I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling some fatigue lately when it comes to the world of comics. Co-hosting the Comixed Reviews podcast with David has kept me from dropping some books earlier than I probably wanted to, or at least should have. This podcast gives me an escape for a few hours and Dave and I get to talk about what we enjoy about comics (and also what drives us crazy). That being said, I feel like I have been harping on the negative just a bit too much as of late. Whether it is or not, I feel like it is coming through in our discussions on the podcast, and 100% coming to light off air, and while I am not ashamed to voice a negative opinion, I never want to act unfavorably towards a piece of work for the simple sake of acting unfavorably. My lethargy may be inhibiting my ability to properly critique a piece of art, and that is a quality in my commentary I never hoped to lose.

I could probably blame my frustrations on the rising prices of monthly titles, Marvel’s inability to stop shoving events down our throats, or the decline in artwork on the monthly titles I enjoy, but that is a cop-out. It goes beyond that, and I know it is all me. It is easy to get burnt out on something you devote a lot of time to. I read comics daily, in one form or another, and, just like any other hobby or interest, it can take its toll. It has happened to me in the past with writing, skateboarding, music, and sports, even though most of those I have reconnected with at one point or another. I played in bands most of my life, but I after stepping away from making music for a few years, I feel refreshed and eager to start a band again. I know it sounds bizarre to compare a creative endeavor such as writing a song to a solitary hobby like reading a comic book, but I do not want another hobby I enjoy so much to fall by the wayside, especially one I enjoy so much, so I am trying to get ahead of the problem before it completely gets ahead of me.

Without further ado, I present my list of what I truly love about comics:

 

The Escape
It goes without saying that any piece of work could and should provide an escape from reality, but there is nothing quite like the one you get when reading a comic book. Prose has always been one of my go-to s choices where storytelling is concerned; the greatest writers can make you lose yourself inside a carefully crafted series of words, which leads you to paint a picture in your own head of the world the author envisioned. The downside is that one may be limited by their own imagination, which may be a bit telling about myself. Watching something play out on television or in the movies can be awe inspiring, especially with how far CG has come, but the limitations lie within the encumbering budgets of these formats. Comics does a great job of painting the picture for you while ignoring monetary constraints. You get to take a journey with not only the writer of the story, but the artist, inker, colorist, and letterer. Each one of these jobs proves integral to the way you consume the story, functioning as your tour guide among a 20 page book. But wait! There is still room for your own imagination to explore! In between each panel, each page, the gutter separating page 2 from page 3, you can take what you learned from the story and run amuck with a tale of your own. This almost provides a second layer of escapism, and sometimes that is just what I need.

 

My Local Comic Book Shop
I believe I have told this story on the podcast, but when I first moved to Chicago from New York I didn’t really know anyone or have any support system. I secured a job in the suburbs (40 miles from my apartment in Chicago) and found myself spending most of my time outside of the city. I had a wonderful connection with a lot of my coworkers and employees, but since I was spending virtually no waking time within Chicago city limits, I was having a hard time meeting and connecting to anyone. When I first walked into G-Mart Comics, a local comic shop located only a few blocks away from my old apartment in Logan Square, I was instantly greeted by Paul, the store manager at the time, and treated with service far beyond any normal retail employee should offer. I found myself frequenting the shop every week and bonding with employees over not only comics, but also music, movies, and television. My time spent there every Wednesday, no matter how long, meant and still means so much more to me than just picking up my new books.

 

Conventions
Convention season is hands down my favorite time of year. I do declare I have gone just a bit overboard so far, hitting up eight or so conventions in the first four months of the year, but that is fine. Just like a single issue of a comic or collected edition provides an escape, I find a similar experience at a comic convention, no matter how large or small. There is a certain thrill I find walking the show floor, viewing panels, back issue diving, and especially visiting artist alley. Meeting creators you know and love while at the same time discovering new ones is some form of magic. There is something to be said for the one-on-one time you can find with some creators, which is unlike conventions in a lot of other industries. The intimacy at (certain) convention(s) is unparalleled, which kind-of-sort-of leads right into the next item on the list…

 

Ed Brubaker
I unapologetically worship at the altar of Ed Brubaker, I am well aware. I credit him in part to not only getting me back into comics, but motivating me to revisit and dive deeper into writing. His books and his style speak to me in a way most other writers can hope to get through to their audience, and getting to meet him last year only solidified my love for it. I came clean with him at a BookCon signing, informing him how his work provided the impetus for my for my return to comics and writing, and he couldn’t have been more gracious. This man had a line a mile long and didn’t mind holding it up just to get an extra minute or two of conversation in with an enthusiastic fan. Without comics I would never have experienced that, and it is a moment I will never forget.

 

Indie/Creator-Owned Work
Is there anything better than seeing a creative team you love left to their own devices and letting their collective id run wild? I think not. I find reading a great piece of work like Saga, Lazarus, or Starlight is not only exhilarating but motivating as well. It makes me feel electric. 

And last but not least…

 

The Comixed Reviews Podcast
As I stated above, comic fatigue may have set in harder/faster/earlier if not for this podcast we have here. I have known David for most of my life which makes what we do pretty easy and our conversations natural (albeit awkward from time to time, since I am a very awkward person). I am glad I get to participate in the discussions we have, and it is wonderful having one of my closest friends to share this experience with. The two of us tend to agree on quite a bit, but it is always the episodes where we disagree that keep me in check and allow me to appreciate a voice that isn’t my own. I’m aware of our small group of listeners, and I acknowledge and thank every single one of you. Recording an episode of this podcast is a way I would want to spend what little free time I seem to have nowadays even if 0 people listened (and maybe the number of our listener base isn’t that far off from that number), but the fact that anyone, anyone, wants to take the time out of their lives to hear what either one of us has to say means the world to me. I hope I can do right by all of you since this has done right by me. 


    

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