Sometimes as a critic and reviewer you get caught up in your job. In my column over the past months, I’ve talked about a lot of the bad in comics or stuff I don’t really agree with. I’ve also talked about the stuff I like and that I hope for.
But I’ve never actually discussed what I love about comics and the current state of the culture of comics.
I have been getting comics since I was three or four from grandparents and parents who looked to keep my quiet on long car rides to the cottage. I didn’t start getting serious into comics until the late 80’s and early 90’s and my dedication has never left.
I love that anything goes in comics. You can write about anything and with the right artist, achieve it. There’s no budget to worry about, no CGI to drive up costs. When you boil it down comics are the same as they’ve always been. They are what happens when an idea gets put to paper.
I love that comics are now more accepted. While you can rarely buy comics at the corner store like I used to when I was a kid, you can now find comics at Wal-Mart. You can buy trades at Chapters or even check them out of the library. When I was younger, I would have killed to be able to have that much access.
It makes me smile when I see a kid reading Bone.
Back in the day, comic nerds were one step up the public perception of Trekkies (ie we could talk to girls… about Batman). In the past few years, we’ve gained acceptance. Comics had a brief moment of being a pop culture fad and over exposed and now it’s just settled in as part of a regular form of entertainment. Women of all shapes, sizes and appearances now by comics, which was unheard of when I was younger. Gay, straight, black, white or whatever, comic fans are everyone. From people like me to people like UFC fighter Nathan Quarry, or Rosario Dawson, people from all walks of life now can openly say they love comics.
Deep down, I am still a huge fan. Despite some of his recent pieces, I will always dig a little bit into what Frank Miller’s working on or what Alan Moore is doing. The name Neil Gaiman shows up on a comic, insta-buy. But the list still grows. Hickman is starting to become one of those people I will check out without much thought. Darwyn Cooke could announce he will be adapting romance novels from the 80’s and I’d still give it a solid look.
Speaking of which, I love how open the professional community is to the comic fan.
For example, I’ve had Joe Quesada’s email address for years. It came from a younger version of me wanting advice about breaking into the comic book field. Joe and Jimmy Palmiotti had just gotten the Marvel Knights line moving and I had a great chance to meet Joe at a convention. He kindly gave me his email address and told me if I had any questions, to feel free to email him. Years later, I still have an email address for Joe and he still replies to my emails despite the fact his current position and demands. And he isn’t the only one. There are tons of pros who will gladly respond to emails, message board posts and convention questions without giving it a second thought. Comics are almost completely unique in that way. Sure there are a few film makers and musicians who will do the same but it’s not like I can email some producer at Fox and get an answer on how much of a page rate I should be charging.
I love the fact that the magic of comics is still there for me. I make a point of going into a comic shop on Wednesday or Thursday even if there’s nothing in my hold box. It’s the ritual of seeing the new books and possibly finding a new ongoing series to check out or a graphic novel I didn’t hear of. Or just to talk about comics with the staff and other customers. So in spite of my crankiness, in my core, I don’t see this hobby stopping anytime soon.
Brent Chittenden is a Canadian freelance writer who also happens to write humorous things for Bite TV’s blog. If you have need of his services you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter at @BCNerdhole and his podcast Two Assholes Talking About Nerd Stuff. Feel free to become a fan of him at his Facebook group Brent Chittenden: The Writer.