For some, stories are purely entertainment. It’s just momentarily checking out of the hum & drum of the day to day. For many of us in the comic book community, it goes much further than a skin deep pastime. More than colorful pictures & characters in tights, there is meaning beyond the comprehension of a casual glance. There are countless occasions where the comic book medium was used to deal with real life tragedy that couldn’t have been done in any other way.
An 18 year old James O’barr loses the love of his life to a drunk driver. His coping resulted in the cult classic graphic novel & Dimension Films big screen adaptation of The Crow (I will be delving deeper into this story in the near future as it is my favorite of all time!)
Paul Dini revisits a near death experience 23 years after the event with Dark Night: A True Batman Story.
The tale of Maus is basically the adapted survival story of Art Spiegleman's father that became one of the very books that had changed the industry forever!
These are just a few examples where an artist or writer put their inner workings on public display, allowing the ripple effect to reach the hearts & souls of fans around the world. Not only have many of them continued on to have long & lustrous careers in the industry, but these stories have also had a lasting effect on the lives of the people who read them.
This October, it will be 8 years since the accident that sent my life down a very different path. It wasn’t the near death experience of being hit by the car or even almost losing my leg that came so close to finishing me off. But, rather it was the psychological struggle of being bedridden & completely dependent that truly destroyed me. Even 6 months later, when I received a full medical release, I was still far from my old self & seemed to only get worse. Along the road to recovery, I found Batman: The Court of Owls written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, where I witnessed Batman tumble down a similar rabbit hole as I in the labyrinth of his newest nemesis. From the expert storytelling to the flawlessly disturbing visuals, I watched the Dark Knight battle back from the brink of destruction & decided to follow suit!
Living on a speck in the middle of the pacific, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would have the opportunity to meet these living legends. Yet, thanks to the Amazing Comic Con, I was able to do exactly that back in 2015 & was able to tell Greg Capullo what his work had done for me & thank him in person.
Just as close to home, my wife had lost her father on Christmas night, 2017 and had a very difficult year to follow. This titan among men, her first superhero, was taken from her & life lost much of its meaning. After trying so many different methods of coping, I urged her to read God Country written by Donny Cates and featuring art by Geoff Shaw.
Never before had she taken the time to truly enjoy what a comic book had to offer. So, she was shocked at how compelling every chapter was, insomuch that she texted me pictures of the pages so that I could follow along with her while I was at work. By the end of it, she was able to face her pain and loss in such a way that she finally began to see real progress in her healing. As a byproduct, she too became very fond of Cates’ writing & we read the better part of a year’s worth of his run on the monthly Venom series together!
Yes, I am living proof that lighting can strike twice! The Amazing Comic Con, yet again, genuinely brought the heat to Hawaii in 2019, where both my wife & I were able to relay our story to Donny Cates of how his work had affected us and that we are forever grateful for it!
Regardless of how great or small, every single one of us has a story to tell. I hope, if you take nothing else away from mine, it would be that there is someone out there waiting to hear yours. Speak life into your art! Find your voice in whatever medium it may be and change the universe for the better! In the immortal words of Donny Cates, “Read comics & do dope shit!”
Read more of Kk's comic inspiration here.