Comic books are now often called “graphic novels” in the hopes that they will be taken seriously and will not be seen merely as picture books with a lot of sex and violence. I was in my first year of university when I became acquainted with literary comics — my professor included on our syllabus Fun Home by Alison Bechdel — and I feel as if I am still on the fringes of the comic book world, fumbling through the classics and slowly (very slowly) impinging upon the contemporary comic scene.
Whether you enjoy comics or not (and I suggest you give them a whirl before rejecting them completely), the reality is that comics can present stories in a way that no other genre can. The illustrations, if done well, do not merely portray what the words already describe — they add a new level and a deeper meaning that the words could never hope to achieve alone. Alan Moore is a particular genius at the craft (see his beautiful V for Vendetta in the photograph above). The interplay between the illustrations and the written word is fascinating, creating an effect that no novel or film can mimic.
I am currently reading the seventh volume of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, a rather epic collection of fantasy comics surrounding the story of Dream, the ruler of the dream realm. It has saved me from many a dark night, and just yesterday I came across this gem of a quotation. It is spoken by Dream’s brother, Destruction, describing a conversation he once had with their sister, Death.
“I told her how small I felt, how I wished I… knew more, I suppose. We were looking up at the constellations … It didn’t matter that, in some sense, I was everywhere; nor that I was more powerful than… well, practically anything. I still felt tiny. I felt insignificant.
“And she looked at me. You know her look. And she sighed. Then she told me everyone can know everything Destiny knows. And more than that. She said we all not only could know everything. We do. We just tell ourselves we don’t to make it all bearable.”
I often feel the tugging of this knowledge that Destruction speaks of in my heart, as I’m sure many of you do too. It is an ache, and many times, a fear. A fear for the future, and a fear that in the end, everything will not be okay. But perhaps, as Destruction suggests, the ache and the fear is better than the knowledge. Perhaps it would be too unbearable to know it.
Keep reading, everyone, and keep finding those little, beautiful reasons to keep living.
If you have a reason to keep living, whether it be big or small, simple or complex, send it with a photo (and, if you want, a brief explanation) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your photo (and writing) will be featured on the Amber Typewriter in weeks to come!
To read the original concept of Reasons to Keep Living, click here.