Published on January 20th, 2012 | by Katy Evans


Of Comics and Kings

Image from David Mazzucchelli's "Asterios Polyp"

There’s a good chance you’ve belonged to a book club at some point in your life; perhaps it was required, perhaps for fun, perhaps an excuse for friends to get together and drink while gossiping about which characters they like or hate. If a book club is not part of your regular social regimen, I suggest you engage in some such behavior as soon as possible.

Cover of "The Sensational She-Hulk" by John Byrne

I’m an active member of two of the, perhaps at first glance, not-quite-so-erudite of the King’s Books book clubs, but both are hugely satisfying, delivering the joy of regular literary exploration with like-minded enthusiasts.

I’m talking of course of the Graphic Novel Book Club and the Capes & Cowls Book Club (which I lovingly refer to on my google calendar as the C&C Comics Factory).

I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid, though like some of you, I neglected comics for about 15 years, only to happily rediscover them in my adulthood.

Re-entry, or just plain entry into the world of comics can be daunting; its a particularly prolific and wildly-varied genre.

Thankfully, book clubs are a perfect conduit for informed exploration, particularly when they’re led by book store owners.

Both the Graphic Novel and Capes & Cowls Book Clubs are refreshingly eclectic assemblages of comic devotees, skeptics, and the comic-curious – including academics, librarians, artists, scientists, teachers, certifiable comic geeks, and total novices.

When we meet, we discuss the history of the writers and artists, our favorite pages, symbolic relevance, questions ranging from artist and author intent,  and even  scrutinize costuming.

A pleasing, almost old-fashioned way to while away an evening, it’s fun to stretch and use all those quietly stagnating critical discourse muscles again, long neglected since college graduation (and to unabashedly nerd out about superheroes with a sympathetic group).

Image of a bumbling Clark Kent from "All Star Superman"

Due to the expert leadership of sweet pea, and savvy suggestions from the more knowledgeable book club participants, I have secured an entirely new library of graphic novels and discovered some very exciting artists and writers.

If you were to join up, there’s a a lot of excellent literature you’ve missed, so let me share some of my very favorite discoveries I’ve enjoyed thanks to Graphic Novel and Capes & Cowls Book Clubs (and of course you can stock up on any of these at King’s Books):


Image from "Pluto"

Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto

The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Pluto by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka

All-Star Superman 1 & 2 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century by Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Black Hole  by Charles Burns

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli

Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Fun Home  by Alison Bechdel

Stitches by David Small

Incognito by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

If picture books aren’t your thing, that’s absolutely understandable (though just a little disappointing) and King’s Books offers many other options when it comes to literary camaraderie, as you can see from this companion article. Join in any of the seven active book clubs or start one of your own!

Now if book clubs aren’t your thing but comics are, King’s Books owner sweet pea is working hard to expand a very discerning collection of comics and graphic novels for you to choose from. Stop in and ask about his current favorite.

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About the Author

Founder and Co-Managing Editor at Post Defiance, Katy writes and fundraises for Tacoma. Follow her @katynicoud.

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