By Olivia Knowles
I’ve only been reading comics for about a year. It was something I’d wanted to get into for a long time but I never knew where to start. I’m a huge fan of The Dark Knight Trilogy and shortly after watching The Dark Knight Rises I decided that I was going to dive into the world of Batman comic books. I saw Year One as a perfect place to begin, so, off I went to Waterstones as this was when comic book stores were still a mysterious and intimidating place to me.
I read Year One the night I bought it. I was determined to become a real comic book fan. It was a couple of days after my 18th birthday, my parents had gone to bed and my sister was at work. I settled down in my favorite spot on the couch. I was ready to immerse myself in this enigmatic new world. And I did. I was completely engulfed in Year One for about 40 minutes, absorbing every word Frank Miller placed before me, breathing in the beautiful artwork. I was interrupted, stopped in my tracks. Panic had struck the Knowles household. Shouts from upstairs had startled me. “Olivia! Move your car! Move your car!” I had no idea what was going but I obliged, my car was blocking all of the others on the drive. I was confused, so I asked what was going on. My sister, Lauren, had been involved in a car crash on her way home from work. My parents were on there way to where it had happened. I wanted to go but I was told to stay at home. As always. I was left in the dark.
I went back in the house. I was scared and worried and angry. My parents always did this. I was always treated like a child, always left out of the adults’ business. They justify this by saying things like “we don’t want to burden you.” They don’t realize that it hurts more to find out from the rest of the world. I didn’t know that my sister was well and good until I checked Facebook. I was furious. I continued with Year One, I finished it before they came home. By then, the flame that fueled my anger had burnt out. Reading Year One definitely helped in calming me down. I dropped Lauren off at A&E with her boyfriend. When I came home I reread Year One.
That night was a very specific moment in my life. In that moment I was worried and angry. Despite the range of emotions I felt during my initial reading of Year One, it will always have positive connotations for me. It represents a transitional period in my life. It was the summer I turned 18. It was the summer before I went to university. It was the summer in which I discovered my love for comic books.
Once I turned 18, there was a pressure. A pressure, not to act like an adult, but to act my age. I saw it in every one of my friends too. They were drinking and going out most nights. I was expected to do the same but all I really wanted to do was read comic books. I enjoy going a bit mad every now and again but I couldn’t afford to do it as often as I was being asked and, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. The peer pressure was easy to deal with. Moving away wasn’t.
I started university in the September, after reading Year One in the July. It was 40 minutes away from home. I moved into halls. I arrived a week later than everyone else because I’d been on holiday which meant I’d missed most of the nights out. Thankfully. The pressure was there again though. I threw up on my first day of classes so I used that as a reason to say “no” for a couple of weeks. They stopped asking before long. I moved home in December, I wasn’t happy living there, I had developed insomnia and my attendance was terrible. I was constantly unwell, I felt depressed. I missed my family and it showed. Moving home was the best decision I’d made in a long time.
After reading Year One, it didn’t take long to realize that reading comics was something I wanted to do more of. Over the past year, my love for comics has grown, I’ve started my own blog and amassed a huge amount of followers on Twitter. Reading comic books has opened my eyes to many talented people in the world, many of them going unnoticed. I started my blog (originally called Olivia’a Comic Book Reviews) to review my weekly pull but I soon realized that I could be reviewing work of equally talented creators who weren’t getting the exposure they deserved. This is when I started reaching out to creators and the site changed to That Comic Blog. I have had many people come to me asking for reviews of their work, asking my opinion and even requesting my writing services. This is all extremely encouraging. It can be hard to keep up with the blog at times but it’s something I have invested myself in and really enjoy doing and it’s all thanks to comic books.
Before reading Year One I could have never imagined that comic books would become my passion. Year One opened so many doors for me. I’ve made friends and my confidence has increased tenfold. I have a standing order at a comic book store. I’m not afraid that people are going to judge me when I tell them I love comic books. It’s no longer a dirty little secret, it’s something I’m proud of.
I’m extremely lucky. I know for many people comic book reading and collecting can be a lonely hobby. That’s not the case for me, however. I have someone to share my hobby with. Craig, my boyfriend. We started collecting comic books at the same time and I don’t believe either of us would have taken the leap without the other holding their hand. I know I wouldn’t have. My confidence in my hobby comes from knowing that I can share it with someone I love and not be ridiculed for it.
This is my Year One.
You can read more of Olivia Knowles writing at That Comic Blog.