I would never consider myself an expert on comic books. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact issue of a series that has a certain event, or even details like when a character was created. I appreciate the fact that people know those things, but I have other obsessions that occupy my time. However, I have bought and read comics before, and I enjoy them as art forms.
In popular culture, comic books still carry a stigma. Superhero films might make millions of dollars at the box office, but the general public still views the source material with slight animosity. When you think about the stereotypical comic book fan, you imagine either a young child or a lonely adult man who has more action figures than friends. There is nothing wrong with being either of those people, but the stereotype ignores the many well-rounded readers of comic books. It tells people that comics are only made for children or losers.
It doesn’t help that many comic books involve stories about larger-than-life heroes. While superheroes are still popular in films, “serious” literature has had a suspicion of traditional, idealistic heroes and morals since World War I. After the destruction of that conflict, writers thought that heroism was an unrealistic idea that governments used to mislead the general public. Even if heroes are not realistic, I still believe that strong, moral characters provide an example to which we can aspire.
Certain graphic novels have been critically acclaimed, but many scholars do not see the literary merit in the form, which is unfortunate, because comic books can tell compelling stories in their own right. They have a unique style, combining visual and textual storytelling, which bridges the gap between novels and films.
For over a decade, the creators of Free Comic Book Day have been trying to expand the popularity of comic books. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event, always on the first Saturday in May, when participating stores offer free comic books to customers. The day is meant to not only encourage new readers to try comic books, but also give publicity to independent sellers who might otherwise go unnoticed. In the video below, comic book fans explain the importance of the art form and Free Comic Book Day:
I have bought and read many comic books, but I would never consider myself an expert. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact issue of a series that has a certain event, or even details like when a character was created (I appreciate people who know those things, but I have other obsessions that occupy my time). I have never gone to a store on Free Comic Book Day, but I would like to try it this year. I’m interested to see what the event looks like in my area, and it would help build my excitement for the Avengers film, which comes out this weekend. Besides, free stuff.
So what do you think? Are comic books a valid art form, or childish fantasy? Have you had experience with Free Comic Book Day? For those who haven’t read comics, would you try if you could receive some for free?