Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Side Note: Comics

I have recently rediscovered my love of the good ol' American comic book and oh, what a love it is. My first comic book was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back when I was young enough to not be able to remember how old I was to recall this memory. In it there was an anti hero turtle and people died and were blown up. I also had a Transformers comic. Same scenario.

Just like that
That was my exposure to comics in the beginning, cool images with lots of colors and people died. It wasn't until much later when I started doing my own artwork and writing that I began to drift back into the way of comic books. The blossoming of my love took place in Groton, CT where I chanced upon a place known as Sarge's Comics in New London which was right across the river from where I attended sub school.

Notice the Green Ranger
New London was a charming and beautiful New England town and with Mystic right down the road I can tell you it was one of the most intriguing areas I had ever lived in. People were friendly, the nights were cool and the fog rolled in heavily in the morning. Old tall sailing ships could be seen in the harbor and the towns seemed to emerge from the thick evergreen forests as if it was one big painting planned for beauty and resonance. There is mysticism about New England that seemed to be everywhere you look, just under the surface. It's no wonder that Stephen King sets up most of his stories there and I can tell you you haven't lived until you've been in Salem on Halloween. Sarge's Comics was the biggest comic book shop I had ever seen with rows upon rows of comics of every genre and publisher and not to mention a basement devoted to board games and other nerd finery's. I was there looking for inspiration and dammit, I found it.

New England!
In between these epochs of my life I was big into Japanese comics and storytelling, an interest brought upon me by Cartoon Network with Tunami and various Japanese games I was playing at the time, most notably Pokemon for it's brainwashing of my young mind. The Japanese style of storytelling is as far away from reality as you can get, everything is amazingly exaggerated, there's lots of screaming and exuberant cuteness and melodrama and a horrible fascination with teenage girls that are useless and when I look back in it now I can see its appeal to my child like mind. Now, however When I compare Japanese and American style graphic storytelling there is simply no comparison to be made.

Every Japanese anything, ever
American storytelling is hard and real and at its best visceral in its presentation. It captures mainstays in American culture, violence, sex, hard truths, betrayals, the good guy doesn't always win and he's always faced with insurmountable odds and yet always manages to find a way and forge his own path. Even if he loses everything, he sucks it up and moves on. It's that hardness and realism that I crave in a good story. I tend to overlook the spandex costumes and sometimes cheesy plots that can happen. With the right writer and artist at the helm some great work can be done. It's been three years since I bought a comic book and now I get at least one a day while I'm on my lunch break at work and you know what? I'm glad I came back.

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