My history of comic books.
I grew up before the internet. I grew up before the introduction of trade paperbacks and graphic novels. I grew up before reprints and I grew up before fanzines became mainstream. Comic books were collected to read not in hope of turning a buck. Comic books were discovered and treasured for their stories not for their variant covers. I learned a lot from comic books.
I learned to read from comic books. I learned about sequential art and story forms from comic books. I learned history and classic books from comics.
I learned about heroes and villains. I learned that three nephews can solve anything from a single scout book with endless knowledge between the covers. I learned that an alcoholic Captain and boy reporter with his white dog can travel the world and the moon and have great adventures.
My best friends were Pogo, Donald, Mickey, Little Dot, Casper, Archie and Jughead, The Spirit, Dick Tracey, Doc Savage, Popeye, Sylvester and Tweedy, Prince Valent, Gasoline Alley, Blondie, BC, Wizard of ID. Later on Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Wonder woman, Plastic man, Sheena of the Jungle, Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein, Crypt Keeper, Alfred E. Newman, Calvin and Hobbes, Ralph Snart and much later Wonder wart Hog, and the list goes on and on.
Comic books taught me lessons that life hadn’t which was it was okay to have an imagination, to create, to dream. I learned to draw from comics, later to letter, to design, to make a world, a universe that only I knew. I created new friends, adversaries, new places I wanted to visit. Comic books said it was okay to do all these things and more.
Comic books held a mirror up to society and took a strong stance on what was going on in my ever day life . Drug addition, abuse, bullying, poverty, terrorism, politics, pollution and much more.
Comic books made me want to learn. No lecture could do that. No text-book did that. I would read about something which then started a fire in my brain and made me go out and learn more about what I read be it Speedy’s drug addiction or the Prez being elected a teen president or Peter Parker’s conflict of having friends as super villains. Hope the book by Alex Ross about Wonder woman going around the world trying to help different societies across the globe made me look into different parts of the world I haven’t experienced. I may never be able to travel the globe to visit or help those places, but I did through Wonder woman, through comic books.
Where else could I go to the bottom of the sea, or to the moon and see things that few people have.
I learned that having friends, sometimes butlers, assistants, companions and even villains would be there for you no matter what. Being different was okay, learning what makes us different was what made us, us.
I learned that sometimes the world wasn’t black and white, good or bad, hero or villain, there are shades of gray. Being good weighted as heavily as being bad and sometimes a villian was the real hero. I learned that sometimes there were more that two sides to a story.
From the Greats, Will Eisner, Neil Adams, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Alex Ross and others too many to list, I learned the mechanics behind sequential art, how to tell a story, how to draw a story, how to find my voice in the sea of picture literature.
The history of sequential art, comic books, comic strips goes back to our earliest times of drawing on cave walls, the need to provide a story, to tell a story, to reach out to the future audiences which we will never see, or speak to.
The importance of comic books, comic strips can never truly be measured.
This is an amazing medium which touch lives in so many ways.
I learned so much from comic books, what did you learn from them?