I am not talking about Star Trek the Next Generation, I am talking about life. Do you know why? Because I’ve created… LIFE! Mwhahahahaha!
Yes faithful readers, two weeks ago I brought a baby into this world. Giving the world another Meidell is my obligation to society. I receive thousands of letters, tweets and emails every week requesting my sperm so there can be more Travis in the world but I refuse. Creating a new me is no easy task.
You see I’ve already given one son to this world and he has performed in nerdiness beyond my wildest expectations. He loves superheroes and dinosaurs. He knows the names of all the characters, he watches all the shows and more. I was afraid a second child wouldn’t compare. That I wouldn’t be able to love him because he’d be into (gasp) sports.
But now that’s all changed, I have become confident that under my roof I can raise two nerds who will live and breath the funny books. So I went ahead and impregnated my wife. I won’t go into the details (you’d like that wouldn’t you, perv) but the end result is now I have a new baby. I am not getting sleep and I am wiping double the butts that I was previously but that’s cool because he’s a good guy.
His name is Parker Sean Meidell and yes, Parker comes from my good friend, Peter Parker. Sean is from Sean Connery, my wife and I’s favorite James Bond. Yep, this kid has no chance.
But something you may not know is that having a kid makes you a bit sensitive to your own mortality. You become aware that time is finite and soon you will be gone. You can handle this awakening a few ways. Personally, I’ve been dealing with this by eating ice cream and crying at Hallmark commercials.
But I’ve decided openly balling while an old man places a Hallmark card on his wife’s grave is not for me. I need to be proactive! So I have decided to ensure that I can pass on my legacy of nerdiness to my children by offering them six pieces of solid, fatherly advice.
Now I don’t know how to fix a car or where to hid a body but I do know comics so we’ll just focus on that for now.
1. You don’t have to like one kind of Batman.
One of the most popular things I’ve heard since The Dark Knight came out in 2008, is that Batman should be only be dark and gritty. They say Batman needs to be brooding alone in the Batcave or pummeling a common criminals face in a dark alley to Batman. But that’s not true.
More than any character in the world, Batman lends himself to all sorts of different variations. He can be anything! Beyond “the Dark Knight” Batman I can tell you about Denny O’Neil and Neal Adam’s Globe Trotting Batman, there’s the goofy sci-fi Batman from the 50’s or the Batman of the early 40’s who deals with supernatural, chemically changed criminals. Plus let’s not forget the law-abiding, daylight Batman of the ‘66 show, the battle-leader Batman of the JLA and more recently the family driven team man of Batman Inc.
Those are just a few examples that comes to mind. In fact, I think a very recent example is The Lego Movie. For those that haven’t seen it (no spoilers here) Batman is a very comical character. He takes himself very serious but his seriousness is so over the top that to the audience he comes off as a bit of a goofball.
And you know what? That’s okay. A goofy Batman doesn’t take away from my love of Dark Knight Returns. Each different type of Batman represents a different creators take on it or a different part of Batman’s history.
Batman evolves to match the time he’s in. Dark and gritty is very much a product of terrorism and the fear of the world we live in and I love it. I love dark and gritty Batman but I wouldn’t get rid of a single different version of Batman because they all are special and there’s great stories in every one. So I hope that my kids can learn to enjoy and appreciate what every single type of Batman means.
Though the Animated Series Batman is the best.
2. DC or Marvel: who cares
PC or Mac. Playstation or Xbox. Coke or Pepsi. DC or Marvel. My day job in advertising is built around helping people establish connections with brands that will last for a lifetime. When you’re thirsty, think Coke! But you know what, you don’t have to pick one. Sure devoting yourself to certain brands can make your life easier (if you’re a mac guy, all your mac products will sync nicely!) but the fact is you can enjoy everything. You can like Coke and Pepsi or play on Nintendo and Playstation.
This is just as true with Marvel and DC. You see I grew up a DC guy but in 2009, I started reading Marvel and for a while I was incredibly guilt ridden. You’d think I was cheating on my wife with the level of guilt I felt every time I picked up Avengers but overtime, I came to realize that great stories come from everywhere. It could be Marvel or DC but it could also be Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo or any number of places.
So like I said, you can pick one if it makes it easier or more affordable to stick with one company but never be afraid to try the other one and NEVER knock the other company for no reason. Everyone is trying to make good stories and move this industry forward and that’s good enough for me. Don’t be a DC guy or a Marvel guy, be a comic guy.
3. Continuity can be your friend
We live in an era of jumping on points, new reader friendly stories and reboots and that’s great. Anything that makes it easier for new readers and young kids to find these characters is great. I’ll put up with all this weird numbering for that (#17.5.Now.Foil.cover.edition.Purple).
That being said, don’t be afraid of continuity. Don’t be afraid to jump in and get your hands a little dirty by reading an entire run of a character. I mean if we’re being practical it’s almost impossible to read the entire run of X-Men or Batman but you still can go back and read a bunch of great old stories. You never know where you’ll find gold.
There’s a real enjoyment in reading something from the start, even if it takes a bit of work. When I started reading Batman I went back and read as much as I could and I still have hardly cracked the surface but it’s nice to know that I’ve read a ton of stories I probably would have never come across if I wasn’t just reading random issues from 1978.
4. Never stop digging
As I just mentioned when you’re reading continuity it can be a lot of work but that’s the real fun with comics. A lot of new readers don’t understand the joy that comes from going to a comic shop and digging through back issue bins for missing issues in your run.
It’s so easy to hop on eBay, Amazon or Comixology and buy an issue right there on the spot and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a great way to get the story fast. But there is also a magic that comes from having to go out and dig.
I’ve started reading Chris Claremont’s entire X-Men run (remember what I just said about impossible, I am trying it). We’re talking not just all of Uncanny but also New Mutants, Wolverine mini, Magik mini, etc. I’ve done a huge chunk of this on Marvel Unlimited and another huge chunk on Comixology but recently my digital issues started to dry up so I’ve started making trips to comic shops to dig through back issue bins. It’s been a freaking blast. When you’ve been to several shops and you finally find the one you need, that’s a rush you can’t get online. That’s comic drugs, yo.
5. The only place spoilers belong is on fancy cars
This article could be titled, “crotchety old man Travis complains about modern comics” but that’s not what this is. This is just my way of trying to pass on some magic of comics to the new generation. That being said, I am going to complain a bit here.
I hate spoilers.
I hate ‘em real bad. This was not an issue ten and fifteen years ago… at least not as bad. Nowadays, a spoiler is being put in the headlines of articles in the New York Times. It’s hard to avoid that.
Things like Spider-Man or Robin’s death you just can’t avoid it but if you can find a way, you should. As I’ve mentioned above a few times, part of the magic of comics is the story and you’re not going to get that from an article on some website.
I know people will disagree with me on this. We live in an age of spoilers but I really, really believe that the best way to read comics is in a comic. So just try to avoid the spoilers and see how much better your reading experience will be. (Hint: It will be way better)
6. Read what you love
Finally, just read what you love. That might be an individual character or that might be a specific creative team. If you love it, praise it and share it with friends and let people know. As fans we can be very negative so it’s nice to hear people praising something amazing.
The opposite is true as well, if you’re not loving something, don’t read it. There’s too much goodness in this world to read a crappy story just because it’s a Batman story and you always read Batman. If you want companies and teams to produce good stuff like Hawkeye, Superior Foes of Spider-man or Sex Criminals then you need to let them know when something isn’t reaching that level by not buying it. Nothing talks like dollar bills.
I promise you that if you don’t love something, you can find something better to read. Collecting comics is the best hobby in the world because there is always something out there to discover. You’ll never read it all. So go dig, find something new and you’ll find that comics can entertain you forever.
Ugh, what a sappy ending. This Travis guy is a real cornball.