As comics continue to converge with other artistic realms, my tastes in other media frequently has an influence my comic book purchases. I enjoy listening to Tori Amos, so I read Comic Book Tattoo, a compilation of stories inspired by her songs. The same applies in reverse; I liked Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, so I finally broke down and watched Buffy (and loved it). One should take risks in order to discover new things, just as you shouldn’t base all purchasing decisions on Amazon’s “if you like this, you’d probably like this” suggestions. But I’m happy to say that reading comics has exposed me to a lot of new works, whether in films, novels, or music. Here are a handful of my cross-media discoveries:
Ender’s Game (the comic) --- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
As mentioned previously (and frequently) in this blog, I have a weakness for science fiction books. Dune, Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451; they all hover at the top of my list of favorite books. Seeing a sci fi classic on the Marvel shelf was a no brainer purchase. Not only did I discover a great comic, but it also motivated me to finally read the original novels. Reading the Orson Scott Card classic gave me a real appreciation for the series as an adaptation. It’s being split into several minis, so readers can be grateful that little will be left out of the comics from the source material. A win / win scenario for fans of the book and the comics (my only regret is that I know how the series is going to end). I’m expecting Marvel’s upcoming adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant by David Mack to have a similar effect.
X-Men (the Bryan Singer film) --- New X-men (Grant Morrison comic)
Umbrella Academy --- My Chemical Romance
This one isn’t a total sell. I still don’t care for the band My Chemical Romance, but if I happened to be a tween goth girl, I may be singing another tune. I do, however, have a lot more respect for lead singer Gerard Way after reading the awesome Umbrella Academy series (currently available in two volumes), and I no longer dismiss this band as shallow fluff for depressed teens. They are shallow fluff for depressed teens – with a potential depth of which I am simply unaware. With a great writer as their lead singer, they deserve the benefit of the doubt, even if I still don’t enjoy their music.
American Splendor --- A Lot of Jazz
Enter a total sell. With some Miles Davis and a slew of blues singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone as part of my collection, I’ve enjoyed the occasional jazz. Reading about Harvey Pekar’s obsessive-compulsive love of the genre, and seeing the film American Splendor with its jazz packed soundtrack was the final shove I needed to start me exploring. The Dave Brubeck Quartet. John Coltrane. Thelonious Monk. I’m still working through the classics, but it’s been a worthwhile comic book related tangent.
These were natural progressions for me, but they may be a stretch for others. I’m betting on enthusiasm being contagious. I hope that what I write will occasionally inspire someone to pick up a book they wouldn’t normally consider reading, or listen to an album that might be a pleasant companion piece to their comic, or simply find entertainment in an unexpected place. That’s why I write this blog! And expect a whole lot of it in the future. I’m still in Tasmania, and I miss having a desk. My collection of comics back home, however meager it may be, serve as a wonderful source of images and inspiration. The local library is a temporary substitute for the comic book stores back home, and I’m missing those fresh Wednesday books. I’m two weeks away from returning to the states and it may be a while before I get back into the swing of things, but stick around, there is plenty more to be shared.