Thursday, May 25, 2006

comics 5

Further notes on comics (and games):

* My wife did go back to that comics shop with me. They have a really big, cool collection of all kinds of games -- she wanted something to play in the pub that afternoon. It was a a calm, quiet, Friday afternoon. Just a couple of other people in the shop (one was female, by the way) drifting through the back issues and the pewter minatures. The manager with the funny hat was still in a funny hat, but he stayed well out of our way. My wife picked "EcoFluxx", which turned out to be a fun one, and we went haunted haunting the pub for a while, playing, then went and haunted our Bubble Tea joint for a while, playing. On the way out of the shop she said, "Well, that was much better."

* I'm watching the old Superman movies again at home (I didn't realize that I was doing it in preparation for the new movie due out soon, but I am!). My wife noted how excited she gets, watching them. Me too. I remember how cool they were when I was a boy -- and, be damned!, they're still cool. The new movie has a lot of work to do if it's going to compare. Superman 1 really set the Kryptonian aesthetics perfectly -- the complex, jagged, crystalline structure of everything (that would later get folded into a robust, knotty, almost-tangled look under John Byrne's pencils in the comics) ...there was a kind of "smart stuff" or early "everyware" aspect to the way [Kryptonian] things looked in both the movie and with Byrne's take. It highlights their technological acheivements, and that heightens the tragedy of their doom. Awesome.

* Back to games for a minute. Comics and games seem to go together, somehow. What is it about them? In gaming you can become like the characters you read about in comics (of any genre). Games are a way to "do something" about unsolvable problems, too, in a way. More important than that, in my mind, is the transformative and "magickal" power of gaming -- to look squarely at a usually-hidden aspect of yourself in the context of a cooperative fictional environment and make that "self" do whatever you Will within the bounds of the agreed upon rules. I don't think magick is a big or important part of gaming culture, however... and maybe it's more effective as magick if the magick remains mostly hidden. Anyway.

* Games aren't gender-divvied, are they? Seems like I see throngs of both girls and boys playing the Yu Gi Oh or the Pokemon in the bookstores on the weekends. And everybody loves Scrabble and Monopoly and Poker, right? What about table-top RPGs? Still the domain of men? It's just interesting to me that games drew my wife back to a comic shop she swore off of. Looking for a game -- a cool game, not just Connect Four or something, but an unusual, under-the-radar, bottom-shelf, small press, game. She was looking for something obscure, see, and the best place to browse for off-beat games? You know. The comics shop. Now how does this play in the the bigger conversation about comics shops? Will games be (or are they already, or have they already been) a factor in getting more women into comics shops? And if they come seeking games, why not just go to a "game shop"? Comics and games seem to go together, somehow.

* For librarians... I again must stress the importance of collecting and promoting this stuff. Gaming books and graphic novels are hot, hot, hot, and it's not a passing fad. This has had and will continue to have staying-power. Design your programs (for any age groups) around these materials and watch a loyal community grow up around you. Go read PopGoesTheLibrary -- they know what's up. And, by the way, this isn't any kind of acquiescence to "low brow" media. Comics are full of advanced vocabulary and complex plots. Comics and games are good for kids (and grownups). You know that, don't you?


Weather: Finally cloudy.
Shushing: My insurance company.


Tim said...

I owned a game store for about three years, and we actually didn't carry any comics. To be honest, we just didn't want to get into it, cause it was (at the time) an entirely different set of distributors.

As for the make-up of the clients, I'd have to say it was about 80-20 (male-to-female). There are women who play, but far more men. The greatest number of women seemed to be focused on RPGs with almost none involved in wargaming (Games Workshop, et al).

Now, as a librarian, I have to say that I totally agree with you that libraries (particularly public) need to carry this stuff. They almost never do, often citing theft issues, but it's high time they started.

I was particularly pleased to notice that the Merrill Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy have an entire trove of RPGs. Almost all of them are out-of-print and (semi?) hard to find now. But honestly, that's part of a library's mission.

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