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Talking About Serious Comic Books

Do you have a demarcation in your comic book tastes? By this I mean, can you split the books you buy into different categories? For me, I can distinguish between the comics designed to entertain and amuse, and the comics that are about being more serious, more adult, more heavy.

I mention this because my haul of regular comics for the last two weeks consisted solely of what I consider the serious books – No Hero #1, Doktor Sleepless #9, 100 Bullets #96, The Boys #23 (although I picked up Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors and Power Pack: Day One [as this tweet reveals], perhaps as a counterpoint).

Normally, the collection of books I bring back from the shop are a mix of the two, and I tend to read the entertainment ones first before building up to the heavier fare. This time, I wasn’t sure where to start.

The Boys was the least heavy because it spends most of its time taking the piss out of the X-Men (nothing wrong with that, even if Ennis can be a little blunt sometimes). No Hero, with Warren Ellis working through the ideas of super teams, might seem to be starting out at the entertainment-only end of the spectrum, but it’s also about the concept of vigilantism in the superhero comic and its ramifications, and it’s an Ellis Avatar book so you can guess the rest. 100 Bullets is entertainment in the HBO television drama mode, but it is nearing the end of its run and has a lot of death and ugliness among the beauty of the art and the dialogue. Doktor Sleepless is a lot more thoughtful, Ellis taking a novelistic approach to the serialised comic book form and his ideas about technology and social networking and the future, and isn’t something that one just dips into, requiring (like the three other books) more attention to be paid than just the straightforward read through.

When differentiating the two types of comics, I’m not talking about the quality of the material – I believe that all the books I buy are excellent quality. It’s a distinction I have in my DVD collection – I’ve got both Taxi Driver and X2, but they are at different ends of the entertainment spectrum, and there is a different mindset when deciding which to watch of a Sunday afternoon.

Does anyone else have this continued seemingly schizophrenic split in their comic book reading habits? I enjoy superheroes and action stories, but also like the books that are more intense or considered (by some) to be more literary. The stereotype of the comic book fan is either the superhero fan, living in his mum’s basement, complaining that this week’s issue contradicted continuity from 30 years ago, or the arthouse fan, presumably wearing a beret and sporting a goatee as they read autobiographical comix and sneering at the fanboys. I am neither; I don’t have an identity – am I the only one? What name shall we find to describe me?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ray Van Buskirk

    Actually, I call you normal! I too, have the same type of buying habits not only in comics, but in music, literature, and movies/TV. I do feel that sometimes people like us are in the minority. I try to keep an open mind and be well-rounded in all my experiences. Life is too short…

    Thank you for the post. I feel re-energized in my “normalness”!

  2. David

    Thanks, Ray – I like being ‘normal’. Glad to see there are others like me out there, and I agree with you completely.

    I guess with other bloggers having strong connections with specific types of comics (Alan David Doane and art comix, Chris Sims and face-kicking comics, Neilalien and Dr Strange), I wondered if I was doing something wrong 🙂

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