I didn’t grow up being a lover of comics like some children but as of recently I’ve begun to have a growing fascination with them. Not so much that I like superheroes or anything like that, I am more interested in them as artistic and literary pieces of narrative. I think comics have long gotten a bit of a bad rep as being “kids stuff” and unworthy of critical consideration by the greater art and literary communities but in recent years there has been a surge to consider them a legitimate forms of art that deserves their place in the greater realm of cultural artifacts. I have mixed opinions on the name “Graphic Novel” as I have come to agree some with my friend and former roommate Nate that it is a bit pretentious, but at the same time I can understand how some comic creators would like to distance their works from the poor connotation that comics have generally received. The thing is that I think a comic is just as effective a medium in conveying narrative as say a traditional novel or a movie. In fact in many ways I see that comic existing as almost a middle ground between films and novels as in many ways they incorporate similarities of both the other two art styles. It seems really interesting to me that one way of presenting ideas can be considered inferior to another or at least take a secondary status. Consider poetry; while it is certainly not the most sought after and understood literary form in modern times, in the past poetry was literature, novels didn’t really exist. That is why if you ever take a Medieval Lit class you’ll be reading all different forms of verse. Over the past two years or so I’ve read a number of what people call “Graphic Novels” and have found all of them to be quite enjoyable and interesting. Now I’ve already mentioned above about my opinions on the name “Graphic Novel” but here is another point, even though one is reading (like with understanding words and being literate) a comic it is quite a different experience than reading a novel as you are interacting with the visual element as well. I think part of my interest in comics is that I really like both writing and drawing and for about as long as I remember I have Incorporated the two, perhaps not specifically in a comic but in ideas. Often times I’ll be drawing and then get an idea of something to write about or I’ll be writing and to better visualize a situation will doodle some stuff down. I guess what I like so much about comics is that incorporation of both language and visual stimulus, it makes us think differently. In a novel we have to use our imagination and language to try and visualize a setting or a scene, where as in a painting we may be tempted to imagine a narrative with it. The comic (or graphic novel, or whatever the hell you want to call it because I’m not sure that any of them work right) gives the audience a bit of both.
I said above that I am not really all that into superhero comics, which for the most part is pretty true. For the record I’ve only read one superhero comic book, that being Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.” Batman is bad ass and Frank Miller’s portrayal of him was awesome. If you are a claimed Batman fan and haven’t read “The Dark Knight Returns” then you are really missing out. Also I guess the the web comic “The Adventures of Dr. McNinja” might count as a superhero comic, or it might not, but either way it is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.