7. Worth a Thousand Words
I think comic books are the highest form of published media available today.
This is not to cast any disparagement upon our other forms of communication. Books, magazines, newspapers - they all range, just as comic books do, from unbearable to superb. Comic books seem ephemeral compared to these stalwarts of media. They dart endlessly from one story to the next, often endlessly retelling similar stories in slightly different situations as writers struggle to pump out fresh ideas after nearly 70 years of being in the public eye. A book is solid, stalwart, written as a testament to the subject contained within to stand eternally as it is, ever unchanged. By comparison, comic books seem almost trivial.
In school, we study Dickens and Twain, not Morrison and Straczynski (though I maintain Mark Twain would love X-Men). We are given a thorough education on William Shakespeare, but learn nothing of Jack Kirby. Friends and family might guide us to the works of Hunter S. Thompson, but few are the people pointed in the direction of Alan Moore. Comic books as a form of art and literature exist on the fringes of the acceptable mainstream, more likely to garner attention as a summer blockbuster than as a monthly periodical.
Yet I solidly maintain that the comic book is the highest form of printed media we have attained as human beings. The story of a comic is not told in the pages between the covers, but in the journey of its character. When a comic story comes to a close, it is only so the next one might begin, and the lesson it teaches continue for the next reader. Atticus Finch and Tom Sawyer might provide a useful example of men fighting prejudice, but children who grew up reading X-Men have been learning that lesson their entire lives. We might get a thrill by reading about Sherlock Holmes and his brilliant deductions, but followers of Batman have watched the titular character use science and logic to the benefit of justice for over 7 decades. Frank Castle's endless journey in the pages of The Punisher show more about the ultimate futility of revenge than Moby Dick ever gets across, and with way cooler action scenes. Also, I'm pretty sure he used a whale to kill a guy once.
There are things you can express in a well-written comic that simply cannot be reproduced in normal print media. Iconic drawings stay with us just as long as a well-written passage. Facial expressions and subtle motions of hand and eye can be conveyed without the need for extra words to describe them. You can become emotionally attached to characters in comic books in ways books never quite attain. For once a book is over, that is the end of it. The next time you read it, the story will still be the same. In a comic, the story goes on forever, and the possibilities are endless.
So when you're questioning how to teach your kids the important lessons in life, look no further than your nearest comic shop. Spider-Man can teach them responsibility, Superman will show them the value of restraint, the Fantastic Four will illustrate the power of family. And if times are tough, Daredevil can show them that sometimes life is a bitch. There's no need to hide a love of comic books, in my opinion. On the contrary, I find avid readers subscribe to, at least in my estimation, the highest form of published media available today.
And so we witness the end.
3 years ago