03 April 2013

C is for... Comics

I found my love of comics later in life.  Oh, I wasn't ignorant of them.  I read the Sunday Funnies.  I saw cartoons featuring Superman, Batman, and Spiderman and knew they had regular comics that focused on them.  But there really wasn't anywhere to buy the monthly comics when I was growing up in Small Town, NY.  By the time I moved to Florida, the thought of reading comics had fled my mind.  Even in college, when a friend had me bring him to a local comic shop, the pull wasn't there.

It wasn't until I started dating my future husband that I learned the joy of comics.  And it wasn't the superhero comic I was expecting.  It was Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

He didn't start me at the beginning, which was probably smart.  Issue 6 is the darkest of the lot. And if I'd read it before getting to more of the wonderfulness that followed, I may never have picked it up again.  But being introduced through Fables and Reflections (the 6th compilation of the comics, and a set of the stand-alones that were scattered throughout the series), I was hooked.  And not only was I hooked on a new favorite author, but I was hooked on the storytelling that could be told panel by panel.

I dabbled in reading comics a bit from that point on.  Mostly, I picked up things out of the mainstream - PS238, Sluggy Freelance, that kind of thing.  It took me awhile to start checking out the main stream comics of DC and Marvel. It took me getting my library card here in Nashville and seeing shelf upon shelf of graphic novels that pulled me into the world of Superheroes full tilt.  I pulled titles from the shelf at random, finding titles that intrigued me, slowly gaining favorite characters, stories and authors.  With each later story line that I picked up, I knew I had to know more.  So I requested some of the older graphic novels so I could be well verse in the world of superheroes.  

For awhile, it was all superhero, all the time for me.  (Ironic, since I started with a non-superhero comic).  But slowly, I'd see graphic novelizations of some of my favorite books and I'd pick those up.  Or I'd see a writer or an artist that I'd enjoyed in another book and need to grab that one.  Or I'd read about a comic online and think, "That sounds right up my alley!"  Recently, I've started branching into manga as well. 

Some people think that comics and graphic novels are only good for those who don't enjoy reading.  After all, it's the pictures telling the story, not the words.  But that isn't true.  I'm a voracious reader, as is my husband.  Even my eldest son loves to read. And for all of us, the picture enhances the words, enhances the story.  I love to see the little things added in to the artwork that I may not have grasped as well if it was just words on a page.  I enjoy the thrill that a well written and drawn panel brings me when I'm not expecting it.  I can't wait to see how many heroes I can recognize in a double page spread.  It's a whole package for me, and I don't think I'll ever stop reading comics, now that they've become a part of my life.