In the next issue of Vector, #270, columnist Terry Martin (of Murky Depths) writes,
When I recently asked one of our prolific comic writers if he was enjoying these columns he answered that I should be giving the mainstream titles, such as those published by Vertigo, more publicity. In actual fact I have covered the likes of Fables and The Unwritten, both Vertigo titles – and the later is one of my favourites. Most Vector readers, he claims, aren’t comic readers, and that I should be directing you to the ‘popular’ comics. I’d be interested to know if you read comics. If you don’t, you‘re missing out.
So, Vector readers: do you read comics?
Should Vector consider providing more coverage of mainstream comics? Obscure comics? Ever since Matrix ended, Vector‘s mandate has de facto encompassed media other than novels and short stories, even if it hasn’t been the magazine’s biggest strength. But rather than getting sidetracked on the bigger issue of representing a broader diversity of media: what about comics in particular?
17 thoughts on “Do Vector readers read comics?”
To answer for myself: I don’t read comics on a regular basis. I’ve followed manga series, and I’ll often read a single volume of a comic when it’s award-nominated (Hugo shortlist for best graphic novel, or when Brian Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland was on the BSFA Best Novel shortlist.) Castle Waiting and Bone were exceptions to these generalities in recent years. I read each because someone enthusiastically recommended them to me.
I don’t really. I grew up on 2000AD but it became impossible to buy where I lived and lost the engagement with the culture. When comics did become available to me again, the fact they were serialised was a major turnoff; so much slower and more expensive than novels. I’ve continued to dip into the odd graphic novel (and cover these in the BSFA Review) but only when they become inescapeable so I’ve not gone much beyond the canon. I do often think about taking it up again and I imagine electronic subscriptions to an iPad (or equivalent) will how I will become ensnared.
I can tell you all about Superman’s bottle city of Kandor – at least as it was told in cheap 70s reprints – and I was a regular reader of 2000AD when at uni I shared a flat with someone who had hundreds of back issues. That got me past the slowness of serials which Martin mentions.
These days, though, its the very occasional, very widely recommended graphic novel.
I go through phases. I grew up on Marvel UK reprints and collected a lot of comics as a kid. In my early 20s I worked across the road from Forbidden Planet and got the bug again for about five years, picked it up again in my mid-30s and then stopped again. I’ve recently started again thanks to buying a tablet and discovering Comixology and that’s prompted me to pick up some indie graphic novels again. I still have a soft spot for Marvel stuff – I’ve never really been able to get into DC gave up on 2000AD after issue 10…
Read war comics when I was a nipper, but never got into the superhero stuff at all, with the end result that every time I did encounter superhero comics I found them faintly absurd. I read some graphic novels/comics nowadays, but I’m pretty picky, relying on recommendations from folk who know my core texts in the field, and who share a bafflement over the whole Underwear Pervert thing.
I read a handful of webcomics, too, and I like the way people in that field – with very little hope of financial recompense, unless you count the New Dawn Of Kickstarter – feel free to do really way-out stuff. So I guess I’d be looking for the weird and way-out recommendations in Vector coverage of the field, though that’s just my two cents, innit? :)
I have read a lot of comics in my time, but then I am one of the editors of an online comics fanzine. Though actually I don’t read that much current material – a lot of my reading is catching up with the 1960s and 1970s.
I think I agree with Terry’s unnamed correspondent that most Vector readers aren’t comics readers, or at least not regular comics readers. But I absolutely disagree that Terry should therefore be directing readers to ‘popular’ comics – he should be directing readers to the comics that he thinks are worth paying attention to.
I read a fair amount of Marvel growing up; one or two graphic novels/collected comics/volumes of manga a year (e.g. Scott Pilgrim, Mu Shi Shi, Planetes, Alice in Sunderland, Ooku, The Authority, All-Star Superman); and I’m currently following Ultimate X-Men on my iPad. Other than that I’ve read, and still read, lots and lots of comic strips — Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes back in the day, Order of the Stick and Questionable Content now. I’ve read my Scott McCloud, but wouldn’t describe myself as a knowledgeable comics reader.
I’ve read comics on and off since 1958, though nowadays it’s mainly the odd collection of mainstream stuff I used to follow. I must admit to no particular interest in the stuff currently reviewed by Vector, and probably won’t take recs from there….
I never read Eagle or Judge Dredd or any of the SF comics. I have quite a lot of Feiffer and Gary Trudeau and Posy Simmons, Asterix and Eloise. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Watchman and Sandman because people recommended them to me, There is a copy of Maus and a small pile of actual comics someone gave me with recommendation somewhere around here waiting to be read. So yes, I read comics, but mostly not SF comics, and even more randomly, infrequently and with less of a critical and literary hinterland than I read other literature.
I think it worth mentioning that some comics are bleeding into the wider culture as films, in much the same way as most people know Dickens from adaptation: I’ve watched (rather than read) V for Vendetta, Sin City, X-men, etc.; and I do appreciate the film-makers aim to keep both visual and story values from the comics. It’s certainly not the same literary experience though.
If Vector carried articles about sf comics I’d read them, probably, but if they assumed knowledge or deep engagement with the culture I would have problems.
Caroline: Vector has Terry’s column on comics, but you’r right, we haven’t had any articles otherwise on the subject, not lately anyways. I need to work on that.
Read 2000AD until I was 14 or 15 then very little since, other than Maus and (like Niall) a bit of Scott McCloud. I bought some of the Sandman books but quickly discovered that it’s not really my thing. None of my peer group at school were into Marvel or DC comics so it’s a taste I’ve always found a bit exotic.
I would say that on the whole I’m not particularly interested in comics. Every so often I get something recommended and I try again, but it doesn’t really do much for me. But nor does most film & TV SF, so I even though I skip the comics column I would be reluctant to drop it. As for its content I can’t comment.
It is very interesting to read that you Brits apparently all used to read superhero comics in your younger days. When I was a child/teenager in Germany in the 70s, practically every boy I knew had comic books about Donald Duck and his uncle Scrooge on his book shelf. Many of us also read Asterix, Spirou & Fantasio, and Lucky Luke. On the other hand, I am pretty sure I have never met more than a handful of people who read Superman or Batman comics. Argh – men in tights! :-)
These days, I still reread half a dozen Spirou & Fantasio comics from time to time and, of course, Calvin & Hobbes (!) – and I sometimes borrow books from my municipal library (e. g. by Scott McCloud, Will Eisner – and whatever has an interesting cover).
I read comics/graphic novels but they have to fit in with all the other stuff I read. Mostly vertigo type stuff: so currently I’m reading American vampire as the collections come out. Waiting for Buffy series 9 to be collected. variously working through fables, Y- the last man, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing collections. Last thing i actually read was Bryan Talbot’s The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (which is as sf as you can get). I like the column – I may never read most of the stuff covered but I like knowing what is going on. I read marvel as a kid (particularly the Avengers) at primary school in wet playtimes, so looking forward to the film.
Rainer – not a universal experience for Brits at all. Thinking back to my school days the only comics in circulation were British weeklies – Wizard, Warlord, Action, Monster Fun, Beano, Dandy, 2000AD etc.
I read comics and always have done, right the way back to TV Comic and Warlord in the 70s. Nowadays I’m mainly into the more interesting and alternative end of superheroes (The Boys, Incorruptible, Irredeemable, Invincible, Wanted), though I’ve a soft spot for the monthly reprint editions by Marvel UK. Of course, I can’t forget that stalwart 2000AD which even after all this time still has more peaks than troughs. Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison, John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra…what a roll call of great story tellers.
I prefer comics to written SF these days. Comics have more of the sense of wonder that science fiction used to give me. Maybe I just caught up with all the historical good stuff, but quite a while back I lost interest in genre SF, finding too much of it to be rather dull with not much in the way of story telling. Comics, especially the good stuff like Planetary and Flex Mentallo from a few years back or All Star Superman more recently, is much more mind blowing and the stories are generally much better told. There’s something intoxicating about that faint whiff of pulp in your fiction.
I’m only an occasional reader of Vector, not being a member of the BSFA, but: no, not really. It’s not that I’ve got anything against comics – I own, even treasure, a few issues. But I don’t know what’s happening in the world of comics and don’t actively try to find new comics to read.