I’ll admit it, as a kid and a teenager I wasn’t much into what could be coined as thoughtful or alternative comics. For the most part I was reading Marvel’s main titles such as the Avengers, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, etc. While I’ve always enjoyed reading, it seems that as a kid comics were the easy alternative. They were (until late in high school) my choices. I found that most of the joy of reading could easily be sucked out of books by bored, lazy, or just plain uninformed English teachers. While that did change for one year in the 11th grade, comics have always been one of my main escapes.
In the past year or two, however, I’ve tried to combine my love of literature with my love of comics. Beyond the indy comics I find at Chapel Hill Comics I’ve recently stumbled across one of my favorite authors writing for a Marvel title. Jonathan Lethem is writing an interesting and challenging limited series (based on a low-selling 70s series) titled Omega the Unknown. So far it’s pretty interesting and out there.
This brings me, however, to my confession of sorts (as the title would suggest). I’m just now, in my 30s, reading the Watchmen for the first time. In some ways I’m embarassed to admit that considering I’ve been reading comics as long as I can remember. It’s different, and to be honest, I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed it five or ten years ago. While I still read many Marvel titles I find myself angered by the idiocy of some of their plotlines. Take the recent Spiderman – One More Day Fiasco. Part of what makes Spiderman so great is that the title has always tried to keep Peter Parker as normal as possible. While dealing with Supervillians and cosmic forces, he has to keep his job, pay the rent, and try to keep his girlfriend happy. An approach more along the lines of the demise of Gwen Stacy would have been a far better ending for Aunt May.
This is one thing I find myself enjoying about the Watchmen, I find that the characters are flawed, dealing with issues not unlike those found daily in life. It’s compelling and I am starting to unfold while people still rant and rave about the series. Let’s hope that other comic writers somehow rediscover this kind of writing.