“Put that comic down. This isn’t a library.”

I grew up in places where the only comic books were in drugstores. The first comic book store in America wasn’t even founded until I was fourteen years old, and it was 2,000 miles away. I couldn’t afford to buy all the comics at the drugstore that I wanted to read, and the proprietor of the store took a dim view of my standing there and reading them.

“Put that back, son. This isn’t a library.”

Well, years later as an adult I had money for comic books, and even better, great comic stores near where I lived. They’d pull my favorites for me to pick up once a week, and didn’t care if I stood at the racks and read some without buying them. That’s progress.

But where I see real progress is that you can go into a public library today and they often have a set of shelves devoted to…yes, comic books!

Graphic novels, manga, you name it. And yes, you can check them out with your card! I would have given anything to have had this kind of thing years ago.

Yeah, kids, you don’t know how good you’ve got it nowadays. Now get off my lawn.

(Graphic novel collection at Kalamazoo Public Library)


Will O’ the Wisp

I have many shelves of graphic novels, surprisingly few of which came from DC or Marvel (to be fair, I’m not counting Vertigo as “DC.”)

A number of these are unusual, out-of-the-mainstream books I discovered browsing the shelves of my local comic store.

A recent acquisition was “Will O’ the Wisp,” by Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison. The beautiful hardcover binding first got my attention in the store, with gold trim and an actual metal latch on the book.

The story is about Aurora Grimeon, a suddenly-orphaned girl who ends up with her grandfather in a Louisiana swamp filled with evil and magic. It’s well done, although the action is a bit hard to follow in a couple of places.

But it was the first page that pretty much made the sale for me:

Will O' the Wisp First Page_200dpi

“Kill your darlings”

“The advice to ‘kill your darlings’ has been attributed to various authors across the galaxies…and Mister Heist hated them all.

Why teach young writers to edit out whatever it is they feel most passionate about? Better to kill everything in their writing they DON’T love as much.

Until only the darlings remain.”

– Brian K. Vaughan, writer, in Saga #17

Oswald Heist

The late D. Oswald Heist, Author
(Illustration by Fiona Staples)