I have been forever a fangirl of all things superhero, including, but not limited to, anime (Sailor Moon is a superhero, no matter what anyone says), cartoons, art, comic cons, cosplays, etc. However, the task of jumping into those twisty-windy-twirly-whirly superhero backgrounds? That has largely kept me away from comics for most of my life. That and an opinion that those comics are largely overdrawn (I have a thing for the simplicity of animation, don't ask me why. Blame Disney. I do.).
And, in all actuality, because I frequent online shopping and large brand stores (Don't kill me but the indie bookstores in my area make me want to re-alphabetize all their shelves. And that's not an urge I want to deal with while shopping for books.), my opportunity for jumping into the big publishers and their ongoing stories is quite difficult. Whether there is a comic book store in my area, I don't know, but the fear of being labeled and shunned in it (if it existed) also kept me out of those.
So, when I heard of comixology.com--the site that is the current best place for digital comics from every publisher--I was immediately intrigued. As I said, I already loved superheroes. The animated TV shows on Saturday mornings had got me hooked--but the prospect of trying to figure out which comic was the start of a run, which runs I should read, etc., had all but paralyzed my trigger finger. Luckily, the internet existed. I got my fill of comic book characters through their wikipedia pages. While it was never truly satisfying, I was no longer starved.
And then, something happened. First of all, I was living in Switzerland. I couldn't just browse through a bookstore for new reads--everything was in French. Secondly, wikipedia pages were becoming not enough anymore. And then, finally, I was faced with the question of where did I want to try to get an internship over the summer.
A summer internship? you say. What's that got to do with why you started to read comics?
Let me explain. I am an Industrial and Labour Relations student who's most interested in Human Resource Management. Not the most comics-centered place. At the ILR school of Cornell, there are several very prestigious and important internships you can go for. These are places that regularly hire ILR students, both for internships and for later work. They include big names like Cisco, Deloitte, and Morgan-Stanley, among others, and they're largely considered the cream of the crop for ILR students. As my friends around me were beginning to apply, I realized that these were not the places I wanted to end up at. I realized that the places I wanted to work were not large investment banks or online companies, but creative workplaces where I believed (believe) that my skills as an ILR student and my creative side would both get challenged. So I thought hard about where I wanted to work, and why, and what I would do if my expectations about the HR of that workplace, specifically, were not met. (That's a key part of the equation, I think, but something I won't elaborate on now. Perhaps in a later post). My list included places like smaller online stores (Modcloth), booksellers and blogs (Bookriot.com), as well as some bigger names, like Disney (which had always been on my list), Marvel (owned by Disney), and DC Comics (owned by Warner Brothers). And then I started looking into the internship process.
For most companies for which you are applying for as an intern, they want a cover letter, explaining why you want to work there specifically. For most of us, it's a formula approach. Open most relevant letter from different company, change names, go onto site and figure out some things that can be copy and pasted over the old company to make it sound like we know what we're talking about. For me, I found that I wasn't satisfied with that. While it was alright for simple internships, we were now talking about the dreaded junior year internship: those that inevitably (hopefully) lead to offers of full time jobs at the end. And working somewhere where I didn't think I could walk in wearing an interrobang necklace without receiving odd looks? Wasn't something I thought I could do.
So I looked into those internships. And while I know quite a bit about the things that influenced me in my early years (read: cartoons of Disney, DC (Justice League and Teen Titans, anyone?), and X-Men (the Avengers and Spiderman never really did it for me--though I'm loving the new Thor comics so far), I still hadn't broken into that oldest and most cherished form of superheroes: the print (or digital) comics.
So, long story short, I started reading comics. :)