Comic Books – Yay or Nay?

It’s all Lia Habel’s fault.

I was happy with my comic book ignorance up until yesterday. I didn’t need to know about the vast array of characters, plots, and settings they explored. I was blissfully unaware that comic books had anything to offer other than superheroes and skintight clothing. If you had told me that I was missing an opportunity to experience an exciting genre of literature in comic books, I’d have told you that if I wanted my stories envisioned for me I’d watch the movie.

Oh how I have been humbled.

On Tuesday, Lia Habel tweeted her enthusiasm for Ruse. Perhaps “enthusiasm” is the wrong word. More like “rabid fangirly devotion.”

If you are a #steampunk or into comics drop everything NOW and GET THEM. It was the best series EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER. –via @LiaHabel

What else is a girl to do on her lunch break besides search Google for more information on this series? You say steampunk, I come running.

Image courtesy Marvel Image Gallery

Ruse is a Victorian-era comic that follows renowned detective Simon Archard and his partner, Emma Bishop. The book is told from Emma’s spunky perspective, which allows us to admire Simon’s intellect and problem-solving while feeling her frustration over being called the wrong name and getting ignored by society and the press for her contributions. She’s also hiding a secret from Simon about some mysterious powers she wields…

Ruse originally ran from 2001-2004 and in March, Marvel issued 4 new books (this was the news that got Ms. Habel so excited). The series sounded cool and with such a glowing recommendation I decided I’d check it out. After work I headed to a nearby comic book store for the first time. I was quite nervous, worried the fanboys would peg me as the outsider I am and chase me off with pitchforks.

My fears were unfounded. The store was busy (Just after working hours in the Loop? You don’t say!) so I was able to wander and browse free of any hairy eyeballs or raised brows. As luck would have it, the store had not only all four issues of the Ruse new release, but issues 1-12 of the original run. At about $3 a pop, I figured I’d just buy them all. I spend that much on books all the time without batting an eye, so why not comic books as well?

When I got home, I read numbers 1 and 2 of the original and number 1 of the new series. And I was shocked to find I actually really enjoyed them. Like, really enjoyed them. Instead of being annoyed at the lack of words, I let myself relax and get into the illustrations and see what wasn’t being said. Normally I despise having words interpreted for me, and prefer to put my own slant on things (see: why I hate movie adaptations; why I like reading plays instead of going to the theater) but in this case, it was an entirely new experience.

I’ve read a couple of graphic novels in the past, usually because they had been or were going to be turned into movies (300, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) and I had the hardest time getting into them. Maybe it was the length that was the problem. Maybe I just wasn’t reading the right story for me. Whichever it was, my attitude toward the genre has undergone a complete 180 degree shift. I went to another store near my house last night and picked up a few new books that caught my interest. I’m even considering starting a collection of a series that is adapting the L. Frank Baum Oz books, which I already collect and adore.

I’m so new to this that I’m kind of stumbling around in the dark. Other than Alison Can Read’s Manga Mondays feature, I’m not aware of any bloggers focusing on graphic content. Do you read graphic novels, manga, or comic books? Would you be interested in hearing more from me as I explore this genre? I’m curious to hear what you think about it.

Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

8 thoughts on “Comic Books – Yay or Nay?

  1. Comic books are something I never read, despite the fact that I loved them when I was little. I like the sound of this Ruse thing though.

  2. Steampunk???? Okay, now I have to check these out. I've been slowly looking at the comics lately anyway. 🙂

  3. @Christine – It's really good. You should check it out!@Amanda – Cool! I may turn it into a biweekly or monthly feature. @Melissa – You should check out Lady Mechanika and Captain Swing if you want more steampunk titles to peruse. Although LM was sold out and I had to order it, it looks pretty amazing!

  4. I wouldn't be opposed to it at all. I love learning about new things and comics will be one of them. My experience with graphic novels is limited to Maus I and II. Check those out! More like a retelling of the Holocaust. Very interesting.

  5. I haven't read a comic book since my youth when I used to read Archie and Betty and Veronica comics. Since then, I've considered every once in a while reading a graphic novel or manga but never a comic (I think I have the same idea as you: that almost all comics are about superheroes). I do love me some steampunk though. I wonder if I would be able to borrow these from my library.

  6. I'm broken when it comes to reading things like that. I can't get into them. But maybe I just haven't found the right one for me? Eh. Either way, of course I'd love reading about your adventures in comic book reading. :)You've seen the Dark Horse Comics on Net Galley, right? (even Buffy couldn't make them work for me *sob* )

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