Sunday, March 28, 2010

How this obsession started

As a kid, I read all of Tintin, most of Astérix, and a few other bandes dessinées like Lucky Luke, Achille Talon and Spirou. I also read a few collections of Garfield strips. I grew up in a French-speaking corner of New-Brunswick and this is what most kids read. American super-hero comic books weren't very accessible. Spider-Man, Superman and Batman were all familiar characters, but we knew them from TV and movies and various merchandise, like PJs, bed sheets, toys and lunchboxes. Aside from a few Disney and Archie comics, as far as I can remember the only American comic books I read were: a single issue of Spider-Man, a single issue of Captain America, and a few issues of Thor.

The Spider-Man issue is the one I remember most clearly. I must have read it dozens of times and it made quite an impact on my imagination. It was a team-up with the Human Torch, and they fought against Sandman. I still have very clear pictures of some of the panels. The Captain America issue was weird and confusing to me. It was probably in the middle of a larger story arc, because I never really fully understand exactly what was going on in it. I think it had a much darker tone, which probably explains the vague feelings of anxiety I associate with it. I'm pretty sure the villain was Red Skull. I have since spent a lot of time on various online comic book databases looking for these specific issues, but haven't been able to figure out which ones they were. The Thor issues are even more blurry in my memory.

And until fairly recently, those were pretty much the only super-hero comic books I'd ever been exposed to. As an older teenager, I read a few issues of Heavy Metal, and weird comics in the Québécois humour magazine Croc, including parts of the epic and ultra-violent Red Ketchup serial that appeared in it every month. Then, as an adult, I started to discover underground comics and indie graphic novels. But I never went back to super-hero comics until I turned 30.

I don't remember exactly how I became interested in it, but almost two years ago, I decided to buy a copy of Watchmen. I know it wasn't the movie hype, because I only found out about it after I had started reading it and it struck me as a strange coincidence. Of course, I thought the book was brilliant and it sparked my interest in super-hero comic books.

After this, I plunged head-first into the DC universe, focusing almost exclusively on post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity. I found that it was necessary to limit the scope of my reading and "research" at first, because there was so much material out there that it was overwhelming. Only recently have I started to get curious about older comics and (to a lesser extent) Marvel and other companies.

The purpose of this blog is to

(1) document my journey into the world of comics. I'm going keep track of all the comics I read by at the very least listing them and, as much as possible, writing down my impressions and reactions to them;

(2) brainstorm ideas about comics and super-heroes, how they operate and what makes them interesting. This will take the form of mini "essays" in which I will try to explore broader themes or concepts; and

(3) taking notes for future reading/exploration, including both upcoming titles and back issues.

By the way, the title is a not-so-clever play on the concept of "relevant comics".


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