With thanks to Fire & Water patron Steve Givens for suggesting this topic, Siskoid assembles a small panel composed of Steve himself, plus Network All-Stars Ryan Daly and Max Romero to talk about how comics can change one's life. On balance, are comics a positive or a negative? Well, I think you can guess the answer, but check out the discussion that leads us to our conclusions!
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Theme: "Stop Talking About Comic Books (Or I'll Kill You)" by Ookla the Mok.
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9 responses to “FW Presents: How Comics Changed My Life”
Thanks for a super show, full of sweet and powerful stories that resonate.
In my case, comics introduced me to the career of journalist. Before meeting Lois, Clark, Jimmy, Perry and Lana, I’d wanted to be an archaeologist, but eventually realised you rarely found whole dinosaur skeletons. Also, it was a bit muddy.
And yes, comics reading also improved the vocabulary, with the likes of ‘invulnerable’, ‘ironic’ and of course, chrono-synclastic infundibulum’. Comics were complementary to my other favourite reading as a small child, a library book named ‘Myths and Legends of the World’, a weighty tome with NO PICTURES! Basically, it was all heroes and stories and big words (although DC and Marvel types tended to be the better examples of good behaviour).
And congratulations to Steve for being, I think the first patron to suggest a show and actually get to be on it (jealous!).
Haha, no it’s happened before, I can’t take credit for the idea.
Now I feel even more snubbed!
Great conversation! As usual, Max’s tales are similar to mine.
One negative about superhero comics: they often give the impression there’s Justice in this world.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody (belated to Siskoid)! I’m grateful for comics and the Fire & Water Network. My experiences are similar to many of yours. I learned history, geography, science, and vocabulary from comics. Even knowing that many of the “facts” or places were fictional was a spur to learning, because it made me want to look up what really happened or what country was in the spot Marvel claimed for Latveria.
It was also one of the inputs to my moral algorithm, along with family, the Bible, formal ethics studies, etc. I’ve never been able to live by *exactly* the same rules as Superman or Batman, but I appreciate their pure intentions. I remember having an older instructor in a military training program who took the time to ask questions about my “real life.” When he found out I was a comics fan, that meant something to him. Professional ethics was a key part of the course, and he seemed confident that my compass was pointed north because of my love of comics. He would have been as confused by fans who don’t match that as you are (and as I am).
Probably the only thing you didn’t mention that was important to my experience was that comics fueled my appetite for adventure (along with family stories, the Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, and Indiana Jones). That appetite definitely had positive and negative results, but I think it was both a net win and the way it was supposed to be, so I wouldn’t change it.
Now that I think about it, it’s also given me a way to discuss and pass on my values to my children, so that’s a great benefit I share with Ryan, Chris, and others. (I really loved the story about the photo of Ryan’s son.)
Thanks for enjoyable insights, everyone!
Such a great show. As always, many stories echo mine.
Reading/vocab: I was an early reader too, reading at 4 and so people threw anything they could at me to promote it. Many times it was comics. As such I learned a solid vocab at an early age and was an advanced reader in the early school years. How many first graders use ‘elucidate’ or ‘voluminous’?
Other reading: as a kid, comics led me to similar literature. I read mythology books, folklore tales, fairy tales, King Arthur, etc. This led me to Lord of the Rings, Dune, Earthsea, etc in middle school. In high school, vertigo books were nudging me to other cultural reference points – Goya’s prints, fauvism, Arthur Rimbaud, Hieronymous Bosch.
Friends: yes, I met others like me in high school, guys I’m still friends with. But even in these middle aged years, comics have made me many friends including this network and people on the other side of the globe.
Addiction: I was broke in medical school. Instead of gifts, I had my family subscribe to my titles for me to keep it up. So I never left comics because of money. But when money became more liquid, I found it so easy to tack on titles. And more importantly, the bigger addiction was in merch and commissions. I have forced myself to curtail.
Bullying: I kept all this stuff under wraps for fear of being ridiculed. But once I reached a certain career level, I instead embraced it, embedding panels in medical talks, putting up nerdy stuff on my office door weekly, and dropping references in conversation. It is funny how geek culture is the new cool.
Fun show gents! Lots of great stories there.
I had a couple of life lessons revolving around DC digests that came up before. One involved me deciding it would be funny to run around the room when the fire alarm went off in first grade. I got a public spanking in front of the whole school, who were assembled outside because of the drill. When my Mom came in, she’d brough me Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest # 21, the JSA issue. My Mom was a master at guilting, and made me feel horrible about bringing home a gift for a “good boy”. The paddling faded, but that still stings!
Second time came when my Dad gave me $1.50 to buy myself, my sister and him a soda pop at the drugstore up the street. I got there and on the comic rack was Best of DC #51, the Batman Family issue. I had somehow missed this on my earlier perusal of the comic rack. I debated what to do for about two seconds, then bought the comic. When I came home with no drinks, my Dad calmly taught me about being responsible with my money. He gave me another $1.50, so I went back and got the sodas, but got to keep the comic.
When I look at either, I still remember those lessons. So…good parenting, Mom and Dad!
BoDC 51 is the only digest I have, and I didn’t learn a damn thing.
This was a fantastic idea and I loved all your amazing (and horrifying!) stories. Like others have mentioned, some so many points echo my life, as well. Maybe people of a certain personality gravitate to comics? Or do comics create that personality? Who knows!
I really liked how you highlighted not just the positives but the negatives as well. Sometimes, I know I can highlight ONLY the positives and try not to think of the negatives. It was good to think of how comics can affect my life negatively. It’s definitely money issues for me, as well. And I’m still collecting floppies so the long boxes keep growing. Also, I know that I’ve always had a hard time making friends so it was so much easier to bury my head in a comic book and pretend that these four colour heroes were my friends. Having this community to talk about comics has definitely helped me for the better!
Speaking of the positives, aside from the enjoyment of reading, I realized that these morality plays certainly helped shape my moral compass. I hope this has made me a better person and I like how Max asks himself, “What would Superman do?”. It’s not crazy at all and I think more people would benefit of thinking the same thing.
Well done, everyone! This was fantastic and touching and it’s made me very grateful for these shows and this network. Everyone here is super awesome! Keep up the great work!