So… this low-traffic blog seems to be where I confess my predilections for some of my guilty pleasures. A few earlier entries about watching football (which some call soccer) and today… it’s… comic books.
I love reading comics… and don’t feel the need to retitle them as graphic novels… they’re comics. Comics can be pretty wonderful. Many are.
A few of my favorites – among the most high-brow – include: Robert Crumb, Art Spiegleman, Alison Bechdel, Craig Thompson, Alan Moore, and, yes, Mike Mignola. More on those last two below. I also read some lower-brow stuff, too, including some Avengers, Batman, Swamp Thing…
My comic book interest goes way back. I still remember when, in the 1970s when I was in 4th grade, my buddy Mike Cranford loaned me a copy of Marvel Triple Action, which was a reprint of a 1960s Avengers thread. I collected lots of comics throughout my elementary and junior high years. Mike and I would draw comics in our spare time. I remember my early hero, The Fly, took on Mike’s villain, The Pendulum. The visual language of comics definitely influences my art – which includes a lot of black outlines and panel frames.
Though comics are not, for the most part, great literature… they did help my language skills. I remember looking up and learning the word “suffice” from a panel where it was spoken by the Vision (in an agitated red-face one-panel one-word in-word-balloon “SUFFICE!?!”) in an Avengers comic (I think maybe issue #127 or so – the Vision and the Mantis were finding out their origin stories.) In a 7th grade spelling pre-test, I did really well; I think I was one of the only kids who spelled “annihilate” correctly. Easy!
I continued to read, re-read and accumulate a lot of comics. I still have about 3-4000 superhero comics in boxes, accumulating dust. When I went to college, still reading a few, relatively low-brow, including the X-men, folks assumed I, of course, would be into underground “adult” comics… which I didn’t know much about. But I was soon reading Zippy the Pinhead, Crumb, and others. (more…)