Monday, December 20, 2010

They ARE real books, but...

I worked in a comic shop for about a decade, so I'm pretty aware of the stigma attached to funny-books. Chief among these is that, regardless of packaging or content or style, they're just not 'real books.' They are, and I'm not really going to go into why they are, since I'm sure there are at least dozens of people who've done it better than me already. The trouble is, though, that while I'm reading a stack of classic-literature Real Books, I've been reading comics/graphic novels/trade paperbacks on the side. The classics, and there are 23 of them, have been mostly enjoyable and satisfying, though there have been a few honest-to-god hard slogs in there. The comics...well, mostly the same can be said.
However, I've probably read around 100 comics in the time it's taken me to read less than 20 of the others. And therein lies my own problem with comics as Real Books. They meet any criteria you can throw at them to stand up next to standard literature (save that real books aren't illustrated, but who would make that one up?), but damn do they read ALOT faster!
The latest example of this are my latest coincidental readings: in one corner, the hefty Edwardian series of stories making up John Galworthy's Forsyte Saga; in the other, Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. I have roughly 100 pages left in the former, and have only just (re)started the latter. Still, I have this lingering suspicion that I just might make it through all 10 volumes of Sandman before I finish Galworthy's saga.
So, what? Does that delegitimise comics as literature, or indeed as books? Of course not. But it does make them -- at least for me -- substantially faster reading.

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