Introduction

I had fallen out of love with comics by the time I was 12. I would still buy the occasional Jhonen Vasquez misanthropiece or re-read a Calvin and Hobbes anthology, but for the next ten years my once ever-expanding collection would lie fallow. It wasn’t until a cold day in April, on my way to a final architectural history lecture, that my childhood pastime would become a nerdy obsession.

I had been bouncing around the idea of putting off real life even more with a summer course in Illustration and, remembering comics had always been a rich vein of inspiration, went to my local geek emporium. The proprietor was playing World of Warcraft with the kind of determination reserved for long-haul truckers on amphetamines, but managed to pull himself away long enough to recommend me some books when I said I was on the hunt for some cool art. While he resumed his dungeon raid, I opened a copy of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.

I had no idea comics could look like this. That something that at it’s core was about a man in tights punching people was allowed to look like this. That a narrative could be created by what was left unwritten, by what was left undrawn. It showed me that, through the interplay of text and image, a storyteller could convey a density of information that could not be achieved by use of text or image alone. Perhaps most importantly, this copy of Arkham contained the script, storyboards, and notes between the writer and artist; a roadmap of how to create your own stories.

And suddenly I was ravenous. I devoured every comic I could get my hands on: the latest mainstream American superhero stuff, French graphic novels, Japanese manga, autobiographies, underground zines, webcomics, anything. Not just comics themselves, but also books and articles by people who were interested in the theory behind comics: Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, James Kochalka, etc. The summer class in Illustration became a two-year postgraduate course focused entirely on comics. I still like to think I’m the only person who wrote a dissertation which tried to apply Wassily Kandinsky’s expressionistic principles to the Incredible Hulk.

I still feel like I’m trying to catch up with all the information out there after such a huge gap in my knowledge, and I miss writing critically about comics, so here we are. In this part of the site I’ll review comics, everything from the already acclaimed to the forgotten gem I stumble across. I’m never going to write an overall negative review of something; this is all about finding what’s good and discussing why it works. Whether you’re fascinated by the craft of sequential narrative or just love a good yarn, I hope you find something here you enjoy. And if I recommend something that turns out to be someone’s Arkham moment, I’ll have finally balanced the cosmic scales.

Here’s to you, chain-smoking WoW-addict comic-shop guy.

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