Saturday, August 28 (which, not coincidentally, I'm sure, is also the birthday of Jack "King" Kirby) has been designated International Read Comics In Public Day. Appreciators of fine sequential literature are encouraged to take to the streets armed with the graphic narrative of their choice and simply allow themselves to be seen, and perhaps photographed, reading it. The event, dreamed up by editors of the comics news site The Daily Crosshatch, seeks not only to foster acceptance of reading comics among the general public, but in comic readers themselves. Yes, apparently there remain some comics readers who are somewhat abashed to actually be seen indulging their passion for the artform in a public setting.
I would hope that the readers of Gutter Talk are the sort whose first reaction to hearing of this event would be, as mine was, "We need a special day for this? Seriously?" Though, after reading of the origins of and rationale for the event (as well as the confessions of NPR's comics blogger Glen Weldon) I can see why such a day can be useful.
However, I would like to state that, for my part, I have never been self-conscious about reading comics of any genre in any venue where I might be seen doing so.
I remember sitting in a bar in Edinboro, Pennsylvania one Friday afternoon in early 1989, nursing a beer and chuckling not so quietly over the repartee between Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, and his wife Sue in Justice League Europe #4. (I really miss the Dibnys. The worst part of the whole cycle of awful stories kicked off by Brad Meltzer's horrid Identity Crisis is the raw deal those two great characters got) Only later did it occur to me that a bar was perhaps an odd place to be reading anything, let alone a comic book.
Truthfully, if I'm inclined to consider at all what other people might think of what I chose to read in public, its when I'm reading something along the lines of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion or Christoper Hitchens' God Is Not Great. Not that it would stop me, but I do think about it. I actually did once have a co-worker, upon seeing me reading The Portable Atheist, tell me that I needed to "get right with God" or I was going to Hell.
Even though my dad always thought my reading, and drawing, comics was a waste of time, even he never intimated that it placed my immortal soul in jeopardy.