By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books
When I was a young girl growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, I was a big fan of reporter Brenda Starr. She was the protagonist of a comic strip by the same name, created by Dalia Messick (who went by the professional name of Dale Messick). I loved Brenda’s glamorous life as a girl reporter. In fact, at the time during which I was enamored of her (late 1960s), the comic strip wasn’t syndicated in the newspaper my family read, so I would run down the street in the early morning to read the latest panel in the Chicago Tribune on a neighbor’s stoop before that family got up.
Reveling In Being a Fan and Celebrating Fandom
These days, I think of that younger self as part of the world of comic fandom, albeit on the soft side, and I did grow up to be a big fan of the graphic novel. In fact, on a trip to Paris with my father not so long ago, we devoted an entire day to visiting graphic novel bookstores in the city. And there are so many! I came home with a huge stack of fabulous books. We also went on the hunt to find a famous, somewhat hidden mural by renowned graphic novelist/illustrator Jacques Tardi. (Yep, he’s translated into English. Start with the delightful Adele Blanc-Sec series.) Eureka! It’s mounted on a wall near a graphic novel bookstore on the Rue St Martin in the Third Arrondissement. (My photo below.)
Enter Fandom, The Book!
I guess you could say that fandom runs in the family. My sister, Francesca, came out recently with Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers. This book for YA readers is devoted to the big, shall we say huge, world of fandom. It looks at just what the subtitle promises: fan writers, fan filmmakers and vidders, cosplay, comics and visual arts, games, and gamers. It’s a great resource for newbies as well as for long-established fans who want to know more about what fandom is, its historical roots, and how and why it has exploded online in the twenty-first century–and as such an amazing forum of and for diversity and inclusivity. That’s part of what makes Hamilton such an enduring hit and such rich material for its fans.
So for National Comic Book Day this month, take the leap if you haven’t already. Check out Fandom or visit the graphic novel section of the bookstore nearest you. Ask your friends about their favorite comics and start reading. You won’t be disappointed.