It’s a testament to my current lack of clear goals and low self esteem that I consider today my all-time writing achievement:
Anyway, I jumped into an argument between comic book journalists Tom Spurgeon and Heidi MacDonald. He writes for The Comics Reporter and she writes for The Beat. Google them. I don’t want them to see the trackback link to this and think I simply jumped in for the sake of boosting my ego.
No, I jumped in, because Mr. Spurgeon was calling out Ms. MacDonald about an issue he has with comic book news sites regurgitating PR from the “Big Two.” The “Big Two” are Marvel and DC Comics and are owned by Disney and Time Warner respectively. Often, comic book sites, especially Newsarama and Comic Book Resources will be primarily populated with copied and pasted news supplied by Marvel and DC. Anyway, he’s written more about it at length, and on his website, so go on, you can open up a new tab and hop over.
Now, where I jumped in, was when they were arguing about the validity of discussing The View mentioning that Marvel will be featuring a gay marriage in an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. Aside from a “Batman’s gay” joke, it’s my understanding that the ladies on The View didn’t really break into any discussion on the subject. So, a show on ABC, owned by Disney, mentioned a news item about a Marvel Comic, also owned by Disney. And a portion of the comic book blogosphere patted themselves on the back for comic books getting mainstream coverage.
But comic books didn’t get mainstream coverage. Marvel did, and in a broader sense, the superhero comic book genre did, but really it was about Marvel saying “we love the gays!” Which is of course, awesome, and in addition to my family, I feel that my open minded worldview is heavily influenced by reading the X-Men growing up.
However, the thing that comic book news sites seem to love more than putting out Marvel and DC PR is pointing out when the mainstream media picks up such things. This somehow serves as a validation of the medium.
It is not, and its not what most of them want.
That’s right, Internets, I’m telling you what you want.
What you want is validation of superheroes. You want it to be cool, to be okay in the same way that your cousin being a sports fan is.
Well, I hate to be the one to tell this to you, but it’s already happened. The Avengers has broken a billion dollars. The Dark Knight did so as well a couple of years ago. My mom knows who Hawkeye is. There were government certified douchebags in the theater, excited to see a movie about superheroes at a midnight showing of Avengers that I went to. They will probably be at The Dark Knight Rises and help that to over a billion dollars as well. Superheroes? They’re alright with everyone.
The real hurdle is comic books are not just superheroes. Comic books are an art form and a storytelling medium just like television, film, and literature. There are horror comics, mysteries, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, crime, hard sci-fi, every day life (is that a genre?) and so on and so forth. I think Anthony Bourdain’s even working on a spy/cooking mashup. So yeah, pretty diverse.
But no one pays that fact any mind. It’s an industry that is caught up in the conventions and the comfort offered by one genre and by doing so is keeping people out. It’s not mainstream media coverage that’s going to get people into comics. It’s people who love comics telling people about comics that will get people into comics. (Did I say “People” and “Comics” enough? I DO NOT OWN A THESAURUS. BUY ME ONE).
So, to finally give some purpose to this blog now that I’ve given some further context to my mission statement:
READ THIS COMIC BOOK: Y: The Last Man: by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Yorick Brown is the last man on earth. Further discussion of the concept and this comic, next post!
Low-risk investment: Y: The Last Man #1, FREE on Comixology. For those with iPads, Kindle Fires, other tablets, or even a laptop, you can read the first issue for free here, by signing up for a Comixology account.
Slightly higher-risk investment: Y: The Last Man Volume One: Unmanned, $9.77 on Amazon. You’re buying the first six issues collected. You can also get the first volume digitally on Amazon for $9.28 if you have a Kindle Fire.
We’ll discuss this next time. Consider yourselves bookclubbed.