More on comics and literary quality

Jennifer de Guzman looks at the ongoing literary debate and calls for higher criticism.

We don’t see more literary quality in comics being published today because too few critics treat comics as serious literature and art, critically reading and judging them without reference to non-literary works who happen to share the same format. I’m disappointed when I see “cultural critics” like Jeff Jensen, who recently wrote an essay in Entertainment Weekly about his love of comics, elevating the very genre that keeps comics from being taken seriously: superhero comics. (I know, I know, we don’t look to EW for high culture, but, really, was that the best they could give comics?) True comics advocates are not glorified fanboys. If the image of comics in society is that of source material for the latest summer blockbuster, why would anyone who wants to produce something of literary and artistic merit turn to comics as their medium? We’re lucky to get the few creators we have who have looked for and recognize literary merit in comics and endeavor to emulate it. If we’re going to get more of them, we need comics critics who treat the medium seriously, who, instead of glorifying the comics of their childhood and adolescence, know how to read comics and write about from as real literary critics.


Actually, I think this is beginning to be remedied a bit, with regular, consistent and higher-level online comics criticism from the Savage Critic Gang, the ongoing explorations at Comics Comics, Tom’s regular reviews, and so on. Blog Flume has posted some very good in-depth looks at craft, and there are other voices beginning to emerge—I’ll refrain from making a list because I’m sure to leave someone out. As more and more comics come out, more and more people want reliable, informed judgments on these huge piles of comics. It seems the next step is for more trusted authorities to collate these views — or what we used to call editorial supervision.

On a related note, Mark Andrews analyses Dick Hyacinth’s Top 10 over at the CBR blog, and wonders why EXIT WOUNDS topped so many lists:

Well, it’s a great book, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the one I would have guessed would be received as THE GREATEST WORK OF THE YEAR by the critical hive-mind. It’s a different kind of good than the labyrinthian narrative wizardry of Fun Home, or the jaw dropping art of Black Hole. A quiet, distanced story like this one about the small battles played out against the sweeping tide of history feels like a completely different kettle o’ chowdah.

Tell you the truth, I’m kinda stumped why this book is so well received. Ask me again in ten years, when I’ve got some historical background. But, heck, it’s always nice to see really good books being celebrated.


My own guess would be that it’s because the book so clearly embodies the kind of literary qualities that so many seem to be calling for. Everyone more or less reached that conclusion on their own, as opposed to comparing it to some canonical chart, which isn’t a bad thing.

At any rate, this yearning for good criticism that de Guzman exemplifies seems to be one of the major streams bubbling around the water cooler-sphere these days. And many web sites seem to be joining the fray to become new collators of thought. No one has quite broken from the pack yet.

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Comments

  1. If I can shamelessly self-promote, I think people looking for literate, literary comics reviews would be well-served to check out Panel Discussion, the comics section at St. Louis-based pop culture website PLAYBACK:stl. We’ve got a brand new batch of reviews every Friday, plus interviews with the likes of Tony Millionaire, James Kochalka, and Shannon Wheeler…and that’s just in the last month! We’ve been at it for a little over two years, and I think we’ve got as fine a batch of comics critics as you can find anywhere. Check out the comics section directly here:

    http://www.playbackstl.com/content/blogcategory/99/210/

  2. I love reading Jennifer’s column. I think she’s dead on… about pretty much everything. Most blog reviewers have no sense for literary criticism. They love a book, or they hate it. They put it on a scale from 1 to 5, then move on.

    I’d recommend William Zinsser’s ON WRITING WELL. He has a chapter devoted to critics, and it wouldn’t hurt if some people took his advice to heart.

  3. Laurel Maury says:

    Yo, I do serious reviews of comics in the LATimes.

  4. The Beat says:

    Laurel, you need a website!

  5. Playback: stl does indeed do some good comics coverage! Thanks for the kind words, David! And, Lauren, could I hit you up as a contact to send review copies? I think our old contact at the LATimes has moved on — please email me at slgchief @ gmail.com. I’m sorry that I don’t email you myself, but I haven’t been able to find your contact info.

    I do think there is some good comics reviewing going on out there, but my concern lies in those reviews being on sites exclusively devoted to comics, as if as a medium they should naturally be segregated from other literary forms. What I’m really please with is when I see comics treated as a natural part of literary conversation — like when The Virginia Quarterly Review publishes Art Spiegelman or when comics are reviewed alongside other books in places like the NY or LA times, which often blend reviewing with criticism.

    And criticism is different from reviewing. Reviewing is a tool for consumers to know whether they should buy or read a book or not based on if the reviewer liked it or not, basing their decision on how good of a case the reviewer makes. Reviewing is useful and admirable. But criticism is detached from “you should read this” or “I liked this” — it often assumes that the reader has read the work in question and it considers it in regards to craft, theme, and cultural and literary relevance. It’s sort of beyond the scope of “informed judgments.” I tried to do that, in my own small way, in my essays about Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Lenore for the Comic-Con souvenir books. I want to do it more, but I feel I lack perspective, and that’s something I’m trying to gain.

  6. I whole-heartedly agree with Jennifer’s last paragraph there, regarding the difference between reviews and criticism. It’s the difference between what Ebert does when he writes his regular pieces (reviews) and his Great Movies essays (criticism). I make a point to emphasize that to my students as well. Thanks for your cogent take on that!

  7. Mark Coale says:

    I would point people to the Comics Arts Conference stuff that Pete Coogan and Randy Duncan do at SD, having a place for academics to present papers on comics. (I admittedly have done it two or three times.)

  8. Ugh, and I know I used the word “judging” in the excerpt there while now I am saying criticism is outside of judgment. I should have used a different verb — evaluating or analyzing or unpacking or what-have-you-ing. I hate re-reading published work because of that; I always find places where I’d make revisions, even if I had already re-read and revised it half-a-dozen times. Good god. I’m George Lucas.

  9. Mark, thank you for reminding me about the Comics Art Conference! I was going to mention them in the column, but I didn’t manage to work it in. I’ve enjoyed the presentations of papers at SDCC, though, sadly, because I work the convention, I often miss it.

  10. michael says:

    One thing I don’t agree with in the whole ‘literary debate’, and not just from Jennifer, but from others, is that I find merit in all of the genres of comic books, and for me, it’s more a question of quality, even if I don’t like the particular subject.

    Sure, should some comics be more seriously judged as literature and art? Yes, but only those that aspire to that ideal. Another comic may not have that intention, and that’s fine with me. Just because some big media seemingly pays more attention to the wild teenaged superhero stuff, does not discredit the other awesome works out there that the debate is striding for.

    I don’t know what some of the highest awards for literary works are, but if a comic book wants to be part of that world then that’s what they should care to get attention from, like Persepolis. Others in the field who tend to create more ‘literary’ works strike me as those who are more cartoonists than anything. Nowadays, Tomine, Ware, etc…And that is a different goal than creating a literary work, imo.

  11. Michael, I think you are employing a strawmen argument. I am not saying that there is not room for all sorts of genres within the medium. However, often, comics are not treated in a way that allows for differentiation in genre. I am, however, saying that superhero comics do not attract literary-and-art-minded people to the medium, and by constantly identifying comics with this one genre, we marginalize ourselves and perhaps do not get the talent we might otherwise.

    I don’t know what some of the highest awards for literary works are, but if a comic book wants to be part of that world then that’s what they should care to get attention from, like Persepolis.

    One of the highest awards for literary work in the U.S. is the Pulitzer. Maus won one. Another is the National Book Award. American Born Chinese won one. I am sure their publishers and creators worked hard to get those works into the hands and under the eyes of people who would appreciate them for the works of art and literature that they are. However, publishers and artists can’t be everything in this; the medium needs good critics to be ambassadors, people who are seen as not having a “dog in the fight,” as Dirk Deppey would say.

    And that is a different goal than creating a literary work, imo.

    How so? I really don’t understand your argument here. You seem to be saying that if a person has the goal of creating a comic, they cannot also have the goal of creating a literary work at the same time. And that doesn’t make any sense.

  12. Kat Kan says:

    Actually, American Born Chinese was the runner-up for the National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category. It DID win the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. This award is the teen equivalent of the Newbery Award for Children’s Literature.

    Library review journals, from Booklist (the review journal of ALA) to Library Journal to Voice of Youth Advocates to Library Media Connection to Kirkus Reviews (and just about every other title in between) now include reviews of graphic novels as a matter of course. This was years in the making; I was the lone voice in library literature for several years back in the 1990s (for VOYA). But now, every review journal aimed at librarians includes graphic novel reviews.

  13. The Beat says:

    Kat, the library axis for graphic novels is something that needs a lot more coverage.

    I actually think (granted I’m biased) that the PW/Library Journal/School Library Journal reviews, brief as they are, are a nice platform for solid, reliable REVIEWS of comics, but they are still lacking on the higher criticism level.

  14. Prescript: I’m a different Michael than the one above.

    “I am, however, saying that superhero comics do not attract literary-and-art-minded people to the medium, and by constantly identifying comics with this one genre, we marginalize ourselves and perhaps do not get the talent we might otherwise.”

    First of all, where’ve you been? I don’t think there’s anyone who calls themselves a comics critic who thinks comics = superheroes. I seem to recall “Reading Comics” devoting a chapter each to the Hernandez brothers, among other distinctly non-capes creators. And didn’t Time Magazine vote Fun Home their book of the year, or was that just the drugs (that I don’t do) talking?

    Heck, I’d defy you to find one person, critic or no, who is taken seriously in the Great Comics Discussion happening around us right now who thinks comics = superheroes. If the other michael is strawmanning, he’s merely responding in kind.

    Secondly, who says superhero comics don’t attract literary- and art-minded people to comics? I’m literary and art-minded, and they attracted me. Granted, when I was 9, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that I grew up to be a literary and art-minded person who reads all types of comics, including superheroes. And that’s how most of the literary and art-minded people in the GCD today got in as well. The great comics critic of tomorrow is probably reading books like Immortal Iron Fist and Blue Beetle right now.

    If you instead mean “the literary and art establishment aren’t attracted to comics by superheroes,” then that’s true. But who cares? If they’re smart, and if they pay attention at all to the culture around them (not always a given with any type of establishment, but I’ll be optimistic), then they know there’s more to comics than that single genre. And if they’re not or they don’t, then they’re schmucks who don’t deserve the respect they get, so who needs them?

    I really think you’re complaining about a problem that’s become less and less relevant with each passing year since it was first brought up. Which was, incidentally, thirty or so years ago.

  15. Another voice to agree with the reviews/criticism train of thought.

    I tend to feel like one of the hurdles is the culture of Wednesday. So many people write reviews rather than criticism because they want to get their opinions about this week’s books out right away and I’m sure there’s some pressure to be among the first to do so. This is conducive neither to taking the time to really think about a book or to writing about books that you can reasonably assume many people have already read.

    So far, a commitment to mulling over works that are more than a week old and thinking about them in more analytical terms seems to be largely restricted to people writing books rather than blogging. While I disagreed with a lot of Doug Wolk’s ideas in Reading Comics, I did appreciate that he took time to analyze at length a lot of things that I had read already, giving me the opportunity to think more about them myself as I agreed or disagreed with his analysis.

    My own fumblings toward analysis have tended more to the review side of the equation than the criticism side, but I try to get in at least a few thoughts beyond, “this worked, this didn’t,” and am occasionally proud of what I feel like is a step toward deeper analysis (things like the implications of extensive thought balloon use rather than captions in Concrete). I don’t pretend I’m there yet, but I make it a goal.

  16. Kat, thanks for the correction! Librarians have been at the forefront of getting comics accepted as “legitimate” reading. It’s been great to see.

    Other Michael, why you are taking such a hostile tone? My column is in response to a question Paul Pope recently asked at the First:Second blog about why there is not more literary quality in comics. If this is a question that has been around for thirty years and still seems unanswered–and I think it has–then it is worthy of discussing.

    First of all, where’ve you been?

    Working in comics for the past eight years and going to university as an English major and MFA grad student at the same time. I’ve been in both worlds. I have plenty of anecdotes to match yours. I think comics are making great strides, but I think they’re still in the stage where people say, “Oh, gee, I didn’t know comics could be like that!” The examples you bring up reinforce my perception of the situation. Whole books are written by individual prose authors’ work, but comics are still in the stage where the public needs a critical primer of them to introduce them to the medium, such as Understanding Comics.

    I don’t think there’s anyone who calls themselves a comics critic who thinks comics = superheroes.

    It’s not the critics I’m referring to; it’s the public — people who do not immerse themselves in comics. Did you read my column? I hate to insinuate that you didn’t, but I’d prefer not to have to re-explain something I’ve already written about.

    And if they’re not or they don’t, then they’re schmucks who don’t deserve the respect they get, so who needs them?

    Actually, I think that means that the comics world has not sufficiently broken through to get their attention and show them comics that attract them. I admit that English professors can be pretty clueless when it comes to some popular culture (I had to explain Suicide Girls to one of my thesis readers), but there are plenty who take note of new literary work. I simply think that comics in culture needs to do a better job of getting through to these kind of people: outreach is essential.

    And I am not “complaining.” I REALLY hate it when someone brings up a subject that s/he feel is a problem, suggests a solution, and people call it “complaining.” That is so disrespectful.

  17. such as Understanding Comics.

    I meant Reading Comics. Damned gerunds.

  18. “Other Michael, why you are taking such a hostile tone?”

    Again, responding in kind. Or was “glorifying the comics of their childhood and adolescence (sic)” meant in the nicest possible way?

    Snark aside, I’m actually trying to be quite rational about this. If I were being hostile, I’d have taken the obvious shot.

    “My column is in response to a question Paul Pope recently asked at the First:Second blog about why there is not more literary quality in comics. If this is a question that has been around for thirty years and still seems unanswered–and I think it has–then it is worthy of discussing.”

    See, I think it has been answered: There is more. More than there was 30 years ago, more than 25 years ago, more than 20, and on and on and on. There is nothing keeping comics from reaching whatever amount you’re setting other than the passage of time. Especially if you’re setting it not by the amount of literariness in comics, but the level of literary recognition they receive. Which is shifting the goalposts away from Pope’s question.

    “Working in comics for the past eight years and going to university as an English major and MFA grad student at the same time.”

    Good for you, and I mean that. I’ve been doing the university thing, working in publishing, and reading vast numbers of comics, and seeing quite a bit of literary quality. So, again, I wonder how you could have missed it.

    “I’ve been in both worlds. I have plenty of anecdotes to match yours. I think comics are making great strides, but I think they’re still in the stage where people say, “Oh, gee, I didn’t know comics could be like that!””

    We don’t actually differ on this point, just on how relevant it is (and the cause of it, but more on that later). I don’t really care what some nebulous majority demographic thinks about whether or not comics are art. I already *know* comics are art. The opinion of the Times Review of Books, doesn’t really figure into it for me.

    “The examples you bring up reinforce my perception of the situation. Whole books are written by individual prose authors’ work, but comics are still in the stage where the public needs a critical primer of them to introduce them to the medium, such as Reading Comics.”

    Prose has been around for centuries. Comics are seventy years old. As George Carlin said, “Evolution is slow. Smallpox is fast.”

    “It’s not the critics I’m referring to; it’s the public — people who do not immerse themselves in comics.”

    Well, see, I thought that “We don’t see more literary quality in comics being published today because too few critics treat comics as serious literature and art, critically reading and judging them without reference to non-literary works who happen to share the same format” meant you were referring to the critics.

    “Did you read my column? I hate to insinuate that you didn’t, but I’d prefer not to have to re-explain something I’ve already written about.”

    I read it, but the professor didn’t mention there’d be a quiz. Although I do have to admit amusement at the whole “literary canon” fetish you describe, since it sounds verbatim like the arguments given me when I ask people why they care so much about Marvel and DC continuity to the exclusion of caring about whether the stories are good or not.

    “Actually, I think that means that the comics world has not sufficiently broken through to get their attention and show them comics that attract them.”

    Again, why do we need their attention? Why do we need them to write a canon for us? Canon is largely the work of critics, assembled after-the-fact. It’s nice to have, can foster some good discussion, and makes it easier to teach in public schools, but in terms of creation, its assembly matters about as much as the compilation of the stats on the back of baseball cards does to determining who wins the World Series.

    “I simply think that comics in culture needs to do a better job of getting through to these kind of people: outreach is essential.”

    The 64 million dollar question: Why? What, other than the admittedly desirable increase in the flow of money to the coffers of those who make them, is the upside of the literary establishment coming out in favor of comics? Or, more to the point: Is it important that comics are legitimate, or that they are called legitimate?

    “And I am not “complaining.” I REALLY hate it when someone brings up a subject that s/he feel is a problem, suggests a solution, and people call it “complaining.” That is so disrespectful.”

    Bringing up a problem is complaining. But that’s neither here nor there; the “complaining” I was referring to was your “solution,” which was the tired old nag of “I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those blasted superhero fans!”

    If, for the sake of argument, we accept that there is a dearth of good comics criticism, and that that dearth is responsible for a low opinion of comics in literary circles, and that a high opinion in such circles is a necessary thing, then the conclusion of “It’s the fault of superhero fans that things are like this” is still fallacious and self-serving reasoning. It’s passing the buck on to the “other” (something you ironically decry, even as you simply redefine the “other” to mean a certain type of comics rather than all of them) to avoid examining the issue in any detail. “Everything would be great if it weren’t for that guy over there.” Easy to rally around, until the other guy goes away and the problem is still there. Which would be the case if we all woke up tomorrow and found out the Scarlet Witch had said “No more superheroes.”

    The canon shall come. It’s probably already there, waiting only for someone to come along and leatherbind it. In the meantime, we’ve got great comics going on across the board, and it looks like we’re only going to get more of them, and in greater proportion. What more do we need?

  19. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I think reviews are better than criticism because criticism is really hard and you get free comics for either one.

  20. The Beat says:

    Wow this thread is proving that there is a burning need for seriousness in BLOG comments.

  21. Well, if Jason can self-promote, I may as well too. My blog’s a few months old, and doesn’t deal exclusively with comics, but it’s out there. I’m still working on the visuals and some other things, and most of the posts deal with theory rather than reviews.

    I’ve written a rebuttal to Ms. de Guzman, “Proving You Have the Stuff,” here:

    http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2008/02/proving-you-have-stuff.html

    Key sentence:

    “Paraphrasing Shakespeare, I would say that the fault lies not with the critics, but with the creators.”

  22. “Again, why do we need their attention? Why do we need them to write a canon for us? Canon is largely the work of critics, assembled after-the-fact. It’s nice to have, can foster some good discussion, and makes it easier to teach in public schools, but in terms of creation, its assembly matters about as much as the compilation of the stats on the back of baseball cards does to determining who wins the World Series.”

    Well said, Michael. I’m not sure I totally agree, but I do remember thinking “who cares if there is a canon” when I read the original article. Canons, schools of thought shift often, why the rush to assemble one? The prevailing “canons”at museums in the late 60s were very different than today, and often, it’s laughable what was considered essential to museum goers back then.

  23. Again, responding in kind.

    The column is aimed at a general audience; it is not interaction with a specific person. An exchange of comments IS personal interaction. I believe that calls for a difference in tone. I admit my tone in the following will express frustration and annoyance because I cannot abide when people argue from a dishonest point of view and allow their perception of someone else’s argument to cloud what that person actually said or wrote. More on that at the end.

    Especially if you’re setting it not by the amount of literariness in comics, but the level of literary recognition they receive.

    My argument is that people who could become interested in creating literary comics might take more interest if comics received more quality literary and artistic attention. That pretty much answers all of the “I don’t care what THEY think of me” arguments you put forth.

    Bringing up a problem is complaining.

    That is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t think most rational people would me to explain why.

    So, again, I wonder how you could have missed it.

    Who says I did? I mentioned the literary accolades received by comics in the column. I am simply calling for more of the same. Is that something to disagree with?

    Prose has been around for centuries. Comics are seventy years old.

    I know this. But this does not mean that there is no reason to start working toward quality criticism of comics.

    If, for the sake of argument, we accept that there is a dearth of good comics criticism, and that that dearth is responsible for a low opinion of comics in literary circles, and that a high opinion in such circles is a necessary thing, then the conclusion of “It’s the fault of superhero fans that things are like this” is still fallacious and self-serving reasoning.

    Sure, but that wasn’t my reasoning; that’s your perception of my reasoning–you are putting your own purposes into my words. You’ve demonstrated this throughout your comments, actually — like how I supposedly don’t care if a book is good or not, so long as it’s in the canon, which my opening paragraph is outright at odds with or saying that I “missed it” when it is right there in my column that I recognize the accolades comics like Maus and American Born Chinese have gotten. You say you are arguing rationally, but in fact you are arguing dishonestly, and it makes communication almost pointless.

    The conclusion I came to isn’t that it’s THEIR fault; the conclusion I came to is that people who want to improve the literary perception of comics need to start doing some hard work. I ended my column on that positive note. My point was that the work we do today will shape what might someday be a comics canon.

    And the part about me being all about the canon was a bit of making fun of myself. Jeezus.

  24. For serious literary criticism of comics, visit my website. We don’t do that all the time with every objet d’art (preferring, sometimes, to critique the visual artistry rather than the “literary”), but we do it often. True “literary criticism” of comics, by the way, must incorporate some sort of evaluation of the role of pictures in the narrative or else the critique is merely “literary” and not “comics criticism”; if it’s merely literary, it considers only the story and plot without assessing the function of pictures in the tale. End of sermon.

  25. For serious literary criticism of comics, visit my website. We don’t do that all the time with every objet d’art (preferring, sometimes, to critique the visual artistry rather than the “literary”), but we do it often. True “literary criticism” of comics, by the way, must incorporate some sort of evaluation of the role of pictures in the narrative or else the critique is merely “literary” and not “comics criticism”; if it’s merely literary, it considers only the story and plot without assessing the function of pictures in the tale. End of sermon.

  26. For serious literary criticism of comics, visit my website. We don’t do that all the time with every objet d’art (preferring, sometimes, to critique the visual artistry rather than the “literary”), but we do it often. True “literary criticism” of comics, by the way, must incorporate some sort of evaluation of the role of pictures in the narrative or else the critique is merely “literary” and not “comics criticism”; if it’s merely literary, it considers only the story and plot without assessing the function of pictures in the tale. End of sermon.

  27. Gee, tell us one more time, R.C., please!

  28. Ms. de Guzman says:

    “Who says I did? I mentioned the literary accolades received by comics in the column. I am simply calling for more of the same. Is that something to disagree with?”

    Only in assuming that there are that many artcomics that deserve literary accolades.

  29. Ken Parille says:

    “And criticism is different from reviewing. Reviewing is a tool for consumers to know whether they should buy or read a book or not based on if the reviewer liked it or not, basing their decision on how good of a case the reviewer makes. . . But criticism is detached from “you should read this” or “I liked this” — it often assumes that the reader has read the work in question and it considers it in regards to craft, theme, and cultural and literary relevance.”

    I think this is generally right, thought there’s no easy dividing line between the two. A good reviewer will provide some kind of analysis to back up his/her claims; and many kinds of literary criticism are often very judgmental, even if they don’t say so explicitly – feminist criticism, post-colonial, etc . . .

    There are not many outlets for detailed literary criticism beyond academic journals, and who reads those other than academics? And there has been a lot more of this kind of criticism in the past 5 years than in the 10 before that. The Web is really the best place for a criticism that can reach people who are interested (and there are some online academic journals like ImageText). Most magazines, newspapers, etc . . . don’t publish critical essays on novels, either.

    And I agree with those who say that there are a lot of ‘literary’ comics being published. The Pope essay that Jennifer mentions overlooks dozens of contemporary cartoonists whose work falls into this category.

    Possible reasons that there are not more comics of this type:
    The corporate comics model (the dominate model) often works against quality.
    Literary comics has a shorter history than other literary forms.
    There are many more examples of successful writers than successful literary cartoonists for people to follow.
    Students are exposed to many more novels, and short stories than literary comics.
    There are likely 500 MFA fiction writers (a guess) for every student in a comics program.
    {What role does the quality of art instruction in school play? I’ve heard that art is one of the first things to be cut in a budget crisis.}
    Comics requires a larger set of skills than does other kinds of literature.

    When I first started teaching comics in my college classes a decade ago as a grad student, none of my peers did. Now many of them do.

    http://blogflumer.blogspot.com/

  30. Ken Parille says:

    And it’s only been in the last few years that major publishing house have been releasing graphic novels with any regularity.

  31. Ken Parille says:

    “Again, why do we need their attention? Why do we need them to write a canon for us? Canon is largely the work of critics, assembled after-the-fact. It’s nice to have, can foster some good discussion, and makes it easier to teach in public schools, but in terms of creation, its assembly matters about as much as the compilation of the stats on the back of baseball cards does to determining who wins the World Series.”

    Canons do matter somewhat: one of the ways that a canon is identified is by looking at what works are included in anthologies — and these anthologies are a way of getting the work out to people who can read them and be inspired. The more signs that quality work is out there – like discussions of canons / anthologies – the more people will be made aware of the possibilities of the medium.

  32. Jennifer,
    Responded to your ct, to the effect that if you didn’t mean your theory as an exclusive cause, there’s no problem. Thanks for chatting.

  33. michael says:

    Thanks for responding Jennifer. Yes, I am the lowercase michael, btw. ;)

    Yes, I see what you are saying regarding how a specific genre such as superhero might be perceived as being the draw for non-literary elements into the comic field, but I also agree with the others as to the charge that this may also not be necessarily true.

    As to this; “How so? I really don’t understand your argument here. You seem to be saying that if a person has the goal of creating a comic, they cannot also have the goal of creating a literary work at the same time. And that doesn’t make any sense.”

    No, I am just saying that BEcause a person creates a comic they DO NOT have to have the intention of creating something that would be considered a literary work and I think that in itself is not something that lowers this art form.

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