Saturday, April 01, 2006

comics 1

ImageText is a good journal dealing mostly with comics. Criticism and interpretation, peer-reviewed. There's not a lot out there like it.

Links from ImageText:

I get really weary of defending comics. I'm not a big fan of superhero genre, but that's what most people still seem to mean when they talk about comics. Comics is a medium. The number of genres represented in that medium is countless, you know. It's not all mysteries or romance or superheroes or science fiction or erotica or westerns or sea stories or histories or anything. It's not all anything. There are so many genres at work in the medium, in fact, that we've got these wonderful genre-mashups, like the political-thriller/superhero story Ex Machina, or a hardboiled/history story like Frank Miller's 300. And there are also really beautiful "pure" genre stories, like 100 Bullets, or the "coming of age romance" in Craig Thompson's Blankets. I'm probably preaching to the choir with this. You lot already like comics, right? Shed a tear for Vita Severn, didn't you? You read Guy Davis and Eddie Campbell and Ted McKeever and Colleen Doran.

So I'm preaching to the choir. ...And graphic novel collections are taking off in libraries, and mostly on the coat-tails of manga titles. After DVDs, graphic novels were the highest circulator at the last library I worked for, and this was in the middle of the desert. The hard part is getting adults (older than 25) to take notice. Graphic novel readers in libraries are mostly 1) teenage girls reading manga, 2) teenage boys reading manga, 3) young adults reading manga, 4) crusty old fanboy type guys reading American and British comics... and manga. What we lack here is the salon and afternoon tea party atmosphere of the chick-lit bookclub gatherings. I've found that lots of comics readers, especially the "crusty old fanboy" set, don't really like to sit around in library bookclubs foaming at the mouth about the merits of Watchmen. It's just one of those things. They'd rather be gaming.

So how do we get the non-fanboy set to wake to the wonders of comics? Librarians could start with veering away from the word "comics," as it brings to mind Superman and Peanuts (wonderful as they are)... and since wide swaths of the medium just isn't comedy work. Adult readers might be more inclined to pick up a "graphic novel", but then again, that sounds a bit edgy and dangerous and decidedly "adult". "Sequential Art Collection" is too wordy and cumbersome. I don't know. Try breaking out the 741.5's into their own little stand-alone collection. Others have suggested this elsewhere, and I've tried everything from doing GN 'booktalks' to writing news pieces about them... having punch and brownies and a GN discussion for the "anime" club... and comics never really seem to break out into a wider audience. No offense meant toward the fanboys -- some of them are my great friends.

Despite Alan Moore's grumpiness, the movies are helping.

Other resources to remember:
ArtBomb (now defunt) intro to GNs and archived reviews.

No comments: