The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Weekly Comics Wrap-up 3/19: Alternative Comics and Beyond: The Future

Written by: Ron Bricker


Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan

Week after week I go into the comic shop, already set on what I need to get for that week. Most of the time though, I’ll end up perusing the shop for about an hour, looking at (mostly) the same stuff that was there the week before, and the week before that. While doing this, I also watch my fellow shoppers. I’ve noticed, between these observations, and just from talking to fellow mainstream comic book readers, that there is a whole world of comics out there that people are ignoring.

Alternative comics and graphic novels (the actual ones, not the collected issues of an ongoing series), are often times overlooked by even the most hardcore comic book readers. I’m not speaking of books like Y: The Last Man, Scalped, or any other Vertigo series that takes the mainstream comic and makes it adult. While all of those books are fine art, there are books out there published all the time that are continually merging the lines of "real" literature and comics. Books like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Craig Thompson’s Blankets. These books have no tights to be found and are some of the finest representations of pure humanity in literature today, and yet they are critically acclaimed and then locked away from those who would probably enjoy them the most.

I love superhero comics as much as the next geek, but to see people like this following in Eisner’s footsteps and pushing this genre into new territories is one of the few art forms left that has some sort of movement going on, pushing it forward. So many other mediums are at a standstill that those of us reading comics can finally be a part of something truly revolutionary.

This past week being no exception, many weeks of new comics contain their share of disappointments. With books being put out on a monthly basis, it’s hard for creators to succeed month after month in endlessly engaging readers. Sure, there are some books and writers and artists out there that deliver no matter what; this is the exception, and not the rule.

Likewise with those that have no interest in comics, or harp on the old saying that "comics are for kids", if they would only suck up the courage to take a look at a Barnes and Noble comics section, and actually look; past the Batman, past the X-Men, and way past the encyclopedias of the DC and Marvel universes, which serve as an intimidation factor as themselves, and see that there is so much more there that don’t involve tights in the slightest.

If you are like me, and enjoy just looking around the shop, do yourself a favor and buy one of the books I mentioned above. And looking back on our coverage here at CC2K, I recognize that we haven’t covered hardly anything that I’ve mentioned here today, but that is going to change. The way I see it, many times on superhero books, fans are going to buy them regardless of what a review says, simply based on the character it follows or how long they’ve been picking up the book. Where readers really need guidance is getting into new things, or reading up on certain books they are uncertain about.

Tell everyone you know about comic books. You might be surprised at how far ahead of the "comics are for kids" cliche we can get.