Thursday, January 19, 2006

Comic Books

To understand me, there is one thing to know: There are very few things more important to me than comic books. Now, I'm not saying that I am to comics the way the hardcore music fan is to music or the hardcore movie fan is to movies, in fact nothing gets under my skin more than the loud, know-it-all comic-book guys (especially when they don't) that inhabit the comic store on new comic day and/or Friday night and/or Saturday. You know the kind of person I am talking about, the one who confuses his opinion with the truth.

There are two kinds of comic book readers, I think: Those who starting reading them as children and those who start reading them in high school or college. I also think that tension between those two camps is never going away because neither side will ever accept the other's point of view. For myself, I don't begrudge more mature titles and themes appearing in the comic format, but I also don't think that the mainstream comics should move too far away from being accessible to kids. In my world, Batman and Detective Comics, for instance, would always be suitable for kids, while a more mature version of the character would appear in a special line available only in comic shops.

You see, what I am is a person who fell in love with comics at a very young age and I've never forgotten that feeling; I'd go so far as to say that my continuing reading of comics is because I am trying to capture that feeling again. What feeling? The feeling of excitement and wonder that was promised in ads like these:

(Images from Dial B for Blog.)

So, if I am not getting that feeling from mainstream comics why do I still buy them? Because I love them. I love the fact of them. I love them for the same reason Uncle Scrooge loves all the coins in his money bin: It is all about what they represent?

What do they represent? I never could explain it, it was an ephemeral thing that I thought only another person who started reading comics early could understand. Then Tom Beland in his excellent comic book, True Story, Swear to God, encapsulated the reason perfectly. TSSTG explores the true romance between Beland and the love of his life, Lily. In the page excerpted below, from TSSTG #9, Lily has just gone to the comic book store with Tom for the first time:

Now, I'm not saying that I saw my parents die of cancer, but I think each of us has something from our childhood that we cling to because we don't want to lose the memories or feelings that thing, possibly subconciously, stirs up. For me, it is comic books. All comic books that meet my standards of "good."

All that was a lead-in for a change of topic here. I like popular culture, but comic books are the one thing that make me happy even when they depress me. Starting with a change in the title on Blogger to "Just Imagine," I'm going to post about comic books predominantly. I may not be able to be as current as this week's comics, especially since I get my comics once a month, but I will address comic books on the whole on a more regular basis. I'll still address other topics, but comic books will be the raison d'etre for this blog from now on.

Stick around, if you like. To quote Bill Cosby, "If you're not careful, you might learn something."