Comic Books: Love Series Part 2

My earliest comic book memory was buying them with my Grandmother as a preteen.  It was our monthly ritual.  We’d walk to the barber and after my haircut, she bought me some comics.  And how cool was she, she’d get me Dark Horse comics!  Definitely more grownup than the majority of titles from Marvel or DC.

Best.  Grandmother.  Ever.

As I got older, my habit moved up to weekly visits to the comic store with my own money.  Fifty bucks for a days worth of work and I was king of the world riding my Huffy of triumph.  My hair was longer and my clothes a few sizes too big.  Take a minute and picture that.  Geek cubed.

The early nineties was a great time to be into comics.  The hottest artists at Marvel and DC had formed their own company, Image, and were writing and drawing stories THEIR way while retaining all the rights.  It was doing phenomenal.  Part of what drew me to Image was I could get an alternative to the standard tights and capes stuff.  It was around this time that my appreciation of the storytelling style matured.

I feel a change.

Part of the fun of a comic is the artwork.  Some artists are so popular, people will buy books they’ve penciled whether the story is good or not.  But getting back to what I was saying, the comic book style is a great lesson on show vs. tell.

Typically the writer, if he’s not also the artist, will send his script to the artist.  Then he’ll get back some rough sketches of how the scenes will look, he’ll give the artist some notes and they’ll go back and forth until they have a finished product.

Here’s the cool thing that happens.

Sometimes the writer gets art that’s so completely captures what was in his script, he realizes everything he wrote in that scene is unnecessary.  Whenever a particular scene grabs my attention, I’ll think about how I could take it and morph it into a narrative that packs the same punch as the art.

Comics also have action o’ plenty and since it’s like having a storyboard with talk bubbles, it’s a great way to visualize how those scenes can go in narrative form.

I’m sort of in love with Spider-Man and in doing what a spider can, he’s frequently jumping and flipping all over Manhattan.  To make all that action lively on a static page, the artist draws multiple images.

Suppose Spider-Man has to jump from one skyscraper to another while dodging the Green Goblin’s pumpkin bombs.  First you get a picture of him jumping off the skyscraper, then he twists out of the way of a pumpkin bomb, shoots a web and lands on the other skyscraper.  Now imagine putting all that into words.

I also think there’s a lesson to learn for condensing a story into twenty-two pages that are a) compelling enough to want the next issue and b) self-contained enough to get new readers jumping on in the middle.

I could probably go on and on with this comic love fest, but I’ll spare you.  How ’bout we wrap up with some recommendations, so I get more people to talk comics with!

Morning Glories- A very new series about these six kids attending Morning Glories academy and right off the bat you learn this is not a good place to be.  What they want with the kids has yet to be revealed, but the mystery and characters are so interesting, I can wait to find out.  The first trade paperback will be available March 1st.

Y-The Last Man- What if every male on the planet died, except for one, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey Ampersand?  Well, the world goes kinda Mad Max and while trying to find his girlfriend, Yorick and his new partners work to figure out why everyone with a y-chromosome died but him.  This is a completed series and all the trade paperbacks are available.

Fables- I’ve only read the first trade.  It was awesome.  The Fables have been forced from their original home and formed a new fabletown in NYC.  This first story arc is a whodunit where Snow White’s sister, Rose Red, has gone missing and it’s up to Bigby (Big Bad) Wolf to find her.  The series is still going strong after a hundred issues, so there’s plenty of trades should you be interested.

Anybody out there read comics or did at one time?  Which ones?

Info Stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and for the month of February, Tuesdays and Thursdays will be devoted to my Love series.  Eight loves that have shaped me into the writer I am.

If you’ve just found this series and want to check out earlier installments, scroll down to the bottom of this page to the categories section and click the Love Series link.

And this Monday February 7th, I’ll be having my first guest blogger, Amy Rose Davis.

14 comments on “Comic Books: Love Series Part 2

  1. I learned how to read with Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comics, or at least, they supplemented the usual children’s books. I think Uncle Scrooge is largely responsible for my love of the adventure tale today.

    I went through a superhero phase in my teens, and then moved on to the Vertigo line (that should date me pretty well) via Sandman. Nowadays, I love, love, love anything that riffs on the superhero genre–hell, I even love the movie Sky High, which I’m pretty sure is universally hated by everyone who doesn’t have the high tolerance for cheese that I’ve developed. 😉

    Although I still buy a few comics at the brick and mortar store, my pull list has dropped to three titles, two of which are going away soon. The third is Terry Moore’s Echo, which seems to be moving to is final act. The good news is that I actually read way more comics than at any other time in my life–I have about thirty titles I regularly follow online, and my shelves are stuffed with print collections (of those who put out print collections, that is).

    Unfortunately, since the brick and mortar stores concentrate on the big two, with some IDW and Darkhorse titles thrown in as seasoning, I expect I’ll only be buying online (or directly from the creators at cons) within the next year or year-and-a-half. I suspect that this may become the trend of the future, which would spell bad news for the neighborhood comic shops.

    • First off, Uncle Scrooge is the man. I never read the comics, but I was a loyal Ducktales fan.

      I remember Erik Larsen talking about raising his prices because not every store has the shelf space for his book after all the spots are taken by the big two. And that’s from Image comics. You’d think they’d get more love.

      I think your right about having to buy online more. There are a bunch of independent publishers putting out great books that’ll never get into the stores. That’s mostly what I read, so when I go to the comic store there’s always a stack of special orders for me.

      If it’s not one of the ones your reading, The Boys is about the craziest take on the superhero genre. Makes sense because Garth Ennis writes it. It’s dark, funny and consistently surprises me by how far it pushes the envelope.

      I must have a high cheese tolerance too, possibly developed during the 80′s, because I loved Sky High. Thanks for commenting!

  2. You really did have a totally awesome grandma. My grandma bought me and my sisters those Little Golden Books — remember those? 🙂

    Excited to visit here “officially” on Monday! 🙂


  3. I started comic collecting with GI Joe and Transformers. I then moved on to more superhero stuff. To this day my favourite graphic novel is Batman: Arkham Asylum with art by Dave McKean (one of my faves!!) and written by Grant Morrison. I was enthralled with how the story of Amadeus Arkham’s descent into madness was mirrored by Batman’s own descent through the Asylum. Dark, gritty and a healthy dose of psychological horror.

    Nowadays, I’ve cut back, but I just finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. Couldn’t resist, loved the show.

    If you love the zombie stuff, the best book out there is The Walking Dead. What I find works best about that book is its focus on the characters. Often the biggest threats are from human survivors than they are from the zombies. Mind you, it’s bleak. Not something I’d suggest if you’re feeling down.

    Thanks for furthering the comic love message Andrew. It’s a medium that’s really inspired me over the years!

    • I remember those GI Joe and Transformers comics. I didn’t have much, but still good stories. Recently IDW launched their own GI Joe and Transformers books. One of the GI Joe books is a continuation of the old Marvel title by the original writer, Larry Hama.

      Morrison is hit or miss for me. I didn’t like the RIP arc last year. Maybe because I’m burnt out with the whole “Kill the icon only to bring him back” story lines. I’ll give the one you mentioned a look.

      Season eight wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to season nine. Especially with Angel coming back to Dark Horse. If you liked that show, there was a a continuation to the series finale from IDW called Angel After the Fall. Also if you want more season eight analysis you should check out my buddy Susan’s blog. http://susan-bischoff.com/2011/01/21/buffy-season-eight-begins-for-me/

      The Walking Dead. LOVE this series. I actually eat them after I finish reading so I can be one with Robert Kirkman. I read all the Kirkman stuff. He’s awesome.

      Thanks for stopping by! This won’t be the last time I gush about comics.

  4. I got so sucked into this narrative that we almost missed the school bus. B had to go with bedhead and her Converse half laced. So thanks a lot. I am really going to start not opening the computer before the bus now that it’s coming 45 minutes earlier. Really. No, I mean it this time.

    The above was written yesterday, before I got distracted…partly by chatting with you about comics all morning.

  5. Nicely written post. I’ve always loved comics myself. That period in the nineties with Image and all the other “smaller” presses was so fun. Like the wild West, lol.

    Personally, I admit I’ve always loved X-Men, even if it hasn’t always been the best. I actually broke down my love of X-Men issue #226 here and came to the conclusion that what I loved most was the chaos. I like dropping into the middle of things and figuring my way out and I think that’s part of why I love comics. Usually they have a story going on for years and I enjoy trying to figure out what’s going on.

    I also have a love of DC comics- Batman, Nightwing, and some Superman (though I haven’t always been a huge fan of Superman). And a lot of image stuff. It was so different and gritty. I loved Wildcats, The Darkness, and Grifter when he got his one shot.

    Ah man, this is a topic I can easily get nerdy about. Unfortunately I don’t really read anymore.

    • I still have all my old X-Men comics. Some really great stories.

      Lately I stick to mostly smaller press because the big two tend to do these big “events” that while good, essentially don’t move anyone’s story along. When all the dust clears, the characters are basically the same as always. Or whatever happened to them later is reversed. There’s still Marvel I like, but I guess I outgrew some of it.

  6. […] the original here: Comic Books: Love Series Part 2 | Come Out and Play This entry was posted in Comic Books and tagged books, brian, entry, green, green-goblin, […]

  7. Comics. Wow, what can I say. I really couldn’t tell you who wrote what but I remember my mom always bringing home a stack of comic books and a Peppermint Patty every Friday afternoon when she went to the grocery store. They usually ranged from Archie (loved the double digests when they came out with those), Richie Rich, yep Ducktales, and usually I have the Peppermint Patty ate and all the comics read before she could even get all the groceries put up! 🙂

    I had almost forgotten this little ritual every Friday. Wish I still had my mom to bring me some comic books today. Because even after I got married she would still bring me a comic book or two if she ran across them. How’s that for an awesome mom!

    Thanks for your post, Andrew! Always a joy to read them.

  8. […] who’s been reading this blog for a while might remember me mentioning her in my Love Series. Rose was the grandma who took me for comics after my monthly haircut. It’s easily one of my […]

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