Movies adapting comic books have taken over cinemas around the world in recent years. Many of them have even broken box office records. But, what about the source material?
According to a report by US-based newspaper The Washington Post, retailers purchased 8.5 million copies of the top 300 comics this June, which is the highest number since 1997. So, the love is still alive and #GNBookClub members can vouch for it.
Janine Alyssa, a blogger based in Dubai, is extremely passionate about comic books and is proud of her vast collection.
She said: “A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and he is a major comic book geek. He knows of all the must-read novels. So, I got back to reading passionately during college and started with DC Comics.”
Since then, Green Lantern and Batman have been her favourite. When it comes to Marvel Comics, another popular publisher of comic books, Alyssa has been a fan of their Hollywood adaptations. Her only complaint is that this region “lacks a community solely committed to graphic novels”, which is a concern that many comic book fans expressed.
She said: “When Superman was created by two immigrants in the US, they wanted a character to represent the spirit of the US. Comics reflect reality. All the situations and emotions are expressed better. Such novels have so much poetry and meaning that they can move you. And that’s why adults are also drawn to it.”
She is right about adults because according to a CNN report, it’s not only “geeky, teenage boys” who are buying comics, but even professionals in their 40s are loyal followers.
Monita Mohan, a Dubai-based public relations content coordinator, has a similar tale to tell.
She said: “When you attend the annual Middle East Film and Comic Convention (MEFCC), you see that people love comics. With the boom in Hollywood adaptations, there is a culture growing worldwide.”
Apart from not being able to find a book club of interest, Mohan says it was hard to find comics during the early 2000s. But, that didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion. “There’s an artistry involved that makes this a singular art. I guess it’s our way of escaping into an optimistic world,” she said.
Her sister, Ronita Mohan, a content and social media manager, also happens to be a fan. She is of the opinion that a lot has changed over time and it is now “cool to be a geek”.
She said: “I love the worlds in comic books and the fact that there aren’t any rules. It’s a wonderful escape from adult life as these books deal with everyday issues in extraordinary ways. They can tackle problems in society and give commentary in a way that is entertaining, but also sticks in your mind.”
Rayyan Shaikh, a student based in Dubai, was first introduced to comics when he was just eight years old. With a copy of ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ in his hands, he began his journey and there was no looking back.
He said: “During a recent visit to the ‘Anne Frank House’ in Amsterdam, Netherlands, I noticed that most children were attracted to the graphic version of the diary, which just goes to say that the culture is definitely widely spread.”
Shaikh has stuck with reading comics because he appreciates how the text and visuals are linked and “interdependent”. And this, he says, is why adults are also interested.
Rejoy Kurup, a Dubai-based project manager, grew up in India and his journey began with ‘Chacha Chaudhary’, a popular Indian comic character. For him, reading comics brings back a lot of memories and reminds him of a dream he was unable to fulfill.
He said: “There is a lot of nostalgia associated with comics; exchanging latest editions with friends and discussing stories with my brother. At one point, drawing comics was a hobby of mine, and I even started my own series, but could not pursue it. Reading comics helps me vicariously live through those dreams.”
With a lot of subjects being covered in the books, Kurup believes that readers can appreciate “two beautiful art forms at the same time”.
Another popular form of comic books are Manga, created in Japan. Aisha Al Jarra, an Emirati student based in Sharjah, is a passionate follower and over time, as her interest grew, she started drawing her own characters. She dreams of publishing them one day. “After university, I want to focus on this and hope that one day I can achieve my dreams,” she said.
If you would like to discuss and share all things books, then #GNBookClub is the answer. You can register on gulfnews.com/your-say/gn-book-club or post on our Facebook page. We have regular debates, quizzes, book giveaways and conversations.