the budget. All it takes to have a massive space battle or a quiet, personal moment in a comic is imagination and a pencil.
20) Friends. I have made so many good friends in comics, whether in the industry, here at Westfield, or on the web. A few of them are mentioned above; the vast majority aren’t. They are the major reason I still love working in this wacky business.
That’s 20. I could have added more because, and I can’t stress this highly enough, I love comics. I became enamored of them when I was young, I studied English because comics made me want to be a storyteller, and even though things didn’t go the way I expected, I think I’m insanely lucky to have made my living as an adult working in various aspects of the comics industry. If 13 year old me knew what 47 year old me does for a living, he’d freak. Those days when I lose sleep and am stressed out due to a deadline, I remind myself of that.
Now don’t think this means I love all comics. I don’t. There are some things that just aren’t to my taste and that’s OK. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me (that’d make life boring). Variety is the spice of life, after all. But I love the artform and what creators can do with it.
What do you love about comics and the comic industry? Please share your thoughts in the comment section and join Roger’s Love Fest. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Now, go read a comic!
After I started working on this column, I realized that it seemed familiar. That’s because Beau Smith did something similar in his Admiration Society column. I asked Beau if it was OK to borrow the idea. He said yes. Is it any wonder that he’s on my list?