In my last column, I explored what comic books wanted to be when they grow up. Well, there was one thing I didn’t get into so I thought I would talk about it this time on a holiday weekend in the States—what I refer to as “the importance of reading.”
I come from a family that truly believes in reading. As much as we enjoy TV and movies, we like to settle down and read a good book whenever we get that much-coveted and rare moment of time called “unstructured minutes.” You know what that is—when you actually have nothing scheduled that needs to be done.
For a lot of us, those happen very infrequently. But they do happen.
Now, I know many people who, when this takes place, simply park themselves in front of the television and watch whatever the programming gods make available. Doesn’t matter the channel or the program—whatever’s there is what we watch, they say.
I just can’t do that, okay?
Even “unstructured time” ought to be beneficial, my family used to say. So, our favorite pastime was to read. We’d pull out a book or two, and all of us would sit down and, in the quiet of the moment, read. Our house would often be very quiet, something that would baffle our neighbors.
I know this sounds foreign to many people today. We expect the noise of the “tube” to make us feel like we’re living, as one of my friends likes to put it.
I just can’t go with that. Noise, especially from the TV, doesn’t make me feel alive.
When my Mom became less mobile, the one thing she asked of me, when I worked for a certain well-known metropolitan newspaper I’m sure you’d recognize if I mentioned their name, was to bring books home for her. See, they often received lots and lots of books in the hope that the paper would review them. Given the amount of space they had in each day’s edition, they simply couldn’t get to them all. So they would make whatever they knew they couldn’t get to review available to employees.
The word would go out in the building that the books were out, and those of us particularly into reading would head there and pick up what we wanted. I’d often take armfuls of reading back to my car and then drive them to my Mom’s the next time I’d visit.
She would often thank me profusely for them. She couldn’t travel much. Her hearing also became less than perfect, so the TV would be blasting when I’d get there, but she loved to read. She travelled around the world and experienced stories she’d never believed possible when she read.
CONTINUING THE TRADITION OF READING
When my twin brother and I were young, we followed my Mom’s example—we’d go to local drug stores or other places books (and that included comic books) were sold. And we’d pick up reading to take home and enjoy.
I know people enjoy the Archie comics, and I’m glad they do, but it didn’t take long before my brother and I turned from what we considered the “likely” to the “possible.” What COULD happen occupied our minds.
Randy became a fan of Superman while I wanted to read about Batman.
Of course, we were there when the Marvel Explosion took place, so we bought those books as well as the DC ones. But we loved DC best. I often talk about how DC’s characters were more “iconic,” which I found more appealing. But I read both because I loved variety in my reading diet.
While my brother kept reading comics, I actually stopped during high school. Social pressures made me turn more towards reading newspapers and other books. Randy kept on, though.
Eventually, The New Teen Titans drew me back in. You know, those books by Marv Wolfman and George Perez? Yeah, they were great!
So, today, I’m constantly on the lookout for new stories I have yet to experience. I recently have been reading the “Love” series of books from Magnetic Press. They are something QUITE unique in that there are no words in them. They rely on art to completely tell the stories of animals and their surroundings. I’ve really been enjoying that. There’s even a dinosaur in the “Love” series! It reminds me of Primal on Cartoon Network. That show depends on art and sounds to communicate the story. I highly recommend both, really!
The last year or so with the pandemic has reminded me about the joys of reading. Yes, I have roommates who love TV. We watch a couple of hours of shows each night, but then I go to bed. That’s my quiet time. I get to pull out the books I want to read and dive head-first in.
Some nights I don’t fall asleep as quickly as I might like, but I am always satisfied when I do. I’ve travelled someplace I wanted to go courtesy of my comics.
Now, I do have a collection of comics I’ve bought that I haven’t gotten to read… yet. And that’s on purpose. I do keep up with my weekly “stash” from the local comics shop. I have fallen behind in the past, but I need to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry.
However, I really want to have comics and other reading that I am anxious to get to when it’s just “my” time. You know, that quiet time when I get to leave the world behind and go into the world that the storytellers have in mind for readers like me.
As you can tell, I read a lot. I always will. Do you?
What do you think? Do you read a variety of storytelling? Are there kinds of stories that make you want to devote quiet time to them? Besides the weekly comics, do you pick out comics in “floppies” and/or hardcovers to hold back until it’s that special time to go places you haven’t been before? Whatever your opinions, be sure to share your thoughts in the space below!