Let’s start off with the fact that I want to be a comic book writer, so obviously I am going to be incredibly passionate about this subject. Ever since my first ever comic book Astonishing Spider-Man Issue 38, I have been in love with comics. The emotions and impact each individual panel can have are outstanding, there is no other art like it. To me, reading a comic is like watching a film, you fill in the parts between the panels, but you can do more than you can do in a film. There are no restrictions, you can do whatever you like. In this post, I am going to go into detail about why I love the art form of comics, graphic novels and manga; my history with them and what some of my favourites or recommended ones are.
My History and Journey with Comics
I guess my journey began nearly as soon as I was born. I had an older sibling by 8 years and therefore they already were into things such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men animated series. They were also who introduced me to the awesome Sega Megadrive (Genisis in the USA) and Sega Mastersystem, also introducing me to many classic films such as Terminator 2 and Batman 1989. Having a sibling into all these things naturally made me interested in them, my mum would also buy me comics like Beano or Dandy, which all fueled my interests pop/geek culture.
Then one day my mum bought me my first ever American comic The Astonishing Spider-Man No.38. It was a collection of a few different Spider-Man issues all reprinted into a collection, it was released every two weeks. The series has been rebooted a couple of times since then but is still ongoing. Ever since that first issue I started collecting Spider-Man and Batman comics, also around that time I then got into repeats of Batman The Animated Series and Spider-Man The Animated Series. The obsessions began, I started collecting and playing with countless different action figures from these series and later on with the release of Xmen (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) the obsession was there to stay.
I would visit a local bookshop and buy multipacks of old comic books and read hundreds of them from when I was around 7-10 years old. This built my knowledge around the comic book characters that were coming up in films and also introduced me to more unknown characters such as Rag-Man or Spider-Ham. Another major release around this time was Dragonball Z, this became the next obsession of mine and it helped me start reading Manga as well as comic books. For years comics were part of my life, I would always write different comic books for myself and my family to read. Then when I started secondary school it all changed.
New hobbies and interests started becoming more prevalent to me, basketball became my life, I would play it for hours a day, skateboarding, video games, music and fashion also came into the limelight and comics slowly started taking the back seat. It was also the fact that it was deemed un-cool to be into comics and hobbies of a similar taste, so even though I still was interested in such things as Batman and Spider-Man, it was not something I would share. Then as covered in one of my earlier blogs The Golden Age of Geek Culture, things such as comics, manga and film started becoming more popular again and this fueled me to start with my passions again when I was around 17.
Since then I have kept my passion and slowly found this to be my calling and now is something I want to build a career with in the future. In the last few years, some great comics/ mangas I have discovered are Saga, Berserk and Sandman, the latter two are classics and Saga is a modern classic. Every single day there are new discoveries, finding excellent new comics which influence my life daily and bring me to amazing worlds crafted by some of the best creators of our generation.
What Comics/Manga can do that Books can’t
Books for centuries have been the main source for people to gather information and imagine brand new worlds that come from some of the most creative people in history. When film came along in the early twentieth century we started adapting these books into visionary works of art. Film is all about the visuals, be it, the camera angles, mise en scene, the actor’s/actresses performance, etc. Whereas a book is how good the writing is to help you picture what you are reading in your head. Then we have comics, to me, these are in-between, you’re reading a deep and interesting story and filling in the gaps; using your imagination but you have the stunning visuals as well.
There are moments in comics which you cannot do in books, one prime example of this is a silent panel or even a few pages. In a comic so much can be said and done through the visuals of silence, no dialogue and no caption boxes. Whereas in a book you cannot use this, simply because you have to explain what is happening in a book, but in a comic, you have the visuals there, you can see what is happening; but you still imagine the silent sound and what the characters are currently feeling.
It is important not to think that I do not like books, my love for books is almost equal to that of comics/manga. Personally, my belief is that comics just allow the writer to go full on crazy and if they have the right artist to go with their work, then their audience’s imagination can still flow just as well as when reading a book; but added with the stunning visuals.
If you have read one of my first posts, MY TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS OF ALL TIME! then you have already seen what ten of my favourites are. Obviously, my opinion changes constantly, as my collection grows and my appreciation for books expand every single day. I want to go over a few other comics/graphics novels/manga that I didn’t talk about on that list and a few reasons why I recommend them.
Saga, in my opinion, is one of the best comics released in years and maybe even ever. The story starts off similar to the story of Romeo and Juliet but set in space. Two species are at war, two characters, each one from these separate species eventually fall in love with each other and have a child. Then suddenly the whole universe seems to be against them. What is created here is a brilliant work of fiction, the side characters are just as good as the main cast and the story is so jam-packed of twists and unexpected turns it keeps you hooked throughout. Brian K. Vaughn is the writer of our generation and this series shows this.
Most people know of Death Note, the anime was a huge success and so was the manga. I won’t talk about the Netflix original movie, as I do not count that as a part of the Death Note series; but the Japanese live-action movies are also good. For those of you who have been living under a rock and have never heard of this series, our protagonist Light Yagami finds a notebook called the Death Note and whoever’s name he writes in this book dies. He starts killing criminals until the FBI start searching for him with the help of everyone’s favourite character of the series L. The psychological battle between Light and L is intense, it is like a game of chess, each of them getting the better of each other every time. The last couple volumes may not be as good as the first two-thirds of the story, but it is still one of the best manga or even stories you will read.
Some Other Recommendations
Those were two recommendations from the many stories I have read, probably my honourable mentions from the top 10 list. To run off a few more stories that are worth a mention are:
- Doomsday Clock (brand new DC series set after the events of Watchmen, starring the DC cast as well).
- Marvel Annihilation (a Marvel space opera which expanded their cosmic universe on a major scale).
- Batman: Year One (the inspiration for Batman Begins and regarded as one of Batman’s best stories).
- Dragonball (the story which I loved as a child and still love now, introduced me to the world of manga).
- Maus (a fantastic story about the holocaust, the Jewish are shown as mice and the Nazis as Cats).
- Daredevil: Born Again (Daredevil’s best story and the basis of the Netflix series)
- All-Star Superman (In my opinion Superman’s best story and shows his human side, like many other stories of his struggle to do).
There are a few more mentions of some of my favourite stories. There are hundreds that I have read and obviously thousands of different stories for people to read. I hope you have enjoyed this post, this one has a lot more of a personal touch about why I love comics and hopefully has inspired you to continue this passion, or start it. Comment below and let me know why you love these amazing pieces of art and what you’re favourites are.