Ames Library Notes: How comics changed my life
The library has always been a staple of my life. As a child I remember every summer I would take home my summer reading program and a different book every week. At first I would make my way through the reading program by devouring the local library’s Hardy Boys collection. Then I slowly transitioned into Choose Your Own Adventure novels before setting in on the popular Alex Rider series. I loved reading these series as I could envision kids my own age going on adventures and solving mysteries or completing “James Bond-esque” missions, and I couldn’t get enough.
However, I soon found myself facing a problem many readers find themselves in. I had completed all these series and didn’t know where to go next. Needing a good book recommendation, I turned to the best resource I could find: my local teen librarian. When I approached them for a book recommendation, they were friendly and asked me a few questions about my interests. In addition, they asked what books, TV shows and movies I had enjoyed in the past. I explained that I had always enjoyed mystery and action novels and when I wanted to watch a movie, I tended to watch movies from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. Hearing my answers, they nodded along and smiled before saying something I will never forget.
“Well there you go, you just answered your own question. You need to read comics!”
When they told me this, I was uneasy at first. At the time, I was a teenager and felt as though comic books were too childish for me. I was trying to read more mature novels. My teen librarian saw my hesitation and assured me that there was a comic book for everyone.
They asked me about more of my interests and which of the Marvel movies I enjoyed the most. I explained to them I had seen the X-Men movies and was a big fan of those books. After hearing that, they took me to the comic book section of the teen space and handed me a copy of Chris Claremont’s classic tale, "X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills." They explained to me this was one of their favorite graphic novels and it is worth a read. I agreed to take it home and give it a try. It was a small enough book and I might as well see what all the hype was about.
Upon reading it, I was automatically hooked. It combined all the things I loved as a teenager and still do: intense storytelling, dynamic artwork and an intriguing mystery. Upon completion, I had to go back for more.
My librarian helped me find a number of different titles ranging from X-Men to Batman and multiple niche titles in between. I found characters that I related to or were going through similar struggles as me. I found stories that I couldn’t get enough of, and I found a passion for drawing that I didn’t know I had through reading comics.
Thanks to comic books, I was able to understand and develop a sense of underlying themes throughout many different titles. I was able to fall back in love with reading and still have a passion for it today.
Comic Books and Manga Recommendations (available at Ames Public Library)
- "Pokemon Adventures vol. 1: Red Chapter" by Hidenori Kusaka
- "Astonishing X-Men vol. 1: Gifted" by Joss Whedon
- "Excalibur vol. 1 The Sword is Drawn" by Chris Claremont
- "Invincible vol. 1 Family Matters" by Robert Kirkman
- "Batgirl vol. 1 Stephanie Brown" by Bryan Miller
- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8-9" by Jo Chen