Today is International Read Comics In Public Day.

And while I did buy a half-price copy of 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2004 yesterday when I went to The Deep to pick up my books for this week, specifically with the purpose in mind of participating Saturday.

However, I don’t know for sure that I’ll be able to, so I’m posting this, and at least being public about my comics reading.

I’ve posted on here before about my love of comic strips, but I haven’t talked as much about comic books. But, yeah, I’m geeky enough that I still read comic books. I go to the comic shop every Wednesday between work and Bible study to pick up the new books, and usually read them that night.

I read the random rare issue of this or that infrequently growing up, but didn’t really start reading comics regularly until college, inspired by my editor, noted journalist and author Jesse Holland, and fellow Daily Mississippian staff members Rodney Crouther, Lain Hughes and Joe Gurner. For a while there, a comics run up to Memphis was held pretty much every week.

Back then, my consumption was pretty mainstream, and very DC — Superman, Batman, Flash, Justice League, Green Lantern. It was the era of the huge event, kicked off by the death of Superman. That was a redefining moment, and every few months thereafter, Batman got replaced, or Green Lantern turned evil, or Superman came back to life but Clark Kent died. Metropolis, Gotham and Coast City were destroyed so frequently that I can’t imagine there are any extant insurance providers in the DC universe today.

Today … well, I’m tempted to say I’ve very much become “that guy” when it comes to comic books, except that there are so many “that guys” in comics that it means nothing. There’s “that guy” that wears nothing but superhero logo shirts. There’s “that guy” that will have heated debates about who would win in a fight between heroes. There’s “that guy” who will explain ad nauseum how your favorite book has never been the same since Chris Claremont wrote it.

I’m “that guy” who thinks that mainstream superhero books are mindless pablum, and any intelligent reader should only be reading books by smaller imprints (or by the “indie” imprints published by the Big Two).

I’m all about some Astro City, or Fables, or Echo, or Elephantmen, or any number of books the average person hasn’t heard of. If I’m talking to you about comics, that’s what I’m going to talk about, that’s what I’m going to recommend. In fact, right now, you should order a cheap used copy of Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile. It’s easily accessible to the non-comics-reader, and greatly entertaining. OK, you back? I also heartily recommend Astro City, though reading it benefits from some familiarity with the basic conventions of superheroes.

And then there’s something like Localthat doesn’t have any superheroes or fairy tale characters or anything, just a young woman growing up as she travels around the country. Or there’s True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are,a writer’s true story (of course) about how he met his wife. You can buy a used copy on Amazon for a penny. I mean, OK, really, what’s stopping you?

And I could go on and on. Just picking those four seems woefully lacking, and I’m positive there are far better things I should have mentioned.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should note that, despite the fact that I’m continuing to gradually decrease my weekly reading, I still pick up the occasional mainstream superhero event book. Even as we speak, Daredevil’s taking over Manhattan and the Green Lantern Corps is …

… well, you’d just have to read it.

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