Ross's rendition of the Justice League

Also, Alex Ross’ art makes me want to work harder at painting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently got back into superhero comics after a hiatus of almost fifteen years. Oh, I still bought graphic novels, mostly of the independent or mature* varieties, but after moving to a town without anywhere to buy comics halfway through high school, I fell out of reading the cape stuff.

I never realized how much I missed it until I started again.

Still, I get weird comments about it occasionally. I’m a thirty-year-old woman, so people assume that I should be, I don’t know, off having babies or breaking the glass ceiling or something. Not reading something that, at its heart, was designed for twelve-year-old boys.** They want to know why I’m wasting my time on something like that. They call it unrealistic and juvenile.

To which I say, well, yeah.

I get enough realism by fucking living. I don’t need more of it. That’s why I like fantasy, sci fi, horror, comics, surrealism, all that stuff that takes you away from the every day. If realism was the sole basis for choosing entertainment, we’d read nothing but encyclopedias. And considering Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Somewhere You Don’t Give a Shit About are ‘realistic’, I don’t think the word is the high praise these people think it is.

As for juvenile, I’m going to let C.S. Lewis handle this one:

When I became a man, I put away childish things. Including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Besides, people who focus on those aspects of comics are missing other points. As a medium, comics are a great combination of writing and art***. It’s a unique form of story telling. It allows techniques that work only within the confines of the panels. It makes me think about creating images with writing, focusing on those perfect moments that pull the story along.

And in the end they’re about heroes. Damaged people who are still trying to do their best for the world, day after day. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that attitude?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s new comic book day and I’ve got reading to do.

*Not porn. Just stuff that is very obviously not for children: Transmetropolitan, Preacher, Hellblazer, Maus, that sort of stuff.
**As a lot of the costuming shows. Any women out there who want to read about a strong female superhero who doesn’t wander around with her tits falling out and her cervix on display should try the new Captain Marvel, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick. Good story, good characters, lots of kicking ass.
***When they’re done well, of course, but isn’t that true of everything?

4 thoughts on “Heroes

  1. At thirty you’re supposed to be reading depressing ‘realistic’ literary fiction. But if cancer-riddled women with Tourettes living in derelect lighthouses with the alcoholic miner husband they pouched from their sisters, raising a Thalidomide baby who is secretly her half-sibiling, born of the rape her disgraced mother suffered at the hands of her ex-probation officer, subsisting on nothing but canned milk and peanut butter because she was laid off by a heartless, money-grubbing industry squeezed by new government regulations that disenfranchise the working class is realistic, then I am a blue-footed booby.

  2. I loved reading comics in high school and college, but kind of fell away over the years. I’m working an on-call crisis shift tonight (obviously not dealing with a crisis this second). Mental health social work has got it’s fun, exciting, elating parts. It’s also got a lot of trauma, loss, and death. Though I love reading stories that are thoughtful and challenging, I have no interest in reading anything that will seriously disturb and/or traumatize me in my spare time. People who find that cathartic, IMHO, have way too much free time on their hands. I’m thinking I should check out what’s new in the DC Universe sometime soon…

    • I’ve heard some good things about the New 52 that DC is doing, and I have it on good authority that Scott Snyder’s Batman: The Court Of Owls is a good read. If you’re looking for something that you can dip into easily, I’d recommend Matt Fraction’s new take on Hawkeye. Mostly one-two issue arcs, so no catching up on big plots for those who have limited time. Also, well-written and hella funny.

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