A Comical Rediscovery My Life 16 JUN 2008

BatmanI have always been creative in nature, both in writing and drawing, and perhaps it was those aspects that drew me to world of comics in the first place. It was love at first sight, and as with every hobby I ever picked up in the past, I pursued this interested with an unrivalled zeal. I used to spend countless hours cycling around, looking for places to purchase from and making sure I had a never ending supply of my new ‘drug’. I was fastidious in my cataloguing, bagging and care and in terms of knowledge of the subject matter, unrivalled by anyone that I knew.

Unfortunately for me though, people grow up, get older and life tends to get a lot more complicated. While my love for this storytelling medium never diminished, unfortunately for me the love of my life at that point in time did not share the passion for this medium and thanks to the dark claws of depression and anxiety that was wreaking havoc with her mind, found these innocent little books a source of competition for her affections and forbade me to continue this love affair of mine. And so it was with a heavy heart a couple of years ago that I filled black bag after black bag with over 3000 of these books that I had so painstakingly collected together, and placed them downstairs in the lobby in the hopes that someone would find them and would strike up a love affair with them as I had in the past.

A few years have since passed, my old hobby slightly forgotten but never completely lost. Still my love for the drawn story continued, though this time more focussed on the black and white world of its Japanese counterpart, manga. Although I wasn’t quite as obsessive as I had been before, this world of wonder where story, mood and atmosphere are captured through the expert stroke of a brush and pen continued to intrigue, enthral and entertain me.

However, the world of the British and American comics had not completely forgotten about me. Though they tantalised and tempted me with every visit to the local bookstore, I held firm, only occasionally picking them up, flicking through the pages, just to get a little taste of where that universe was currently moving. However, their drawing power was becoming ever stronger now, especially thanks to the slew of superhero movies that are currently dominating our cinemas. Each time I would see one, I would think back and remember, and at the same time annoy everyone around me with all the trivia and bits of information that I had gained from this long lost love affair.

And then it happened.

Like it was destined to do. I bought a comic book. Not just any comic book, but a British-published book that collects three American issues within its pages. Sitting down, I feverishly read it from start to finish and the joys of all those childhood heroes flooded back. There was the unstoppable Superman as he was meant to be. Here was the unflappable Batman, ready to solve his next case. And approaching was the beastlike Wolverine, ready to take names and break some bones in the process.

And as if the floodgates had opened, I started buying everything they had, marvelling in how the level of storytelling and artwork had matured to such an extent in the short space since I had been weaned off this particular form of entertainment. While the independent and mature titles still remain as challenging and exploratory as they always have been, it is the more mainstream, recognised comics that amaze me the most. Finally legendary writers who had always dwelled on the sidelines are producing top notch, intellectually challenging stories for books that have always played it safe and aimed themselves squarely at the young teen market. Frankly, it is a marvel to see how the level of writing has grown up as these writers have matured and in so-doing come into their own.

Artistically, the introduction of the multitude of computer colouring techniques now finally available to colourists, combined with the high quality of paper now available for printing on has elevated the pencilled artwork to such high levels that one would surely be hard pressed not to call comic books high art. As it is, even the quality of the base pencils and inkers are now of such a high standard that it is exceedingly difficult to relegate comics that were once campy and aimed at young children such as Superman, Batman or even the X-Men to that particular segment any more.

Thus, I can only call it a comical rediscovery. Now that I have long since passed the acceptable ‘age’ to be enjoying comic books, I find that I enjoy them more than ever and it looks like this once forgotten love has been reborn anew, with a passion that flares brighter than ever.

Dammit. It looks like I’m going to need a bigger bookshelf in the man room!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.