Comic Books. Read One

4 Jan

ImageThe first comic book I ever read, as far as I can recall, was The Umbrella Academy Vol 1: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá. I had discovered this beautiful and twisted piece of art several years ago via the band My Chemical Romance, of which Gerard is the frontman. I vaguely remember procrastinating one fine day, as I often do, and after perusing several rock news sites, I came across an article announcing the series. I loved his music, so I thought I would give the comic a try.

Having never really been in there other than to peruse the general memorabilia on show, I tentatively entered Forbidden Planet’s Croydon branch. It wasn’t anything special. In, grab the book and out. I felt a bit weird, a little out of place, but not because the staff or other comic nerds were unpleasant in any capacity. The problem lay squarely at my feet.  All inside my head.

There has always been a social stigma associated with comic books. Nerds, Superheroes, crazy fan conventions. To the vast majority, it seemed as if it didn’t matter what you were into, you were a social outcast if you dared to show an interest in “geek” culture. As a person who has never really followed popular trends and being a quite the social outcast myself, I found it incredulous that I could feel embarrassed or somehow find the need to be in the shop for as minimal time as necessary to complete my purchase.

Nevertheless, societal pressure had won that round, and I scurried along home, clasping in my hands the portal to an entire new realm of possibilities. Upon my arrival home, I proceeded to read that first volume cover to cover, with equal parts intrigue & confusion.

How exactly was I supposed to read this? Do look at the pictures first or the dialogue bubbles? Sideways or up and down? What exactly is going on in this crazy new universe and why should I become so invested in it?

The answers soon presented themselves, and as they did I began to absorb and enjoy the comic more and more. With each read through not only was the story becoming clearer, but the reasons for the pacing and the positioning of the panels, the hidden motivations driving certain characters one way whilst the plot stampeded ahead another.

Needless to say. I was hooked.

I read the next volume, and ate up several more comics. The Amory Wars & Kill Audio from, coincidentally, another frontman of a hugely successful rock band, Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria fame. But it wasn’t until I found Comixology that things really kicked into full gear.

Now, though it may sound like some strange nerdy religion, Comixology is in fact one of the most popular apps on either digital marketplace. And so, wearing my geek on my sleeve I dived down the rabbit hole, and haven’t looked back since.

Digital comics have seen a huge surge in business in the last 12 months alone. With the extremely successful releases of The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man & of course Avengers Assemble, the mainstream mind has shifted towards a much greater acceptance of the comic world.

And even on TV, with perhaps the most watched program on right now, The Big Bang Theory, replacing the iconic Friends as the program everyone puts their feet up to after work, geekdom is here to stay.

So whilst you enjoy your Blu-ray of The Avengers & your complete DVD boxset of The Big Bang Theory, consider for a moment enjoying a comic book on Boxing Day 2013 as well as the years biggest blockbuster. Is it really that big of a stretch?

So I implore you, no matter your age or gender, grab a comic. Buy one from a local comic book store, pick one up with your monthly magazine in WHSmith or stay classy and purchase a graphic novel from Waterstones. If you know a nerdy friend or relative, ask them if you can borrow an issue or two, or better yet, read a digital comic.

Go on. Right now. Yes you heard. Pick up your iPhone, iPad, Android handset or Tablet, heck, even open a new tab on your browser. Download the Comixology app from the Apple iTunes or Google Play Stores or visit http://www.comixology.com and register. It’s FREE. It’s Simple. You’ll be done in time to finish the rest of this article. Go on. I’ll be waiting.

Back so soon. No, actually go and download it. Broaden your horizons. There is no risk. Just five minutes of your time.

So to anyone who has or will try the app, there are plenty of FREE comics to pique your interest. Included in that is the first issue of the award winning series The Walking Dead from Robert Kirkman. The edge of your seat TV series is based on this ongoing and ever popular comic book.

The one thing that usually holds most people back is this idea that comic books are just Batman & Spider-Man. Superman & Wolverine. Superheroes. Now while a lot of the focus is indeed on superhero comics, it’s not the only genre out there. The competition is coming in thick and fast. From zombie horror to post-apocalyptic drama, fantasy adventure starring medieval mice or a police comedy-drama about food.

Comics as a medium are just as diverse, imaginative and engaging as movies, television and music. As an art form it has been around longer than any film or TV show, and all the time it has captured the imagination of generation after generation.

Isn’t it time you embraced your inner geek?

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