This morning, I discovered this 31 Day Challenge over at one of my favorite news sites, comicbookresources.com. Each day, one has to answer a question about her or his own comic book tastes. In honor of our ongoing discussion group at ChiPRC, I am taking on the challenge!
Like the 31 Day Challenge, our discussion group covers a new topic each month. Here is a comprehensive flyer made by ChiPRC founder John Wawrzaszek, about the series:
I sort of wish I would have discovered the 31 Day Challenge yesterday, so that I would have been able to cover Day 1 on February 1, Day 2 on February 2, etc. But since there are 28 days in February this year, I suppose the numbers would inevitably have gotten out of line. That’s how I’m rationalizing the discrepancy, anyway.
Day 1: Your Favorite Comic
Dang, this is a hard one. I have so many different kinds of favorites…. Do I pick my favorite childhood comic? That would have to be The Incredible Hulk. As a child, I related to Hulk’s feeling of being an “outsider,” being misunderstood and unfairly harassed. I also had two identities: the puny, bespectacled image people saw, and the pain and fury that raged behind it.
While I identified with The Hulk as I knew him, the series has had so many different writers and illustrators, each of whom defined (and redefined) the series for himself or herself. For a franchise character, retooling is inevitable, as creators will eventually exhaust the storytelling possibilities inherent in each concept. The Hulk is a brand, and the goal for a brand is always to continue selling new product. I haven’t read a new issue of The Incredible Hulk since the early 2000s, and the character is no longer recognizable to me. Is it fair for me to say that the title is still my favorite?
Maybe I should jump to a series I enjoyed during adulthood. I was late to the independent boom of the late 80s, having picked up only smatterings of non-mainstream titles prior to my college years. But as I began to outgrow superhero tropes, certain independent titles captured my imagination. I tracked down back issues of many now-defunct series, and I actually appreciated the fact that those stories had ended at some point with integrity. They didn’t go on forever, through countless revisions. And in general, the originators of those characters continued to work on the titles until their demise.
One of my favorite independent titles was Grimjack. The main character, John Gaunt, is a mercenary in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure. All possible realities meet in his world, so Gaunt must be as adept at magic as he is with a sword and laser. Different physical laws apply depending on where he is in the city. The eclectic nature of the landscape provided diverse story possibilities, and it appealed to my eclectic outlook(s). I am a true lover of philosophy, not just a fanatic for a particular point of view. I therefore find myself equally compelled by contradictory ideas. Other people see me as unstable or unpredictable, but I have been remarkably consistent in my wandering. In that sense, I never change. A wanderer is who I am.
Although Grimjack takes us closer to the present day, I don’t re-read the series very often. These days, my comic book intake tends to be self-contained graphic novels with a beginning, middle and end. I want to be able to experience the fullness of the story in one or two sittings. One of my favorite such books is Mars by Marc Hempel and Mark Wheatley. In reviewing this SF book on amazon, I described it as “somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and 2001: A Space Odyssey.” I stand by that description. I went on, “This graphic novel covers many themes, such as the relationship between so-called ‘artificial’ intelligence and human intelligence; the interconnectedness of all living things; and the dual nature of the human personality.”
There you have it: three answers to the same question. And that fits with my multi-layered thought process.
Tomorrow: A Comic You Recommend
By the way, I encourage my readers to answer today’s question for themselves in the comments for this post, or via their own social media.