Observe, Onomatopoeia

2014-04-02 13.12.41BAM! Emeril Legasi founded his career on the three capitalized words shouted in staccato conviction. Why is it that these sound mimicking words have such a power to illustrate eons of accomplishment within our minds? At the mere mention of the culinary catchphrase we perceive television shows, audience reactions, simmering aromatics, gourmet dishes, cheesy commercials and the entirety of one man’s carefully crafted image within the blink of an eye. Words classified under the umbrella term onomatopoeia are powerful, primal, pristine, prodigious and personal. To invoke such a word is to speak in perhaps the only universal language that exists on this earth. It may be due to the artistic nature of such words that they so often adorn the pulpy pages of comic books.

Iconic “BOOM, SHOOM, and BLAM!” word bubbles hung like exuberant punctuations over the panels of the Fantastic Four comics my father let me read when I was a child. Often times, these were the only words I actually read. The color, images and bold words told a story better than the intended text. I did not need to hear Reed Richards tell Ben Grimm to calm down as he broke something in the Baxter Building; the whole of the images on the page did that for me. When play fighting with my brother we would shout, “Crash, Bang, Boom”; in doing so, the suburbs dissolved around us and we entered a post-apocalyptic world that only our flaming fists powers could hope to save (actual imagined super power subject to change). Entire stories lay waiting within a single word, a single color, or a lone image. For a time, I am ashamed to admit, I had forgotten that.

I owe my rekindled love of the comic art to my dear friends Drew, and George, without whom I may have lost the wonder of one truly gorgeous form of artistic expression. The comics and graphic novels that they have tirelessly recommended to me over the past years remind me of the vivid and exhilarating power clad within these thin colorful pages. Still present are my beloved heroes of DC and Marvel, locked in an eternal struggle for the protection of man. However, joyously discovered are the fresh and original tales of Image publishing, Oni Press, Dark Horse and Vertigo among a host of other boutique publishers all bent on providing a voracious audience with well envisioned stories in the form of art.

It is only fitting that I should be writing this on a Wednesday. Wednesday is new comic day. In a few short hours I will make my way to the Grand Rapids location of Vault of Midnight to pick up my subscribed books.

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The Vault.

I look forward to reading the items on hold, to be sure, but more than that I anticipate George, Curtis, Meghan, Steve, Nick, or Dana saying “DUDE, You have got to check this out!” Theirs is a staff of people so vehemently passionate about comic books that I cannot help but feel invigorated by their recommendations. Reading each surreal serialized story suggested I am thankful for how well they guess at what I might enjoy. After delving into an unknown book which resonates with me I always fight the urge to say aloud, “BOOM!” I am sure, however, that the intent of the word would be universally understood.

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