Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Snark Free Response To Arms

Many of you probably don't know me. I had a brief run doing The Comic Geek blog, but shut it down after a couple short months. My heart just wasn't in it at the time. However, when Brian put out his call to arms, it got me thinking.

I haven't been reading comics for very long. Many years ago, when I was in junior high, I started reading comics at the local comic shop in our town. With a lack of any real funds, the habit died out very quickly. It wasn't until earlier this year, around May or so, that a new comic shop opened in town and resparked my interest in the medium. Months later I have a growing stack of long boxes and a bookshelf that needs some desperate reorganizing to fit my trades and graphic novels. My knowledge of comics, their history, creators, characters, etcetera is growing, but it sure doesn't match many of the people who have been in the medium for far longer than I. And yet, I can't help but be amazed at how much I truly love these little books.

I love Wednesdays and the fact that I take off work early every week just so that I can get my books a little sooner. I love walking in my local comic shop and seeing all the comics lining the walls. I love staring at row upon row of covers. I love talking with the owner and the other customers about the world of comics.

I love the richness and history of the "Big Two" and their books. I love the massive amount of characters, personalities, powers, worlds, and stories. I love company wide crossovers, stand-alone issues, and multi-issue arcs. I love the deep and satisfying nature of continuity in a large context, and I love those stories that require no background to sit and enjoy.

I love that more and more genres are seeing a presence within comic books. I love super-heroes and tights. I love westerns. I love barbarians. I love that indy books are pushing the envelope of what comics do and say. I love that older comics are collected in cheap and easy to find collections so I don't miss out on the many years of comics before my time.

I love the dark and gritty nature of comics, and I love books that are fun and humorous. I love mature themed books, and I love comics that are aimed at all ages. I love the quirky, goofy stories that really don't make sense when you think about it, and I love stories grounded in reality.

I love that writing has become such a dominant part of comic books. I love that the art in comics continues to blow me away. I love that technology has helped to make this hobby look slicker and bolder than ever before. I love that I have the option of reading styles that range from Brian Michael Bendis to Warren Ellis to Eric Powell to Brian Wood (and on and on and on); not to mention the countless artistic styles present in the medium (I'm sure you can make a bigger list than me).

I love stepping into a theater and seeing my favorite characters on the big screen (even when the movie isn't all that great). I love that TV shows are taking different looks at the icons within comics. I love that more and more people are beginning to see the legitimacy of comics and their industry.

And I love (despite rising prices) that compared to most hobbies, comics are still a relatively cheap way to pass my time.

I know, I'm sure I've left out a lot of other stuff I love about comics. But, to be honest, that's the point. With so many things to love about this hobby, isn't it time we stop and just appreciate all the amazing things that we have? Sometimes, putting cynicism aside can really help put things into perspective. And hopefully, that's something that we can accomplish together. That way, we won't ever forget how much joy this hobby has brought to each of us. Are you with me?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this the other day, and I'm trying very hard to get my point across without snark. This is also going to refer to comics that show my age, but here goes:
I miss when crossovers could be huge, universe-wide affairs; without having a big crossover logo on the cover or eight different miniseries. Try this: in an old issue of Byrne's Superman (issue 7, I think) Clark's powers go randomly haywire. When his super-hearing is cranked up to eleven, he hears word balloons from about a dozen other DC comics for that month! It was a simple way to show that Superman lives in a larger universe.
Still, my favorite example of this was the Casket of Ancient Winters, from Walt Simonson's Thor. When opened, it released a spell that caused unseasonable snowy weather across the Marvel Universe; so you would see skiing in California is West Coast Avengers, or the hapless Peter Parker in his "Unknown Super-Hero" paperbag mask getting snowed on. A small thing, but just a neat way to tie all these comics together. (I suppose I'd blame Secret Wars 2 for the branding of crossovers!)
Now everything seems to happen in a vacuum, even with company-wide crossovers. This is probably due to "writing for the trade": if Captain America is set up in 6 issue arcs to be collected in trade paperback, the writer can't wedge in Magneto rampaging through New York in New X-Men. That's easily understandable, but also kind of sad, as it makes a comics universe seem smaller, isolated.
(A brief aside: Grant Morrison has done a lot of stuff for DC and Marvel that would be perfect for this: the Human Race in Flash, his last storyline in JLA, that Magneto thing. None of which were mentioned in other books, yet all were events you'd think someone would notice!)
That said: if Rom was published today, the big Dire Wraith war would crossover to every Marvel book with a big, ugly cover blurb, which would kind of eliminate the surprise of someone revealed as a alien monster.

12/08/2005 11:32 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

You make a good point, and it starts to show my lack of having read a wide range of "older" material within the comics' world. The Superman issue sounds like an awesome idea.

On the other hand, I think there are a lot of options within comics. I know that I can go to DC right now if I am looking for a large world that interacts on a grand scale. Marvel has the continuity thing, but it doesn't do it in such an epic way, allowing many of its books to feel relatively free from the others. I can go to a place like Image or Dark Horse for isolated worlds and stories. Imprints like Wildstorm stand in between these sides. Then you have other things like Icon, Vertigo, and the countless indy publishers that offer all kinds of other interests, genres, and styles.

I know the point is moot when your favorite characters fall under an imprint that doesn't fit your preference of world building. But then you always have the extra mini-series, maxi-series, etcetera that try to fill that gap (I'm thinking of things like Batman And The Monster Men, Justice, and others).

It doesn't invalidate your point at all, but my enthusiasm for the medium in general, overshadows any particular dislikes I have. I see my cynicism in other areas of my life begin to dampen my like for certain things, and I'm really hoping to stay away from that trend with this hobby.

12/08/2005 2:28 PM  

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