In the immortal words of Théoden of Rohan, “How did it come to this…?”
Don’t get me wrong folks, Im truly kicked to be here writing a weekly column for all my fellow comic cravers out there, courtesy the fine folks on this site – guys I promise I’ll do my damnedest to behave and to hopefully not make you regret giving me this opening! Really, I mean it I do!
My quoting the Lord of Edoras was to convey the slight disbelief and simply wonder how it is that me, a good Indian boy working 9-5 in the business world have come the direction I have and today am contributing an online column about comics and graphic stories. C’est la vie non?
So, before carrying on any further and confusing you more dear reader(s?) – welcome to the first edition of the Weekly Wayfarer.
Here we will be reaching around comic-dom for the oddball, the intriguing, the unusual, the amusing and occasionally the disturbing – not for any other reason then simply to expand horizons. In a medium overloaded with folks in tights and dominated by The Big Two pretty much everywhere, we as fans must give a shot to the more unique voices, the off-the-grid talent that makes us look again and again and helps change our perspectives on what comics can do.
Now I would like to say this here and now so that there is no confusion about it – this is not an indie comic column. There will be everything from Superheroes to Silliness, covering any and every genre I can think off and for the sheer fun of it we’ll be following no linear reading time-line, instead jumping from new releases to golden oldies to ancient obscurities and all in between! And if this post runs a little long, forgive me but its my first time at bat.
So without further adieu, let us begin the first reviewing session shall we? After much thought (Ok pretty much off the top of my head..) it occurred to me that the ideal book to kick off with would be none other then the brilliant “Fanboy”
by the legendary Sergio Aragones (“A Mad Look At…”, “Marginals”, “Groo the Wanderer”
) and Mark Evanier, long-time humour comic writer and writer for the entire 7-season run of ‘Garfield and Friends
‘. Yes I like to find and provide obscure details, its fun what can I say.
Released as a 6-issue mini waaaaay back in ’99, Fanboy is not a title too many folks are familiar with. Understandable given its nature as a parodic humour comic and famous yet not always familiar names as its creative team.
However I’ve always felt this to be a gem of a book that more comic fans should read. The term ‘Fanboy’ itself comes with various connotations meaning several things depending on who you ask such as (1) A passionate fan of various elements of geek culture (e.g. sci-fi, comics, etc.), but who lets his passion override social graces or (2) A person who is completely loyal to a game or company regardless of if they suck or not or (3) A pathetic insult often used by fanboys themselves to try and put down people who don’t like whatever it is they like or (4) A person who loves something without question. Essentially all four guys from “The Big Bang Theory” can be seen as great examples.
Over the years its taken on a somewhat negative note but I think that like any number of things, its a term that most snotty fanboys and fangirls take WAY too seriously.
And THAT concept is in a sense what this book does – it shows you the cliché, the expected and then throws in a surprising turn, an unexpected moment of character and just that little bit of intelligence and clever wit that makes a good story and is a must for a good parody I think.
In the story we follow out narrator and first time star of his very own comic – Finster. He is the quintessential geek and fanboy – how he lives, his hopes and dreams, his fantasies and his outlook on the world and the reality he faces everyday.
Sure in India we don’t have exactly the same culture and stereotypes as America, but some things transcend the globe – be it the cool tough guy, the beautiful and unattainable dream-girl, the angst of youth and all the turmoil that comes with it… these are things that everyone can relate to I think. But Im sure at this point you are wondering what part of this is a humour comic? Well thats the beauty of it!
We have this average geeky life familiar to many presented before us in the Aragones signature style of art rendered in great form, and each issue is peppered with pop-culture references and loads of humour that drives the story forward as our hero Finster tries to navigate the hurdles of his day-to-day life. From biker gangs to crooked politicians to teachers to comic thieves (the fiends!) and the dreaded enemy of the geek – girls – we see him traverse them all in chortle inducing adventures mingling his real world and the world of mystery and imagination brilliantly as he teams up with some of his favourite comic heroes to win the day and learn little lessons that will serve him well down the road.
Each issue also has numerous guest artists that make this madcap adventure all the more entertaining – from Gil Kane drawing Green Lantern to Batman going through his entire evolution from the earliest days with the bat-phone et al, to the 80s grimmer Bats and so on and so on. Its a visual feast and for a fan it is indeed a treat par excellence. Guest art from Kane, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Bruce Timm, Dave Gibbons, Dick Giordano and MANY others.
But in the end the question I asked that made me want to write this piece was very simply: “what is the point of this series except the fun?”
Well plainly put – its about being who you are and being happy in your own skin no matter what. What I like about this story is that in the end it does not try and be high and mighty and impart massive moral lessons or the like. It just does what any form of story-telling should aim to do – draw you a picture you can relate to and let you take what will from it.
In the case of Fanboy to me it was about how we all react to so many things in so many ways, sometimes running, sometimes fighting and so much in between – its about how many of us retreat from the challenges and bullies that make life painful, and how to realise that life is what it is and we cannot simply lose ourselves in fantasy. Comics are most often a way to get away from the rat-race just for a little while, to return to childhood in a sense where the world was black and white and things made sense.
But in the end they are but a means to an end – life is still all around us when we put the book down and needs to be faced. Take heart and hope from our heroes in the books, gain knowledge, get ideas and get a few chuckles after a hard day. That is what fanboys (in the derogatory sense) tend to forget – its all in fun and created with joy and love and passion and should be simply taken as such. I don’t mean take everything thats hurled at you, a bad comic is well-worth getting ticked off about *COUGH*RULK!*COUGH!*… sorry, bad throat… but seriously, its good to feel strongly about these things and to have an opinion and declare it but it should be done in a fair fashion without getting carried away by your love of the material – because whatever else, at the end of the day these are just stories and like I said once already, sooner or later you have to put the comic down and face the world.
PHEW!! Wow, really went on and on didn’t I! Well, with this done, I will take your leave folks and if you find this kind of thing amusing and wish to see more, let us know and feel free to discuss stuff in the comments since we don’t currently have a discussion thread – and I’ll see you next week, Same comic time (probably)! Same comic channel (..er..site actually)!!!