Why Comics Are Important

Kito Ashbey, a Contributing Writer
for the Voice, can be reached for com

Some of my fondest childhood memories stem from comic strips. I’ll never forget coming home after a long day of school and turning to the back pages of the newspaper to see what wacky situation Beetle Bailey had gotten himself into or how much Garfield hated Mondays.

As a kid these characters became something of a family to me. Everyday I could count on Archie to make me laugh, Family Circus to make me groan and even Charlie Brown to make me question things around me. Fast-forward 20 years and it feels like the back page has now taken a backseat to another form of entertainment: Netflix.

Now don’t get me wrong: anybody who knows me knows that I love television more than anything. The images, music and scene structure all come together, creating an amazing audio-visual experience. But that is also part of the problem. With television the visuals have already been constructed for the viewer. You are allowed to turn off your brain and simply watch the action unfold.

With comic strips the reader relies on their imagination to make the images jump off the page. No one hears the same voice when they think of Garfield speaking. No one sees the same city when they think of Gotham. And that right there is the beauty of the comic book. The comic book is personal. The narrative is your own.

The storylines found in comic books also differ from the themes and stereotypes present in most television shows. From popular shows like Friends to Seinfeld to Big Bang Theory, the narrative is almost always the same: a group of horny men constantly pursuing the hot girl of the week.

In comics, female characters aren’t depicted as powerless but instead as powerful. Characters like Wonder Woman, Invisible Woman and Supergirl are total badasses and depict female characters in ways that most audiences probably aren’t used to.

Just as comics and the consumption of comic books allows one’s imagination to flow, the same rules apply to the creation of comic books. In the equally respectable mediums of film and music, money plays a huge role in ones ability to create. You can’t just go out and make The Dark Knight Returns because it requires a budget.

With comic strips, it costs the same amount of money to have a major explosion as it does to have two characters sit and talk for a whole scene. Comic strips are a nice way to let people explore their creative side without having to worry about budget constraints.

The way we consume media is steadily changing. With the creation of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, access to television has become virtually instant. Even though television is one of mankind’s greatest storytelling methods, it is still only one method.

I urge TV lovers to turn off the latest episodes of Black Mirror (as awesome as they are), close their laptops and delve into the wonderful world of comics. You just might find that it challenges your imagination in ways you never even thought possible.

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