I was reading Robot 6 today when I came across an article about what comic arguments fans would prefer to argue. Personally, I was a bit down that the HTML Comics defender didn’t respond to my comment to him, but I often avoid online cartoon arguments because they’ll just lead me to rant on my own blog. Then I saw this:
I’ll tell you what my big question is: Why do superheroes dominate the online conversation the way they do? Last week saw the release of Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft and Tim Hensley’s Wally Gropius, two gorgeous and weird books that truly make use of the stuff of comics and contain the kind of material you can mentally gnaw on for days on end, but I guarantee you that no matter which comics blogs you read, you read more about Paul Levitz’s return to the Legion of Superheroes. And chances are good that if you’ve read about Daniel Clowes’s Wilson, what you read prominently featured that page where the character makes fun of The Dark Knight. What gives?
And here we are again – hating on superhero comics. While that may not have been the point of this quote, it definitely represents the wave of “cool kids” who read comics. I’m tossing up the quotation marks because these kids are “cool” the way that the guy from the Pickup Artist is “cool”. Completely sure of themselves and noticed by some, but made of a high percentage of douche bag. And do I say that because I don’t agree with them? Absolutely. But I too am made of a high percentage of douche bag – and we can sense our own.
Stick with me. I am going to eventually make a point here.
Speaking for myself and the other writers of this blog, I will tell you exactly why our topics mainly focus on superheroes. It’s because superheroes are what we like. We buy superhero comics because that’s what we want to read. And therefore we write about that which interests us – because we own the blog and it is a representation of our comics. There – that was pretty easy…but now I have to rant.
The question arises as to just what removes my interest from the type of comics that “truly make use of the stuff of comics and contain the kind of material you can mentally gnaw on for days on end”? Because, quite simply, I read comics to read a story. I want to have my characters, my setting, my conflict, etc. all there in a place that’s easy to follow and eventually leads somewhere. The mort “artsy” comics often fail to do that, leaving me pondering what the hell I just read. Is that an unfair overlaying assumption of any non-superhero comic? Absolutely – but it’s exactly what most haters of superhero comics do. No, not every comic is a 1960’s Superman story. Hell, Superman stories aren’t 1960’s Superman stories anymore. Quit labeling the genre as if they are. Picking up a superhero comic should not be seen as “selling out”.
But then there’s the basics of writing about comics. The example used – Paul Levitz returning to Legion of Super-Heroes – is a big deal. Levitz was one of the most revered Legion writers ever, and he’s coming back to the characters he so famously wrote. That’s pretty big news, and obviously longtime comic fans are going to write about it. But then let’s go into an intelligently written comic by a non-mainstream independent. What is there to talk about? That’s the type of thing I would personally write about in one of my New Comic Day hangover editions, but I see little point to dive into it much further. I just wrote an entry on the supposed relationship between Rogue and the Sentry because both characters have a ton of history and there was a lot to talk about. What is there to go on about a title in which two characters talk in snappy, emotional-laden banter, with little else to it?
So no, we won’t be covering that sort of books here specifically because talking about superheroes is widespread. We have things to talk about and the dozen or so people that read the blog seem to enjoy it. We’re not going to shift the discussion just because everyone else does it to.