A small introduction

Why do I like comics? What isn’t there to like about comics?

Still, when people find out I read comics, they give me the standard responses:

  • Aren’t those just for kids?
  • They are so…inappropriate/violent/sexist/objectifying/literary garbage/insert other negative comments here.
  • Why don’t you sit down and read a REAL book? You must not have a good enough attention span to read a WHOLE book.

There are many reasons why I read comic books, none of which I have to justify. However, it is always a fund exercise to reflect on why you do one thing as opposed to another.

I have come up with four general reasons why I love reading comics.

1. I love great storytelling

Do you know how difficult it is to keep reader’s attention at the ready for over a decade? How about being able to reinvent characters for over seven decades (someone is celebrating a 75th birthday this year!). It takes engaging, innovative, and intelligent storytelling skills on the part of authors to keep this medium alive.

Mike Carey’s Unwritten #17, a choose your own adventure issue
Joe Hill’s Locke and Key, a story as much about family relationships as it is about the life of a house
Kurtis J. Weibe’s Peter Panzerfaust, a retelling of J.M. Berrie’s Peter Pan, set during World War II
Rick Remender’s Captain America, Dimension Z, in which our Man out of Time is, on a second layer, a Man out of Time.

That said.. I also love comics because…

2. I appreciate amazing artwork

If you were to take a peek into my long boxes and peruse the bookcases dedicated to my trades and graphic novels, you will realize how many different art styles there are in comics today.

-Infographic art style of David Aja’s Hawkeye
-Gothic watercolors of Ben Templesmith
-Clean lines and bold colors of Gabriel Rodriguez
-Hidden humor of Rob Guillory’s Chew

And how many people can say that once a week they take the time to sit down and examine the art of several different artists?

Truly, it is the combination of storytelling and artwork which makes compelling comics. One without the other simply does not work.

3. There is no better exercise in reading retention and patience than reading comic books

As a librarian, I am often asked for reading recommendations for specific situations. Many parents of reluctant readers always seem surprised when I suggest comic books for reading retention. Both floppies and trades have waiting periods requiring readers to remember what has happened to characters not only in the previous issues, but sometimes previous story arcs occurring years before.

Of course, we now have the internet to supplement our memories (admit it, you have Wikipediaed X-Men characters while reading the comics!), comic readers still have to sort through and retain a lot of information week to week.

Right now, I am following over 100 characters in my week-to-week comic reading, not to mention all the characters in the books I am trade watching. That’s a lot to remember.

And at times, the wait for issues can be unbearable. I know that writers and artists need time to pursue other projects (uh Saga), but that is just more time to remember what is happening.

And finally,

4. I am a librarian. A cataloger at that. I have a love/hate relationship with comics in regards to organizing them.

Every time a trade comes across my desk at work, I must ask myself a litany of questions. Does the author change? Should the artist be added as an added entry? How important is the letterer? Should the call number be by author or title? Should Amazing Spider-Man be next to Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man? Is this book appropriate for teens? Which versions of characters are in this for reader’s advisory purposes? Where are the other books of the same series located in the library?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge.

I love comics.

N’uf said.

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