Comics and Graphic novels: A lifelong obsession.
In honor of Stan Lee’s 90th birthday, let’s talk comics for a while, shall we?
In my family, while growing up, we weren’t allowed to watch too much television (aside from Saturday morning cartoons) or play video games, but we were encouraged to read and play outside to our heart’s content. For me, that meant hiding in the middle of my grandma’s bushes, where nobody could see me, and reading until I was too hungry to stay there anymore. I read anything that was put in front of me, regardless of plot or genre or length. One day, having read all the books I’d taken out from the library, I wandered into my younger brother’s room, hoping to find something in there. Sure, I’d never seen him with a book because he preferred playing in the dirt and sticking slugs to his arms, but hey, I was pretty sure he could read so I thought I’d take a look. Underneath his hockey sticks, his Tazmanian Devil plush toy and a jar of something that could only be described as “revolting”, I found something that would spark a lifelong obsession: A comic book.
Looking back, I can’t remember what it was even about. I know it was Superman because my brother went through a cape wearing phase that was the source of endless entertainment for me and my older sister, but I have no recollection of what the actual book was about. After reading it, I just knew that I’d discovered something great; a book with an incredibly interesting story (who doesn’t think superheroes are awesome?) and detailed graphics to go along with it. As a young readers AND artist, this was a brilliant revelation. I started asking my mom to bring me comic books, and although it mostly started out as Archie Comics from the shelves near the grocery store cashier, it has since grown into so much more. Nowadays, graphic novels are my “grown-up” comic books, but I still can’t get enough.
One of my first favorites was Tank Girl because she is totally chaotic and independent. I was forever searching for myself inside the comics and graphic novels, trying to figure out which superpower was my own. One of my favorite films is based on a graphic novel and I highly recommend that you watch it, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. So many really spectacular graphic novels are filled with violence, like Sin City, 300, and Batman, but then there are the truly beautiful stories that remind you that each graphic novel is really a piece of art. Blankets is a great example of this; it’s an intricately woven story of a boy who is dealing with growing up, religion, spirituality, and his first love.
And then, of course, there are the comic book classics: Spiderman, X-Men, The Hulk, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, Captain America, etc. – all of which were created with the help of Stan Lee and all of which were made internationally famous by major motion pictures. Comic books have gone from being the things traded by nerds in the back of the library at lunch time, to being the inspiration for some of the coolest action movies of this generation. Comic books are cool, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Here are some BookRix books that I think would make great comic books and graphic novels (hover your mouse over the cover to find out more about each book):