Umm..I’m gonna do it. I am really going to do it. I’m gonna do it now!
I’m a girl and I love to read comics.
There, I’ve said it. Furthermore, I’m way past 30 years of age and will keep reading them well into my dotage!
I never quite understood why comics are meant to be the preserve of teenage boys. Sure, there is the fact that the women in comics are often drawn to the pneumatic dimensions of some callow youth’s fantasies but the women are often also strong, self-determining and heroic.
I’ve had people laugh at me because of this prediliction for stories made up of both graphics and words. They seem to think that comics are the lowest form of literature. These are usually people who consider themselves arbiters of literary taste and who, having never explored the world of comics, form a very stereotypical opinion of what a comic is. They are also suspicious of the fact that a grown woman needs pictures to illustrate words in a story.
At the other end of the scale and more recently, I’ve impressed many a man with my comic book collection. Damn, I missed a trick when I was young, free and single! The latest man was my brother who recently carted off two shelves worth of comic books from my house. He’d never picked up on the fact that I used to pinch his Batman comics when we were teenagers.
Why do I like comics? Just like films, working with words and pictures, they can compress great swathes of story into a two hour read with economy and precision. Much as I love novels, they just can’t manage that and sometimes, I just don’t have the staying power to commit to a 600 page tome. Ultimately, just like novels, poems, songs and films, they set out to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes they do it well, sometimes they fail. I don’t quite understand why some adults feel this isn’t a desirable form of storytelling or that it is something you should grow out of when you are no longer a teenager. Just because the animated films Shrek and Ice Age are aimed at children doesn’t mean adults don’t enjoy them too. The Ice Age franchise, in particular, takes my breath away because the storytelling is so good. If that’s the case, why are comics so looked down on?
I usually avoid talking in superlatives but the comic book series, Preacher, has to be the best comic in the world! It isn’t for the faint-hearted or squeamish – it’s drenched in blood, violent hilarity and depravity which is frequently eye-popping even given its two dimensional vehicle. But it also tackles racism, sexism, feminism, depression, the American dream, corporate excess, love, sexuality, religious intolerance…..the list goes on. What’s not to like?
Preacher is about Jesse Custer (notice the JC initials aligning our hero to Jesus Christ), a morally dubious preacher in the small Texas town of Annville, who is struck by a ball of fire falling from the sky and accidentally possessed by an entity named Genesis, the result of copulation between a demon and an angel. The incident kills his entire congregation destroying his church and provides Custer with the power to make people do as he commands. He sets off on a quest to find God after he discovers that God abandoned humanity shortly after creating the world. He’s joined by his gun-toting ex-girlfriend, Tulip and his new Irish vampire friend, Cassidy.
Various filmmaker’s have been attempting to get this made into a film for the last 10 years. At one point, the director Sam Mendes was attached to the project to direct but now I hear it’s Darren Aronofsky, he of Black Swan fame. I just can’t see how Mendes’ visual vocabulary would have suited such a project but Aronofsky? Yeah, I can see that. Crack on Darren, I needed to see this film yesterday!
If you are a comics/graphic novel neophyte and want to check out what all the fuss is about I wouldn’t recommend starting with Preacher. Instead check out the Sandman by Neil Gaiman. It’s erudite, well-written and philosophical. Not to mention a stonking good story!