I once made the happy mistake of surfing on eBay, shall we say, under the influence.
I say “mistake” as I found out, in a haze the next day, that I had won an online auction for something to the tune of 150 dollars. But I say it was a happy accident as, a few weeks later, a sizeable box landed on my doorstep – a box filled with comic books.
My eyes drank in the four-coloured glory of some classic Thor, Fantastic Four, West Coast Avengers, Legends of the Dark Knight and more.
Once again, I got sucked into comics. That was four years ago.
And worry not … I have no need to debate vagaries involving cosmic crises or confused continuity. I’m just making a little pitch here for people to try and get around any pre-conceived notions they might have and try one of these out.
And I only have one bubble to burst.
There are certain people who say they won’t read comic books while they proudly display what they call “graphic novels” on their coffee tables. Little do they realize there’s absolutely no difference between the two.
Graphic novels are usually comics books collected into a single trade-book format. And if you’re going to ascribe degrees of nobility to pretty pictures of realistic situations, to equally pretty pictures of Green Lantern socking Sinestro through a wall, that’s a little ridiculous, no?
Some people go to great lengths to show how lousy they are at suspending their disbelief.
Comic books of any genre have the ability to pull you into a story that is akin to watching the Republic Serials of the past. When you can let go of whatever perceived guilt you have, keeping your imagination in check on a daily basis, let’s face it, life in general will be a lot more fun.
When you can allow yourself to get genuinely suckered by a storyline cliffhanger, it’s a great feeling. You get the same kind of thrills from other mediums, but comics have a very special melding of art and prose you can’t find anywhere else.
There are things you can do in this medium that just don’t work anywhere else.
Take a sampling from some near-household names: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, and you’ll see how far a comic book story can go.
Now comes my ulterior motive for this article.
There’s a special event coming up, which not only celebrates the medium, but is also an opportunity to provide a jumping-off point for first-time readers.
Across North America, May 2 is Free Comic Book Day. Wander in to your favourite comic book depository and there will be a wide sampling waiting for you to take home. From classic children’s characters like Nancy and Archie, to cyclopean adventures involving cosmic space cops.
There will literally be something for everyone.
Why wouldn’t you want to take an opportunity to allow yourself a new venue of escapism? A venue that you can freely share with any member of your family, of any age?
I’m not trying to envision a future filled with Norman Rockwell-like families sitting around the fire cradling issues of Action comics. I just think comics get an undeserved bad reputation and if more people allowed themselves to try some on, they might just like them.
So, True Believers, on May 2, head into a comic book shop (Titans Gaming & Collectibles is one) and indulge in some completely guilt-free geekery.