Imagine a table groaning under the weight of a huge pile of comic books, maybe as many as a hundred and fifty of them altogether. Imagine a dozen people from all walks of life – musicians, artists, teachers, scientists, office workers, and retirees, with ages ranging from six to ninety. Picture this group as multicultural and mixed in gender. Picture them sitting around and discussing excitedly, arguing passionately or just quietly sharing their thoughts on the titles such as Lazarus or Superman and the Men of Steel. That’s the Islington Comic Forum.
How does it work?
The structure of the group is a bit more chaotic than a regular book club but with the same sort of relaxed and open friendly atmosphere. It’s presided over by Claire, from the North Library in Islington, who is by her own admission “an excitable librarian”. Like most reading groups, the members discuss the story’s narrative and characters but being a comic book group, the artwork and graphics are given a particular focus of attention as well.
One important way the Comic Forum differs from a traditional reading group is that the focus is not on all the members reading the same book. They prefer the flexibility of reading different books and sharing their thoughts about what they’ve read with the rest of the group.
Perhaps because of this flexibility, it’s less formal than most traditional reading groups. People don’t just sit in a circle and discuss the books, Most members move around the table, recommending and discussing books, while just a few sit and read, pointing out things of interest when they come across them.
Another important difference is that while attendees have been predominately adult in the past, the group is open to younger readers, and they currently have three or four young people coming along to meetings.
Perhaps you’re thinking that this is not real reading. After all, comics are just about superheroes, aren’t they? Well think again. Members of the group are far more likely to talk about the best way to construct a story, or the merits of TV and film adaptations than about who would win a fight between Batman and Superman. Because for aficionados of the genre this is one of the most exciting and diverse mediums on the planet and there is no limit to what it can encompass.
If you’re interested in joining a reading group, take a look at the groups on our site to find groups near you.
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