A Word About Comics

The hesitancy of comiXology to publish Saga #12 has been in the news this past week. Eventually everything sorted itself out and the issue was published on time. It had nothing to do with Apple censorship, nothing to do with Image comics or their creators. It was, as I understand it, a decision of comiXology’s not to put the issue up for sale. So, that stinks. You’d like to think the future of comic distribution would be going to bat for the best creators and their work.

Yeah, yeah. A minor hiccup in the grand scheme of things.

Let’s talk about what comics actually are. They’re an art form in which sequential images are displayed in order to tell a story. Mike Monteiro ranted recently on his terrific Let’s Make Mistakes podcast about the term, “graphic novel”. While I agree that’s a horrible term, Mike, it’s like you’re telling an entire field of professionals to call themselves, “creatives”.

The word “comics” evokes dismissal as light hearted taffy. To be comic is to be funny. That’s an incredibly poor encapsulation of what comic-books can be. They are sequential artwork and writing placed carefully upon a page, the sum of all that design work tells the story.

Yeah, super-heroes have stolen the art form from us for any number of reasons. But let’s not conflate application with possibility. Do we judge the value of television by Dallas or The Wire? Jackass The Movie didn’t diminish Citizen Kane or 2001 did it?

There is incredibly great work out there that is trapped in the confines of what is called “comics”. It’s a disservice to the work that it’s so easy to dismiss. It’s bold, it’s brilliant, it often requires a sense of the world in which it is a part but, really, there’s a richness there that belies the confines of “comic”.