When I was eight, my parents had no problem supporting my $10 a month comic habit. This consisted mostly of Transformers, GI Joe and Batman.
Entering into my working teen years, I had nothing important to do with my money, so my $10 a month habit expanded to $60+ a month.
Then adulthood struck; car payments, mortgage payments, food, clothing, kids, little room for a comic habit. So my comic collecting, and therefor reading, days ended.
I’ve recently been able to resume a small portion of comic reading. It’s funny, but I didn’t think for a moment that it would make me as happy as it has.
What has surprised me most, is how it’s helping me see my writing. If you view each issue as a chapter, some comics have plot lines that go for hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages. Each issue has to extend the plot and leave the reader hooked to come back next month.
The reality is, comics have become the modern serial. In the past, comics were seen as the domain of children and their stories were seen as having little consequence. That has changed as audiences have aged and demanded stories that still provide the visual flair of comics but deliver a story worthy of an adult reader.
A particular comic I’ve started to read is The Walking Dead. AMC has recently started a TV series based on it. The Walking Dead is about a group of people trying to survive in a world over-run with zombies. While the setup sounds cliche, the execution of the book is anything but. Sure, there is action, but much of it has little to do with the zombies themselves. In fact, the zombies are just a minor obstacle to the greater threat, which is other survivors. There’s tense character development, conflict in relationships, interesting back stories. Essentially, everything a great novel has. And each issue has a development arc that leaves you waiting anxiously for the next issue. It’s fabulous.
As much as reading novels has always been inspiring to me, I had forgotten how much comics had engaged me as a child and powered my imagination. Getting back to comics makes me feel like some of the batteries are getting recharged.