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On Reading Comics on a Quiet Evening

For the past several months, my life has been a whirlwind of work.  Writing, editing, studying, organizing, emailing, and trying to stay ahead of my various tasks while staying decidedly a day or two behind.  All this, while also managing a day job and attempting to maintain an acting career on the side.  Suffice it to say, I feel a bit like crawling into bed, closing the blinds, turning on a looped playlist of Richard Hawley, Elizabeth Cotten, Jens Lekman, and Nina Simone and waiting for summer.  Not that all of this work isn’t incredibly exciting and fulfilling, but it certainly takes a lot out of you.  I constantly feel the need to recharge my batteries, yet, when I sit down to watch a movie, I either fall asleep in the first few minutes or I am distracted by guilt throughout, considering all the work I could have completed if I’d only not fallen victim to my own sloth.  I have also recently completed a trilogy of books, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, (if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, you’ll be hearing a lot in the next year).  This young adult series was a fabulous look at a future American dystopia and offered gritty action, insightful social commentary, and marvelously strong, yet flawed, characters, all of whom come together to create a powerful story that will have you by turns laughing, crying, cowering in fear, erupting in anger, and hoping with every part of your being these people, whom you will come to love, will survive and, eventually, find happiness.  All of this to say that, as much as I enjoyed this series, I felt a bit like I was put through the ringer.  It’s a quick read for sure, but not exactly light.


Today, however, I came home from work and, after doing a little company business, I sat on my couch, and, as I staved off a nap that threatened to steal my evening, I thought about something I had been neglecting for far too long.  No, I am not talking about my oral hygiene, I am talking about the ever-growing stack of comics (lent, given, and purchased) staring sweet and steadfast at my bedside.  Currently, I have several issues of Garth Ennis’ The Boys, and the accompanying miniseries Highland Laddie, which I have been enjoying immensely.  (Thanks to FBC “Prez” Bryant Dillon for the loan, and for keeping me current on this FANSASTIC story).  I also have on loan a book I’m dying to sink my teeth into, the beautiful behemoth that is the second volume, absolute edition of Kirkman’s Invincible.  (Muchas Gracias to FBC Contributor Drew Siragusa for showing me the majesty of the Invincible Universe).  The last item upon my sturdy shelf has been beckoning me since Christmas, and it was this book that I ultimately decided to dive into tonight.  Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Thor: Tales of Asgard promised a plentiful portion of whimsy adventure that would surely provide the escape that I needed.  (May Odin smile with favor upon my brother Ben for the “Marvel”-ous gift.) [editor’s note: *sigh*]

I brewed a pot of coffee, climbed into my best pajamas and slippers, and lay on the couch, with this massive, magnificent, super-sized deluxe hardback collection with newly restored artwork and fell into the world of the all-powerful Odin, the valiant Thor, and the evil Loki.  Lee and Kirby, supported with the crisp inking of Vince Colletta, spin spectacular tales of Gods and Godlings, warriors and witches, beasts and demons.  Lee’s grand and frequently humorous writing is validated and elevated by Kirby’s dramatically detailed art.  Some of the stories you’ve heard before.  Some of the stories are predictable and a bit unexciting.  But, everyone of these tales told in five-page comics have a palpable spirit of playfulness and boyhood adventure that sneaks up on the reader and compels them to keep reading.  Almost before I was aware, I’d completed half of this nearly 300-page collection.  Many of the first stories follow Odin and his rise to power and some boyhood adventures of Thor and Loki, as well as a few independent arcs that simply take place in this macrocosm of myth and magic.  I was enthralled and I was reminded of why I love this medium so much.  

Comics are a leisurely medium.  Unlike movies or books, which rely on pace to a large extent, comics can be relished while you read them.  Like a steely, citrusy Sancerre, a good comic should be savored, each panel of art appreciated, and the story processed a page at a time.  While I love to become absorbed in a great novel, comic art seems to reach out to me, pull me in, and wash over me as I bathe in the color, drink in the tone, and emerge feeling refreshed and invigorated.  Comics aren’t just storyboards waiting to be made into movies, they are their own truly unique art form.  It took reading the work of a few undisputed masters to remind me of this, to remind me why I love this medium so much, to remind me, though I am tired and broke, why I am working as hard as I am.  And, I am left feeling gratitude and peace.  Thanks, Stan and Jack, for everything.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 December 2018 00:39

Sam Rhodes

Favorite MovieYojimbo
Favorite Game:  The newest version of Halo
Favorite Beverage:  Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA

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