Gather ‘round, nerdlings, for this is a tale of woes and wonders, of feats and fears, of comic books and the dorks who unabashedly love them. This is the tale of International Read Comics In Public Day, which, incidentally, was this past Saturday.
Our story begins with an off-hand comment, when Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch indie comic website mentioned to one of his friends that he was too embarrassed to read comic books on the train because he felt like people were judging his choice in literature. This conversation eventually evolved into an idea, and that idea evolved into a plan, as ideas are wont to do.
The idea is this: have everyone who enjoys comic books venture out into the world and read without shame on a designated day, and then submit their pictures to the website. Thus, International Read Comic Books In Public Day was born, and there was great rejoicing in the kingdom. “We’re here, we read graphic novels, get used to it!”
But why do we closet-comic lovers hang our heads in shame in the first place? The basic answer is that, to the unenlightened masses, a comic book is nothing more than an adult picture book, the people reading them can only handle simple plots, and anyone who reads comic books is manically obsessed with them. To those who believe this, I say nay nay, my friends. Since their beginnings in the 1930s, the comic book has evolved into a unique medium that combines complex story-telling and beautiful artwork to relate the narrative to the reader in a style that is completely unlike any other.
For example, “Watchmen,” words by Alan Moore and art by Dave Gibbons, is on Time Magazine’s list of 100 “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels,” including “regular” fiction. There is an art to combining pictures with text in an engaging way, and books like “Watchmen” are staples in the genre because of the masterful way the authors chose to tell the story. Had it been an all-text novel, the complicated mood and the story itself would have changed drastically.
Besides, every year Hollywood invests millions upon millions of dollars in the production of movies based on comic books because the stories are so interesting/popular. Just look at the list of recent superhero franchises alone: Spiderman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Kick-Ass and X-Men all began their stories within the pages of comic books. Even “300” was based on a graphic novel, not to mention “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” which is playing now.
In short: don’t hide it under a bushel! Let that inner nerd shine through! Find yourself a cozy park bench, or curl up in a chair at the library, or stand in line at the grocery store, or take it on Millennium Force with you. Wherever your usual haunt is, go there, get comfortable and just read your comic book without fear of discrimination. Even if you’re not a fan (yet), this is a good chance to try something new. Who knows? Before you know it, comic books nerds could be accepted into mainstream society. If the "Star Wars" people can do it, so can we! The revolution begins now!