Comic books resonate with many people because they either identify with the characters, the characters have inspiring traits, or we become immersed into a fantastic/different world. Ultimately, any work of fiction allows us to live vicariously, but comics offer a visual component that draws us in.
I recently re-read a few volumes of one of my favorite indie comics, Courtney Crumrin. It reminded me of a time I had to deal with my own Night Things during the formative teenage years. My comic choices in the past weren’t Superman or Wonder Woman.
Who did I relate to as a teenager? Punisher, Hellboy, Spawn, Catwoman (stand-alone titles), and a flirtation with Blade (I couldn’t decide if I liked him or not). They appealed to my loner and outcast nature. The unapologetic grittiness and the blurred lines between what was right or wrong mirrored what I saw in the world. The vigilantes, often not law-abiding, fought to keep sane in a world of chaos, similar to how I saw myself. Grim stuff; however, I broke it up with an occasional dose of shonen and shojo manga.
Manga once fell into the category: fantastic/different world. I learned about Japanese mythology, customs, honorifics, and that it was all right to enjoy eating good food. I found the country and storytelling fascinating. When I finally visited Japan, all the things I read about became real. Other than the challenge of trying to learn and speak conversational Japanese, Tokyo and Kyoto were familiar friends. I firmly stand by my opinion that manga is a cultural travel guide, without all the dry bits on how to pray at a temple or how to bathe at an onsen.
Currently, I’m reading the new short series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind and recent Gambit installments. I’m finding that my comic book choices are a direct reflection of where I am in life; trying to find my way in this ever changing world and to be optimistic about the uncertain future. One thing I know for certain is that I’ll still be reading comics when I turn seventy.