Not just for kids
I spent my summer watching superhero movies. We went through all of the X-Men movies, saw The Avengers at least five times which led to rewatching the Iron Man movies as well, and after watching all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies my husband encouraged me to watch the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series.
When I was a kid I read comic books. I demanded my father read to me from a novel sized copy of The Incredible Hulk every night. I remember reading and rereading the comic book where Superman dies. That huge rock monster dies too, but I was distraught, how could Superman be dead? I think I read a little Batman here and there, never read any Spider-Man or X-Men though.
Once I moved on to novels I never really looked back. Comic books were something I had done with my father and after he passed away I didn’t have anyone bringing new comic books into my life. I think I viewed them as a phase that was in my past. Stories with pictures went out the window once I moved past chapter books. I’m not saying comic books are childish, so don’t get up in arms, no one is being insulted here. I still love superheroes and I wish I didn’t need to confirm details with my husband about the movies we watched this summer.
His favorite superhero is Batman. The hero with no powers — just loads of money and a deep dark pain that he seeks to heal by helping Gotham, and hurting some bad guys on the way — speaks to a lot of people. He has become my favorite too. The only details I know about Batman are from the movies. I know that I like the new, darker reboot than the George Clooney movies but not much else. I asked my husband what comic books I should start with if I wanted to read the Batman series and he looked like a kid on Christmas. I haven’t had time to start yet, but I look forward to reading the original Batman stories.
Entering the world of comic books can be intimidating these days. Stories are everywhere about how “real geeks” are hazing the newcomers, especially women, who they believe lack the geek cred to belong to their club. Graphic novels have serious followings and while they are becoming more mainstream I still feel lost in that section of the bookstore. The fans aren’t always welcoming to people who don’t know what they’re doing. I want to start reading these stories and appreciating the fantastic artwork, but I’m not sure where to begin. My husband knows about traditional superhero comics but he is equally uneducated about the newer books.
I have Maus I and II and The Complete Persepolis, both are biographical graphic novels about dark periods in our history. Maus is the story of the author’s parents’ life in concentration camps during World War II. Art Spiegelman uses animals as the different races in the story. Persepolis is the story of Marjane Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. Neither are light reading.
I want to start out with something less intense, preferably fiction. But I need recommendations. Do I start with Batman, where I’m comfortable? Or the graphic novel version of Game of Thrones so I know the storyline already? I feel like I’ll be distracted by the pictures on the next page and knowing the story might help keep me from jumping ahead in the plot. Do I try Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series? I know I like the author already. Or should I start a new genre with a new author? I need help. Tell me where you started or wish you had started when reading comic books or graphic novels. I’m not really interested in manga, but maybe I will be after dipping a toe into this new world. I won’t rule out anything at this point.
Any advice is welcome, help a girl gain some geek cred!