Posts Tagged ‘Mother Nature’

The Weather Outside is Frightful and Comics are so Delightful…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Christmas is just a week away and Mother Nature is doing her part to set the mood for the Holiday Season ’cause, “baby, it’s cold outside!”

Growing up, I had a sure-fire remedy for “cabin fever” or “winter blues” when the snow was piled high and it was too bitter to spend an entire day outside sledding on the slopes, building a snowman or engaging in a raucous snowball fight. I would just hunker down with a big pile of comic books and bask in the warm glow of mind-bending, four-color adventure.

Back in the 1970’s comics offered a different sense of comfort than they seem to do today. Maybe it was the newsprint that they were printed on. It had a different texture than the glossier, bleached-white paper stock of today’s comics.

Chemical Color Chart

The ink was absorbed into the surface of the more porous paper, softening images against an écru background, delighting the eyes with a loud yet, limited palette of just 62 colors (64 if you counted black and white) laid flat in each field of the dynamically drawn images they filled.

The soft touch of newsprint, as satisfying on a cold day as a fuzzy, heavily patterned, acrylic sweater, was complemented by a distinguished odor of pulp that is still easily conjured by memory alone decades later.

Comic books were more wholesome then, bound by the editorial constraints of the Comics Code Authority.  A cold  afternoon of reading stacks of assorted comics and sipping hot cocoa  left the heart, body and imagination feeling as stoked as a flame dancing in an open hearth.

I can’t imagine that experience being the same for readers of comics today as temperatures plunge into the teens and below to kick-off another long winter. Happily though, comics are still the answer to many on a frigid day.

Contemporary comic readers sit nestled under warm blankets often reading comics in the dark, illuminated by the electrons on the screen of their tablet or computer instead of the glow a crackling fire.

Those that prefer their comics on paper, handle them gingerly and slip them into the sterile confines of a mylar sleeve before tucking them away into an indexed long box instead of lovingly tossing them back into a  pile.

Stories that were delivered complete in one 32 page issue are now rare. An afternoon reading dozens of random comics is now spent engages with just one lengthy graphic novel or several issues of a collected “event.”

“Wholesome” is no longer a word to describe comics in general, but delightfully it has been replaced with “diverse.” Comics are no longer relegated to just fans of superheroes and funny animals. Comics have come of age and finally tackle so many subjects that there is assuredly a comic out there for nearly everybody.

Comics are delivered in books, magazines, pamphlets, websites and apps. They can be accessed anywhere at anytime. Comics are everywhere for everyone.

A reader could easily spend a winter reading just the comics posted for free here at  CO2 Comics or lounging with the several graphic novels and two volumes of COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection that we have available on our Christmas Wish List.

So, if you go to your window and discover that the weather outside is frightful, remember that comics are still delightful, there’s really no place to go, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Gerry Giovinco

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, It’s…Santa Claus?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This past Thanksgiving weekend, while in front of the television, I caught myself getting a little giddy watching Santa arrive in both the Macy’s Parade and the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s always a special moment that, somehow, officially ushers in the Christmas season.

Santa Claus was the first hero that I ever idolized. This is probably true of almost any kid brought up in a culture that endorses his mythology. Santa has a lot in common with superheroes, a simple origin story, unique abilities, a specific costume, and an honorable mission. The only difference is that Santa is real…sorta.

Most kids know that their favorite superhero is just a character created for their enjoyment, but it takes a while to convince a kid that Santa might not be real. In fact, most of us adult types put a lot of effort into insuring that our children buy into the reality of the jolly old elf, in part, because it rekindles the joys we remember having in our own childhood and we want to make sure our children have the same, if not better, experience.

Santa gives us  insight to the subject of accessibility which has been a recent topic for discussion about comic books and the characters found within. The overriding position being that most comic characters that are now decades old, some with seventy years of adventures offer no simple jumping-in point for new readers who may be intimidated by the tremendous burden of trivia laden continuity.

Comic characters over the years have bounced around  alternate universes, infinite realities, and been subjected to aberrations instigated by time travel. Some story arcs are just a fresh approach by a new creative team with a different perspective of the character.  Do all these alterations make the characters any less accessible?

Ask Santa!

Santa Claus or some variation of the character has been around for hundreds of years and has been the subject of many a cultural makeover effecting everything  including his name, his costume and his adventures.  Country to country the concept of Santa is similar even though the details may differ, he is a benevolent being who brings toys to all the boys and girls of the world on Christmas. Santa Claus is almost universally accessible.

Here in America the concept of Santa is most clearly defined by Clement C. Moore’s 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas better known today as T’was the Night Before Christmas. Santa is a jolly old elf dressed in a fur trimmed suit that drives a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer and he comes down the chimney to deliver toys while we sleep.

Many stories have added to the lure of Santa, establishing his home at the North Pole, his most famous reindeer, Rudolf, and adventures from battles with Martians to tussles with Mother Nature and her boys Heat Miser and Snow Miser.

Children even learn to accept that Santa has “helpers” that dress like him to find out what kids want for Christmas and those helpers come in all shapes sizes and colors.

The iconic superheroes, like Santa, all share the ability to be simply defined. For most of them their name says it all, combined with a simple colorful costume, there is no doubt what the character is about. The creators of the major comic heroes gave us classic origin stories that define the characters into perpetuity just as Moore did for Santa.

Those origin stories are the root that every other story featuring that hero derives from. Readers will always have accessibility provided the characters uphold the most basic canon established in the origin.

What makes good comics about superheroes work is the creator’s ability to generate a willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. All heroes give us something that we want to believe in like truth, justice and the American way. We want to believe that good will always triumph over evil just as we want to know that, if we are good, Santa will always deliver. Our desire to believe in these qualities allows us to believe that a man can fly and so can those eight, tiny reindeer!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

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