[Opinion] Comics are real books, trust me


Mateo Cole

If you think that comic books are for kids, you are a fool.

Let me explain. While many think comics are too cartoony or the fact that they comprise of pictures doesn’t make it true literature, I assure you, finding the right comic series can be life changing. For myself, reading about characters like The Flash showed me that I should use my brain and ironically, take things slow. Reading The Old Guard gave me a new perspective of life and how to treat others. 

Many authors use comics as a visual medium to express certain topics that need to be discussed, like depression or responsibility, or just learning to keep living after life keeps throwing curve balls. Hopefully I can encourage you to move outside your comfort zone and pick up an issue or two from your local comic book shop, but most importantly, grow a passion for enjoying all forms of literature. 

It is important to note that there are more comic books published by companies other than Marvel and DC comics. While they are the biggest titans in the industry, there are far more smaller companies that have content on par with or even greater than the big two, such as Image Comics, Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, Valiant comics, among many more.

Each publication offers a new perspective on the comic book industry, ranging from superhero adventures to crime dramas to gritty westerns. Relating superheroes to comic books is a wide misconception, as there are several different genres covered within the landscape of comics. 

Locke & Key from IDW is a unique horror story that follows the Locke family after Mr. Locke’s unfortunate murder. The wonderful art adds to the horror as it perfectly pictures what unsettling images the author tries to create. Another story, not quite horror but even more graphic, would be Revival from Image comics. It is an incredible macabre zombie story, with an incredible twist. In a small town, the dead come back to life with sentience, living their lives alongside their loved ones. After a murder however, everyone stands to be a suspect. A great read for those who enjoy darker stories. 

But there are several stories including the superheroes that cover darker topics. Grant Morrison had his take on the X-Men, called New X-Men which grounded the idea of mutants entirely. The run emphasized the oppression faced by mutants, most commonly seen as a metaphor for the oppressed in America, even the effects of genocide. 

It is an emotional ride, showing the reader the flaws of each character, an exaggerated take on how it feels to be a minority. It plays with the ideas given by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, which was typically represented by Professor X and Magneto. It is an incredible forty issue run that would be great for anyone to take a look. 

Image comics has more than Spawn and Invincible (which was popularly released as an Amazon Prime original series) and has an ongoing book titled Saga. It is a story following an interracial couple as they struggle to survive a world of bigotry and hate with their mixed race child. What makes it so visually interesting to read is that it takes place in space, and the couple are two different alien species. 

Maus, an interesting perspective of the Germans invading Poland during the 1930s with the visual twist being the different races are different animals. Watchmen, which is a realistic take on superheroes that critiques the genre itself. There are so many different stories with so much visual and storytelling diversity that it would be foolish to skip out on them just because they are comic books, but that is definitely a reason why people choose to avoid them.

 Due to the fact that the medium the story is being told through pictures, comic books are only able to star costumed characters with overly dramatic dialogue and even more overly simplistic stories. Yes, those stories do exist, and they are consumed by many children, but there are many mature takes that are inappropriate for kids to read.

But in many great comics, the pictures are able to set the tone. Sometimes the best part of comic books is to see how that artist presents their world. The Sandman: Overture, which won the award for best graphic story, has a beautiful dark art style that matches the tone of the story. There is also Kingdom Come which has incredibly realistic paintings that fill every inch of the page that show you the intensity of the plot.

Comic books are more than just literature for children. They are true ways of telling enriching stories with mature tones and themes. The images that are incorporated into the story in fact can further the tone or themes of the book, just like it were any other piece of art. It makes it that much more interesting, able to tell interesting stories with loveable characters, all while enchanting the reader with the beautiful art.