Ah, comic books… The mere mention of the medium evokes images of muscly superheroes, scantily-clad women (who are either impossibly badass or frustratingly helpless…), and action-filled pages with onomatopoeias leaping out. I’ll admit that I’ve adopted a somewhat negative view towards the stereotype over the years – obviously, there are comic books that fit the shallow, sexist description; otherwise, the stereotype wouldn’t exist. But I guess I didn’t realize that the term comics could encompass more than just men in capes punching people in the face. After finding out a little more about comics, I’m less inclined to think that comics are just for 14-year-old boys. Actually, I’m guilty of reading web comics occasionally… and until I really thought about it, I didn’t even realize it was a comic… (even though I do realize it is in the name… whoops.) By the way, the website Toothpaste For Dinner is hilarious! A little nerdy, but hilarious. It’s worth a look.
Speaking of nerdy… I opened Y: The Last Man as a skeptical “outsider” and ended up getting really into it! It was a bit of a weird experience. It was almost more like watching a movie than reading a book, but more interactive; I was able to come up with my own voices, music, sound effects, and transitions for each panel instead of reading a description of what I was supposed to experience. I had previously viewed comic books as almost a kind of “cheating” as far as reading goes because it seemed like looking at pictures was a passive activity. However, after reading Y: The Last Man, I realized it was quite the opposite. I was definitely more engaged in this reading than I have been for some of my readings for other classes. The plot itself is interesting, the artwork is unique, and the characters are given personalities that develop throughout the story. Forgetting that this graphic novel was part 1 of a series, I flipped to the last page and had a minor panic attack when I realized that there was no resolution in this book. I hope there aren’t too many volumes in the series, because now I have to read them…
And not to say that I’ve become a hardcore comic buff, but I would actually like to read
other comic books at some point. I stumbled across a comic called PANDORA: End of Days, which is classified as a paranormal/survivor horror/zombie graphic novel. And no, I do not want to read it simply because it sort of matches the apocalyptic topic for this semester… that’s a coincidence, I swear! I realized that because comics are more interactive than I thought, and because I have a pretty vivid imagination, then horror/suspense comics could potentially have as much of a scary buildup as a movie of the same genre (which is exciting!). I was definitely absorbed in Y: The Last Man, and I think the result of reading PANDORA would be quite similar.
All in all, I think that comics deserve another look. Just because the medium can be used to transmit negative portrayals of gender roles, politics, etc. doesn’t mean that every individual comic does so – assuming such would be like assuming all television is exactly like South Park (or something equally as offensive). Just as there is an extremely wide range of TV shows, there is a wide range of comics (varying greatly from subject to artistic style to mood, etc.). And while I may initially be tempted to cling to the old stereotype whenever I hear comic books mentioned, I think that I will be more open minded to comics, and view them as a more universal form of expression rather than one that is reserved for a select few pre-pubescent males.