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Features | Reading My First Ever Comic Book

As well as creating a Vow to Read list at the beginning of 2018, one of the things I wanted to do this year was try and branch out and read things I don't normally. Thankfully our Blogger's Bookshelf Book Club theme this year is Short Stories, which means we've been reading a lot of books under 200 pages, and anthologies of tales by multiple authors, neither of which I would probably read otherwise. It's been really great and if you haven't been following along, then I highly recommend it.

In my 'branching out', I also wanted to try my hand/eye at graphic novels and comics. I picked up The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang, earlier in the year and really enjoyed that (can now tick 'graphic novel' from my list). In a bout of impulse book buying on the Book Depository I popped Rainbow Rowell's Runaways into my basket and proceeded to check out. But then I realised that I should probably read the original comics from the 2000s before it arrived. Enter the wonderful people at Auckland Libraries. I managed to put 10 volumes of Runaways on hold, and collected them all at the same time, while concurrently realising that that was probably a bad idea as I didn't even know if I liked them or not.

Thankfully, I did.

Runaways Vol. 1: Pride & Joy (comics #1 - #6 bind up, by Brian K. Vaughan) was my first ever comic read. Yes, I've flipped through them before, yes I've often thought 'I should really check these out', and yes I would love to be that person who goes to comic book store and devours titles for days on end. But this was my first actual sit-down-and-read. And, guys, it was pretty epic.

A little about Runaways: Pride & Joy

If you're unfamiliar with the Runaways comic (as I was, despite being a Marvel fan), it tells the story of 6 kids who discover their parents are actually living double lives as supervillians (with code names, costumes and the whole shebang!). Obviously shocked by this discovery, the kids decide to runaway, but not before they're framed for kidnapping and murder. 

I haven't read the full series yet, but that's the main premise.

Some of the things I thought while reading Pride & Joy

"Okay here it goes. Comic book time."

"Oooh, so many pretty pictures."

"So whispers are indicated by text which is lower in opacity, bold words are emphasized speech, and huge colourful writing is shouting."

"It's amazing how the artist keeps the characters looking the same from frame to frame. Even my stick figures look different..."

"Klick, fwish, shunk, hssss, krak, klang, skreech, fwooom ... I wonder if I can use these words in day-to-day life for my own sound effects..."

Comic Book Verdict

So after that comic-book-gathering saga, was it worth it? Did I actually enjoy reading a comic book?

Yes, yes I did.

There are some things that didn't come that easily to me but I'm sure by the time I read more it'll be fine and dandy. For example, I really need to remember to actually look at the pictures. They're there for a reason and pretty much the whole point of a comic book. I found myself just jumping to the speech bubbles from frame to frame and not paying too much attention to the wonderfully drawn images. That needs to change. I think I'm so used to painting a world in my head when I'm reading just words that the jump to "here's a pre-made world we've created so you don't have to" was a little jarring.

Having less to read, too, was a challenge. Even if you had a book with the same amount of pages - around 150 for a bind up of 6 issues - there's still a bucket load more words. It's definitely a different way of engrossing yourself in a story. The words the writers choose all have to be relevant and worthwhile, because there's only so much you can fit on a 4 - 6 frame page of images and speech bubbles.

And just to leave you with a practical question to aid me in my cataloguing of these: what do you think about adding these to the Goodreads Reading Challenge? I've been adding them as I've read them (as a whole bind up of e.g. Volume 1 which is single issues #1 - #6), but I've noticed there's a Deluxe Version, which is a bind up of Vol 1 - 4, and single issues #1 - #18. I'd love to get your opinion as to whether I should delete all 10 of the Runaways books on Goodreads, and replace hem with the 4 deluxe bind up versions. I know it's a bit trivial, but I'd love to know your thoughts!

Do you read comic books?
 Have you read Runaways
Can you suggest any that I could try out? 

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