CommuniTea Books doesn’t incorporate a lot of Comic Books, or Manga, and that decision was entirely personal, it’s as simple as the fact that I’m not largely into Comic Books so why would I waste the space in the store to sell them? Other than the fact, of course, that Comic Books make up a large market. Superhero comic books from both DC and Marvel are as big now as they have ever been, and bigger. The massive success of Marvel in Hollywood is proof alone that having some kind of comic book section would be beneficial for business. But, eh, I just don’t like it, and hey, I’m the owner so it is my prerogative, after all.
More often than not I don’t enjoy reading comic books, the writing is mediocre—which is a huge turn off for me, even in movies, if the script is bad, regardless of how good the story might be, or how well it might be directed, I’m initially not interested in it—very few comic books focus on the writing, it’s of little interest to the developers, and being a writer, maybe, I just cannot understand that. Everything, starts off as an idea and it must be communicated, in some way, to the designer, to the authors, to the artist, to the director, and that means of communication is to write it, in a creative, intelligent, and artistic way. So how do so many god awful comic books end up on the shelves!?
Graphic Novels have been the exception, for me. Stories such as Watchmen or V for Vendetta were really good, the writing was, for a long time, still sub-par, it was still better than most comic books.
But something happened, somewhere over the course of the last twenty years, much, in the same way that Television has become the new artistic focus, more so than movies: we see shows like True Detective, Game of Thrones, and so on, where Big Name Hollywood actors are now showing up in television series instead of focusing on movie roles, Graphic Novels have become a new way for great story tellers, even authors to reimagine their stories. The credit might be largely due to Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. I mean, just recently, Victor LaValle, the author of Slapboxing with Jesus: Stories, The Ecstatic, and Big Machine, just released Destroyer, his first Graphic Novel.
Jonathan Lethem, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Chuck Palahnuik, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Doris Lessing, Harlan Ellison, Salman Rushdie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Umberto Eco, and even Stephen King wrote a graphic novel spin off of his Dark Tower series.
There is a place for what will be dubbed Literary Graphic Novels in CommuniTea Books, and to extend that idea even to somewhat obscure, and by obscure I mean, or rather, I am referring to The Amory Wars comics written by Claudio Sanchez, the lead singer of Coheed & Cambria. A band whose albums are all (with the exception of 1) inspired by The Amory Wars! And other comics either inspired by the their music or written by musicians, such as: Courtney Taylor-Taylor, of The Dandy Warhols,’ Zak Sally (Low, Enemymine), Tom Morello (Audioslave, Rage Against The Machine), Gene Simmons (Kiss), Archer Prewitt (The Sea and Cake), Jane Wiedlin (Go-Go’s), and, of course, David Lynch.
As I mentioned I don’t particularly like comic books but when they are shadowed by a degree of intrigue, they are obscure in their own right, when literary authors, musicians, and actors (Nick Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosario Dawson, Mark Hamill, Bill Hader, John Cleese, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Rashida Jones) take part in the process it will, more often than not, have a place on the shelves at CommuniTea Books. Part of what bookstores bring to a community is a place to be introduced to new things, and new ideas, and how do you do that if you carry the same crap on the shelves? In this instance I don’t only refer to more typical comic books, but literary authors as well. Why walk through the aisles of a Barnes&Noble when you know exactly what you’re going to see?
If you’re looking for the latest James Patterson (Which, I hope you know, James Patterson did not write, in fact, he likely hasn’t written anything in years), then sure we’ll order it for you, but no there is not space for that book on my shelves. If you walk through the Mystery section at CommuniTea Books and you happen upon a James Patterson that book is either rare, or it is one of his earlier books—which will probably make it rare, to some degree—or perhaps it’s one of his Alex Cross novel series, which does happen to be a very well written, and developed character. One of the more memorable ones in the Mystery realm, and one that, unfortunately does not get a lot of attention for no reason other than it was James Patterson that created him.
There are, of course, the amazing artistic renditions of tales written by Homer, Jules Verne, and Kahlil Gibran, when I come across the gems, and then I pick up a random comic book I find on the shelves at a nostalgic shop or at Half Price Books I’m often amazed that some of these get made! Marvel and DC comics I get, they started at a time of turmoil and war, and were cheap illustrated stories that everybody could read and enjoy at a time when our country didn’t have much going for it (I suppose this time period isn’t the “Great Again” era, I’m still working on pinpointing that age), and the characters themselves are really, bloody cool! They were moralistic too! But people have been writing comic books for the past forty years seem to be too focused on keeping them specific to an idea, or to an era, they haven’t allowed them to change, to grow organically, you know, to develop, they’ve tried to maintain the writing style, and I don’t understand, why?
I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.