I've written before about my on-again, off-again relationship with comics. But today, I really want to hear your stories. I'm curious about those of you out there who do read comics, but I'm also really interested in those of you who don't read comics. Here are a few questions to get your started. I'll post my own answers to these questions later.
- Have you ever read a comic book?
- If not, why not?
- Roughly how old were you when you read your first comic (if you've ever read one)?
- Do you currently read comics?
- If not, why not?
- If you're into (or were into) comics, list three of your favorite stories/arcs/etc. to share with my followers, and why you like them.
- What other things do you read (e.g., fiction, non-fiction, specific types of genres, etc.)?
- Do you like the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
- If so, does it make you interested in wanting to read more stories about the characters?
- Do you like the DC Cinematic Universe?
- Similarly to the above - would you be interested in reading more?
- For you role-players out there, have you ever used a story, character, or other concept from a comic book in one of your games?
On a related note, I recently participated in an online course developed by Stan Lee and Michael Uslan (producer of every Batman movie including the Burton, Schumacher, and Nolan versions, as well as the first person to ever teach a course of comics back in the 1970s) in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution. The course was part of "EdX" which is an online learning platform developed by MIT and Harvard that features free courses.
Yes, this course was free! It was called "The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture." It was "taught" through a series of videos, text, and images that covered all of the main periods of comics culture, from the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and up through the Modern Age. In each section, Michael Uslan (who is the main instructor) talks about what was happening in the world at that time (e.g., World War Two, the Civil Rights Movement, Viet Nam, etc.) and helps to put the events happening in the comics into context of how they reflected what was happening in society. He also interviews Stan Lee in each section in a series of videos where Stan provides his memories and recollections, which is very cool because he's one of the only people still around who was there all the way back near the beginning of the Golden Age and who is still active and involved in the community today.
As this is a free course, it's graded on a pass-fail basis only. You pass the course be completing some "homework" each week. The homework was based around designing a new superhero, ideally using your own culture's mythology as inspiration. I chose to look to my Scottish and Irish heritage and then designed a female superhero, her alter ego (civilian identity), her origin, and of course her main nemesis - a supervillain. The course lays all of this out so you do it little by little, and at each stage, you provide your reason for the choices that you made. There are also sections for providing illustrations of your character, but they understand that not every is an artist, so there are forums and social media sites for the course where you can partner with an artist to collaborate on your hero. They also give links to online sites such as HeroMachine where you can design your hero yourself with an online template (which is what I did).
I'll talk more about this in coming weeks, but even without the hero-designing aspect of the course, I found it very interesting and informative to learn about the various ages of the comics and how the creators of those time periods were trying to reflect what they saw happening in the world around them. If you're at all interested in comics, or history, or better yet, comics history, I encourage you to check out the course. You can learn more here. They are going to offer the course again based on the feedback they received from the inaugural course that wrapped up at the end of June.
Don't forget to drop your comments below to answer my questions about your experience with comics!
Hanging: home office (laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "How's Your Life - Alix Alvarez Mix" by Tortured Soul (link is for Spotify)