Picture books and comics

Batman Two Face by J. M. DeMatteis, Scott McDaniel, Pat Garrahy and Todd Klein

Two Face was a quick, easy read – like it probably took me twenty minutes  which made me think about the definition of “novel”. In my head “novel” implies at least two days worth of commitment. The novel reading experience includes the building of anticipation simply by being longer than you have time for in a day. If you’re reading a novel the pain of putting it down and going to do something else is required. So is wiggling your way out of whatever you got up to do and going back to the book. That’s what novels are for and, other than pictures and the font size, really the big difference between a novel and a picture book. It’s pretty hard to leave those half finished since they’re quite short.

Some of the Batman that I’ve read have been novel length in this sense. Putting down Hush was torment. Leaving Black Mirror was painful. But these ones are longer books.

Two Face read like a picture book. It was short and didn’t require a lot from me as far as time went. So I got thinking about why comics are different than picture books.

There are obvious differences – most picture books make a bit of an effort to be easy to read and follow for example. But I think the real difference is content. And that’s pretty much all.

Batman, Harvey Dent and Two Face spend pretty much the whole of this story exploring how Harvey could  have become a mass murderer and the answer they come to is that his father was abusive.

There are loads of picture books that deal with child abuse, but most of them go into the story with the intention of helping kids understand it, understand how to help themselves and resist, help them cope and deal with the trauma they or other people experience. This book didn’t bother with that. It did explore the devastating effects the violent actions of a parent can have on a child but it didn’t try to make sense of it, it didn’t try to order it and it didn’t white wash it. In fact, it went to considerable effort to cloud the issue as much as possible.

Comics are kind of like picture books, in the same way Family Guy is a cartoon. They require a little more grown upness than picture books and even though kids can flip through them, read them and enjoy them they’re probably not getting the same thing out of it.

Last movie I watched: Justice League New Frontier. What an amazing cast! Neil Patrick Harris, David Boreanaz and Lucy Lawless (Wonder Woman obviously because who else would Lucy Lawless voice?). It was okay. Not enough Batman.

Last TV episode I watched: A Batman Beyond. I’m kind of getting attached to Terry.


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