I’ll begin this by explaining that I have had a lifelong obsession with comix. Not comics, but comix - the underground kind. When I was seven and eight years old I’d go to the bookstore and pull out the R. Crumb collections, hiding the pages with my arm while I discreetly gazed on the big-assed women and quirky sexual misadventures depicted within. I loved MAD magazine and the New Yorker cartoons and the illustrations in Dave Barry books. I drew obsessively from the time I was a tiny kid all the way up until now. I was sent to the principal’s office in sixth grade for drawing a naked cowboy with a massive schlong on the blackboard. I spent my high school years reading Dan Clowes and R. Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, and drawing on every scrap of paper I could get my hands on.
The one thing I couldn’t dig, though, was superhero comics. I read the Dark Horse Star Wars comics, because they were Star Wars and I loved Star Wars. And I read the occasional Spawn comic, because they were “dirty” and sexual and adult, jampacked with sick humor. This, in my mind, set them apart from “superhero comics,” Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, The Hulk, Justice League of America, and all that. I hated it. I hated the garish obnoxious costumes, I hated the black-and-white “we must fight evil” mentality, I hated that there was never any naughtiness or seediness or innuendo. It seemed like it was phoned in, intended for kids, and just cheezy. Every now and then I’d look at a Marvel or DC comic and I simply could not get what all the fuss was about. There was no hard edge! No sarcasm or wit!
A few years back I worked with a guy who was obsessed with comics. He couldn’t care less about Comix, but he was nuts over Comics. He would ramble on and on about which X-Men had the best skills and which Marvel storylines he loved, and I was just totally lost in all of it and could not comprehend how this guy was so interested in it. So I decided to go buy some comics at the bookstore and read them, and maybe then I’d “get it.” But I couldn’t. I read X-Men and Hulk and Spider-Man, but I could not get into it at all. It still seemed too antiseptic, not gritty enough, and not connected at all to reality and the human condition the way I percieved R. Crumb, for instance, to be.
Well, today I went to the local Borders and realized something. I’d been going there for years and years, sitting down in the comics section, and reading the same five or six underground comics compilations. Meanwhile, there was a gargantuan shelf of Marvel and DC comic anthologies and collections and seemingly hundreds upon hundreds of superhero comics. Now maybe I’m thinking that I should give the tight-suited colorful men another chance. Maybe there’s something I’m missing. Should I? How should I maximize my enjoyment of it? And what comics should I start with?
Any reccomendations, or comments?