Comic books feel digital pain

   By Ajita Srivastava ,  17-Oct-2018
Comic books feel digital pain

Today’s young, prosperous and ‘online’ generation may consider comic books to be outdated, but for those born in the 80s and 90s a comic book and its characters were an effective medium to bond with friends.

Being a 90s kid has its own perks as we were born in a world which was bridging the gap between retro and urban. It was in the 90s that computers came to most of our schools and everything changed. Before that most of our summer vacations consisted of two compulsory activities, going to your grandma’s house and gaining five pounds and reading comics. Speaking of comics, I recently visited my favorite bookstore in my hometown. I remember spending hours there to find new Spiderman issue that I haven’t read yet or to look for the new batman comics, or reading Chacha Chaudhary or Pinky because they were just pure fun. Seeing all the comics stacked neatly in a showcase made me nostalgic. Curiosity got better of me and I asked, “Gautam , are these new ? “He replied with a sad smile, “No, they came a year ago.” He didn’t explain any further. He didn’t need to. I could read between the lines. In this digital age, even comic books are available online. Everything seems to have upgraded now a days, the life style, pocket money, kids being extremely aware of their choices. You cannot fool them, even in simplest of things. Today, kids are born in a world where everything is available so easily. Life has become incredibly fast and they are offered assortments on a large scale. Hence, they have developed a taste. Now from an early age, they know how to put logic into every situation.

Then why go to a physical book store to buy comics when you can have them available by just clicking few alphabets on a keyboard ? Its illogical. What everyone seems to miss is that they weren’t just comic books. They were more than that. They were medium of communication between a group of kids. They started reading them alone but when they finished it, they automatically became a group, bonding over the same characters and their stories. Even the shy one in the group used to discuss how cool Barry Allen is. They used to hang out at their favorite book stores. Exchanging their latest Spiderman comic from someone who has the new Superman issue, being a part of cold war between Marvel and DC, interesting debates of why my superhero is better than yours, calling that one kid who got highest marks in P.E. Saboo, all these simple things which made kids realize how important face to face friendships are. I read a blog in 2017 which stated how kids today are developing antisocial attitude and I couldn’t help but think how these things weren’t a problem when we were teens. They had much more time to go out and meet people, talk, exchange interests. Now, being cooped up in your room with a phone and its different offerings are practically definition of growing up. Comics were a source of entertainment, that came cheap. Its portable and well, doesn’t need a Wi-Fi. Even though its science fiction, which is basically precursor to science facts because fiction is a work of imagination and no discovery or invention Is possible without it. This reminds me of an incident from my high school. In 1999, a new comic series was introduced by Alan Moore and Kevin O Neil called “ The league of extraordinary gentlemen. “ The series became an instant favorite because of its vintage characterization. Years later, I am sitting in an exam where first question in the paper was which salt is used in photographic print. Almost everyone got that answer wrong because that question was simply out of syllabus. But I knew it was potassium chloride because in the comic it was used as a prime evidence of a crime. It was one of the happiest two marks I ever scored.

I visited comic con last year and was happy that so many people are still interested. Most of them were just there because it’s a grand event, but it was fun to see many of them trying to look into this. I met a girl who told me that she stole her brother’s  Captain America tee and was wearing it from past two years, not actually knowing what it means. One of the best highlights of that day was to see Raj comics, an Indian comic book publication setting up a big stall. It is a good effort and a convention this big gets people interested. But if we are talking about efforts, in last ten years Marvel studios has come up with a series of such good movies that many people who lost their touch came back to this world again. Kids who watched these movies are now searching for its source material. The smart generation of today believes in research. Its thrilling to watch some of them trying to explore and experience the same. These movies have created a new curiosity for them, to know where it all came from. Nowadays, when I talk to my nephews and nieces, they are more interested in which social media they should be a part of first. If I talk to them about it, they actually look at me as if I am a part of a cult they don’t know about. Maybe a visit to comic con will help ?