We often see literature as rows and rows of words placed together to make sentences, then paragraphs and chapters and eventually a whole novel. We have a growing epidemic of literature haters who don't want to sit down and look at words, especially without pictures. But what if I told you that comic books are also literature, that one could argue that comic books are true literature? I'm kidding, I don't really think you should argue that. STILL, comic books as a whole are incredibly underrated; a comic is literally a storyline with killer graphics and dialogue that only has the necessary information needed to advance the story.
But even with comic books, there are some comics that are much more popular than others. For example, more often than not when people think of comics Marvel comics or D.C comics will be the first to come to mind, and I think the Peanuts comics should be mentioned along with them. I myself was presenting a speech a while ago on comic books and chose the Spiderman, Batman, and Peanuts comic to speak on. Yet while I was doing my research on these comics I passed by multiple comics which I was completely unaware of, and so I would like to present three comics that I think are underrated and deserve your attention: Far Side Comics, Tin Tin comics, and Bone comics.
Far Side Comics
Created by Gary Larson in 1980 and run in daily newspapers till 1995, Far Side Comics ran for 15 whole years. Even though these comics were before my time, they definitely played a role in my childhood. I had multiple Far Side Comic books that I read for hours (granted I think some were too mature for me as a 7 year old because I was spooked for quite some time). These comics were unusual, dark, and hilarious all at the same time. “The Far Side has earned him numerous awards, including the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 1990 and 1994. The National Cartoonists Society also named Larson Best Syndicated Panel Cartoonist in both 1985 and 1988. In 1993, The Far Side was awarded the Max and Moritz Award for Best International Comic Strip Panel by the International Comic Salon,” says Gary Larson’s bio on The Far Side’s official website (you can check out the whole thing here: Gary Larson: Once a Cartoonist, Forever a Wingless Insect - A Biography | TheFarSide.com) Most of these comics are short and simple but never lacking in humor. As well as their artistic style, the drawing style is very unique and ranges from bulky humans/cavemen, various animals, and aliens! There isn’t a main plot or character to this comic, just a bunch of funny strips.
Despite this being a comic that was placed deep in the back of my brain, through the research for this article Bone was brought back to my attention. Led by an adventurous and fun-loving dog-like character, the storylines really grabbed my attention as a child with the quirky drawing style: very cartoon-ish, which makes sense considering it's literally a comic. This series was created by the talented Jeff Smith, who both worked as the writer and artist for the comic! Bone is a lovely mix of fantasy, action, and humor all in one storyline. For the most part the comics follow three main characters: The Bone, Fone Bone, and Smiley Bone. The three characters are cousins who are kicked out of their hometown (Boneville) and readers follow them as they explore dangerous terrain and escape evil monsters/creatures, all while getting lost and meeting new friends. I think that this comic, despite not having a super cool action character or superhero-like plotline, still deserves more attention than it has gotten. I could argue it deserves its own cartoon, which would be so fitting since its got a pretty good story.
Tin Tin Comics
The Tin Tin comics were created in 1929 (I know right, super long ago!) by the great cartoonist Georges Remi, aka Herge. The comic is complete with a set of 24 albums of comics lasting all the way up to 1986, so it was able to live on for a very long time. The style of drawing from my perspective seems to be very vintage and comforting, not super complex, which I think fits the comic very well. The main character of the story is Tin Tin, of course, but it also has supporting characters such as his faithful companion Snowy, Thompson and Thompson, Captain Haddock, etc. In the comics TinTin is a brave reporter who takes on dangerous cases and travels around the globe, exploring the beauty and culture of different places around the world along the way. I was also able to learn through even writing this article that these characters were even inspired by real people or historical figures! Even though I view The TinTin comics as underrated, it was able to get its own movie in 2011 directed by Steven Spielberg. However, this comic is definitely one that isn't as talked about as much in our generation and I think it definitely deserves the recognition.
There are so many more comics that are underrated and deserve to be read and recognized, and I think that in your spare time if you are looking for a new interest or piece of literature to read, you should explore the world of comics and search for the best underground comic treasures!