Saturday, 7 May, was free comic book day, so I hurried down to my local comic shop. It was crowded, but crowded in a friendly way. The type crowd where you see friends introducing their kids to comics, and the artists wave and call you by name. Standing by the spinner racks, I looked around and thought about how you read a comic alone, but you really don't.
When an author writes a novel, it's only assembled. It doesn't come alive until someone reads it, and author and reader together create a shared world. And so it is with comics. But unlike a novel, a comic will have a writer, artist, inker, colorist, letterer, several editors and a creator. It is more of a team effort.
And that last item on the list is of special interest--the creator. In comics, a character may live long after their creator is dead. For example, Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman in 1939 for Detective Comics issue #27. Detective Comics is now on issue #876 and Bob and Bill are writing comics in Heaven.
For any non-comic reader out there who may think comics are a shallow medium, imagine a novel with 876 chapters. Try to picture the depth of character development that length of time allows. Months, years, decades of development that reflect the attitudes and often the fears of the society around it. Writers, artists and editors who come and go, each adding something to the overall mythos of the character.
So by the time you sit down to read #876 here in 2011, you will be benefiting from the work of a host of people over a 72-year period. And that's pretty amazing.
(For more info, check out Wikipedia entries on Bob and Bill. The excellent cover above is by Tony S. Daniel.)