Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Comics Taught Me

Ever been hanging out, talking with folks about random subjects and have the subject of comic book geekery come up? Since I have been so blatantly a fan for so long, it is usually inevitable. Much like a creature nearing extinction, I am an object of fascination and horror for the uninitiated.

That being said, in a recent conversation, I was pointing out how reading comic books influenced my life, and my friends just couldn't believe it. I figured that maybe if I shared it here, you could share your thoughts as well.

Without further ado, here is how comic book shaped my life.

1. I learned to read with comic books. At the age of 4, my uncle brought a couple of comic books over while baby sitting. In a short period of time, I was avidly reading them. In his disbelief, he had me read out loud some of the balloons on the page. I didn't get all the words, but he marveled at how it seemed to help me. Using the words and pictures in sync with each other, I was able to piece together what was occurring and use the basic "sounding out" principles. Needless to say, when I was in kindergarten, I brought books to school and read them in front of the class.

2. My vocabulary went from 50 cent words to $10 ones. I learned new words, and usually was fascinated enough to go look the ones I didn't understand up in the dictionary. My grasp of the English language was so always superior to those of my classmates, and it was due to the fact that I read comic books that used descriptive, multi-syllable words for exposition.

3. I enjoyed creative writing. Reading comic books opened up my imagination to possibilities that were previously unimagined. After reading a Wonder Woman comic book, creative writing seemed fun instead of scary. I have always been a strangely pragmatic daydreamer and comics served me well in this aspect.

4. I always believe in fairplay. Reading comic books made me realize that we need to treat our fellow man fairly. Even though we may not have super powers, we can use the gifts we have to help others and treat them with a basic kindness. When Superman showed mercy, and stopped to do a bit extra to make sure that everyone was treated equally, I was touched. As I have gone through horrible adversity in my life, I have always been able to rise above the pettiness that is so rampant these days. I put part of that on having great parents and part of it on my comic book adventures.

5. It is better to be the good guy. Let's face it- the villains just didn't get it and they always lost. The heroes in the comic books were able to use positivity and tenacity to win the day. They may have had incredible abilities, but they used them for good.

6. Heroes get the better clothes.. mostly. How many of you dressed as super heroes while growing up? I dressed up in a more modest version of Wonder Woman when I was young. After seeing some of the heinous villain outfits, it was a no-brainer to want to be a good guy. Punch and Judy, Clockwork King, Harlequin (old school), Wizard, and the list goes on..

7. Having moral fiber may be tougher, but it is worth it. Sometimes making the hard choice to be good seems hopeless, but the super heroes did it time after time. It always seemed worth it when Black Canary had to suffer for her values, but ended up punching the bad guy with her canary cry.

8. Teamwork wins the day. I LOVED reading Justice League of America and I think it taught me a thing or too about teamwork. When the heroes went off on their own, they would lose, but together, they could defeat the scariest villains ever. Using each person's strengths and checking their egos at the door made the difference.

I know that I have learned much more then this, but these are the things that I try and describe to friends. What about you?


Saranga said...

Comics gave me a sense of wonder. Ok when I was young I read one title whihc was the Thundercats one, with a back up story by Power Pack. I loved it and I can remember marvelling at and being totally engrossed by the sheer diversity and richness of he worlds these folk inhabitated. Combine this with my interest in mythology and an avid fantasy fan is born.
I think, like you, I also learned about team work via these comics.
I will definitely be buying comics for my friend's children, it seems like a no brainer - a simple easy way to help them learn to read. and so much fun!

Yedna said...

Whenever I was given a comic book as a kid, I'd read it over and over. Each issue became special and I really learned to value language and art.

Though I no longer have those comics, I can still recall them cover by cover in my mind and remember how I came by each one.

As a kid, I'd relate each book to the experience in which it was given to/purchased for me.

I buy my own comics these days, but I still retain a similar sense of object-to-memory recall when I look at novels given as gifts or read during family vacations.

- caj said...

I probably learned more than this one, but I distinctly remember learning the word artificial from Fantastic Four #148 (I think).

Reed Richards had lost his powers and had compensated by building himself some robotic arms. During a fight with the Salem's Seven, some grabs Reed's arms, squeezes, and breaks them revealing wires and metal and sparks and such, at which point said villain says, "His arms! They're artificial!"

And I remember reading that and asking my parents what "artificial" meant.