I’m Back On (Bag and) Board

Comics, you guys. Comics.

I’ve fallen in love with a medium.

I mean… I’ve had a crush on them since reading a lot of Tintin and Asterix(before I could appreciate the delicious Latin puns – I really must go back and re-read) and when I couldn’t understand my dad’s French issues of The Phantom, I moved over to the few issues of Superman and Spider-Man(especially their shared issues – my dad knows how to pick ’em) and others that were kicking around the house… but as I grew older, my interest kinda shifted.

I wasn’t yet in high school… so I might’ve been a little young for Peter Parker’s angst. And Batman was going over-my-head with the storylines in Shaman and Gotham by Gaslight, which I nevertheless appreciated on a purely aesthetic level. It was finally the theatricality of the death of Superman and the subsequent Reign of the Supermen that had me buying issues regularly. Say what you will about corporate greed and plot problems, the drama and its players blew my pubescent mind. They definitely transcended the Peanuts strips or Archie comics that crossed my path.

After that, I gravitated more to superhero stories in other genres. I’m sure John Wesley Shipp’s Flash had more to do with my enduring interest in that character than any of what the comic book storylines could’ve inspired on their own, despite the comics I casually purchased.

So, if you’d asked me in my later high school years about my thoughts on comics, I’d probably tell you I didn’t really read them anymore, but I liked Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Sure, I recognized it was missing aspect of the geekiness I proudly strutted at Star Trek conventions, but I didn’t think there was anything in them for me…

And then someone made me read Maus.

Again, my mind was blown by the medium. And I slowly became aware of other stories, like V for Vendetta and Watchmen. But superhero action, as it showed up more in film, didn’t call me back to comics(as much as the X-Men films made me curious about the franchise’s origins – I’ll get to ’em eventually… maybe).

So… I knew I was interested… but one of the main things that kept me from diving in was my nagging completism(One day, I -will- be able to intelligently talk about the personalities of all of the generations of the Doctor, dammit). And then, there were webcomics. Talented people creating awesome, gorgeous stories and making them readable, from the very first pane to the most recent, for free online. I went to Fan Expo in 2011 and the atmosphere of Artists’ Alley woke something up that has continued to grow since. Something that drove me to revisit Artists’ Alley at this year’s Toronto Comicon and had me almost ecstatic when TCAF arrived this year.

My desire for broadening my geek cred and the aforementioned completism manifested last year in starting to watch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel from the beginning with Linn(she’d seen all of Buffy, but not Angel). I entered with an open mind, remembering the production quality I’d seen employed for Xena, my own favourite 90s TV heroine, so I wasn’t cringeing too much. With rare exceptions, I dug the vibe of the early seasons. And, this past January, onto that fertile soil was sprinkled these nuggets from Chris Sims of Comics Alliance:

Let’s be real here, folks: If you announce a comic where five teenage girls fight yetis, you already have my attention. If you add that it’s a comic created by Boom! Senior Editor Shannon Watters and Grace Ellis, written by Noelle Stevenson and Ellis, and drawn by Brooke Allen, continuing Boom!’s seeming strategy of moving creators who have had success on Adventure Time, Regular Show and Bravest Warriors over to their own creator-driven projects, well, that’s when the interest turns into genuine excitement. That’s the announcement they dropped on us today with Lumberjanes, a new, full-color series described as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls.”

I didn’t follow most of what came in the middle, but the first and final sentences had my attention. It would be a couple of months before I’d start recognizing the names listed. On May 29th, still buzzing from TCAF, I heard the first issue of Lumberjanes was free, that day only, on Comixology, a digital comics platform. There was no excuse not to dive in. I’ve been shouting “Come on in! The water’s fine!” to anyone who’ll listen ever since. I purchased physical copies of issues 1 and 2 and when I learned that issue 3 was going to be available today…

Today, I got excited about “New Comic Book Day” for the first time ever. No shame in being a late bloomer, I figure. And Lumberjanes delights me more than I ever thought a comic book could. Cool, huh?

So, I type before you today: following dozens of comic creators on social media and getting caught up in the spirit of their creation; reading webcomics and backing crowdfunding campaigns and getting closer everyday to facing my fear of drawing. And reading Lumberjanes the day it comes out.

The Kitten Holy probably has something to do with it. (I just made an inside Lumberjanes joke!)

Wanna recommend webcomics or graphic novels or other nifty sequential art? You’re welcome, of course, to use the comments field below OR…

I’ll also be bringing my enthusiasm for Lumberjanes to the first ever Monkeyman pub night on Tuesday, June 17th. You’ll find company members at the Duke of York after 7pm. All the post-show conversation you’ve come to expect, without the show. It’s a little something we’re trying out. So, yeah, let’s talk about comics and stuff.

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