The joy of comics

“There’s Terry, always with his head in a book or a comic.” My mother’s gentle admonishment was a constant feature of our household. But it wasn’t an admonishment against reading, which my parents actively encouraged (books were revered in our home because they were books, almost regardless of the content). Rather, it was a cry of frustration over the fact that once I was engrossed in a book or a comic, anything she said to me literally fell on deaf ears.

Comics get everywhere these days! Photo by Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones

Comics were a staple of my reading diet. I was constantly buying Superman and Batman comics, usually second-hand, then going back to exchange them for others (the comics shops I frequented had a half-price exchange scheme).

Another favourite was Classics Illustrated, which I was pleased to see revived last year. I read, or at least was introduced to, many classics of English literature through the medium of Classics Illustrated.

The thing is, my love of comics has never abated. Yes, I love the rather more acceptable “graphic novel”, but I still enjoy comics when I have the time to read them!

So, I was very pleased that the British Library saw fit to run an exhibition about this art/literature form. Sadly, “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK” is now finished, although the book is still available.

Are comics a “legitimate” kind of reading? I think so. Modern comics have borrowed from the world of film, but even before that became more prevalent, or obvious, there was a serious discipline behind the interplay of the words and the art.

Are graphic novels a form of grown-up comic? I prefer to think of comics and graphic novels as being part of the same continuum. It’s just as valid, in my opinion, to view the comic as the graphic novel’s younger brother!

What do you think?