Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Comic Books = A Healthy Distraction

A few years ago I was working 60+ hours per week in a high-stress environment and pushing myself into an early grave.  Hypertension, high cholesterol, and an ulcer were all medical issues I was confronting and I was only in my mid-thirties.  At a doctor’s appointment, my physician in dealing with the situation prescribed me some medications, instructed me to eat a better diet and get more exercise, and gave me some really important advice.  He told me that a lot of my problems were because I had a high-strung personality and I needed to take life a “little less seriously” and “relax”.  The doctor advised me to find an outlet to reduce the tension in my life.

While I was in line at the pharmacy a little while later waiting to pick up my prescriptions, I noticed a comic book rack and walked over to browse.  I had been an avid comic book reader in grade school and junior high but hadn’t picked one up in about twenty years.  As I flipped through an issue of “Avengers” , I was impressed by how much fun it still was to read a comic book and it brought back memories of years when life was more care free.  I grabbed a few comics to take home with me Star Wars, GI JOE, and Spider Man.   

Since that day, I regularly read print and digital comics as a way to give myself some time to relax, calm myself down when I might becoming a little stressed, and to help myself take life a “little less seriously.”  Comics have also been a great medium for bonding through a shared interest with my kids and enjoying some family time with them that promotes reading and art.  As I’ve rediscovered comic books, I’ve found that there are some publications that are aimed solely for adult/mature audiences, some geared just for children, and others that appeal to kids of all ages.  So if you enjoy artwork and storytelling there is something out there for just about everyone.

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

You may have heard of this comic because the cable channel AMC is airing a very popular television series based upon the comic books published by IMAGE COMICS.  These comics are very graphic and are geared for an adult audience.  The comic books and tv show center around the character Rick Grimes, a police officer who awakes from a coma after being shot in the line of duty to find the world has fallen apart due to a zombie apocalypse.  He meets up with other survivors and they struggle to survive against a plaque of zombies.  The website Zombiephiles gives a good overview of the similarities and differences between the comic book and tv show (click here to read it).  If you don’t like spoilers though and watch the tv series you may not want to read the comics because they are very much alike.

The Walking Dead comics are printed in black & white to emphasize the dark nature of the story.  The comics are filled with great artwork and excellent stories that will peak the interest of any science fiction fan or horror movie fanatic.  The comic book will reach a milestone edition this July with the publishing of issue #100 which most likely will be given extra special attention and is not to be missed.  Get your Zombie on and pick up an edition of The Walking Dead at a local retailer or online at www.comixology.com
For more information about The Walking Dead Comics visit http://www.imagecomics.com/
This is a great comic book to enjoy together with your kids that features amazing artwork and interesting stories.  I guess the best way to describe it is to say it reminds me of “The Secret of Nihm” combined with “Game of Thrones”.  Mouse Guard is written and illustrated by the extremely talented David Peterson.  It is published bi-monthly by Archaia Studios Press.  If you look for it at the store it stands out on shelves because it is published in a unique square format (8”x8”) versus the standard comic book size (61/2”x10”).
The world of Mouse Guard is set in a land of sentient mice who live in a medieval age.  The stories revolve around a band of knights called the “Mouse Guard” who have sworn to protect civilian mice from predators.  For more information, visit http://www.mouseguard.net/

Another fun comic to enjoy with your kids, especially around Halloween!  Dark Horse Comics has compiled Jill Thompson’s acclaimed children’s stories (Scary Godmother, Revenge of Jimmy, The Mystery Date, and The Boo Flu) in a graphic novel.  Thompson's Scary Godmother series resulted in a successful stage show and an animated specials shown on Cartoon Network: Halloween Spooktacular & Scary Godmother. Thompson is one of the most respected women illustrators in the comic book industry.  In addition to her Scary Godmother series she has received acclaim for her work on Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, and Sandman.
In the Scary Godmother comics, a funky witch helps a young girl overcome bullies and other obstacles in life.  Thompson described the Scary Godmother in an interview with Roger Ash from Westfield Comics as “like your fairy godmother, but for Halloween. There’s really nothing scary about the Scary Godmother. She’s fun and macabre; reminiscent of childhood with a little bit of social commentary mixed in.”  She has also noted that these stories are meant to be enjoyed by both young readers and adults alike.  In an interview with PopImage, Thompson reflected on coming up with the idea for the Scary Godmother to “create a something with a Halloween theme after looking for a Halloween-themed children's book for her niece and not finding anything that she liked.”
To learn more about Jill Thomson visit http://www.jillthompsonart.com or CLICK HERE for more information on the Scary Godmother comics available through Dark Horse Comics.
When you watch reruns of “Happy Days” the 1950’s just seemed like a simpler time to live.  In the comics you can still enjoy the adventures of fictional teenagers Archie Andrews,Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Jughead Jones  who live a 1950s lifestyle in 2012 through their adventures published by ARCHIE COMICS.  These are fun and silly stories that are a good family friendly read.  I remember watching the “Archies” television cartoons growing up and these comic books have a fun 70/80s vibe to them.  One story arc recently had the gang from Riverdale partner up with the rock band KISS to stop a zombie infestation. Can’t beat that!
OK what Geek Daddy wouldn’t be a huge Star Wars fan?  I grew up watching the original movies, playing with the toys from Kenner (made in Cincinnati not China), and reading the comic books published by Marvel Comics.  Recently, Dark Horse bought the rights to republish the original Marvel Star Wars comics and I’ve been a little nostalgic reading a collection of issues that I originally read back in the 70’s & 80’s. Dark Horse also has several new limited edition and serial Star Wars comic books that they are publishing. Several of the titles that I enjoy include DAWN OF THE JEDI (story of how the first Jedi came to be), DARTH VADER & THE LOST COMMAND (one of Darth Vader’s first adventures as the Dark Lord of the Sith), DARK TIMES (stories taking place between the timeline between Episode III & Episode IV), and LEGACY (the story of Luke Skywalker’s great grandson).  For more information about about the Dark Horse line of Star Wars comics CLICK HERE.
I grew up in a home without cable tv that had really bad reception for the local Detroit tv stations, but did get great reception from the CBC channel in Windsor, Ontario.  So I watched a lot of “Hockey Night in Canada” with Don Cherry and episodes of DR WHO.  DR WHO is a long-running British science fiction show that depicts the adventures of a Time Lord,  (a time-travelling, humanoid alien) known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient, telepathic time machine called the TARDIS (whose exterior appears as a blue police box from London in 1963 when the series first aired) that flies through time and space.  DR WHO faces off against villains righting wrongs across the universe and  throughout history.
IDW PUBLISHING has done an incredible job of bringing the Doctor to live on the printed page.  I enjoy regularly catching up on his newest adventures in these comics, especially as watching the television show isn’t as accessible as it was when I was a kid.  Odd considering all the mediums we have to watch television shows now compared to the limited number of channels we had back in the 80s. 
I’m really excited about a new limited series that is coming out sometime in May that will pair up Doctor Who with the STAR TREK crew of the starship Enterprise.  In what could potentially be the ultimate sci-fi fan comic cross-over, this eight issue series will pit the Doctor & Captain Jean-Luc Picard against an alliance of the Borg and the Cybermen.  Check out the post on the Star Trek fan site for more information on what should prove to be an incredible read by CLICKING HERE.
I'm much healthier now that I've taken action to reduce work-related stress in my life, improve my diet, and increase exercising over the last few years.  I truely believe however that renewing my interest in comic books has also been a factor in reducing stress and adding some relaxation to my life. Plus its been a great way to spend some quality dad time with my kids enjoying something together.  Hope you’ve enjoyed my list of fav comics. Feel free to leave a comment sharing what comic books are your favorites and why? 

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading comics for as long as I can remember. They have always been an escapsism for me. Mouse Guard is fantastic. Captain America has always been a favorite too.