Comic Book Musings & Recommended Read

My recommended read for the week (a digital copy is free!):

What’s this, you say? What the heck is a comic book doing on a romantic suspense writer’s blog?

My answer: Expanding our horizons, baby.

Witchblade is one of the first digital comics I read (recommended by Carol Ward), and while I’m not sure how far I’ll continue with this particular series, the first free one intrigued me enough to buy the second. I walked away a few times and kept coming back and the story is stuck in my head at the moment, which is generally a good sign that I should keep reading…and so I shall. That’s all I’ll say about this particular book, because you can read it yourself for free. ComiXology is sort of the “iTunes” for comic books (says one of those tech magazines). Great site for finding nearly everything comic book in one spot…

I’ve long been a proponent of reading as widely as possible in all
different areas of literature (don’t give me crap about “genre fiction
isn’t literature” either – words that tell a story in some format or
other = literature for the purposes of this discussion). And throughout
my life I’ve read at least *something* in every genre and literary niche
out there. I think it helps make a person well-rounded in their
thinking to be exposed to ideas and stories presented in different ways,
and that holds especially true for writers. Just my opinion, but I’m
fairly stalwart about it. 

One of the niches I personally haven’t read much in at all is
graphical story representations – comic books & graphic novels. Part
of this is because I’m a very text-based person – images, especially
bright, colorful images kind of put my brain on overload, and I end up
not getting as much information out of things presented to me
graphically as I do from straight text. Yes, I realize I’m in the
minority there, but that’s how it is. Sunday morning comic strips I can
handle. Simple comic books like Archie, sure. But I’ve never really
gotten into the more mainstream comics largely because the crowded pages
and color bursts are really just sort of intimidating to me, and I feel
lost when I look at the page and can’t decide whether I should be
reading left to right, up to down or in a circle of sorts. I kind of
almost need a connect-the-dots like training course, sad as that sounds.
Even so, last week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory convinced me I
should give it another shot. I won’t spoil it – just go watch the ep.
where the girls decide to buy comic books. It’s excellent, as always.

I decided I needed to try again. So I went online and started
looking at what was out there. I picked out some early Smurfs comics
(because they’ll go with my Smurf collection), and a few others to try
both on the advice of more knowledgeable friends and my own taste as I
was browsing. I placed a couple of orders and then decided I should sign
up for some RSS feeds to learn more about them, since the artwork is
such a very large part of what a comic book *is*.

I found ComiXology
and digital comic books, and checked out a few that looked interesting,
all the while wondering how a digital comic could possibly compare to a
print one, since the art is so important to the work. Reading a pdf
file on my PC was a less than stellar experience. And then I opened the
app on my tablet and chose the “guided” option. 

Remember how I said I needed a “connect the dots” sort of training
experience to learn how to read comic books? The guided digital option
for my tablet app is exactly that, and I found myself completely
engrossed in the story as soon as I quit worrying about how to follow it
from panel to panel. You’d think the art would suffer, but it really
didn’t – at times when the panel was too big, it would just zoom out
after showcasing the text, so I still got the whole of it, but I never
had to try to take in the whole page of graphical information all at

I think I’m hooked. The stories, despite the insanely small amount
of text are just as complex as any novel (I thought I was a sparse
writer – how do they do that?!), and while I’m sure there are some I’d
find rather cheesy (never been a big “Kablooey!” fan), there are flavors
for everyone, just like in text-based fiction. I’ll admit to having
been rather naive in thinking comics were mainly cheesy super-hero
stories for kids. Most of those I’ve been drawn too are certainly *not*
kid appropriate. Not a fan of bare skin comic style? Cruise on
past – there are plenty of issues and heroes and such with enough
clothing to make anyone comfy. Garfield and The Smurfs come immediately
to mind, both of which I plan to have in my collection (and ironically,
neither of which have all that many clothes for the characters, now that
I think about it).

I still buy both print and digital text-based fiction, depending on
what it is, the cost, the author and a host of other things. I have a
small but prized collection of very old hardbacks you’ll have to pry out
of my skeletal hands to take away. Yet I prefer to read ebooks in
almost every instance due to the convenience. So there’s a place for
both in my life.

I suspect that comic books will be the same for me. They aren’t
terribly expensive even in print, so I’ll buy print copies of those I
want to keep for collector’s value, and do much of my reading via
digital apps on my tablet. The best of both worlds, IMO. And digital
means I can read from the start of a series at a reasonable price,
rather than paying hundreds of dollars for an out-of-print, hard to find
copy. Good stuff.

Once a month, I think I’ll feature a comic book as one of my recommended reads. It’ll be fun!

So there you have it – my latest way of expanding the mind. Have you read a comic book recently? Which one?

If not, why?

I’m not a
professional reviewer, I don’t accept offerings direct from writers or
publishing houses (so don’t email asking me to review your book – that’s an
excellent way to ensure I never read it), and there’s a very good chance
I know the authors of over half the books I’ll recommend, so my opinion
is likely biased on any given day. This is just me telling you about a
great book I recently read. Nothing more, nothing less. 

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