As I have mentioned before, I am a Geek.  I am also a Bookie.  Not the kind that takes bets, but like a Foodie with books.  I read everything as a child.  By the time I was 12 my mother left me at the library while she shopped at the mall or ran errands.  The librarians never seemed to mind.  I could spend hours reading and read many books over and over again.  My favorites were the girly books like Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and Little Women.  Although by no means was that all I read. I read the Dark is Rising series, and probably re-read it still every few years.  In high school it was the Flowers in the Attic series, the Vampire Chronicles, and Stephen King.  I had hundreds of books on my book shelves and retreated as often as I could into fantasy worlds, the past in historical fiction, non-fiction, and even read boxes and newspapers if I was seperated from books.

But one art form I never appreciated until I was about 24 was comic books and graphic novels.  I thought they were beneath me.  Maybe it’s because I was only exposed to Archie and Disney comics, never superheroes or any others.  I did read comic collections from the newspapers though – Garfield, Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, and the Far Side were fun for me to read.  But Batman and Superman – not so much.  Then, I grew up and lived with a group of guys, and I was introduced to Sandman, Black Orchid, and Batman comics.  I loved Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum, and Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid.  I was introduced as it were to the Vertigo imprint by my now husband, then boyfriend, and his friend’s forays into the comic book store.  I would choose books that appealed to me visually, and often found that the stories weren’t half bad.

I started reading many of his collected comic books after we married and I attempted to find out about what all the Batman stuff he collected for the few years before we married was worth.  Nothing brings together a couple like going through a collection while the geeky wife has to input everything into a spread sheet on an Apple II clone.  Just kidding.  It was probably some of the first fights we had, “Don’t touch the pages with damp hands from a cold soda”, “Don’t crease the pages”, and my personal bad comic owner problem – “put them back in the bags with boards so they are protected”.  I was not versed in this world.  To me they were books and should be read, to him – to be stored in the closet and only looked at once every few YEARS.  But that will come in later in this story.

One thing that bugs me is that neither of my daughters are into reading.  One found books she likes, the Twilight series, and has managed in 6 months to read the first 2 books.  She is a slow reader, and often gets distracted so the books tend to get misplaced before she gets finished, so it takes awhile.  The other reads a bit quicker, but has never found a style or type of book she likes.  She is picky and often drops books that I have found that I think she might like beacuse she can’t get past the first chapter.  She dumped Terry Brooks Landover series, Piers Anthony’s Xanth, Nancy Drews, Little Houses, stories about animals and vets, you name it we have tried to get her to read it and enjoy it.  But nothing has worked until now.

In the last week she has finished two books.  I found out that she was interested in manga and that she had been reading them during the school year (never in front of me) and thought I might have a way for her to enjoy reading – the graphic novel.  So I started her with Coraline. Coraline is a Young Adult graphic novel by Neil Gaiman.  She finished it in just over 2 hours.  And then she wanted more.  She actually asked me to go to the library to get more!  Right now she is reading the collected Sandman graphic novels.  She is done with Preludes and Nocturnes, and actually asked me to stop reading A Doll’s House because she wanted it to keep going.  She now wants to read Graveyard Book and is willing to branch out into other graphic novels.

In a way, I feel I must thank Neil for his words and ideas.  They have touched her imagination and taught her that books can be interesting and fun, and not just something that you HAVE to read because someone assigned it in class. Maybe I will start pulling out the other graphic novels that my husband has collected, but as I mentioned before this is a sticking point as he feels that they should be protected at all costs.  We’ll see how it goes.