Ok, I have a question. So I was not a comics girl growing up. I read a ton - and a lot of stuff that was probably way above my head - but the only comics I ever came in contact with were Archie and Veronica at my grandmother's house (in the bathroom...).
In college, a prof handed me Watchmen, and I loved it. I read some graphic novels and did a lot of reading about comics and the superhero, but when it came to comics, I never knew where to begin. There are so many iterations that I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?
I'll go ahead and ask my fellow comics dorks to weigh in down in the comment section. I know you've got your opinions, and my suggestions are just that. They're just some suggestions by me. So, chime in, buddies.
First of all, I think if you get down to it, a lot of people had their first and often their last exposure to comics through Archie Comics. There's a reason everyone over a certain age recognizes Archie and Jughead, and enough people are aware of the Archie-Veronica-Betty love triangle so that you can use it as cultural shorthand.
I'm one of those kids, too. I have a warm spot in my heart for Archie, even if I can't imagine how one remains a lifelong reader, but people do that, and that's kind of cool.
|yeah. every high school guy has two girlfriends who are cool with this situation.|
Back in the 90's, you got to ride the wave of 1980's envelope-pushing comics and academics for whom bringing in anything on the edge of culture to teach was kind of a novel thing. Watchmen has sold a lot of copies to kids taking a blow-off course where they could read comics, but it earned its rep as one of the very, very few comics that reads like a sprawling novel and talks to an audience of people who also read Thomas Wolfe. I cannot stress how rare this is in capes and tights comics. Less so in other genres of comic.
The 1970's brought in the first writers that wanted to push beyond kiddie-stuff and you wound up with Green Arrow seeing his ward shooting up smack (no lie!), but it still read as a 22-page adventure with only loose tethers to the past and future. And, 95% of the time when comics think they're writing for adults or to make a point, it's still basically Speedy doing smack.
|First it's comics, then you smoke one rock of pot, and then wham-o! You've riding the white pony and defending Jethro Tull in public.|
Almost nothing in capes and tights before or after Watchmen is Watchmen, and I've written extensively about how comics have learned all the wrong lessons from a superhero comic that wrote up to a literate audience. We can cover that again some other time, and surely will, but that wasn't really your question. What I'm doing here is: expectation setting.