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.
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.