I’ve been in love with comics ever since I was young. But it was a little different for me because I didn’t grow up with superheroes outside Saturday morning cartoons and instead read Lǎo Fū Zi (translated as Old Master Q) manhua — Chinese comics — strips imported from Hong Kong. Heading to the bookstore to pick up a new copy with my dad after a dim sum lunch was often the highlight of my week and I collected and cared for them like precious antiques. Even though I couldn’t read Chinese and often needed my parents to translate their speak bubbles, I still laughed my head off at the illustrations of the characters’ shenanigans and sketched after them as another way of developing my drawing skills.
I was also very adamant about saving the San Francisco Chronicle’s comics section every Sunday because they were colored and looked pretty cut-and-taped onto my bedroom wall. I still have a large Garfield strip I kept from middle school, the one about the lasagna-loving tabby cat asking for hugs which I found adorable. Probably the best gifts I ever received were the special edition Calvin and Hobbes books I got one Christmas; even though I had a difficult time grasping the philosophical language, I related to the tiny blond kid’s problems with fitting in and being misunderstood being an oddball myself.
At a young age, I also discovered how dark and revealing comics could be when I flipped through manhua copies of Sanmao and wept many tears for the poor orphan’s experiences with losing father-figures, massacres and poverty. As I got a little older, I grew attracted to the prevalence of manga comics like One Piece (still my favorite series to this day) and started to pick up on the nuances of Japanese culture, quickly becoming aware there was more to life than being American/Westernized. After reading Watchmen, Alan Moore’s masterpiece, I began seriously reconsidering a dream once abandoned to the back of my mind of one day publishing my own comic book.
I guess I’m saying all this because I would like more people to experience how spell-binding and just plain awesome comics can be, particularly women. It’s awkward opening up my adoration to others on campus when I know most Millsies haven’t really read or enjoyed them to the extent as I do — at least to my knowledge. I still remember being the only one talking about my favorite graphic novels at a fiction writing workshop when everyone else just mentioned titles by such authors as Jane Austen.
So I hope outside of having to read Maus in high school and watching film adaptions of Marvel/DC Comics machismo superheroes, they too can experience the empowerment mere illustrated stories can bring. With this in mind, I will conjure a number of comic books/graphic novels I think everyone should look into every other week.
Here are my current recommendations: