Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why do *you* read comics?

During my weekly existential crisis I was wondering: what's the main reason people read comics?  I haven't even come to an answers as to why I read them other than they're a fast read, and that can't be a good reason.  I like the pretty pictures, too, but that doesn't seem like a valid reason to like a medium, either.

There's just something inherently cool about comic book characters that I can't quite put my finger on.  Yet at the same time, I really don't think of too many stories or comic book plots as memorable or meaningful.  With a few exceptions, I can't think of any great quotes from comic books that I find particularly memorable like I do from movies (both comic-based and not) and TV shows.  I mean, I sit there and say the lines along with the actors every time I watch Seinfeld, but there aren't too many comics that I'll re-read to that point.

Two comics that pop into my mind when I think about them as an actual story in the "graphic novel" sense are The Long Halloween and Martian Manhunter: American Secrets.  Both made me invest in the plot and left me wanting to find out what happens, and both had characters whom I found had a depth to them and that might stand to lose something.  The other story that pops into my head in terms of character is any Justice League International story.  The plots of those JLI stories were entertaining, but it was the characters and how they related to each that I really enjoy.  And thinking about Silver Age stories, which are often lacking any sort of depth (or sense), they are just so imaginative that they become entertaining.

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why I buy certain ongoing titles today.  Most stories are lacking meaningful characters whom I can relate to, and the plots are pretty formulaic.  So what's the point of reading them?  I've been reading R.E.B.E.L.S. since last summer for the sheer purpose of hoping to find a panel showing Adam Strange standing in the background.  For me, it's character that interests me and keeps me coming back, even if it's a cameo appearance.  I've since kept R.E.B.E.L.S. in the pull list becuase I find Vril Dox entertaining, and now I'll read it without an Adam Strange appearance.

What are your reasons for reading comics?


Bubbashelby said...

Interesting question.

Until yesterday, I had actually gone months without buying or reading a comic book. To the point where I considered actually giving them up for a while. I've stopped collecting/reading a couple times in my life, usually because life tends to distract one from their 'meaningless' pursuits. But I've always come back to them too.

Anyways, yesterday I bought up a pile of comics I had been putting off buying for months: mostly Batman stuff because he's my man. Anyways, I actually found myself getting chills every time Bruce Wayne/Batman did those things only Bruce Wayne/Batman can do, and realized first of all that Dick Grayson is no Bruce Wayne. But secondly, I realized that I connect with the character and all that he represents on some level, for some reason.

Those levels and reasons are best left to the experts, but I think to simplify an answer to your query, that's it. We 'connect' with those characters. They are ancient and primal and heroic and pure and primary colored.


Aaron said...

I think one of the main reasons I do is the unrestrained imagination. When I was younger, I went through kinds of intense identification with some of the characters. It's true that one rarely reads a plot that's "good" in the literary sense, but the fact that it can go anywhere and do anything, and show it visually, is just always alluring. And I like that they often at least make enough real world reference (ie people doing laundry or whatever) to give these utterly absurd, impossible situations a tangibility. There is something addictive about that. I'm sure they also offer escape because I stopped ever drinking a few years back and my consumption of comics went way up, especially those Silver Age Showcases.

Eyz said...

Ah! Very original thread!
Mmmh...Why indeed!?
I guess it sort of an habit of sort.
Many people read "bande dessinées" here, you know the franco-belgiu comics. I just grew up more interested in superheroes than Tintin for exemple. (though I admit I still love and buy Lucky Luke to this day!)

My bro always read books and has a huge amount of Stephen Kings to Tom Clancys... My dad's more into tv and buy DVD boxset of ol' and recent shows.
I prefer comics for its serial aspect over movies. And telling a story with artwork, since I've always loved to draw. Watchmen, for exemple, is much better in comic-form where it plays with the narrative sequences than the "simple" movie.

I only used to read a bunch of comics, the ones I could pick. At first it was mostly marvel stuff.
then I digged in the Chuck Dixon-Batman era. With Cassie/Batgirl, Spoiler and companie... Wow!
I've sort of been hooked to the DCU since then, even if guys like Winick try to annoy fans every now and then, I still love the characters, the concepts.
Now, I like to follow the "underdogs" like Booster Gold, Jaime/Blue Beetle, Steph/Batgirl, Steel, Power Girl, etc.. The ones that live in the shadow of the much well known more famous Superman/Wonder Woman/Batman...

Huh.. long post is long!
Sorry, it seems I went on like usual :P

SallyP said...

A very good question, Liss...and not necessarily easily answered. For one thing I'm a Reader. I'll read just about anything. And I like to draw, so the two together make a certain amount of sense.

Also I am a creature of habit. I've been doing this for some thirty years now or so, so it's pretty ingrained in me. I enjoy the cameraderie at my beloved local Comic Book store. I enjoy the secret thrill of finding another comic book fan, and being able to exhange that esoteric amount of knowledge that only a few of us can attain. Also, I'm a nerd.

But mostly I read them for the characters. I LOVE so many of the characters. And the typical cliffhanger keeps me coming back for more. And the soap opera. And the art. And the butts.

Diabolu Frank said...

They were cheap, low tech, readily accessible entertainment for a poor kid that traveled well. VCRs needed TVs, tapes, and money. Bikes and sports were overrated. Action figures were more fun under a comic fueled imagination.

Why do I still buy comics? I'm passionate about the medium, and still love certain characters. I also haven't given up hope on writing some, one day.