Monday, November 19, 2012

Yes, I DO read comic books....

I read comic books. There, I said it. I'm a 50 year old guy that reads comic books. In my youth this was the equivalent of a tattoo that says 'GEEK!" back when being a geek simply drew the abuse of the jocks in school. I doubt at my age that anyone is going to give me a swirly or a titty-twister, but I am fully prepared for such attempts.   I don't live with my mom, I married a beautiful woman, I have two highly successful children, and have a pair of semi-successful careers.  

When I was a young adult I recognized comics for what they were - great stories. These were shared universes where the characters were fully developed yet every month, developed a little more. We had recurring characters (good and bad) that showed up on other intellectual properties. Of course at the time I didn't think of the words, 'intellectual properties,' but you get the drift.

There were a lot of us that were comics readers, we didn't talk to others about it. For decades there were two camps - DC fans or Marvel fans. I was a DC guy but enjoyed reading Spiderman from time to time. I was as stunned as everyone when Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacey.

The problem with comics is that they had a stigma associated with them. Society looked at a 30 year old purchasing the latest Iron Man as the kind of guy still living in his parent's basement. That wasn't necessarily the case. Most of us simply recognized good stories and characters. Still, for decades, we purchased comics in relative secrecy because of memories of the purple-nurples of our youth.

Then the Batman movies came out - followed by Spiderman. Suddenly, comic stories had become socially acceptable. The release of the Iron Man franchise and the reboot -of Christopher Nolan's Batman made that stand out even more. Face it, you enjoyed the Avengers, even if you never read Marvel comics as a kid. Welcome to the party pal.

There are times when I got a year or two without a comics. I'm a reader, not a collector. My comics are not an investment, that's whacked. I pick them up to read them. For a long time it was hard to jump back in with the complicated story lines and sub plots. But DC recently rebooted its entire franchise, starting all over with the classic comics. Marvel has started Marvel Now! which is not a reboot but a new set of storylines. In the last year or so, the comics industry has realized that it needs to make it easier for people to join our ranks as readers. I've been able to jump back in on the Batman miniseries (The Return of the Joker - Death in the Family) and in two of the Marvel lines (Iron Man and The Uncanny Avengers - a mix of the X-men and the Avengers). Oh yeah comics industry, I'm back!

As a writer of science fiction in shared universes, I've always wanted to author a comic book or two - and who knows , I may do just that at some point. For now, I consider my reading as "advanced research."

Now that I'm iPad enabled, I've found that comics have successfully become available in this venue as well. Marvel has the leg-up here. In each hard-copy comic is a code you can enter to get a free copy digitally. So, I can carry my Marvel collection with me. How cool is that? 

I am pleased that The Big Bang Theory features a comic store as a recurring locale.  I, like the characters, wear tee-shirts with super hero fairness I have been doing that for years, much to my wifes' chagrin.  I enjoy that show more because of the insider jabs at the nerd community - like when they argue about comic characters.  

Now my three year old grandson is into comics. Every so often we go to the comic store in Gainsville VA and he gets a comic from the kids rack and I pick up a few select titles. At least three times a week he comes to my office at night and we read the comics (I summarize them for him). You can see the glimmer in his eyes, he's hooked. Circle of Life man…that's what it is.

Don't poke fun at those of us who read comics. If it wasn't for us you wouldn't have had your summer blockbusters this year. Remember, there are more of us out there than you know. Carry on true believers...

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