The Enchanting World of Comic Books

When I was a teenager and later as a young woman, I loved reading comic books. There was a special time and place for it–summer holidays in my home city, where my “other family” lived: my father and stepmother, my married sister, my maternal grandmother and aunt… who would all make sure to spoil me a bit during these two months they had me for themselves.

Among the other lovely and relaxing things, to me it was a break from school and all the serious stuff we studied, including literature, which was often too advanced for our age. I loved literature, and I believed I had the mental and intellectual maturity to read, for example, War and Peace, or Germinal at the tender age of sixteen or seventeen. I was in the minority, however, and many of my schoolmates struggled with that heavy load. Personally, I wrestled with some other subjects, such as math and physics, and I still believe that neither literature nor mathematics curriculums were tailored to fit an average student, only those few who had natural affinities about them.

Long summers were the times when my father and my beloved grandmother would happily cook whatever I desired to eat (and I loved various food!), when my incredible stepmother, sister, and aunt would shower me with pretty clothes, shoes and other girly things, and when I could read what I wanted and as long as I wanted, often until the wee hours. Life was sweet and easy, and summer days seemed endless.

I devoured popular fiction, mysteries, biographies, non-fiction, old and new bestsellers, translated mostly from English.

And comics. The comic industry was amazingly vibrant and comic books were immensely popular; publishers had licenses for all the best known comics. There were humorous comics like Peanuts, Garfield, Hagar the Horrible, Denis the Menace, Lucky Luke (I still remember the names of his archenemies, the four Dalton brothers: John, Jack, William and Averell šŸ™ƒ), and of course, Asterix (which I adored then and I still admire very much). I liked Rip Kirby (my grandmother’s favourite comic character) and Mandrake the Magician, action comics (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Phantom, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Conan the Barbarian, Prince Valiant, Modesty Blaise), the quite atypical Western comic featuring an anti-hero, Lieutenant Blueberry…

Ah! The list was long and magnificent!

Comics have never been considered “real literature.” Perhaps they’re not; I don’t know. However, they’re a noteworthy branch of the overall written world. The first recorded “stories” in human history were drawings and pictures, not words, after all. Perhaps the role and significance of comic books in our culture are still waiting to be evaluated, defined and explained.

Throughout history, comics have had their ups and downs; they’ve had their passionate supporters and equally fiery opponents, but they certainly haven’t been responsible for “an increase in juvenile delinquency, as well as potential influence on a child’s sexuality and morals”, as American physiatrist, Fredric Wertham claimed in 1954. They have stood the test of time. My grandmother loved Rip Kirby; a half of a century later, I loved him, too. The sophisticated, urban private eye with his signature glasses, a hat and a steady girlfriend didn’t lose his appeal. Many of the characters introduced in comic books have thrived in film art; some have become pop-culture icons.

Is there a better example for the enduring value of comics that the Batman movies? Just think about the actors who played in them–Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer (my favourite Batman), Christian Bale, George Clooney, Robert Pattinson… (The absence of Ben Affleck from this list is deliberate. I never liked him, especially not as Batman). Or directors who directed them. Not to mention the villains–Jack Nicholson, Uma Thurman, Danny DeVito, Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix… One of the greatest living actors, Gary Oldman, had a role in the Dark Night trilogy, as Commissioner Gordon. He wanted to be in these moves, otherwise he wouldn’t be in them.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has forever immortalized Conan the Barbarian. In my mind, in the case of Conan, the comic and the movie character are a perfect overlap, and for once, I don’t mind blending them in my imagination.

And so on…

I’ve only mentioned here the classic comics, most of them from their golden age. The full story is much more complex, of course, and would take much more time and effort to research and write it. This is only a sweet memory of my carefree, long-past summer days that I wanted to share. A bits and pieces about me (mostly in brackets šŸ˜‰), that’s all.

I wish I could still have all those volumes of comics from my youth to enjoy them every now and then. If nothing else, to feel young and untroubled again, if only for a moment. But they were lost, together with my old life, in a different time and a different place.

Please, share your thoughts and opinions. Do you like comic books? Did you read them or do you still read them? Who are your favourite characters? Who is your favourite movie Batman?

*All the images are from and they should quality as fair use.


About jfkaufmann

Not unlike my characters, I lead a double life: by day I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, and the queen of my kitchen. When the moon rises, however, I shift into my other self and, as Queen of the Night, I reign the magical world of my imagination.
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10 Responses to The Enchanting World of Comic Books

  1. JP McLean says:

    I haven’t read a comic book in ages, but I used to love them as well as the Sunday Funnies section of the weekend newspaper. Calvin and Hobbes is my favourite.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I never read comic books as a kid. I think I would have, but I didn’t have access to them. When my own daughter came along, we read Scooby-Doo comics together. Great fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read the usual comic books as a kid, but I especially remember the Great Illustrated Classics; I admit there are some classic books of which I’ve read only the comic version. Today I like Calvin and Hobbes (have half a dozen of the collections) and the Far Side.

    Liked by 1 person

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