I’ve been reading comic books for as long as I can remember, and that officially makes me a geek – as if working for IBM and being a Lost fan was not enough 🙂 . Last Saturday, my favourite comic book shop in Toronto closed for business, and led me to reflect on how much of a subculture that is, despite the success of the super-hero blockbuster movies.
I’m still a regular buyer of Marvel books (the Ultimate Universe titles are *really* good) and some DC (All Star Batman & Robin by Frank Miller and Jim Lee is not too bad) but I like all types of comics, from Peanuts to Moebius.
What I like about comic book as a medium is that, contrary to movies, they are pretty much limitless: no technical or budget constraints, they can go as far as the writer’s or artist’s creativity can take them. From the deceptive simplicity of Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown to the visual sophistication of Alex Maleev, you can make the unimaginable real. It’s storytelling at its best.
I also find comics a good way to learn a new language. Reading books and newspapers can improve your vocabulary, but let’s face it, nobody speaks that way. If you are learning Portuguese, I highly recommend Brazil’s Monica’s Gang (the site is annoying, but the first 10 years of the series are worth a read). For other good foreign books, try Argentina’s Mafalda – a masterpiece or France’s Asterix. Belgium’s Tintin is a bit dated and in hindsight controversial, but so influencing that it can’t be missed.
Comics, as everything else, keeps reinventing itself, so you may find digital comics interesting. For gamers, try out PvP. Toothpaste for dinner is not too bad. And many IBMers love the stick people at xkcd.org.
If you ever visit São Paulo, pay a visit to the Gibiteca Sesi (“gibi” is comic book in Portuguese). They have a colletion of 26,000 books, including gems by Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. If you are a big fan like me, that’s like heaven on earth.