Daily 49er

Negative space: An introduction

This new bi-weekly column will connect you with the best comic books on library shelves.

Photo Illustration by Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Photo Illustration by Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

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Comic books are everywhere in film and TV. They should also be for everyone, but new readers can sometimes find comic books intimidating, especially if you’re new to them. This bi-weekly column will aim to change that.

Every other Wednesday, I’ll be recommending at least two comic books based on a different theme. These selections will be tailored to new comic book readers, but anyone is welcome to seek these titles out and even offer their own recommendations in our comments section.

Some of you may have never flipped through a comic book. Others of you may have just started reading comics and are actively seeking recommendations. Either way, my goal remains the same: to connect you with interesting comic books and make a case as to why they are worth your time.

Forget the awful numbering system. Forget price tags. Forget any barriers to your entry into the wonderful world of comics.

The books featured in this column will consist solely of collected editions, also known as volumes. These contain multiple issues of a series which are repackaged as one book, usually in paperback or hardcover form. Collected editions are easy to store and generally feature a story arc that begins and concludes within its covers.

Comic books can become an expensive hobby. A look through the month’s solicitations for most publishers will show that the lowest price individual issues of a series are usually sold for is $3.99.

People with bills to pay who don’t sleep on a mattress of money may find that a bit expensive. Even more so when you don’t want to be limited to reading only one title.

I believe art should be accessible, which is why this column will focus exclusively on titles found for free in the Long Beach Public Library and University Library.

For this introductory edition of the column, I’ll be spotlighting only one title: “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art,” written and illustrated by Scott McCloud, with lettering by Bob Lappan.

“Understanding Comics” was released in 1993 but remains useful to readers at any experience level today. The fact that this book is used in Comparative World Literature 213: Visual Studies and Graphic Novels is evidence of this. The book is drawn in black and white and written in a simple, conversational tone. It features a “cartoon” version of McCloud explaining the origins and styles of comics from around the world, as well as how comics work. The simplicity of “Understanding Comics” makes it perfect for newcomers and experienced readers alike!

You can find this book on the second floor of the University Library in the graphic novel section. It can also be found at the Los Altos, Main and Ruth Bach locations of the Long Beach Public Library.

If “Understanding Comics” isn’t enough for you between now and the next installment of this column, I recommend searching the name of your favorite superhero in your local library’s database and starting with anything labeled “volume 1.” And remember that you read the panels and dialogue or narration bubbles left to right, then top to bottom.

This column will return Feb. 13 with recommendations for titles created by African-American writers and/or artists.

Happy reading, comrades!

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