Comic book series written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by various artists
So, the popular history goes like this:
During and just after WWII, comic books were everywhere. The best sellers sold over a million copies bi-weekly. Popularity dropped from those highs, but remained respectable. Attempts were made to clean up questionable content. The industry received bad publicity. TV shows and movies were made, reviving sales. Yada, yada, yada…
In the 1980s, comic books had a new shot at respectability. Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Watchmen all made their way into bookstores. All the cool kids were reading comics. Something called Sandman could be found in college dorm rooms. A few independent comics caught on, notably TMNT. Then the investors entered the fray. Big money hit- classic bubble economics… yada, yada, yada…
Somehow, comics hung in there. They started publishing trade paperbacks that made the reading experience more fulfilling. They jumped to digital quickly enough to survive so far. Movie makers look for the next big thing, so there is some money to be made. And… we’re up to date.
Given all that, a question: Why does it seem like The Dark Knight Returns, and The Watchmen are still the books used to lure new adult readers?
I made the mistake. I see others make the mistake. Comic books have an entirely new grammar and are hard enough to read for many people. You don’t want them to read a manual before they start. (Though it is a brilliant guide.) We all do it with our favorite things- a) get really into something; b) try a lot of it, so it becomes familiar; c) discover something special that rises above all the rest; and d) recommend that new thing to your friends who have no context because they didn’t make the journey with you to get there. It’s hard to appreciate someone else’s passion. It’s only made worse when it feels like a class assignment. “Go. Read this. Report back to me in 48 hours on how you love it.”
Let’s face it,comic books play like a genre unto themselves for most people. The fact that a writer as remarkably talented as Greg Rucka has steered clear of all superheroes with Queen & Country when “that’s what sells” is an incredible blessing. The stories are among the best modern intelligence thrillers available. The artwork is a perfect break from the styles employed elsewhere.
I still dip my foot into current superhero comics to see what the big thing might be. Too often, the stories go nowhere and they jump cut from scene to scene, leaving it to the reader to make sense of the action. Q&C feels like a real story happening in real time to real people.
A nod to Oni Press, who keep publishing work that make me remember why I keep a graphic novel or two in the read pile.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 159 more to go.
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