My earliest memory of being in a comic book store was in the era of pogs. My brother and I sifted through these giant bins of them, my little purple container full up with pogs that I could not even begin to tell you what they looked like today. If I really think about it, probably some TMNT’s on there. Power Rangers too – got my Zordon Pog on.
But I never looked at the comics.
My next memory of comics was in junior high. My mom
was is a highlander fangirl, and I think they had started up a comic series about it that she was going to pick up at the comic shop a few towns over. I would stroll up an down the aisles of pages upon pages of comic books, looking interested, but not even knowing where to begin. So I didn’t. Until I was 26 years old.
My desire to read comics did not outweigh my fear of missing critical storylines if I picked up at #34 of a Harley Quinn or Spider-Man comic book. It still doesn’t. I currently have 4 Bob’s Burgers comics, and every ounce of my being is refusing to read them until I obtain #1. Here’s a little peek at my comic organization skills though. Go Go Gadget recycle-a-lootcrate-box!
The first comic I read? Probably Lenore by Roman Dirge, or Squee by Jhonen Vasquez, who was also working on Invader Zim. Yes, I am 100% reading those new comics – I’m bugging my local comic shop every time it comes out to make sure I get a copy. But these wouldn’t be considered “traditional” comics in the sense that it wasn’t telling a Superman story, or other subsequent heroes. More like indie comics before they were cool.
I have a few friends who are really into superhero comics. One of them has a podcast which is great and very insightful – the two friends reminisce about their childhoods with batman/superman/superheroes in general, along with chatting about their extensive comic book collections. Different story arcs with the characters and villains blow my mind. When I think of Bizarro Superman I think of the roller coaster at Six Flags, not the storyline where (I think) Lex Luthor creates an evil OP Superman to fight him? I made that up, so if it’s not true fact check me and leave it in the comments (sorry in advance, Frank). Overall though, I really love listening to my friends talk and debate about who was the better villain or which Spider-Man girlfriend was superior. The case for the yellow coat would be made, and I would end up devastated.
While (until recently) I knew next to nothing about comics, I am well versed in the surrounding fields. I love comic book and pop art (see: Roy Lichtenstein/Andy Warhol). As a graphic designer, I have a huge amount of respect for all of the art that goes into one comic book. From the illustrations to the type setting and panel layouts, 10 minutes of reading is weeks-to-months of work for these people.
Still comic related is the superhero era of movies we’re in the midst of, as well as TV. I just picked up watching Gotham, which is a really enjoyable view of the backstories of Batman villains, and I feel like Venture Bros. touches on the idea of a terrible comic book villain (The Mighty Monarrrrch!!), along with poking fun at old school cartoons like Johnny Quest. It’s also one of my favorite shows. I’m a season behind in Agent Carter, but she is fabulous as hell.
Nowadays I can’t get enough books. I loved Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Lumberjanes is on my list of things to read next. Giant Days is about an amazing group of ladies in college (or prep school?) that I’m having so much fun reading about – all of them are relatable in different ways. Scott Pilgrim is in my top 5 favorite movies, and the author of the series (Bryan Lee O’Malley) wrote another book called Seconds, which I busted through in a few days. I loved to hate that book, mostly because I hate the idea of multiple timelines. I’ve also started reading the Archie/Jughead series, which I love because not only do you get this updated artwork and story line development (as well as a new TV series?), but in the back of every comic they print old comics to show you not only the contrast, but educate you on where the comics came from. There’s even a terminology key because they’re referencing pop culture so far removed from what we have today.
If you’re an avid comic reader, what advice do you have for a new reader? How do you get into the classics without missing a step – or a crucial storyline? Who are your must-read superheroes or comic series? Leave me some homework in the comments!