Comic Book Love (by sarah)
Today I managed to lock me, one child and the house guest out of our house - however a) I was allotmenting it (which involved alot of weeding and the discovery that the red currents are ripe!) and b) an epic lunner (lunch/dinner) so it wasn't too bad 😉 especially as I found Death by Neil Gaiman still in my bag from the weekend when I had attempted to read it. There was also a note pad to help keep almost 9 yr old Jeany occupied.
I've been finding it hard to find leisure time to read so this was a novelty, sitting down and just reading. It is a comic book/graphic novel and I have already cried whilst reading it (yesterday in the car on route to a writing meet with friends in Bristol). It is lovely and very much a me book.
A female death is something I've always loved - I remember being obsessed with the idea as a teen and had a series of stories I'd written about Celestia and her relatives Morpheus and Hades - these were part of the Crystal Singer stories that I have sort of morphed into The Punk stories though may still write one day as they have become very different types of stories.
As I read the comic I recall my own story lines where I mixed up the meso american concepts of Death the mother and an opener or doors. It was a concept that also helped me get through labour with Jean and I have embedded in one of my long poems about glass pelvises. My memories are turning back to the Aztec status of women who died in child birth being honoured as worriers and my love of mythology is being swirled up in the stories. Yesterday I read the first chapter and today I read three more. I'm loving hidden things within, the pictures creating a depth out of just a few words.
Of course my relationship with comics is a bit odd and I get distracted by the images and weave my own tails and sometimes this makes it hard to read the comic. For instance I have had this comic since May? I think - picked it up on Free Comic Book Day - not for free I might add!
But I couldn't read it, I looked at the pictures, the lovely art work in different styles and set outs and let the aesthetics wash over me. My concentration span is useless at the moment unless I can become absorbed into something I now have a word for - Hyperfocus.
For me I love comic books, I see ones like this as kind of a visual poem (also called concrete poems). I look at how bits of the words are bolded to emphasis the speak patterns and the different fonts chosen and where the txt is laid - how it fits with the images so on.
I am infatuated, comics books were not my first reading as such but they were my first story telling and they were instrumental in helping me read. I used to spend Sunday afternoons after Sunday school drawing comics for my family, strip after strip - nearly always on one of two sets of characters though sometime other things would appear - these where a dog family and mermaids. Initially there was little or no writing and everything was told in images.
I am dyslexic - very dyslexic and learnt to read very late, what I would do when I was young and made to sit and read in school was to look at the pictures within books and tell my own story in my head from the pictures (it is incredibly boring to be told you are not allowed playtime or to do anything else until you have finished doing something you can not possibly do - day after day).
When at home I did this voluntarily with my dad's old cowboy, scifi and soldier comics - he noticed this and told someone at work - I think he was working at Tescos shelf stacking at this point and not at the docks but he may still have been a clerk I'm not sure. Anyway the upshot was that it was decided that comic books might get me reading but my aunts attempt to give me Bunty and the schools attempt with My Little Pony completely and utterly failed. I was very grumpy as I loved My Little Pony but I had the toys and other peoples stories about them didn't quiet sit with my vision for them.
I mainly wanted the Super Ted comics or Transformers - you get the picture. What then happened is that Dad was given a bag full of comics! They were perhaps not entirely age appropriate but I loved them. My favourite was Red Sonia. Again I started by making my own stories up and it was years before I actually started reading them. I was a little bit obsessed with X-men but alas money was not the most abundant thing when I was a teen - as in I was on free school meals etc... and comic books are quiet frankly expensive and the library at that time did not stock comic books heaven forbid. But that was ok as at 12 I began to read and made the comics and films in my head - the x-men animation arrived and I was quiet happy.
I kind of forgot how much I love comics as I'm not very good with the type that are just a page of one story and flits to the next and you have to get weekly/monthly -etc... I've never been able to buy them regularly so that has always been kind of frustrating and because it is so hard for me to focus I need something long enough to actually fall into.
At uni I discovered something I call a 'graphic novel' but I don't think most people do - it's basically a picture book for grow ups (and why should we not have picture books? With EPIC fantasy art in?). The Last Hero by Terry Pratchette.
I loved this and the Fantasy and Scifi Art books that the library did stock and of course there was the Scifi Library at Uni (not that you could ever get any where near the comic books there - the place was always full of people reading something called 'Sandman' - I know know this is more of Neil's work but I didn't at the time and spent most of my time reading my way through the Umpteen Red Wall books or space opera or Dark Crystal illustrations and so on).
Because I have decided to produce my own comic/graphic novel (not the Wiggly Pets and Friends but The Punk) I have spent the last 4 months or so going to the library in Gloucester with the girls, Mary sits and looks at picture books and Jean selects huge numbers of books - normally Goose Bumps or Jackaline Wilson (what a mix!) and just reads and reads and is always grumpy to leave but Mary, who is only 3, gets board and tries to escape. Anyway whilst they are occupied I read a graphic novelly type thing of which the libraries now stock a lot of round here.
This has kind of shown me that - most are not really my thing, I kind of try not to roll my eyes but a few are beautiful and wonderful and/or dark and lusterous, pulling me into their worlds. It also showed me that I was panicking about my art work and story line far far too much.
Having put up my first cover attempt for feed back I am mainly getting positive with some 'it's dreadful start again - looks nothing like Marvel/DC'. And talking to my very comicky friends most of whom suggest minor tweaks and even having multiple covers anyway - I have a plan of action.
And I am enjoying myself - it's like I've come full circle and am producing those little doggy comic strips for my family whilst watching re-runs of Time Tunnel, Land of Giants, Lost in Space or that submarine one I can never remember! Whilst my nan cooks a sunday lunch and my parents fix things round the house for her.
I love comics, I think at some point I began to think I was too old for them - with no scifi library round here for me to hang in, I felt I was adrift. Now the most annoying thing is that the independent comic book shop Proud Lion is in Cheltenham and not Gloucester although this is probably a good thing for my purse strings - the Waterstones here has a really good selection too which I always go and naughtily flick through!
I think I am incredibly lucky to have had a childhood of old old comics - my dad was born in 40's - there were not many of them but I kind of made different stories out of them so that was fine. I think this helped kick start the Storyteller within and I have always been a visual person. I know now that I am thinking of my own creation as a piece of visual poetry, with comic elements (as in funny haha!) and I've had several people attempt pre-orders from me.
I have now opened the flood gate though - Neil Giaman's Death encapsulates the mythologies and stuff I like, that feeling of ancient legends and kind of steam punkiness, - a noir grittiness and a mix of ages. The varying art styles within also appeals to me. But now I want more so research into Asian history (more for The Punk) will I feel take a side step for me to finish the damn book and then I might actually have to get the Sandman comics - also I am anal and am the sort of person who puts covers on comic books - the pages are soooo thin!
And I think this means I am probably officially turning into a Gaiman Fan Girl in my 30's :/ Oh well.
Interestingly a friend has pointed out that Jeany (almost 9) is now closer to the ages we were when hanging in the Scifi library which is kind of an insane thought! I loved the cuddly Gothulu and watching back to back scifi and fantasy films and being like the only person into pulp horror in there (it was technically Sci Fi, Fantasy and Horror and was based in the media centre which is how come I then ended up covering radio shows for friends etc... life is funnily twisty sometimes).