by Roger Ash
As Beau Smith pointed out a few weeks back, people complain on the web. A lot. I honestly believe some people do it simply because they enjoy it. But Beau was gonna be positive. Me, I’m showing my solidarity with Beau this week by talking about some things I like about comics.
First, there’s the format itself. The use of words juxtaposed with pictures is unique (comic strips are close, but the storytelling is still different). The combination of the two parts makes a whole that is much more than its component parts. And it is of course possible to tell any type of story through comics from superhero to autobiography to fantasy to slice of life and more.
I enjoy learning about the history of comics, both in general and specifics. In the general sense, after reading Gerard Jones’ fascinating book Men of Tomorrow, I learned how the development and growth of the comics industry was a mirror to what was going on in the rest of the United States at the same time. When getting to specifics, I enjoy reading interviews in magazines or books with creators or reading creator biographies and autobiographies (Check out my review of Sal Buscema: Comics’ Fast & Furious Artist, for example). It gives you an insider’s view on what the comics industry is like and the challenges, joys, heartbreaks, and rewards that creator’s face. Reading about the history of comics and the people who create them deepens my appreciation for the art form.
From groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and the Hero Initiative (HI) to specific needs, I like the support network that has evolved to help those in need in the comic community. And it’s not just creators, those who work for publishers, retailers, etc., but the fans play a large part in this as well. I can’t speak highly enough of the work that CBLDF and HI do to help and I urge you to support either or both of them by becoming a member, donating money, or purchasing an item on their sites. You can purchase some of their fundraising volumes directly through Westfield (CBLDF) (HI).
On top of that, the comics community seems to gather around specific needs. When artist Chris Wozniak’s home was destroyed recently in one of the tornadoes that hit Alabama, his brother set up a fund to help out. Seemingly within minutes, creators and fans had posted links to it on Facebook urging people to help. And to help with those struggling after the devastation caused by tornadoes in Joplin MO, Jason A. Hurley owner of Hurley’s Heroes Comics & Games is collecting children’s comics to give to children who have been displaced from their homes. This can help distract them for a bit and bring some pleasure to their lives which are so challenging at the moment. And these are just two recent examples; there are many others that you can find without looking very hard.
In all honesty though, what I like best about comics is reading them. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a comfy chair, maybe with some background music on, and reading a stack of comics or a trade paperback or two. For that time, all the troubles and worries of my life melt away as I’m whisked away to a superhero populated New York City, Japan in ages past populated by talking animals, a secret society of fairy tale characters, and more.
These are just a few of the reason I still love comics after many, many years of reading them. How about you? Why do you love comics? What keeps you coming back for more? Share your answers in the comment section below.
Now, go read a comic!