Episode 4: Comics: Not Just "Funny Books" Anymore
With all the superhero movies flying at us, it's hard to believe that comics were once seen as bad. This episode, Frank digs into comic's controversial past.
When I was growing up, comics were not “cool.” If you read them, you were a geek. A nerd. You were looked down upon. They were considered junk, and no one ever thought to teach them in school. That didn’t stop me. I enjoyed the emersion that comics brought.
I was lucky to have parents who didn’t censor me from reading comics. They would always indulge me, buying me issues when we would go to the store. I had quite a collection (though well-read and wouldn’t be worth anything today due to that). I would try (and usually fail) to copy their drawings. I would imagine what it would be like to have super powers.
Still, I always assumed they were a lesser form of literature or art. I was always slightly ashamed that I read them, instead of going out and playing sports or whatever it was the “cool” kids did.
That was until I was in freshman year of high school. My english teacher saw me reading a copy of X-Men, and asked me if I had ever heard of a comic named “Kingdom Come.” I hadn’t and told him so. He said, “okay,” then left me alone.
The next day I came into school, he handed me his copy to let me borrow. He said that not only was it his favorite comic, but it contained beautiful art, and writing that could give some of our school requirements a run for their money.
And he was right. Written by Mark Wade and Alex Ross (who also did the incredible art), this graphic novel explores themes of morality, religion, responsibility, and politics. It grayed the lines between good and evil, and showed superheroes in a new light.
I finished that entire graphic novel in a night, brought it back to him and thanked him. From that day on, I was never again ashamed of being a fan of comics, because I saw comics for what they are...great works of art.
- Kingdom Come collected editions on Wikipedia
- BBC News: Why academics are taking comic books seriously
- "When It Comes To Comic Books, Let's Put Literary Criticism Back On The Shelf", Science 2.0 The Conversation, August 23rd 2014, by David Sweeney, Glasgow School of Art
- "Top 10 Literary Works in the Comic Book Medium", Robert Frey, May 3, 2012
- The Literary Worth of Comics
- "How Comic Books became part of the literary establishment", Tim Martin, The Telegraph, April 2, 2009
- Geppi's Entertainment Museum web site
- Geppi's Entertainment Museum on Facebook
- Geppi's Entertainment Museum on Twitter
- Wikipedia article on Geppi's Entertainment Museum
- Complete interview with Andy Hershberger