27 January 2008

Why I Read Comics

This is something I feel I should establish early on. Some people, hearing that I enjoy and actively seek out comics and graphic novels, are somewhat disdainful. They don't think that comics are really literature. They're just for kids.

So this is why I read comic books.

I read comics because I like beautiful art and beautiful words, and it gives my a warm feeling in my tummy when they go together. Well, on the art front, I honestly like the funky old art that used to come up in comics more before they started getting huge and the companies hired people who were really awesome. And I do from time to time enjoy the cracktasm that is standard Silver Age comics writing. Don't know about Golden Age--I've never really read much from there. But basically I like comics because they're beautiful to look at *and* to read.

I read comics because I like the size of them. I like the way a trade paperback feels in my hands when I'm reading it. I like the weight, and the smell, and the glossy paper.

I read comics because they can make me cry.

This is not to say that other forms of literature, art, whatever, can't make me cry. Lord of the Flies made me cry--of course, it also almost made me vomit too. I cried when I finished reading The Neverending Story because there wasn't any more of it. I've even been known to snuffle and tear up at the end of Moulin Rouge, because gods, is the end of that movie depressing. But I find that words and pictures together make for serious impact. A book might make me happy or depressed or giddy or bloody fucking terrified (this means you, Theodore Sturgeon), but the reaction will generally stay on the inside. And movies of course provoke reactions, but a movie is an entirely different animal, by which I mean that I don't read movies, I watch them, which is at least for me a very different thing.

But when I started reading Arkham Asylum I had trouble falling asleep. Volume Two of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing scared me so much that not only did I cry, I also had to call my father, and I can't read three or four issues in that volume anymore. Tales from the Farm made me want to curl into a ball of depression.

And I also like comics because I have this vague feeling--well, more of a very distinct feeling--that I'd like to write them. Because that? Would be awesome.

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