I read a lot of books. I try to read as much as I can, from whomever I can: old books and short stories, classic novels and whatever’s just been made into a movie. But lately, I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels, mostly because they’re easy to digest and I can add them to this running list of books I’ve read this year and it gives me an inflated sense of accomplishment. Writing the title of that finished book onto my list of books read this year, creatively-titled “Books I’ve Finished In 2016,” plays in my mind like I’m running through the banner onto the football field while fireworks explode underneath the roar of passing F-16s.
I love Batman. As far as anyone asks, I am (the goddamn) Batman. Batman wins over Superman because he’s not some space alien with a million superpowers. He’s human. He’s, quite frankly, seen some shit. No bright colors of Fortress of Solitudes. Just a guy who’s trying to do some good in the face of an overwhelming world, who—as The Joker points out—is just as insane and driven as his enemies. The hero we deserve! And all that.
So I found myself at a local comic book store, and I splurged, and I bought two iconic titles I’d been meaning to read. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Both considered among the best comic series ever published. I read them both in the span of two days. I am nothing if not enthusiastic.
What I love about them is that they’re energetic. There’s so much coming off the page. The storytelling comes in both forms, in the artwork, and in the dialogue itself, both rendered pure and purposeful. One cannot thrive without the other, of course. Your mind has to focus, as it does in Miller’s work, with choppy artwork and short, rushed lines, interspersed with language that as sweat-stained and spat out as the people on the page.
But the story is what rules in here. And it’s gratifying to see these different styles applying to one singular iconic character, further molding his backstory, his motivation, his allies and ever-changing enemies, and his reaction to chaos.
So, I read on. And I try to garner as much information as I can, on how to organize a narrative, how to reveal information when it’s needed and when it isn’t, and how to draw in an audience through compelling, creative work. And then, like the Dark Knight, I’ll go try to kick Superman’s ass.