This is a question I’ve wondered for a while. And “here”, by the way, refers to loving long-form comics to the point that we are reading and writing reviews about them.
At a first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. We are taught to process visual information from an early age thanks to animated videos and picture books. If anything, picture books seem to be the perfect segue, given the combination of words and text and the pacing of the pages. But somewhere along the line, the picture books are replaced with “real” books and the animated films with “real” films. And that becomes the norm. Real books, real films, and not much else in between.
Obviously, quite a few of us have escaped this dreary fate. We were fortunate enough to discover there was more out there, a universe of storytelling that could engage us in a way no other medium quite could. My own journey seems to be a string of coincidences, from Archie comics left untouched at the orthodontist’s to chance encounters with people who understood that comics were more than a simple diversion for children.
This kind of reinforcement is important. To the uninitiated reading comics for the first time, there’s some readjustment that needs to be done. For one thing, there’s the format. You have to learn how to read the frames in order order, lingering just the right amount of time so as not to lose sight of the story’s pacing. Then there’s the matter of aesthetic style. Depending on where you start, it might be getting used to the color schemes and near-realism, or adjusting to the concept of chibis and exaggerated mood swings. All in all, you need to know that the reward is worth bearing with the initial discomfort.
So what prompts people to pick up a comic book for the first time and try it out? In reviewing my experiences, it seems to boil down to 3 main factors:
- Peer reinforcement
When you know someone personally who reads and love comics. They’re open about talking about their latest favorite series and have dozens of recommendations for you.
- High-profile endorsement
This could be a celebrity mentioning a recent comic they have read. Or an acclaimed writer whose work you like collaborates on a graphic novel. Or perhaps a new movie based on a comic book comes out, and suddenly your curiosity is ignited. You get the idea.
This is the most important one. These comics have got to be accessible. If you’re in Nowheresville without a comic book shop, no Internet, no friends or family who can lend you their comics, you’re screwed. But display this comic books visibly in libraries and bookstores, and now there’s a real temptation to pick one up. Not to mention the accessibility provided by Internet. Read unlimited comics for free?!! You’ve literally got nothing to lose now except your time. Gotta love the Internet.
That said, I’m very curious to know, how did YOU get into comics? Any good stories to share?