I'm a bit of a comic book proselytizer. When people tell me they don't like comics, I usually take that as a personal challenge. (I have the same reaction when people tell me they don't like cats, but that's another story for another time.) Generally I assume that the person isn't aware of how diverse and sophisticated graphic novels have become, and that I just need to get the right ones in their hands in order to convert them.
There are a few things I tend to stay away from - anything where the characters are wearing skin-tight costumes, anything too action-heavy. The goal is to convince the person that comics books aren't just goofy superheroes. Astro City or Watchmen probably aren't the best place to start unless your target has expressed an interest, as they may dismiss them right off the bat. I like to stick to narrative comics, or ones that I know appeal to the person's specific interests. Sometimes comics that are already popular work best, because the person may have heard positive things about them.
Here are some of my favourite comics for converting my loved ones!
Hark! A Vagrant!
This comic is universally adored in the history student community, and it's also got some great gags for lovers of literature. And it's available both online and in print, which is convenient - good for casual recommendations as well as formal gifts. The Cartoon History of the Universe is also a good one for people with a more casual interest in history.
Graphic Classics, and other books in graphic novel form
As long as the graphic novel isn't butchering the person's favourite book, I find these are usually well-received. There are some really good illustrated collections of work by Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury and Kafka, just to name a few. I also have a graphic novel version of Coraline that got my little sister hooked on comics, and would be great for younger readers.
Guy Delisle's travelogues
I've had more luck with Guy Delisle's books than any others, actually. I even got my 80-year-old grandfather into graphic novels with a copy of Shenzhen. Delisle's comics are simple and humorous, and provide an outsider's glimpse into some really interesting places. And they're about as far as you can get from the classic superhero comics.
V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are both a good place to start. Moore's graphic novels also transition well into full fandom once you get someone hooked, with tons of movies and merchandise available.
Will Eisner's A Contract with God
This is a collection of short stories so it can be picked up by someone without a lot of time on their hands, but it will definitely leave an impression. I'm sure I don't have to tell you all how great Will Eisner is.
Art Spiegelman's Maus probably has enough publicity at this point that whoever you're giving it to will know about it, but sometimes it just takes that extra push of getting it into the person's hands so they'll give it a go.
Do you guys do the same thing? What are your tried-and-true comics you use to convert your friends and family into comic book lovers?
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment below!
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HippieVan at 12:00AM, Feb. 20, 2015
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