Today is National Comic Book Day, which is a thing those days-of-the-year companies came up with, as far as I can tell, and not to be confused with Free Comic Book Day, which is an actual thing where participating stores give away comic books for free, so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to 1) appease my editor with the use of the hashtag #NationalComicBookDay and 2) talk to you all about indie comic books.
I did not, as a matter of fact, grow up reading comic books. 97% of the reading material in my youth came from the library, which did not, to my knowledge, have a comics section. I have since been corrected; for those curious who do not know, check out the nonfiction section 741.5 at your local library. Regardless, young Allyce didn’t venture into Adult Nonfiction to peruse the books, only to find her father at the end of a fruitful book searching expedition. I came into comics a bit sideways, as it were, whence my sister announced her intention of becoming a comic book artist. I started with some graphic memoirs, just dipping my toes in, as it were. This bled into graphic novels and other, longer comics. However comic books still seemed somehow inaccessible.
When I thought comic books, my brain jumped to the overwhelming image of the DC and Marvel universes. The idea of trying to jump in to either seemed daunting. Where did a person even start? And where did a person even find single issues? I’d heard more than my fair share of horror stories about ladies, especially newbie ladies, venturing into comic book stores.
Then came Lumberjanes from Boom Studios. I was already a big Noelle Stevenson fan and the premise sounded like pretty much everything I’d ever wanted in my reading material. And talk about a built-in jumping on point. It was the very first issue in a new series. Plus my visiting sister had just pointed out that the small, squat building with a Hulk mural on the side, which I drive past everyday, was in fact a comic book store. What can I say? In this town I’m too busy trying not to hit bicyclists to look at the buildings I’m driving past.
So I went. I told myself if it was terrible, I could just turn around and walk back out and buy any and all comics I wanted exclusively online. It was not terrible. It was strange though. If you’ve worked in a bookstore, the organization of a comic book store is incredibly bizarre. But the guy behind the counter was helpful and I left with two recent issues and my name left on their reorder list for the one I was missing. I’ve been back a few times. More importantly, Lumberjanes has acted like a gateway drug, and I’ve expanded my comics reading, including yes, into those daunting DC and Marvel universes. Lumberjanes is still my favorite though. Sorry, DC and Marvel, bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon