Let us introduce our newest addition to the team – Amanda White 🙂
Amanda White lives in Augusta, Maine. She has a BA in English from UMA. Amanda has been going to conventions and has been a comic enthusiast ever since she was a little girl. In this article she answers the question we all have faced “at least” once in our geeky life
Comic Books Are for Kids
-By Amanda White
It is a common dilemma among comic readers to hear this from time to time, “Comic books are for kids,” or “Comic books are trash literature,” It’s troubling to be enjoying something one minute and then criticized for your reading choice the next. The question is always, “How do I deal with the insults?” It is a tough question, and unless you have a degree in literature you’re not going to be able to give them an answer that will satisfy them. Then again who truly wants to battle wits when you’re enjoying yourself? What business is it of theirs what you choose to read?
Sit tight cause help is on the way. I’m going tell you how to stand up for yourself when these criticisms come flying your way. Not only that, but they will be comebacks and arguments that will give even the snootiest of critic time for pause.
First lets look at the reason comics get a bad rap. There are a lot of reasons given for why comics are “trashy”, but ultimately it boils down to one simple factor: the pictures. Pictures send an image to many people of a kids storybook. Let’s face it, unless it’s a great illustrated classic version of a work of major literature it pretty falls under the category of children’s story. Sad and narrow thinking yes, but it’s the way comics are perceived.
Alright then, if pictures are the issue lets start there. Artwork is the foundation of a comic book it’s true. If you don’t think it’s true think about a story where the story was great, but the artwork ruined it for you or vice versa. There are many factors accompanying the artwork. As is the case with any great painting hanging in the museum many questions are asked of the piece. Does the art enhance the story or subtract from it? Is it in color? Does the color add or take away from the story? Are the panels in a format that helps the story move along smoothly or does the layout hinder the action? All valid intelligent questions that on a subconscious level we all consider as we’re reading a comic.
Then there’s the comment of, “The stories are all the same just the names change,” WRONG! The stories are intricate plots that interweave and overlap with other characters and other series with that character. Many comic stories are very powerful such as the X-Men title ‘God Loves, Man Kills’.
The text within comic books can be looked at and analyzed like any other piece of literature. An English major could easily map out the plot as well as they could ’The Great Gatsby’ or any work of Shakespeare. There are plots, subplots, foreshadowing, moral issues, conflict, and many other standard story devices. It’s also easier to relate to the issues brought up by comics because they’re more relevant to our daily lives. Most of the “great works of literature” take place in a time when class was everything and women married to improve their family status. Not quite so much of an issue in modern day America.
The two major continuums in the comic industry have their own devices that make them unique in how they bring these issues to light. Aside from the characters that is. The Marvel Universe is known for using its characters and storylines that mirror current social situations. On the other hand the DC Universe focuses more on lineage with their heroes. Don’t believe that’s true? Look at it closer. X-Men, overcoming and dealing peacefully with being different in society. Batman, took on Robin to have someone to continue his fight when he’s gone.
The point is that comics are every bit as good of literature as the tired old titles that fall into the basic literary cannon. They’re just not given a fair chance. Perhaps someday, but obviously not now.
So here’s what you say the next time you get criticized for reading comics:
“Actually I find that this particular title has unique characters that I can identify with as well as having artwork that enhances the overall message. True it is the age old struggle of good vs. evil, but ultimately that’s what we’re surrounded with. This particular writer also chooses to focus on a specific moral and/or social dilemma that is a current concern. Overall the symphony that is art and text make for a very enjoyable reading experience,”
If nothing else you’ll get a couple of moments silence as they stand there stunned from getting that sort of answer from someone that assumed was of low intelligence. If they press you for more of an explanation just remember what we talked about. Ultimately though, when it comes to what makes you happy, you have nothing to prove or explain.