Monday, July 23, 2012
Comics taught me everything about romance
I'm a guy. What does that mean exactly? It means 'guys' have funny ways of finding out about romance. I'll be the first to tell you most of what we learn turns out to be 99% wrong. That other 1% women have to tell us about and we usually poo poo the whole concept you might be right. Otherwise, men wouldn't still be using the same tired pick up lines learned at the feet of our forefathers. Honestly, it's a wonder the human race didn't die out before it got started.
All that said, how did I learn enough about romance to end up writing books on the subject. The answer is simple. Comic books. Huh? Did he just say comic books? Don't worry, I knew you were going to say that so went ahead and typed it. The answer is, "yes I did" and "I did." Before you hit a bookmark and go to Facebook to laugh at me publicly, allow me to explain. This is going to take a few blogs, so expect to come back for my next thrilling issue.
Today I'm going with the basics. Comic books are the male equivalent of soap operas. I know women read comics too, but this is as close as most men come to openly stating we watch or read anything close to romance. What makes comics a romance medium? Let me give you some examples
Romance and comics both start off with a bigger than life hero. Be it Superman or Chase Michaels from my own Immortally Yours, the hero is set up to be the man every other man would want to be and every woman should want. Superman is invulnerable. Chase is immortal. Yet, they both have their weaknesses. Supes has kryptonite. Chase has his own tortured past. It isn't their strengths that make them appealing to women. It's the fact that both characters refuse to allow their weaknesses to hold them back.
Now, that we have the hero out of the way, let's move on to the heroine. Romances have strong females propelling the story, so do comics. It would be easy to toss Wonder Woman at you to illustrate this point, but I'm not. In paranormal romances, the heroine rarely has any superpowers to speak of. Most of the time it's the man who is the tortured vampire, or strong cursed werewolf. Comics have so many strong females who don't have superpowers it isn't funny, though we're talking about 'funny' books. Lois Lane is easily as strong mentally and in the spirit department as Superman. Mary Jane Watson has puny Peter Parker beat when it comes to knowing who she is and what she wants. As we well know, old Pete ain't got a clue. To dip into the super-powered side of comics, Sue Storm Richards might look like she has the weakest power out of the Fantastic Four, but not only can she level a mountain then push it out of the way, she is the glue that holds the FF together and has kept those other three knuckleheads in line for over forty years, all while raising two kids. Tell me she doesn't deserve some respect!
Romances thrive on strong females. Who wants to read about some mewling woman dependent on a man to define her, protect her, and generally keep her happily barefoot and pregnant at home? I don't. I know that you as readers don't. Neither do the millions of guys reading comics out there. We want women as strong as the Hulk out there mixing it up. We won't go into the costumes. That's the only place where men are still dragging our knuckles in the dirt and grunting like cavemen. I don't draw the costumes but as a guy I will appreciate them until my wife knocks me over the head with the club I dropped to dislocate my eyeballs leering at them. Picture to right is an ample example, but in her defense the Red She-Hulk kicks butt and takes names.
Okay we've got heroes and heroines, but where's the romance? Let's start with Superman. Clark and Lois spent nearly seventy years going round and round the romance carousel before finally admitting they loved each other and getting married. Peter Parker and Mary Jane took less time, only twenty some odd years. Reed Richards and Susan Storm had them all beat by taking less than one hundred issues to tie the knot, but Stan Lee knew that every great story revolved around two things. A boy and a girl, plus giving the people what they wanted.
Speaking strictly as a guy, and a geek, I loved the romance going on between those characters. It helped drive the story and keep me coming back. I knew that sooner or later the Green Goblin or Doc Doom would show up for a big showdown. But, I didn't know if Peter and Mary would hook up. I'll be going more into Peter Parker on a later blog, by the way. A comic book with just one fight after another would be boring. I seriously doubt they would have last this long if that was the only thing going on. The issues where Clark married Lois and Peter married Mary Jane were some of the biggest sellers in history, so I'm not the only one who must have thought that way.
So, basically what I'm try to say is that comic books taught me everything I know about romance and it must have worked. I'm happily married to the woman of my dreams, who puts up with my geekiness. Do you know how hard it is to find a woman like that? Well, believe me, it's hard. Another thing, you're reading this blog because you've read at least one of my books, so that means comics have taught me well enough for you to enjoy the fruit of my addiction to comics. So, the next time you want to read a good romance, pick up a comic. It may take you fifty years to get your happily ever after, but it is a fun ride until it happens.
Next week, check out my second part of this Comic Farce, Peter Parker is a man whore, over at my personal blog The Morgan Diaries. I'll be examining how this geeky superhero has played with the emotions of countless women and trained geeks like me in the ways of how not to romance a woman. I'm blowing the lid off this one, folks. J. Jonah Jameson will be positively green with envy!