Smoph's musings

Just my thoughts on the world

The unspoken divide: books & comics

My love of books and story started before I could really read; my parents tell me that I could happily entertain myself for hours as a little tacker.

As with many of us with a love of reading, this began with picture books, learning many of the basic rules of language: cadence and intonation, grammar and pronunciation.

Long and short: I have always thought of myself as a reader. But when I call myself that, I see weighty tomes, hundreds of pages and not an illustration in sight.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone with an interest in comics.

Anime for sure–I’ve been obsessed with AstroBoy for as long as I can remember, and Sailor Moon and Miyazaki’s work since my teens–but if you asked me about comics, I’d say not really.

Until this weekend, encouraged by a friend to attend an event at All Star Comics in Melbourne, I would not have said that I read comics. And I would have been lying to myself.

As I wandered around waiting (briefly) for my friend, I looked at the shelves, for names I knew, thinking idly that it seems silly that we don’t have more comics cross-over with spec-fic authors. I saw an author or two I knew, many titles I had read about on social media, and kept thinking about why the two mediums are so divided.

A little voice in my head, trying to be heard, made me think of my love of anime as television, and of X-men. A little more gently, it nudged me to think about how I consume graphic works, largely as graphic novels.

Then I remembered buying the boxed set of Nausicaä, the gifts from people I love from Serenity and Hark A Vagrant properties. To Asterix and Obelix, and The Adventures of Tintin. And more recent (to me) discoveries of Sandman and others.

Lastly, I thought about the last decade of reading webcomics like Bunny, Questionable Content, XKCD and Ctrl+Alt+Del. Of my new loves from Minna Sundberg, A RedTail’s Dream and Stand Still, Stay Silent.

Over the last decade switched-on loved ones have been trying to get me to bridge that gap and recognise the other reading love in my life, and it’s taken me this long to understand.

It might be related to internalised worries about being thought a fake geek girl. It might be a prejudice, an elitism I’ve picked up against “picture books”. All I know is that it’s been silent and unconscious and held me back from a whole other world of stories that I could have loved.

Whatever the reason, today I acknowledge my own obtuseness, and accept that being a reader for me means a love of stories in all their many and varied forms. That perhaps I am indeed a comics reader.

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My comic book haul

For anyone interested, the event I attended today was a meet and greet with Katie O’Neill for the All Star Women’s Comic Book Club. Katie writes and illustrates delightful LGBTQI-friendly comics, but to spruik my particular favourite, the whimsical The Tea Dragon Society. Highly recommended.

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