Jan 4, 2015

You still read comics?

by Darrin Vindiola

"You still read comics?" is a question I get from time to time.  I usually respond the same way I do when someone asks "You still watch cartoons?".  I opt to answer the question with another question.. "You don't?"  Granted, I'm a busy guy with a lot on my plate, so reading comics doesn't occupy too much of my time (at least not enough for my liking).

As a kid, I read an insane amount of comic books.  I would go over to my best friends house after school with comic books in tow, and we would spend hours trading, reading, and discussing what we read.  I remember my friend inheriting about a half dozen boxes of old comics from one of his cousins.  That stockpile provided us with endless hours of entertainment and stimulation for our young and impressionable minds.  It's really what started us off on our obsession with comic books.

I guess we were what you could call equal opportunity comic book readers.  We would happily read DC, Marvel, Disney, western, crime, horror comics, and what ever else we could get our hands on.  we read a lot of stinkers as well, but figured time spent reading a bad comic was better than not reading comics at all.

Fast forward to 2015.  For years I've casually read comics.  Sometimes it's in the afternoon with an ice cold beer in hand, and sometimes it's before bed to decompress after a long day. Those comics usually consisted of a big stack of classics that are tucked away in the closet like 70s and 80s X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, Fantastic Four, and even a few Disney comics.  I never really gave much thought to following any new comic lines, simply because I didn't feel like jumping into the middle of a long running story line.  That being said, just as movie franchises like Batman, Spider-man, and STAR TREK have done reboots to create an entirely new universe for the characters, comics often do the same thing.

In the area where I live, the last several years have been dark ones for the comic book fan.  Yes, comic book shops in this part of the country, seemed like they were nearly pushed to the brink of extinction.  It wasn't until 2014 that I actually got back into reading some new comic story lines, and that's largely in part to a new comic book store that opened up in Northern Colorado called The Nerd Store.

Some of my all time favorite comic book characters are Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, and The HULK just to name a few.  And, I would primarily visit comic book shops to look for collectibles geared towards those characters.  Recently, I stumbled across comics based on some of these characters that were fresh into a new run, so I started reading them.  I liked them so much, I've since begun having the new releases of these comics held for me at the comic shop when they're fresh off the presses.

The new Harley Quinn comics

I recently started reading 'Harley Quinn'.  It's a reboot of an existing DC comic, that features new artists and an incredibly fresh storyline.  Another new comic I'm a big fan of is 'Batman '66, which draws its inspiration from the 60s Batman TV series, and revisits old villains from years past.  The possibility of newer villains being introduced into this universe is going to make for some better than great issues very soon!

 The new Batman '66 comic

For the retro comic fanatic like myself, there are trade paperbacks and omnibus's which catalog many older story arcs like the death of Robin, the Joker, or the Marvel Secret Wars.  This is a great way to revisit some of your favorite comic runs.  I'm a big fan of being able to pull an omnibus or trade off the shelf and being able to take it anywhere.

Trade paperback showcasing the classic story of how Robin died.

So I guess you get my point. As an adult I still dig comics, but why?  Quite simply, it gives the old grey matter a stimulating work out, while relaxing me at the same time.  It puts me in a calm place very easily, gets me in a good mood, and heck, let's not deny it.. to some extent makes me feel like a kid again.

I highly recommend giving comics a read, no matter how old you are.  Whether it's Popeye, Alley Oop, Garfield, The Peanuts, Spider Man, Batman, The Hulk, or even Mickey Mouse, everyone is partial to some sort of comic book or cartoon character.    Why not buy a book showcasing your favorite old (or new) comic strips or comic book story lines?  Pick it up when you have a little free time and give it a read.  You very well may be surprised at just how therapeutic it can be.

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