JOURNALISTS WHO LIE
It sucks trying to get mainstream press for comics.
I opened Portland’s main weekly paper today, the Willamette Week, and they had a blurb on Free Comic Book Day that was, well, just read it: “Jiminy-Jillickers, Radioactive-Man! Free stuff for the Stan Lee army? Better strap on your colored spandex and rev up the Batmobile to beat the bad guys to this super-duper giveaway! Participating comic retailers nationwide to disgorge 2 million select titles ranging from Archie to X-Men. Get adamant to adamantium!”
Not only are these sorts of reviews continually frustrating and insulting to fans and professionals who enjoy and create serious comic books, but they aren’t even clever. Every paper has done them, scads of journalists have resorted to them. You might as well go pick up an Oasis record and write about how they sound like the Beatles, or review a Jennifer Lopez movie and say, “You know what? She has a big butt.” It’s the easy way out. And this is in Portland, Oregon. We have four publishers in this town: Oni Press, Top Shelf Productions, Dark Horse Comics, and Adhesive Comics. We also have a ton of creators living here. It’s a comic book town—but I guess since we aren’t making a noise in our garage we’re not cool enough to get a proper amount of respect. (Steve Duin at The Oregonian and Dave Walker at the aforementioned Willamette Week being exceptions.) I mean, not even a mention of the contributions from our local companies? (Oh, and I would say at least the Radioactive Man reference is within this decade, but then, did no one fact check to see that hyphen wasn’t supposed to be there?) (And by titles do they mean individual copies of comics? The way they phrase it makes it sound like we have a huge selection!)
I actually used to try to turn the tide myself. My primary vocation is being a writer; comics editing is a secondary function. I used to write regularly for the Willamette Week, and I actually got them to agree to fairly regular graphic novel reviews in their literature section. After four or five of them, the books editor said to me, “You know, reviews of comics are kind of dumb. They aren’t very interesting. Maybe you could do stuff where people draw the reviews, so that it might be something people would want to read.”
By this logic, reviews of music should be done in song form, and movie reviews done as video clips? And how should I take that insult? Am I that bad of a writer, or are comics such a terrible art form and I’m putting my time into a known loser? Or am I just working for an unknown one? The fuck-off e-mail that followed is something I wish I had to share with you.
Current Soundtrack: Madonna, American Life