Here at DGLM, we’re doing one of our periodic webpage updates, so I was taking another look at my personal essay. Over the past two years, it’s been heartening to receive numerous submissions from writers who felt a connection with me because I grew up reading Tintin and Asterix comics. Full disclosure, though: while I certainly started out with those series, and continued to read them for years, I did move on to more traditional comic books like X-men, Spider-man, and Teen Titans. (Hey, they were big in the 80s.) In fact, I only started with Tintin and Asterix because my parents thought the rest were junk!
It wasn’t until I started earning some spending money that I became a regular at the old West Side Comics on 86th Street—I was there on the day Spider-man debuted his black costume, and for a brief stretch, I could tell you the difference between all the printings of the original Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles. Needless to say, my parents still thought they were junk, but at least when I was ready to put them away in high school, they didn’t haul them off to the dump. Though it has been a while since I’ve seen the boxes in the attic—next visit, I think I need to do a thorough inventory…
Anyway, all of this came to mind when I was reading an essay by Jeramey Kraatz at Nerdy Book Club. For anyone who has a low opinion of comic books and worries that they rot your brain, it’s worth a read. I love his explanation of the imaginative aspect of comics, and how, contrary to the common opinion that comics put everything on the page, he shows that the panel format actually encourages visualization and makes readers fill in the blanks. And I think he makes a good case for how comics not only spur further reading development but also writing—seems like a great parenting tip to have kids write their own stories while they wait for the next monthly installment of their favorite series.
So, dear readers, did any of you find your creative spark in the land of Marvel and D.C.? Have you developed storytelling techniques based on the panel format? And, for fun, what’s the best comic you’ve got stored in your parents’ basement? For me, it’s either TMNT #2 or some really old Spideys.