Dig Comics: Why Comics Matter
Columnist Miguel Cima, director/host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics, looks at what makes comics so great, and what’s holding them back.
Don’t read comics? Well, take a quick gander.
There are reasons you want to read comics. A lot of reasons. Some of them will be deeply personal to you. Others will take into consideration the wellbeing of loved ones. Curiosity seekers will find a different sort of fulfillment. And your brain, oh your brain – that will be the happiest organ of all. Please, attend.
- You love MOVIES: Everybody loves stories. Human beings thrive on the telling and retelling of stories. For us modern apes, we get most of our non-community storytelling from movies and TV. And you know what I keep hearing over and over? Most people think most movies suck. The plots are stupid, the acting is bad, the writing is annoying. Oh, yeah, sure there are exceptions. But most of the time when you go out to spend $15 on a movie ticket (not to mention snacks & drinks), you come home disappointed. That’s because movies cost a LOT of money to make. So studios don’t take risks. They don’t trust artistry, and follow the same formulas over and over. Because they have millions of dollars to recoup. And they’d rather take a chance feeding you the same old crap instead of truly surprising you. Not so with comics creators. You see, for about $50, they can get all the paper and pencils necessary to do the deed – it’s just talent they need at that point. And then perhaps a few thousand to publish (yeah, it’s money, but not MILLIONS!). They can afford to be experimental, to offer unique visions, to tell those fresh stories you crave. IN FACT! – guess what? The stories are so cool, Hollywood is busy gobbling them up to make movies of them! Except that in most cases, the original comic is way better! So why wait? That same $15 for two hours is about the price of a trade collection which you can read again and again, usually about 200 pages of comics. And just as with movies – you can read about ANYTHING – so don’t feel like you have to be stuck with superheroes. Oh no, our world is far more than that.
- You love TV: You like long-form serial forms of entertainment. You know what I’m talking about. Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Lost, 24, Weeds, Spartacus, Downton Abbey, and on and on and on. You love that soap opera. You love extensive story, meticulous character study, cliffhanger after cliffhanger, week after week, month after month. Ooh can comics ever deliver on that front. Just as you anticipate each new episode of your show to see what happens next, so too can you look forward week to week to the next installment of your favorite series (well, month to month, mostly, but when you read enough, you can count on new stuff every week). Take The Walking Dead for example. They’re up to almost 115 issues! That’ll keep you busy for a while! And the writing is far better than it is on the show…
- You love your CHILDREN: Or you love some child in your life. Or just want to be surrounded by smarter kids. As was explained to us in our 2nd short film by Anastasia Betts, founder of Curriculum Essentials, a progressive educational consulting firm, the human brain processes images 20,000 times faster than it does text. The educational potential of comic books, especially on young, developing minds, is without limits. As Anastasia explains, “Thirty percent of our brain is devoted to visual processing.” Take that into account in the context of today’s world. She goes on, “We live in a world where visual literacy is and will continue to be critical to the survival and success of future generations.” In other words, as we have to deal with more smart phones, tablets, streaming and internet, learning critical thinking will require fluency in visual communication. This is brain food, people!
- You love your BRAIN: You don’t have to be a kid to expand your mind. As you grow older, in order to keep your mind spry, neurologists are telling us to do a bunch of different things. One of course is to keep reading. Puzzles and games have come into the picture, actually creating alternate neural pathways that allow additional conductivity to process information. And learning languages has been shown to increase cognitive abilities, even if you don’t get started until late in life. Well guess what? Comics offer all three of these things and more. The way they work is a different language than text, your brain putting together what happens between the panels is a puzzle, and you are reading, right? Even when a comic has no words, you are reading. Love your brain, people.
- Life sucks and is boring and you need COOLNESS: Look, why do we go to the movies, listen to music, read books, go running, eat dinner with the family, share drinks with friends, go snorkeling, play poker, knit, take long drives, walk the dogs, eat ice cream, go bird-watching, debate politics, watch football, skip rope, pick up the kids at school, go to Vegas, volunteer at a soup kitchen, skateboard, go shopping or make out with hotties? Because life sucks and is boring and you need coolness. You see, the only way that life doesn’t suck is when you are doing cool stuff. That’s the whole reason we do cool stuff. Because what else is life about? Just surviving? When you are just surviving, life sucks. God bless you if you have time to do something besides just surviving. Now, take advantage of that, and add comics to that list above. Comics are one of those things that stop life from sucking. Give ‘em a spin and try them out!
You comics readers still here? If so, then it’s YOUR job to help guide your non-reader circle towards stuff they like. Because if you recommend the wrong comics to the wrong people, then life sucks again. Need help recommending comics to a non-reader? Maybe you are only into superheroes and you need to offer up something else. Then try the Cool Comics page at the Dig Comics website. It’s small, but we will be adding more soon. Now go, go and help us change the world for the better…
Argentinean-born New Yorker and NYU film school graduate Miguel Cima is a veteran of film, television and music. He has worked for such companies as Warner Bros., Dreamworks and MTV. An avid comic book collector since he could read, Miguel began writing stories in 4th grade and has not slowed down since. He is a world traveler, accomplished writer, filmmaker, and comics creator. He is the writer, director and host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics. Follow Dig Comics on Facebook. Read more of Miguel’s comic book recommendations.