I didn’t grow up with comic books. Or comic strips, even, as there was no newspaper delivery out in the Alaskan Bush where I spent most of my childhood. So I came to comics rather late in life. I can remember tracking down Gary Larsen comics whenever possible, and Calvin & Hobbes, and when I was perhaps 14, I found a book of collected Pogo in the library and fell in love with it, even though I am sure, looking back, that some of it went right over my head. So I just don’t get some of the jokes about comic books and geeks that I hear, although I am proudly a Geek-Girl
One of my problems with comic books when I came to them later in life is that I read so fast. I can read the average novel in something like two hours, maybe three, if I am uninterrupted (and these days, that is rare indeed). As you can imagine, that made shelling out money for a comic book a weird concept to me as a teen. Why pay for perhaps ten minutes of enjoyment? I scratched my head, went back to my M. M. Kaye novel (the fattest books I could find in the library, and mostly about the India of my beloved Kipling) and skipped it. Far Side and Calvin were gone, and there was nothing more for me in the comic strips.
Fast forward a few years, and my discovery of Baen’s Bar. I came for the Free Library, stayed for the company and Webscriptions, and somewhere along the line, someone mentioned Sluggy Freelance. I went and took a look, and stayed for quite a while. This was fun, witty even, and there was a story here. It rambled, true, and delving into the archives could be chancy, but I could follow along from day to day. I bookmarked it, and started to keep my eyes open for other of these webcomics, they called them.
I now have a list that I have sorted by publication days. Some come out three times weekly, others only once weekly, and just a few on a daily basis. Every morning with my coffee, I go through my list and read them. Looking at comics this way allows me to truly savor the jokes, make the story linger, and connect with characters in a new way. I’ve also come to an appreciation of the art involved. Not just the writing words part that was originally important to me, but the lines and cartooning and expressiveness possible in this form. As I start to learn more of those skills myself, my respect has deepened for those who create the webcomics.
The top one on my list every morning? Schlock Mercenary. This was true before Howard and Sandra Tayler chose me as winner of the Body Politic a few days ago. I really love the story, the characters, and it’s one of the few fictional worlds I’d actually want to go visit. This is something I never would have thought I would say, because books have always been my chosen escape. But Howard’s art and story really drag me in, and I look forward to my visit to his world every morning. There’s no other strip that I can say that about, and if I’m in a hurry, I’ll skip the others, but always look at Schlock. Thank you, Howard, for letting us see into the world, and Sandra, for helping behind the scenes to make it happen. I got my book today, and will proudly add it to the collection – the Schlock books are the only comic books I own, and I re-read when I want a comfort read. I understand that as of post time, pre-orders for The Body Politic are about half gone, so if you want a glossy new book that Howard has defaced, you will have to act fast.
My latest comic to follow? Elf Life, a funny, well drawn fantasy epic with… well, go take a look for yourself. He’s still getting re-organized, but it looks like it will be worth the effort.