Channel your inner kid and read some comics
We talked with Westfield Comics’ Bob Moreau about diving into comic books during the pandemic.
From “Conan the Barbarian” to Stan Lee’s Marvel universe, the world of comic books has the power to unleash the creativity and imagination we may have lost these past few difficult months.
Arguably one of the most accessible literary forms, you don’t need hours and hours of free time to enjoy comics, or even a spectacular vocabulary or attention span to follow along. Punchy dialogue, epic plotlines and hyper realistic imagery join forces in each pamphlet-style book to retell the stories of our favorite superheroes and villains in the most fantastical ways.
In the spirit of channeling our inner kid to try and conjure up some escapist positivity this winter, we chatted with Westfield Comics’ Bob Moreau about what he’s been reading, trends in sales these past few months, and why everybody — young and old — should page through a comic every once in a while.
So, what have Moreau and his customers been digging into during quarantine?
Daredevil: Series writer Chip Zdarsky recently took over the “Daredevil” comics, and Moreau said fans are more than pleased with his transformative work.
“Little by little, they’ve been giving him writing jobs at Marvel, and he has turned ‘Daredevil’ into a really, really good book,” Moreau says. “I mean, it’s always had some good writers on it, but sometimes, after a little while you’d kind of get bored with what they were doing. But he’s made it pretty interesting.”
Issue 25 of “Daredevil” just came out on Dec. 2, which Moreau said was “game changing.”
“It flew off the shelves, and everybody expects it to be worth a lot of money,” he says.
Crossover: Another series that has been hot-off-the-shelf is “Crossover” published by Image Comics. Debuting in November, “Crossover” details reality-splitting, mind boggling stories combining comic universes from creators Dee Cunniffe, Geoff Shaw and Donny Cates.
“Each issue has kind of like a really big, like, ‘What the F’ moment at the end of it, so it’s kind of interesting. The second issue just came out this week, and that’s selling very well,” says Moreau.
X of Swords: This mega Marvel crossover event debuted in September after the series relaunch last year. “Dawn of X” is a branch of comics related to the X-Men franchise, and is the first of six installments that will do a deep-dive into the rebranded world of X-Men.
“Jonathan Hickman took over the line a little over a year and a half ago, and this was his first big crossover,” Moreau says . “And it maybe wasn’t perfect, he didn’t write every issue, he did have other people writing some of the books for him, but it was something very interesting.”
This new age of X-Men will undoubtedly discuss the role of mutants within the Marvel universe, which is exciting for obvious reasons. “People are looking forward to it,” he says, ”And now, there’s a lot of ramifications after that crossover.”
As for Moreau’s recommendations for those brand-new to the comic book world …
Saga: For adults, Moreau suggests “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. “It’s adventure, it’s science fiction, it’s a lot of things all mixed up into one. There’s really good characterizations, relationships, a little bit of sex, a little bit of humor,” he says, “but the sci-fi aspect of it usually grabs people on demand.”
The Infinity Gauntlet: As for younger audiences, Moreau thinks a backward approach is the way to go. “You almost just have to try to find something with a character that they’re interested in, or some kind of topic that they like,” he says. “Like the Marvel films, you can try to show them storylines and where characters came from.”
“The Infinity Gauntlet” is a 1991 six-piece, which the 2018 Marvel movie “Avengers: Infinity War” was loosely based on, making it the perfect intermediary between 1990 nostalgia and contemporary cinematic ties.
“In general, people always want to come in if they really liked the movie. The one that always sticks in my mind was a movie that I think the industry in general didn’t even think was going to do anything,” he says.
That movie? “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“They did such a great job with the characters and the effects and the storyline and relationships between the characters,” says Moreau. “People were coming in, like on a rainy Monday, and mothers were coming in with their kids going, ‘Do you have any more books with Groot and Rocket Racoon?’ and stuff like that … They wanted to find more about them.”
This is a theme Moreau has seen throughout the life of the Marvel movie franchise, especially this past August following the death of Chadwick Boseman.
“A lot of people were really sad, and they started picking up the books again,” he says. “We sold every single Black Panther toy that we still had left from when the movie came out.”
Beyond mourning, though, there is a lifetime of possibility for comics moving forward, so long as we don’t completely abandon them for our cinematic tastes, and rather consume them in conjunction.
Another series that Moreau highlights is “The Eternals,” which were written in the 1970s. Come next year these Marvel humanoids will get their very own film with stars including Harry Styles, Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani.
“That’s another one where even comic book fans don’t know that much about it, unless they grew up with it,” Moreau says. “They’re basically immortals and they’ve been living on Earth with us for a long time, but they’ve been hidden or mistaken for other gods and mythology.”
So regardless of your superhero — or villain — preferences, reading comics is a great way to connect further with your favorite characters in a traditional way.
Moreau says that “comics are kind of like comfort food.” They might not always be the most showy, but there is something special about physically holding the brightly adorned copies in your own hands.
“If you’re hanging around the house during the holidays, and if your dad or your parents have some older books,” says Moreau, “and if you’re really, very, really careful with them, you can curl up in front of the fire and read.”
Westfield Comics, 7475 Mineral Point Road, 833-4444