28 March 2011
The Big Bad World of Comics
It is all about variance in Scott McCloud's Big World: The Battle for Diversity. McCloud focuses on three of the "twelve revolutions" in which he sees have the most potential to expand comics. These three revolutions are: 7) Gender Balance, 8) Minority Representation, and 9) Diversity of genre. These revolutions stem from the similar idea of trying develop comics to reach out to more readers. Broadening comics using these three revolutions would "Expand the boundaries of the medium in all directions"(McCloud 96). Diversity is hard for comics to obtain because "active readers of comics in North America is below 500,000 people"(McCloud 97). McCloud assumes that diversity will change this issue. McCloud believes that "if comics could successfully deliver a more diverse product, then its chances of earning a more diverse audience would be improved"(98). McCloud then goes on the to explain what issues are holding back his revolutions. McCloud begins by explaining the issues facing revolution number seven (Gender Balance). The comic industry has an imbalance in gender because females have had limited job opportunity. Even if females did get an opportunity to write comics, there opportunities stayed small. Also, in order for women to make a leap in comics, peoples mind set has to change. In the 70's, the idea of a female making comics was bizarre. Even comics made for girls were produced by men. Even though when have been oppressed, females have been making comics for a long time. Women made comics during World War II, but when soldiers came back home, women lost their jobs. Even by this oppression, women have been able to pass on their traditional ideas to future generations of female writers. The eighth revolution McCloud assumes will lead to diversity is minority representation. A big issue surrounding this topic is prejudice. McCloud explains that "white men" have been trying to represent minorities in comics, but McCloud feels that minority writers have an advantage in portraying their own experiences. Through the 70's, white writers have tried to give a voice to African-Americans, but have come up with mixed results. McCloud explains how minority writers broke past the "Superhero" stereotype of comics and introduced works such as Ho Che Anderson's King, Love and Rockets by The Hernandez Brothers, and Maus by Art Spiegelman. McCloud then explains the ninth revolution which he says is the "key result of our two previous revolutions" (111). The ninth revolution is the diversity of genre. McCloud explains that the only way to get diversity of genre is to have diversity of gender and minority. One of the main issues holding back diversity of genre are writers dwelling on superheros. This has changed in the early 90's when genres such as autobiographical and naturalistic fiction became popular. Even genres including erotic comics, crime fiction, and romance fly under the radar. McCloud then uses the example of Batman in 1939 to show how popular genres change because in 1939, the detective genre Batman represented was popular. McCloud does a good job of explaining how these three revolutions are key to diversity. McCloud also give a good interpretation of how selling comics works. McCloud explains that "Only buyers of comic A will see comic B, thus this is when the market for comic B begins"(116). The only warning he says that comic B should not try to mimic comic A. McCloud also gives his opinion on how comics seem destined to write about superheros. McCloud gives a good example of how superheros are already represented better in movies and video games, so comics need to move to different genres to "move forward." McCloud has good reasoning to believe that diversity is the key for comics to grow.