On Wednesdays We Wear Ink: “No, really, I like comics more than music.”
Posted on December 10, 2014
December 10, 2014
by Andy Waterfield
On Wednesdays We Wear Ink is a weekly column on comics and comics culture. For past columns, click here.
Music has been a big part of my life since I was a kid, but once I hit adolescence, like a lot of people, it became an even bigger focus. Most of my closest friendships were built, at least at first, around music, and most of my socialising involves music to one degree or another. My day job is in the music industry, I wear band t-shirts almost daily, and I’ve got two band tattoos (Black Flag and Minutemen, obv). Basically, people think of me as a music dude, when they’re not thinking of me as a self-involved bell-end anyway.
Which is weird, because I love comics a whole lot more than I love music. Like, waaaaaaay more, but because music is usually a much more communal experience, with a larger social context, this tends to surprise people. I imagine this is partly because most people like music, and see it as a big part of their life, and most of those folks haven’t read comics for years, if they ever read them at all.
You know how you’ve got that album that reminds you of a particular time in your life, that illuminated something for you, or helped you process some gnarly shit? That’s how comics work too. I didn’t begin to make sense of love and relationships through Jawbreaker albums, but through Hopeless Savages comics. When I think of art about the futility and horror of war, I think about Edwin Starr or John Lennon, but mostly The Other Side and Safe Zone: Gorazde. When I was at my absolute lowest, it wasn’t Joni Mitchell I went to, but Return Of Bruce Wayne.
Comics are the context through which I understand my world, the reference against which I remember my entire life.
(All New X-men by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen – Marvel Entertainment)
The trouble is, comics, and reading in general, are a fairly solitary pursuit. Sure, you can buy comics with friends, talk about comics together, and lend each other rad shit, but when it comes down to it, you’ve never seen 200 people show up at a dive bar to jump about and read a comic together.
I’m writing this now, because I am all too aware that I’m writing a comics column for a music website, and I understand that I’m not writing to or for comics fans, for the most part. Some might characterise that as pissing up a rope, but I see it as a challenge, and an opportunity. Basically, I want to give readers of this column a bit of insight into why I think comics are so important, and some pointers on what to check out if they want to get in themselves. I’m not interested in telling people who already read comics why they should be doing what they’re already doing. It’s you sour bastards reading this with a raised eyebrow I’m coming after. Yeah, I see you.
So yeah, that’s it. That’s the closest think you’re getting to a mission statement. Because fuck preaching to the choir. They’re probably out behind the vestry passing a spliff around anyway, bless their little cotton socks.
Next week, we’re gonna be talking about Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo, so you better take your vitamins and get your bed rest. Have a good week.