Written By Andy Rhodes
Greetings to all you comic book lovers out there, and welcome to my first ComiCommand post. In fact welcome to my first blog post ever! My name is Andy and I happen to have the pleasure of being very good friends with Jake Garner, who has so far been the sole contributor ComiCommand. Rest assured ladies and gents he is not being left alone at the helm!
To kick off I thought I would go a little into the history of how I suddenly found myself maxing my credit card on trade paperbacks towards the end of last year, don’t worry though it’s not a very long or complicated saga. As you might have gathered I am somewhat a newcomer to the world of comics, graphic novels and manga, that is of course excluding my extensive Beano collection from circa 1997 to 2001, anyone else have big love for the Bash Street Kids? No just me then! Rather unfortunately I fell into the trap that I’m sure many do of seeing comics as childish, something that you should ‘grow out of’, and instead got my fix of fantastical worlds and gripping stories from my PlayStation – a more ‘age appropriate’ format. Skip forward a few years, a few beers, and a healthy dose of ‘real life’ and I find myself in a lively debate at the pub, RE: comic books are for kids. Jake was fervently denying that the proposition had any weight to it, and it must be said he was far in the minority. He told us that when he is reading a comic he is instantly transported to another world – into a state of mind where nothing mattered but the world that jumped out at him from the first page. This is what really resonated with me. In reality, whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time, whether that be going to the gym, fishing or killing dragons in Azeroth, you are actively seeking that similar state of mind. Bills to pay, arguments you’ve had, pain you feel – it all melts away in that one instant. Obviously wanting to get some of that for myself I agreed to accompany Jake to MCM Comiccon London in November 2015 to check out what comic book culture is all about.
Comiccon was a real eye opener for me. Jake had given me an idea of what it might be like as he had attended previous comiccon events. It’s safe to say that I was absolutely blown away by the sheer scale of the event. Thousands upon thousands of comic book lovers, gamers and aficionados of ‘geek’ culture had descended upon one location, all to be whoever they wanted to be. Lightsabers, Harley Quinn hammers and Jinx rocket launchers as far as the eye could see. Ryuk raving with Chewbacca, Superman and Batman sharing a cup of coffee and a muffin. It. Was. Fucking. Glorious! I was also amazed at the size of the comic book village and the range of talent on show. We stopped and chatted to many independent comic creators, and they were all genuinely interested in how we were finding our day, what we should check out, who to look out for etc. It was safe to say I was sucked in to the culture of it all – seeing so many people loving life was so refreshing, even more so since there was a generic ‘corporate success’ event happening in the next exhibition hall. I’ve never seen people dressed in sharp suits and perfect hair looking so uncomfortable in their own skin as they are waved at by a platoon of Storm Troopers.
Anyway I digress, back to the main point. After Comiccon I desperately wanted to find a good graphic novel to sink my teeth into, and just as the size and scale of the event was mind blowing, so was the number of publications being fired out on a weekly basis. It might sound ridiculous to those who have been into the scene for years but I was gob smacked at the number of iterations of those classic Marvel characters there currently are and moreover have been. Seeing titles like ‘Death of Wolverine’ peaked my interest massively; “how can they kill of wolverine?!” I caught myself muttering. Finding reading lists online that date back to the 1980s. It was safe to say I was way in over my head.
I picked up a couple of single weekly issues and loved the stories, the art, the thrill of turning over to reveal an epic splash page. It was all I had hoped for and more. When writing this I had in mind the Vader Down one shot from the end of 2015 “All I see around me is fear. And dead men”
The only problem with this was I couldn’t wait to advance the story. If I were to read a non-graphic novel it would certainly not contain pages upon pages of detailed descriptive prose, not that I can’t appreciate the talent it takes to bring something as trivial as a grass field bursting into life. When I pick up a novel I want the story to grab me and take me on a ride. This is why I was drawn to trade paper backs, more specifically those which contain the Marvel events from start to finish. Original sin was the first one I picked up and didn’t put it down until I was at the end.
This has led to a rather severe credit card habit that is only escalating as time goes on. Every time I enter a comic book store or browse a website to find the trade paperback I’m looking for there is at least 3 or 4 others that I feel obliged to read. This ‘problem’ was what prompted me write for this blog alongside Jake. Are you new to the comic book world? Or looking for a good collection of back issues that you may have missed all conveniently in the same book? Well then, this is the blog for you.
I plan on sharing my voyage of discovery of everything trade paperback related with you on this blog. I hope to share some of the my new found joy in comics with the world and hopefully bring some more along for the ride. I can’t wait to bring you the first instalment, watch this space!