When I was a kid I never read comic books. My uncle Don (I think) once gave me a box full of comic books for Christmas. Now that I think about it, that was a really creative gift, but that box just stayed untouched in my room for about six years until I was about to move out, when I gave it to a friend.
Sumana likes the highbrow comic books they put out nowadays. I've read some of hers and I didn't like those a whole lot either. So what does picky me like? Well, I like ACKs. I like books of comic strips. Though I don't like the comic books themselves, I love the insane crowdedness of the Marvel and DC universes, caused by the respective companies having to crank out twenty books a month for decades.
Jake has a bunch of comic books, and I trust Jake's taste, so when I was in Worcester I decided to give the traditional comic book a try. Verdict: not great. The plots are pretty dull and the dialogue is either stilted or fake-casual. The drawing's good but I don't really notice that kind of thing.
- The community of comic book creators, as revealed in the books, is interesting. They dish dirt on each other, make up ridiculous retcons and silly nicknames. It seems pretty tight-knit and full of love-hate relationships.
- The Green Lantern comics are a lot like really old science fiction, especially the Lensman novels. I think those stories work a lot better as comic books. But I wasn't crazy about the Lensman novels and I don't want to read a lot of Green Lantern either.
- Silver Surfer has a ludicrous story and some of the most stilted dialogue I've ever seen, but it's really compelling. I think this is what comic books feel like to big fans.
- The Nethack phrase "undergo a freakish metamorphosis" shows up a lot in comic books. I don't know what the original source is.
But the big highlight was Jake's set of Ambush Bug comics, which were everything I want comic books to be. Unfortunately, Ambush Bug can only exist in the context of everything I find boring about comic books.
Ambush Bug is if Checkerboard Nightmare lived in the DC universe and thought he was Superman's pal. He had bit parts in Superman comics (including one where he kind of casually figures out Superman's secret identity), and then two mini-series of his own. Which actually ended the same way Checkerboard Nightmare ended. But which mainly focused on the weirdness of obscure comic book characters and the nature of continuity. It's really funny stuff and I recommend it. The miniseries also has parodies of those comic book ads that sell junk that doesn't work, which aren't that funny, but you can never have enough parodies of those ads.