I just picked up a two of my favorite comics from Barnes & Noble: The Amazing Spider-Man Marvel Masterworks edition Vol. 1 (which collects issues 1-10 of the Amazing Spider-man, and issue #15 of Amazing Fantasy), and The Adventures of Tin Tin volume 6.

The Adventures of Tin Tin Vol. 6 features The Calculus Affair, The Red Sea Sharks and Tin Tin in Tibet. Herge is a genius and I’m looking forward to re-reading these books.

As I walked through Barnes & Nobel with a stack of the afore mentioned comic books as well as several others (trying to decide which to purchase) it dawned on me that I looked like a complete dork. Almost immediately I was embarrassed and tried to conceal what I was carrying by stacking all of the books up and facing the back cover of the least conspicuous book outwards. This made me look like a bigger dork.

I reasoned in my head that it’s perfectly natural to purchase comic books and if I like it, why be embarrassed? It was then that I started to wonder if other people feel the same as me from time to time. Are comic books a guilty pleasure for a large percentage of people? Is that in turn one of the many reasons that comic books aren’t as main stream as they are in other countries?

In Japan comic books (or manga) are the norm. I took a trip there years ago and everywhere I went children to adults read Manga like Americans read the news: out in the open, on trains, busses, on the street, everywhere. These people weren’t considered odd or nerds. They weren’t told to grow up, they weren’t made fun of. They simply enjoyed reading comic books and didn’t care what people thought.

but what is it that causes Americans to largely consider comic books as entertainment for children, nerds and adults with stunted brain growth? Why is comic book reading more of a sub-culture hobby than a wide spread entertaining activity?

Batman dropping criminals to their death, Wolverine pummeling a foe in a boxing ring, Spiderman fighting the Green Goblin to the death… take these scenes from the pages of a comic book and place them on a movie screen and suddenly it becomes OK. They become more ‘acceptable’ for adults. Even then the more close minded of our society tend to mock those interested in such entertainment.

The fact is, well written, well illustrated comic books are very entertaining and should be considered, and in fact are considered, works of art and entertainment. Reading comic books is no more childish than watching a sitcom on television, or playing a game of cards.

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