Everyone who knows me well knows that I am an unapologetic bookworm. If I am not tap-tapping away on the computer, you may well find me with my nose buried in a book. I have a really hard time falling asleep without reading for at least 15 minutes unless I am beyond exhausted. We have 7 bookshelves in our house – the tall kind, 5 shelves each – that are overflowing with books. As a kid, I got in trouble most often for reading by flashlight after I was supposed to be in bed, reading under my desk when I was supposed to be paying attention in school, and not visiting properly with family because I was sitting in a corner by myself…reading. One of my biggest pet peeves – both as a child and now – is someone trying to talk to me or get me to do something when I’m in the middle of a chapter or section. I like books a lot.
I also like comic books, or graphic novels as some folks may call them. To me, the term “comics” can apply to every story told in a frame-by-frame text and art format while “graphic novel” should apply only to one-off bound books of that format that represent a single story – like most novels – and not to the short monthly or bi-monthly issues that we often receive in this house. So I generally like to say comics, because it’s all-inclusive. As a devoted reader, I have never been anti-comics. I read Spiderman and the Hulk and the Sunday funny papers as a kid, and I remember reading some Bone books and even a book from the Cerebus series (Jaka’s Story for anyone who might be curious), as well as The Tick, when I was in high school. In grad school, a friend introduced me to Johnny the Homicidal Maniac as well as Johnen Vasquez’s fabulous Nickelodeon cartoon Invader Zim, and I loved those too. I was never biased against comics, but they were never something I was seeking out for myself. And then I fell in love with and married a comic nerd.
See, David would rather read comics than anything else. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a former English major (like me) and is extremely well-read in the classics. He continues to cross many classic (and sometimes modern) books off of his to-read list by listening to them on audiobook. But when it comes to snuggling down in bed or on the couch and reading, he’d rather have a comic book in his hands. He loves the art combined with the dialogue, particularly when it’s well-done, and he’s introduced me to a number of comics that I would put up against any modern-day best-seller as being just as relevant, well-written and meaningful, if not more so in some cases. And I want to share that with other people. I want others, those who think that all comics are Superman or Peanuts, to understand that there is a lot – a whole, awful, huge lot – more out there. There’s a sort of snobbery against comics that they’re just for kids or they’re all action and fluff, and that attitude is just not warranted. And I doubt that my little blog with my extremely small sphere of influence can do much, but it’s all I’ve got for the moment.
I’m going to do a short series on comic books that I think are outstanding. I think I’ll try to post about one book or series every week for a while so that you guys aren’t just bombarded with posts about comics all the time if you don’t care about them. And I’ve blathered on for so long today that I don’t want to introduce a book, thereby doing it an injustice by putting it at the end of all my ramblings, so I’m not going to start this week. Still, if you’re at all inclined to open your mind a little, I encourage you to visit your library or bookstore this week and talk to the staff about a comic or graphic novel they’d recommend. Check it out, give it a try, expand your horizons a little. And then over the next few weeks, if you’re still intrigued, I’ll try to give my ideas about what I’ve read that I love best and why. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new passion?