I love comics and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do too. I think the comic book medium is one of the most diverse and unique forms of artistry today, but the snobbery that surrounds it is incredible.
I struggle to fathom the idea now but I used to be a comic-snob, I’ve always loved books and read any sort of story I could find since I was little, but comics never truly appealed to me. As I grew older and even more geeky, I condemned them as juvenile things consisting of one-sided superheroes fighting baddies with a BOOM as they saved the day. Not my thing.
Until one day, I watched an interview with Cirque Du Freak author Darren Shan in which he said a favourite book of his was Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Darren spoke about the title with such enthusiasm that I hungered to check it out.
At the time, dear reader, I knew nothing of comic books apart from Batman, Superman, DC and Marvel.
The next time I was in a bookshop I asked a lady for a copy of this intriguing tome. I had no idea of its genre and after some confusion as to what exactly a ‘graphic novel’ was on my Mom’s part, I looked through it.
I was hesitant to buy a comic, but if it inspired Darren Shan who has always inspired me then it had to be good.
I came home and looked at my new purchase, dismissing the hairy man on the back of the graphic novel as a mad and interesting writer from somewhere in America; not yet realising that Alan Moore would soon become one of my greatest inspirations.
As I began to read Watchmen’s panelled pages, something incredible struck me. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a condition called Quadriplegic Cerebral-Palsy, which has multiple effects, one of those being a difficulty to visually break-down the format of a prose book; which can make reading a complicated and slow task for me. Whilst reading Moore and Gibbons’ graphic novel, I realised that I could read the captions and panels much more easily, and the gaps between images and text enabled me to read at a quicker pace.
Not only did discovering the graphic novel make me an Alan Moore fan, exposing me to his massive body of work and creative genius, but It also proved to me that the comic realm is much more than capes and clichés. It is in fact a unique and intelligent medium that is alive with ideas and narratives, full of intellectual and artistic value. From Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman; a magical saga set in a sophisticated fantasy world with depth and scope, to its sibling title Lucifer which lends a more devilish prospective to the multifaceted storyline enhanced at the hands of author Mike Carey. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a work that takes advantage of the medium’s eccentric sensibilities, by interweaving several legendary fictional characters in a single imaginative world. In more recent times, creations like Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga has shown the diversity of the genre, with its entwining of spaceships and satire whilst exploring political and deep subjects. Alternatively, Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake is a well-written and contemporary piece of graphic storytelling that stands out in this generation of creators.
The comics world is an artistic entity that thrives on innovation and passion with a strong history of stories, artists and writers. I am not a crazed philosopher trying to preach the ways of the graphic novel, but I’m writing this from the prospective of a fanboy who has been pulled into a vortex of panels and captions from which I am powerless to escape.