First, late last month, Christian Sciene Monitor, whose staff really should know better, brought us Pow! Zowie! Scholars discover the comic book. Then this week, The Washington Post, whose staff should also know better, brings us Drawing Power, where Bob Thompson wonders in amazement about how people — and not just kids — are reading comics and graphic novels!
And while Thompson eventually gets around to talking about this, I am waiting for the day where people realize that comics are a medium. They are no different than film or prose or poetry. They are a way to tell stories. Nothing more. They are not for any particular person or demographic. You can happily like one more than another — you can be a film buff and not read a lot of fiction or you can spend all your time reading poetry and not really care for movies — but that doesn’t mean the others are inferior to your chosen medium.
Is there a lot of crap out there? Yeah, but that goes for any medium. For every best picture nominee, there’s five Meet the Spartans. For every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, there’s 10 cranked-out mysteries. For every poet laureate, there’s a teenager posting her trite poems on MySpace. Are there bad comics out there? Yeah. I think we all know that. But there’s also some really great ones.
I read a lot comics, sure. But I just read a lot, period. My bookshelves are filled with everything from the classics to fantasy paperbacks, Norton anthologies to second-hand sci-fi novels. I am happy to share my shelf space with the comics I own. One medium is no better than the other. They both offer me something very lovely and I like that.
(And if these sorts of feature writers need a new topic, why don’t they look into bars that are hosting Guitar Hero nights? That hasn’t been done to death yet.)