You've heard this before, right: "Well, what comics would you recommend?"
You've been hyping how great comics are for years, if not decades, and finally got someone to listen long enough that you've piqued their interest. Now you've got to step up, put whatever reputation you might have on the line, and give them some titles worth reading.
Which is easy enough to do if you're familiar with someone and know their tastes well enough to cite books that cater to them. But if you don't know someone that well, your next question should be something along the lines of: "Well, what kinds of books/movies/TV do you like?" The idea, of course, is that you can tailor your suggestions so that they're in line with the same types of material they've already interested in.
Now, here's a dilemma I ran into yesterday...
I'm talking back and forth with a woman on eHarmony*. She's a fairly avid reader of prose novels and listed a couple dozen titles she's reading/has read recently. Since we'd already established that I was a big comic fan, she then asks for some recommendations. Great, right? I've got a list of things she's already interested in, and just need to "translate" that into comic form.
The issue I have is that I'm really not familiar with almost any of the books she's cited. I recognize a couple of titles, but I've never read them, so I'm not familiar with the tone or style.
Ah, but I'm a clever lad, aren't I? I came up with a solution to this dilemma: Amazon!
No, I didn't buy all the books and read through them before making my recommendations. I read through several of the reviews of each of the books. Not only do they give plot summaries, but they usually also comment on the literary merit (or lack thereof) for each book. So even without reading them, I have a decent idea of the type of book it is, and I can make some recommendations based on that! Huzzah!
For the record, my suggestions were Pride of Baghdad, Whiteout and The Arrival. I considered Blankets but opted against it because of the couple of scenes of nudity -- I don't THINK she would've had a problem with them, but I don't know her that well and, let's face it, I'm more interested in getting to know her better than getting her interested in comics. I don't want to even risk scaring her at this point with what could be a potentially taboo area. I also considered suggesting Blankets but warning her about the nudity, but since I'm certain she's unfamiliar with Craig Thompson's style of art, I can easily picture someone imagining something closer in style to, say, Adam Hughes. Better, I figure, to just skip that entirely for now.
So, the lesson for you here today is this: keep an internet connection handy when a relative stranger asks you for comic book recommendations and don't be too hasty in just throwing out the last few titles you happened to think were decent.
* Yes, I've signed up with eHarmony in an effort to get on with my life, post-marriage. Realistically, I'm not going to be in situations where I'm likely to meet single women and, on the off chance that I do find myself in that position, the odds of me carrying on a conversation that doesn't make me look like some kind "I've got a collection of women's ears in a bucket" psycho (obscure reference to Coupling there) are pretty slim. So I went ahead and signed up with them, as they seem to have the best reputation for long-term relationships.