I create comics, and have for over fifteen years. I love the comics medium, and I take it very seriously. But I absolutely loathe the industry and the kind of fans it breeds, in terrible numbers.
Comics is the most conservative entertainment
industry, pandering to adults it treats like children. Those adults are
perfectly happy to be continually insulted by said comics
industry, rewarding them by buying shit just to tweet about it.
is why the comics industry is only taken seriously when it becomes an IP
farm for movies and TV, and never in and of itself. The few works in
comics that get taken seriously (MAUS, PERSEPOLIS) are not part of the
comics industry and are loved by book readers for their novelty. What is notable about those works is not that they're any kind of achievement in the comics medium, but the freak value of something serious being talked about in a comic at all. To paraphrase Johnson, it's not what the talking dog is saying. It's the very fact that the dog is talking that is notable.
For the most part, you're still perceived as somewhat damaged and negatively weird. Those people on THE BIG BANG THEORY? Nobody wants to be them. They are figures of mockery. Kevin Smith in his stupid hockey jersey doesn't help this with his terrible COMIC BOOK MEN show.
And stores, focused more on their bottom line than anything, have become more like drug dealers than ambassadors of the medium. Where once alternative comics were on the same racks as mainstream, so that someone might come across something different by chance, nowadays you'll find that stuff relegated to some sad little rack in the back, looking like storage, and the dealers are unlikely to suggest any of them to customers who they'd rather got drowned in the manga, superheroes and toys that otherwise flood the prominent parts of the store.
Do you know how stuff like Vertigo came about back in the day? Because the big 2 were losing creators and readers to the alternatives. That's not the case anymore. The big 2 have dedicated racks where they only have to compete with each other, and maybe Image--which largely in content isn't really alternative to anything, though at least what it publishes belongs to those who make it. But the big 2 have absolutely no incentive to improve. They have no real competition. So they can simply keep digesting and vomiting one reboot after another. And you'll buy it, just to complain about it. They don't care whether you respect them or enjoy their comics. They don't have to.
So don't fool yourselves that comics are taken any more seriously than
they ever were. You're still at the kid's table & will always be, until there's nothing strange about any subject being pursued in comics. Fuck superheroes; fuck zombies; fuck sci-fi. Let's start seeing creators with true courage pushing their work into the stores.
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson