SPEAK MY LANGUAGE
A long gestating thought that has been around over the years, but has itched at me since that horrendous Newsarama interview I did for Valentine's Day (let's not link to it), and it's now been pushed to be scratched by various message board discussions with Laurenn "When it Doubt, Double a Letter" McCubbin (who we will link) about Fun Home.
I have a challenge for the comics community at large.
I want to banish the way we use the word "mainstream" in our industry. I vow to never refer to superhero comics, to Big Two comics, as "mainstream" ever again. I used to justify it by saying they were the mainstream within the direct market, but such qualfiers enables that aspect of the business to lord their status over the rest of us and make it like they are the most important part of our industry. I might be fine with it if they didn't turn the distinction around and ask the rest of us to justify our right to be here or act like moving over to that side of the industry is the true measure of success. (And by "they," I encompass fans, pros, and journos.)
This is not meant to denigrate superhero comics. I read them, I like them. (Yesterday I bought the new Danger Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Adam Warren's Empowered, so I'm not really that big a snob.) I also have an interest in writing them. They are not, however, mainstream entertainment. They are the real fringe in comic books. Yes, they have some very successful crossovers (cue the EMPD now), some big media hits when they move into movies and things, but if you want to talk what really fits into the overall fabric of mainstream entertainment, that suits the concerns and interests of the public at large, it's the work of people like Alison Bechdel, Gene Yang, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and so many others. Marjane Satrapi probably got more press last year than Captain America. She certainly has a better chance of making "best of" lists than he does at the end of this one, too.
There is no "comic book mainstream." If we are to be part of the larger culture, there is only "mainstream." Superhero books are a genre. My books are often romance, and that's a genre. Fun Home is literary memoir. They all have their place. We need to stop with enforcing our own caste system via language. And until any of us can sell more than Naruto on a regular basis, we're all the alternative, none of us are the first choice.
I love comics. I want them to succeed and be loved by collective masses. But first, a little tough love in-house.
Currently Reading: DMZ, vol. 2: Body of a Journalist by Brian Wood & Ricardo Burchielli
Current Soundtrack: Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Current Mood: dismissive
All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich