Specificity VS Generalization
The first comic that really got me hooked on the medium was Fantastic Four. I just loved the sense of adventure and exploration among a group of really close friends. I got really interested in the overall story and the characters, and I spent a lot of time working to become a Fantastic Four expert. But not long after I started reading that, I began seeing other characters appear in the book. And the Fantastic Four would make cameos in other books. Which got me interested in the broader Marvel Universe. What was this Avengers Mansion place they were hanging out at like? Who's this new Captain Marvel chick? I spent a lot of time working to become a Marvel expert. It didn't take long either to notice that creators whose work I really enjoyed would move on to other books. Some of them not even published by Marvel! So I found myself reading Green Arrow and JLA and the like. I spent a lot of time working to become a comic book expert. And then one of those creators had the audacity to stop publishing and move online! I was following Girl Genius from the first published issue, having recalled Phil Foglio's excellent "What's New?" from Dragon Magazine. But it helped to point me in the direction of webcomics, and I've since spent a lot of time working to become a webcomics expert. Interestingly, it was webcomics that led me back to newspaper strips. The spats and flame wars between the two camps led me to look up what was actually going on in the funny pages these days. How were these legacy strips still around after their creators passed away? I've spent a lot of time working to become a newspaper strip expert. Oh, yeah, and throw manga and European comics in there, too, somewhere. I'm not claiming to have actually become an expert; I think I have TONS to learn on all manner of comic subjects. But it just struck me tonight as an interesting journey of an increasingly broader scope to what I'm trying to become an expert at. My column at MTV is about webcomics generally, but my column for The Jack Kirby Collector is on the specific character illustrations from one creator who died before he knew what the web was. My first book was broadly covered comic book fandom, and my next one is on a specific comic book series from the 1940s. I don't know that the more generalized approach I've been working towards is necessarily any better/worse than the specificity I used to focus on, but it's proven to be a fascinating journey. I'm looking forward to see what else within comics I can sink my teeth into!