Bite-Size Worlds

We all want a new earth. That’s why we read fiction, after all: We want to experience something that isn’t the earth we live in here. We want different relationships or different cultures or just the joy of discovering something that isn’t here.

I have a really cool way of visiting lots of different worlds very quickly, though. It’s something that maybe you’ve done in the past or do now.

See, I love reading novels. The problem is, I’m not a very fast reader. Especially if I’m reading a novel aimed at adults, it takes me forever to get through it. And even if the writing is great, sometimes I’ll lose interest – I just want to get to a different world.

So… I read comics.

I visit my local comic shop every week and pick up a stack of worlds that I can visit quickly. Last week I picked up a chapter in a samurai epic, a Zorro adventure, a superhero clobber-fest, and a sci-fi horror story. I read them all relatively quickly. I enjoyed them all. I’ll be back for their next installments next month.

I love this. They’re stories, so they scratch that itch where I need to imbibe tales told by others. But they’re quick reads in a wide variety of genres. Try to read novels that fast that cover that many different genres! I can visit a world with a code of honor and duels, and move on to Zorro frustrating the plans of the governor, and then soar through the skies in modern-day Metropolis, and then forward to face horror in worlds unknown.

Little bite-size worlds.

Of course, many of them really aren’t that little. The samurai epic has been running for around thirty years now. That means the characters have a lot of emotion and resonance built up in them. But each chapter? I can visit the world and walk away fulfilled in about fifteen minutes. I can’t do that with a novel!

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t read prose. I still read plenty of that! In fact, my oldest boy’s classroom is doing the forty-novel challenge this year – each student needs to read forty books. I’m considering signing on to do it, too!

But the positives of reading comics help me in many ways. Not only do I get to visit different worlds, but I encounter a wide variety of writing styles, plot shapes, character types, and so on. In other words: When I pay attention to the story the comic tells, it can inform and enhance my own writing.

If, like me, you’re a slow reader, and you still want to visit a bunch of worlds, let me recommend you check out your local comic book shop or visit the graphic novel section of your local library. There’s so much good stuff out there, and it’s worth your time.

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