Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The 12 Days of Birthday, Day 8: Getting Back Into Comics

After I read Sandman as a freshman, I had a renewed interest in comics, and slowly began to read more of them. At first I was mostly reading graphic novels because they were less of an investment, and also sometimes I could write about them for my literature classes. I probably could've written about monthly comics for those classes, too, if I'd thought to try it, depending on the topic and the teacher, but I was also generally trying to be more "serious" about my reading in those early college days. So if it even crossed my mind, I'm sure I thought superhero comics, or any ongoing comics, wouldn't "count." Stupid college me.

By sophomore year, though, I had begun to read a handful of webcomics regularly, mostly because of Order of the Stick, which I wrote about here. This led me in my junior year to try and create a webcomic with some friends of mine. It was called 6 or 7 Popes, and we actually produced a handful of strips at one point, but we don't own the site anymore so I can't link you to it. They weren't amazing, anyway, although the artist we got was fucking incredible. I personally think we took the wrong approach as writers, doing the webcomic as a series of disconnected gag strips starring the same characters, rather than telling a single epic adventure story like we really wanted to do when we came up with the idea originally. At the time, I agreed that self-contained strips was the way to go, but looking back I think we shot ourselves in the foot on that one. Anyway, whatever, that project didn't last, but it did finally push me all the way over the line into full-on lifetime comicbook collector territory.

When work began on Popes, we started reading a lot of webcomics to learn about how they were written and published. This soon grew to include semi-regular trips to local comicbook stores to get hard copy comics, also for writing research and, more specifically, for superhero writing research, since we were basically trying to do a parody of a classic superhero team book. It was going to those stores the first few times that really filled me with fresh wonder and love for the medium, because my co-writers and I would try to find new, weird stuff every trip in order to let ourselves be influenced by as many things as we could. This is how I ended up reading such exquisite series as 100 Bullets, Ex Machina, Vertigo's Unknown Soldier, all of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern material, a bunch of the Marvel Noir titles, and a handful of other things I can't remember now that would become the foundations of a new never-ending collection. There were just SO MANY things to read, and they all looked so different and were so different. I felt a burning in my belly, a weird need to try and catch up on as much as I could, not just from the six years or so that I'd stopped paying comics any real attention, but from throughout the entire history of comics as a form of entertainment. I'm still working on that goal today. That's what this whole blog is.

Tomorrow: Why this whole blog is.

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