COLUMN: Don't miss out, pick up a comic book

Brendan Weisner

We all use some form of media to relax, destress and unwind after a busy week. For you, it may be the food network, an action movie or a spy novel. 

We all have our favorite characters or stories across many different mediums. But let me tell you; if you aren't reading comic books, you're probably missing out.

For almost as long as language itself has existed, humans have told each other stories – legends and myths of heroes and their adventures. Storytelling is the most culturally important pastime of humankind.

We tell those stories in so many ways.

Comics are far from the most popular medium, but their importance, influence and creativity are not to be denied.

The drawn page brings visual wonder that you can only find in live-action or animated movies and combines it with the long-form storytelling that you can only find in novels. 

Actually being able to see the characters and hear their thoughts at the same time – to watch fantastical action contrasted by character development during small, emotional moments – it's all things the big screen may not have time for.

When someone asks me what my favorite story of all time is, nothing compares to the incredible storytelling of comics like All-Star Superman. Sure, you've heard of Superman but probably not this particular story unless you've read comics.

Imagine the story of one of the greatest heroes in the world being told he has a terminal illness. 

Imagine the emotional toll this titan goes through and the character development happening all around him. It's the most emotional story I've ever been told. I'd put it up against any movie, show, novel or article I've ever seen.

There's a reason why so many movies and shows of today are adapted from comic books - comics allow for expression and risk-taking in ways that most forms of media just don't. 

And I'm not just talking about the cape stuff...

Did you know that Richie Rich, Scott Pilgrim, Kingsman: The Secret Service, V for Vendetta and many other non-superhero movies are based on comics?

There's also a pattern of properties that began as movies but transitioned into comic books. Think of your favorite action movie franchise, TV show or novel – chances are there's a comic book version of it somewhere. 

Game of Thrones, Alien vs Predator, Godzilla, and Doctor Who are just a few.

The reality is, creating a comic page is much cheaper than filming a scene. There's no need to organize dozens of actors and crew or expensive camera equipment. Meaning, the creators now have a chance to tell the smaller, self-contained stories that can't fit in the blockbuster movie. 

Comics give creators freedom of expression in a way that nothing else can.

In 1938 National Allied Publications released Actions Comics issue #1, the very first appearance of Superman, and the creation of what we would come to know as the superhero genre. 

Since then, Superman has appeared in hundreds of movies, books and TV shows. He is one of the most recognizable characters in all of fiction. 

There's an entire sub-genre of subverting the expectations of a classic Superman story. Stories like Injustice, Forever Evil and the Justice Lords only work as subversions of the character. 

No other movie or novel could use that character's history in a meaningful way because no other character has as much history as Superman does. 

History defines these characters, enhances them, and allows for the kind of creativity that wouldn't work in any other medium.  

There are hundreds of universes and even more stories to experience. Don't limit yourself to the screen or the text-covered page. If you or a friend wants to get into comics, don't panic or overthink it. Find a character you think is interesting, and pick up the first issue you can find. 

If you're looking for somewhere to start your comics journey, head to your local comic shop (try Hall of Heroes, right here in Mount Pleasant) and try some of my personal favorites like "All-Star Superman," "Spider-Man Blue," "Captain America Marvel Knights." 

Try anything that catches your eye.