The Musings of a Greek Geek!

I have been reading comics since I can remember myself. No, let me rephrase that. I am a 28 year old woman, born and raised in Greece, who has been reading comics since she can remember herself. It is not something extremely rare and unusual, but not something you see every day either. It is the sad truth that less women read comics than men, and in my country, comics are still somewhat considered as children readings.

Although to be fair, the Greek comic market is growing every day and new creators are contributing with their work to this fine, but often misunderstood art.

I started reading comics when I was in elementary school. Back then it didn’t seem too odd, everyone was doing it.

We were all little kids, and in a time when the internet was not that popular, most of us were reading several comics every month, usually Disney comics.

For the boys it was Mickey Mystery, Donald, Popeye and similar ‘masculine’ titles. For the girls it was ‘Minnie’ or ‘Betty and Veronica’.

For me it was everything. And when I say everything, I mean it. I used to read every comic book that I could get my hands on to, titles like Asterix & Obelix (really popular in Greece), Lucky Luke, a series of classic novels narrated in a comic book form.

I even have a full collection of comics based on the comedies of Aristophanes.

As I was growing older, I did the only thing any comic geek who respects himself/herself would do. I discovered the super heroes of course! In the last grade of elementary school, I was completely in love with Spider-Man. One or two titles of the most amazing super hero ever were being translated into Greek at the time, and reading his adventures every month was what kept me going as I was entering the dreaded realm of adolescence. I remember being so obsessed with Spider-Man that one summer I strictly forbid my parents to book a hotel room in one island or another that wouldn’t have a tv. How else was I supposed to watch the Spider-Man cartoon that a Greek channel was broadcasting every Saturday?

Besides Spider-Man, I remember reading some issues of Thor, Hulk, one or two issues of Batman and of course one of my all time favorite crossover events, DC VS Marvel. I am a Marvel girl myself, always have been, but I long for the day that I will have enough free time to explore the DC universe in all its glory.

But then, that was it. At some point during middle school, I stopped reading comics. Why? Because my 14 year old self decided that comics were not for young girls (Oh I hated that girl!).

Anyway, luckily that stage didn’t last long and after a couple of years and thanks to Neil Gaiman’s ‘Endless Nights’ I was back on track. Yes that particular graphic novel made me appreciate comics all over again and come to terms with the fact that I will probably read comics my whole life.

I was in high school when I entered the wonderful world of Vertigo Comics. By then I was fluent enough to read in English, so I didn’t have to wait for the Greek translations. I read everything Neil Gaiman, from the Sandman to Coraline and from Stardust to Neverwhere. Soon I discovered other titles like Fables, Preacher, Hellblazer and other famous writers like Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Mike Carey. Mike Carey’s ‘Lucifer Morningstar’ remains to this day one of my favorite comic books.

In high school I got in touch with Greek comics as well. Although the Greek comic industry is a really small one, you can find many noteworthy creators like Ilias Kyriazis, Giannis Milonogiannis, Tasos Zafeiriadis, Vasilis Lolos and others. Every Wednesday my father used to bring home a Greek newspaper which offered as an extra, a Greek comic magazine, its name was ‘9’. I still have a whole chest full of its issues.

Recently I picked up my old habit. I started reading super hero books again. Call it a late twenties crisis. I have read thousands of X-Men and Avengers comics and other famous Marvel titles.

For me, reading comics is as natural as reading books, watching tv shows or going to the cinema. I consider them a form of art even more high and respectable because it combines many other high and respectable arts.