Sunday, April 25, 2010

My experience as a comic book reader...

This week, I'll have up both a movie review and a comic review.
Before hand, I wanted to talk a bit about my experience as a comic book reader : P
 I've read comics for as long as I've been able to read, I think.

Living in Europe, I started up with tons of Bande dessinées, that's franco-belgium comics mostly but it also covers nowadays comics drawn in other countries such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Poland, etc..

Since I could hand a pencil, I've been drawing tons of stuff around my school books, on my school desk, on my own arms, clothes and now at work on used copy papers. It started off probably inspired by those B.D., probably trying to emulate such classics as Lucky Luke, Astérix, Spirou, the Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs here).

I can easily say, Bande dessinées were and are still a big part of my life.
I only had the classics as a child (those quoted up there) but now, I've been reading more Bande dessinées again and finding great readings in more adult or independent authors as well.

Around the early 90s, I finally started reading and finding out about the American artists and writers with comic book translations. The Marvel comics were the more easy ones to find. They were printed in smaller "digest" formats, mixing up many issues kinda like a trade paperback, but with soft issue-like paper and cover. Looking back at those, I kinda hate them...
They didn't hold back all those years, were easily damageable and the early translations were... pretty uneven. Characters could change names every now and then or were strangely named. Wolverine in french end-80s/early-90s? LeGlouton (The glutton?). Wolverine mid-90s? Serval!

It wasn't a great experience, but was still a decent introduction to comics.

Then, mid-90s, I didn't read anymore comics I think. I still was exposed to the genre thanks to the animated super hero shows.

It was my...sigh... anime/manga period.
(since I'm not gonna directly talk about the animes I watched, let's just say "a lot" and leave it at that)
I started buying/reading a lot of Manga, you know, japanese comics.

It was ok. But then, they really started to invade my place. A new trade every 2 months? Too much series to follow around? Most didn't end around 20/30 books or were still being published?...
I was reading them in french, and it seems the French Manga publishing was really going crazy with all the translations and series...
Finally, the genre started tire me, most shonens being so similar or rushed artwork. Plus mangas were being a big hit in Europe and I don't like the idea of following a trend... I ditched mangas and only went back for the rare original work (Bobobo? cool~)

That's when around the 2000s I went checking on the American comics again, now with imported comics, keeping them in their original publishing.
Thanks to a local comic store who imported a lot of them, and internet (ebay, amazon...), I could have my hands on the original full sized books, be it releases in issues or trades.

I went back to Marvel comics first. I quickly catched on the last years, the evolution of comics, original 60-70s stories to the modern era. The Hulk was still a favorite of mine, Spider-man had some crazy stuff going on (I did follow the clone saga in french...), the Captain America back from "hibernation", etc...
I still liked the Marvel universe. It had changed but I can accept changes!

Then I started reading lots of other stuff.

DC Comics had some great concept going on their side. I was always fascinated by their universe. Naturally I checked some classics (Bats, Supes, Green Lantern..), then went on the more obscure heroes little by little. (Hawkman, JSA, etc..).
I must admit, I really embraced the whole publisher. Those characters had a huge life (most of them going back to the old school golden age of heroes) but I wasn't scared of it.

Skipping a bit of all I originally was gonna write in this post, I've since then read many comics, from Dark Horse impressive characters who most of them have been adapted or are adaptations (The Mask, Predator, Aliens...), to Image comics and it's dark and edgy comics still living in the nineties (Rob Liefeld anyone?!), and many other more indie publishers (Devil's Due, ABC, etc..)

I'm not saying I'm the greatest comic book nerd ever or that I' got all the history and answers in mind.
I was just exposing you to my experience as a comic book reader (and wannabe cartoonist/illustrator dreams).

I think my reviews will be fair and decent enough to
a) helps you find or become interested in some comics
b) warn you from writing nightmares and catastrophic failure
and at least keep you guys and gals reading the good stuff.

I'll gladly check some stuff you want me to or find you good books for some characters/franchises.
Comments below this post,

until then, EXCELSIOR!


  1. First of... ahem... DUUUUUDE, ROB LIEFEEEEEEEEELD!

    And that's a pretty neat story. I more or less had followed that trend. Only we had those old Disney comics first in the UK then most of Egypt (where it still is popular and still printing) and the odd Beano, too. But I think what got me into drawing was mostly Batman the Animated Series, and probably the Ninja Turtles and Mario, since I remember drawing those, and a bunch of X-Wing Fighters, to the point I can draw them without reference. And I only stuck with paper, instead~!

    I do remember there were the odd Marvel Comics back then in Arabic (and mind you, I never really read anything in Arabic, just looked at the pictures. Maybe that's why I'm not too fluent...) they were mostly Spider-Man, Thunderstrike and Uncanny X-Men. And those comics were the reason that Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee's art style always bring back nostalgia (and the fact that I bought a Spidey action figure in that style for that reason) and in Thunderstrike I knew of characters like Hercules, Nova, Quasar, Absorbing Man and Beta Ray Bill to boot!
    After that, only collected the random comics from Batman (one of them had Deadman in it) to Superman to Spider-Man. Most consistant comic buyings were Arabic Disney, Animated Batman, Mirage/Archie Ninja Turltes (it mixed a bit up), Asterix, Lucky Luke and Tintin were popular in Egypt, too, and English Sonic the Hedgehog, which were might expensive to buy a month, but hey! I even remember one Grendizer comic, but that was about it. And I loooooooooved to play Marvel Superheroes vs Street Fighter when it was in the arcades, as the comic book lover I was.

    And of course, returning to the UK at December '99 (not counting the Summer spent a few years earlier, when Toy Story was released) I ended up reading more and more comics, naturally. Started with the UK printings of Marvel Comics for Spider-Man and X-Men (instead of separate issues, they are released as 3 issues per tradeback a month, usually including a classic tale, but the latest comics being from two-three years back. At the time, it was the end of the Clone and Onslaught saga) more stuff were introduced, like Avengers and Fantastic Four that I buy, and others more from Mighty World of Marvel (covers anybody, especially Hulk related) to Wolverine & Deadpool. But I still buy random comics I find here and there, from manga from Shonen Jump in English, to many, many DC Comics to stuff like The Beano, Sonic, Hellboy, Black Jack, whatever I find. And still doing as such. Still own probably half the comics, if not more, of what I used to own. Most were thrown away or sold away. Ah well.

    Oooh. Long post. Hope you didn't mind me blabbing all the way, even if not on every point.

  2. Nice story as well.
    No problem with the long comment! Comments are for discussion here^^

    I would gladly try reading that Beano once :P
    Maybe they got an imported comic in one of the stores here...

  3. Well, it is a kids' anathology comic magazine, based around mischievous kids who do nothing but be a pest to the adults, from Dennis the Menace and Gnasher (created in the same week as the US one, but far more menacing), Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, The Bash St. Kids and so on. But then again, I have tried multiple times of getting a job there, and I'll still keep on trying~!

    Most of what I can say about it is that it comes out weekly, with all stories being a page or two long (and sometimes longer). And there're annuals that come out around Autumn/Winter time with longer stories per characters and all that. Hope that helps.
    And in terms of styles, I guess somewhat on par with the Bande Dessiné and newspaper comics more or less (in terms of kids just being kids)

  4. I know what the Beano is (from stuff read here and there) and than Dennis the menace was from there :P

    I consider it "Bande Dessiné" since nowadays it includes most of the European based comics (all being influenced by classic authors like Franquin, Morris, Peyo, etc...)

    I really want to find a copy of one of their publications!
    (hopin' to find one this next saturday)