Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stay Positive: Comic Books & Graphic Novels

Recently I've gotten back into comic books, and I'm also venturing into graphic novels.

Above is one of the paperbacks I've bought recently. Daredevil was one of my favorite superheroes when I was a kid. Back in those days, I also regularly read Spider Man, The Avengers, and X-Men, but "The Man Without Fear" was always my go-to superhero. 

I've waded into the recent stories about Daredevil as told by Mark Waid, which goes to four volumes at present, and I've pre-ordered volume five, the cover of which is below. 

Obviously, like in volume 4, Daredevil and the webslinger team up. 

As for Daredevil in the Marvel universe, I don't know if experts would consider him as major of a character as Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man, Hulket al. But I guess I was drawn to him because his comic books tended to have a darker sensibility. At least that seemed the case when I was reading Daredevil in the 80s. 

Besides the superhero stuff, I also read Fun Home, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel that is excellent. Then I read a compendium of American Splendor by Harvey Pekar. 

And after having an email conversation with a guy I went to grad school with, a fellow who teaches courses on comic books and graphic novels at a R1 university, he recommended I check out Brian Wood's Northlanders

My friend is a scholar of Medieval Studies and can translate in Old Norse. Though I'm not a scholar in Medieval Studies, like him I have an interest in the Vikings, but that's mainly because I'm a quarter Danish and a quarter Norwegian. I like to think that my ancestors were Vikings of some ilk, but in reality my forebears were probably Norwegian and Danish fishing people who got killed or exploited or shook down by Vikings.

Nevertheless, I'm interested in Vikings and Viking culture. In fact, a couple of summers ago, I read A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones for personal enjoyment. And I may venture into other historical accounts/nonfiction about those folks in the future.

However, even though Wood's work is rooted in history, the seven volumes of Northlanders are fictional accounts about the dying out of Viking culture from various perspectives. From the looks of it, the volumes are all stand-alone stories. I've only read volume 1 (above) and 3 so far, and volume 2 is on its way. 

The artwork in Northlanders is gorgeous, and the stories are solid. Wood did his research. Lots of blood though. 

Because it seems pretty easy to convert graphic novels to the screen, I wonder if we could see Northlanders in film form sometime in the future. My hope is that HBO creates a series. I'd like to see Sven the Returned and the Shield Maidens on the small screen. 

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