Beauology 101: The Four Color Excitement Of Comic Books

Beau Smith: “I’m Excited To Bring You This Column About Comic Books!”

Beau Smith: “I’m Excited To Bring You This Column About Comic Books!”

by Beau Smith

I remember the excitement and enjoyment of reading a comic book in my youth because I still feel that same excitement.

“Future Quest: I’m Always Excited To Read!”

“Future Quest: I’m Always Excited To Read!”

Granted, I don’t feel it in the volume that I once did, but this is because like 24/7 cable news, very little is a surprise or secret anymore. I purposely don’t read as much comic book news these days because I don’t want to know what’s coming out in regular books that I read. Please note that I said “regular”. By that I mean comic books that I pick up every month because I already like them and read them. EXAMPLE: Future Quest from DC Comics/Entertainment.

On the other hand, I do check out and read solicitations on new comic books that I have not read before. This is to see if there might be something new that I haven’t tried yet. Most of the time I lean on the staff at my local comic book shop, my friends, and other trusted sources of comic book knowledge. I find that word of mouth is still the most trusted way of learning about new product.

In my younger days, there was a REAL excitement in finding and buying a new comic book. First, because you really did have to FIND them. There were no direct market comic book shops. You had to hunt the supermarkets, the gas stations, the drug stores, and if you lived in a bigger city, you had real newsstands that always had a lot of new comic books.

There weren’t as many comic books being published then. EXAMPLE: in the mid to late 1960s, Marvel Comics was only publishing around 14 comic books a month. It’s easy to see why I have basically complete collections of Marvel Comics from that time period. At 12 cents a pop, and less than 20 books to hunt down, it was a lot cheaper than today.

"Stan Lee: He’s Excited To Write Comic Books For You!”

“Stan Lee: He’s Excited To Write Comic Books For You!”

Speaking of the Marvel Comics of that time period, you really got your money’s worth. A typical Fantastic Four or Avengers comic book had sometimes an average of 6 panels per page. Even in a stand alone story, you really got some story! If Stan Lee decided to do a three issue arc, then you REALLY got an epic. With Stan Lee working with super storytelling artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers and others, they were able to tell these stories with pictures AND words, not just heavy blocks of text and dialogue. You could get so much emotion and compelling story out of a three panel silent sequence than you could a comic with dialogue so heavy even Superman would have trouble lifting it.

“New Comic Books I’m Excited To Read!”

“New Comic Books I’m Excited To Read!”

I still get the excitement of reading a new comic book today. I never know when a character in a book is going to say something that may change and move the story to a whole new layer. You never know when you’re going to turn that page and be rewarded with a splash page, or double page spread, that used to promote the thought “This should be a poster!” Let me also mention that same splash or double page spread also should warrant the eyeball extravaganza. It should be a part of the story payoff/reward. It makes it that much more exciting and memorable.

Wynonna Earp #8 I’m Excited To Write Myself Into My Own Comic Books!”

Wynonna Earp #8 I’m Excited To Write Myself Into My Own Comic Books!”

I get excited when each page of a comic book is like its own story or play. You have a beginning, a middle and end. Even on a smaller scope, it truly makes the book as a whole, a page turner. You want that as a writer, an artist, and most of all, as a reader.

"Vintage Comics I’m Excited To Read!”

“Vintage Comics I’m Excited To Read!”

I still have that same excitement of seeing a stack (Not as tall as in my youth) of comic books sitting on the table and my brain calling it my “Must Read” stack. There’s an anticipation that adds value to the upcoming read, a layer of excitement that no marketing department can duplicate, no matter how hard they try.

The “After Read” of a comic book is something I still do. That’s where I will got back to that book and kind of study the pages, the art, the backgrounds to discover smaller gems that I may have missed on the first read. I will marvel at the background detail of the art, I will catch small pieces of dialogue that were read too fast the first time, and I will also think of the creator that wrote or drew that scene, those words, and wonder if they did it early in the morning, late at night, or had their foot to the gas pedal to get it done and turned in before the deadline. I used to ask the late Don Heck, a dear friend of mine, what he was doing or thinking when he was drawing certain panels or issues. Most of the time he gave me the same answer, “Aww, I don’t remember, I was just trying to get the job done, Beau.” But other times he would remember that he was finally getting the chance to use some car reference that he had been saving or the chance to use the photos from a fashion magazine he had saved, and a few times, he recalled working on a certain Avengers issue with Stan Lee on the phone ranting like a maniac about the story as Don was drawing at that moment, things like, “Make Iron Man look really angry when the Hulk hits him!” and Don replying, “He’s got a metal helmet on, Stan, with two eye slits, how do ya make that angry?” Stan’s reply: “You can do it, Don…That’s why you’re the artist, and I just write.” Don would chuckle and I could tell, what once brought him frustration, had become very fond memories.

“Iron Man: I’m Excited To Show You My Angry Face!”

“Iron Man: I’m Excited To Show You My Angry Face!”

“Fond Memories.” We should all have one of those after we read a comic book. I have them every time I finish a comic book, old or new.

I hope you do as well.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch


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